By Jennifer Kester, Contributor
Telluride is a quiet hideaway, legendary for its old miner’s can-do spirit and for being the rare resort area with a down-home feel—as well as the majestic views of the jagged San Juan Mountains piercing the often-bright blue sky. Where the rich and famous—and hangers-on—crowd out Aspen and Vail, Telluride offers a refined alternative to the other bustling hot spots of Colorado with its tight-knit, small-town vibe from its independent shops, hotels and restaurants.
The hilly hamlet (it’s only eight blocks deep and 12 blocks long) is a favorite among celebrities—Tom Cruise and Laura Linney have homes here, and Ralph Lauren owns a sprawling 17,000-acre ranch right outside of Telluride—but the atmosphere is casual and unpretentious. Denim and snow boots are de rigueur in even the most upscale of restaurants, and locals cheerily greet you on the way to a local brewpub or coming home from a great day of skiing.
Two parts make up the area. The charming historic town of Telluride sits in a canyon surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks on three sides and is filled with clapboard-fronted shops and restaurants as well as Victorian homes. A National Historic Landmark District, the old mining town was where Butch Cassidy began his bank-robbing career in the 1890s. Then there’s the modern Mountain Village, which sits 9,500 feet above the valley and whose cobblestone streets are lined with ski stores and hotels. Mountain Village gives you prime access to Telluride Ski Resort. The free gondola—the only public transportation of its kind in North America—connects the two areas (the 13-minute ride gives you beautiful vistas).
Where to Stay
Check into Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Lumière Telluride, a prized gem among the city’s offerings. Located on a quiet cul-de-sac away from the skiers in the upscale Mountain Village area, the European-style boutique hotel is still only minutes away from all of the action. You’ll easily feel at home in the ski-in, ski-out hotel’s spacious residences, which come with LED smart televisions with Bluetooth sound bars, gas fireplaces, separate dining rooms, one and a half bathrooms, washers and dryers, and kitchens decked out with Sub-Zero refrigerators and heavy-duty Wolf stoves. The warm, contemporary spaces exude mountain chic with exposed dark wood, hardwood hickory floors, sand-colored marble, stone touches and a palette of cream, dark browns and pops of orange. Tip: Book the five-bedroom penthouse for the best mountain views in Telluride, which you can admire from your own outdoor hot tub.
What to Do
In the winter, Telluride is an unbeatable outdoor playground teeming with options—snowmobiling, ice climbing, heli-skiing, ice skating and more. But skiing tops the list with more than 2,000 acres for all levels, 127 trails (the longest run is the 4.6-mile Galloping Goose), 18 lifts and, as far as we could tell, rarely a wait on lift lines. Plus, the rugged Rockies make for a breathtaking backdrop. If you need gear, head to BootDoctors. There was a snafu with our rentals, so we wandered there and the friendly staff outfitted us in no time. And if you want to hone your technique, consider booking a private lesson through the ski resort. Our instructor, Neville Leel, was patient, encouraging and gave solid advice.
Another must-do winter activity is snowshoeing with Eco Adventures. (Parents, be sure to check out the store’s happy hour, where you can drop off the kids for arts and crafts while you escape to Hotel Madeline’s new Black Iron Kitchen & Bar to sip on a Mile High Mule—Woody Creek vodka, Gosling’s ginger beer and fresh lime—at one of the outdoor fire tables.) Snowshoeing gives you a unique perspective on the mountains. With a group of about four to five people, take a two-hour walk in a forest among 40- to 70-foot-tall Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir and Aspen trees. During the trek, our knowledgeable naturalist guide Dalen Stevens easily fielded questions about the local flora and fauna (he even pointed out various animal claw marks on bark) and we were lucky enough to spot a snowshoe hare up close. Strolling in the hushed forest with snow softly falling is both serene and invigorating (when it doesn’t snow, you can get picturesque mountain views, too).
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