Telluride is the Real Deal
By Jesse James Mctigue
Blame it on Crossfit. Blame it on fat skis. Blame it on a better diet, rad ski movies, 21st century technology, or mindfulness. Blame it on whatever you like, but the fact is the definition of a ski vacation has changed. For whatever reason, there is a growing demographic of people, young and old, male and female, who are revolutionizing the ski vacation. And, as it turns out, they’re in shape, in vogue and into skiing it for all the right reasons.
Of course, everything else still matters. Yes, the ski vacation still must include the required amenities. There must be excellent spas, world class dining, beautifully appointed accommodations, cold craft beers, a lively après scene, family friendly activities and boutique shopping, But seriously, Vegas has all of those things. What separates the real deal when it comes to distinguishing the ski town from just another ski resort, is the culture. And in a ski town, the lifeblood of that culture flows from its mountains.
In Telluride, that pulse is dictated from the rugged San Juans.
When you enter Telluride, you enter a different time and space altogether. You enter a box canyon as far from I-70 as one can imagine, so that if you wake up on a powder day, you’ll never have to worry about road closures or parking. Instead you’ll walk to the lift, distracted by the beauty of the peaks that surround you, not the line of cars in front of you. Your biggest concern will be whether to stop on the way at The Butcher and Baker for a chocolate croissant or at Baked In Telluride for a chocolate doughnut.
In Telluride we’ve got the rest covered so you can focus on what you came for—skiing. If what you want is the real deal when it comes to the ultimate ski town experience, as you plan for this winter’s ski vacation, consider these top five reasons to come to Telluride.
The Beauty: Telluride’s beauty is unparalleled, period. After growing up in Telluride, my mom took me to Chamonix, France and Verbier, Switzerland and I thought they were just okay. When friends, who grew up in Aspen and Vail visit, they stop in the middle of Main Street in awe of the surrounding jagged peaks that seem just a little closer, higher, and less attainable. And even the oldest Telluride locals saturate their Facebook pages with weekly pictures of the valley floor and surrounding San Juans. Apparently, beauty in Telluride never gets old.
Main Street: What Telluride lacks for in size, it makes up for in heart and soul, which is grounded in its off-camber Main Street lined by coffee shops, cafes, bars, yoga studios and independently owned-shops. Here, you'll see more bikes than cars parked at the chairlift, and that lift lines are the exception rather than the rule. You'll see that skis are stashed in office closets rather than sport coats, and meetings are over powder instead of martinis. You’ll slow when you walk down Main Street, discovering that you’re no longer in a hurry, but instead focused on the mountains around you whose beauty always seems to change.
Black Iron Bowl: All of Colorado’s ski resorts boast black diamond terrain, but the ridge off of Telluride Ski Resort’s Prospect Lift, leading to the runs of Black Iron Bowl and then further to Palmyra Peak, take in-bounds extreme terrain to a whole new level. The hike itself self selects the real expert skier from the poser and the lines available turn that skier into an artist and an innovator. The hike-to terrain offers accessible fresh tracks and ballsy lines for the intrepid skier, long after the last storm.
Small Town Powder Line: In Telluride, a snowstorm is a reason to celebrate and the powder line is more like the receiving line at a wedding than an inconvenience. At around 8:30 am, people slowly migrate toward the lift, riding bikes with studded tires while balancing a latte in one hand and skis and poles over the opposite shoulder. As they form a haphazard powder line, they trade text messages from ski patrol friends regarding estimated times for the end of avalanche control work and the opening of various upper mountain lifts. They hoot and holler as the first chair loads and within 15 minutes, the line at the bottom vanishes without a trace.
Alpino Vino and The Last Dollar Saloon: There are few places that place equal value on the experiences to be had at the area’s most exquisite and exclusive wine bar and those at the town’s soulful dive bar. Let me introduce you to Alpino Vino, an Alps-inspired, ski-in and ski-out chalet perched atop the ski area at 11,000 feet with 360-degree undisturbed views of pristine mountain ranges and serves exquisite wines and beers, platters of artisan cheeses, and sandwiches. Let me also introduce you to The Last Dollar Saloon, endearingly known as The Buck, a good ol’small town bar that boasts inexpensive tap pours of Pabst Blue Ribbon, steamy windows, a juke box, foosball, and a bunch of bearded ski bums dressed in the same black down jacket. Welcome to Telluride and to Alpino Vino and the Last Dollar Saloon, two of my favorite places.
The greatest thing about Telluride is that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a beautiful ski town that makes its own rules. It’s a take it or leave it sort of place. But those looking for the real deal when it comes to the genuine ski town experience, always elect to take it – and then end up coming back for more.