There is Only One Telluride
by Jesse James McTigue, long time local and writer extraordinaire who will be guest blogging for VisitTelluride.com regularly. Stay tuned for more of Jesse's great work.
There are ski resorts and there are ski towns. Telluride, Colorado is the latter. All routes leading here converge into one mountain road that unapologetically takes its time weaving the three miles across an undeveloped valley floor before slithering between charming Victorian houses and storefronts up the off-camber Main Street. To enter the town is to enter a different time and space all together.
First, you’ll slow down. The surrounding mountains will demand it of you. And, you’ll notice the culture is a little different 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.
On the mountain, you’ll cruise groomed runs, crush chutes and hike ridges you never imagined could be in bounds. When you need a break, you’ll drink wine in an Alps-inspired chalet, then ski all the way back to town where you’ll understand that the chairlifts are part of the town, rather than an extension of it.
You’ll pay attention to the lingo and want to know what the “reef” is on Mak’m, how to get to Nice Chute and why everyone is talking about the black bean sauté at Giuseppe’s. You’ll ask where to go, but then find your own favorites and feel like you belong when you return and people remember your name.
Telluride is known for its renowned skiing, and that may be what initially draws you to these mountains, but it’s your experiences in them that will keep you coming back. Slowly, you’ll find your surroundings have become a part of you and you them. When you leave, you won’t only take your memories, but this small town’s simple mountain mindset – something that will put you at ease, and even make you chuckle, long after your visit is over.
Here are the top five reasons you’ll keep coming back for more.
The Telluride Ski Resort has something for everyone from the most extreme skier in your group to the expert après aficionado. For those always looking for adrenaline, hike to the top of Palmyra Peak at 13,320 and ski its extreme North chute. Park rats of all abilities can find jumps and rails to fit their level. Beginners can start above Lift Ten in Ute Park then progress to the terrain parks below Lift Four before flying high in the Hoot Brown Air Garden. For those who want to cruise from one glass of wine to another, follow groomers to Bon Vivant and Alpino Vino before shushing, See Forever, the mountain’s most famous top-to-bottom groomed cruiser. Groomers, bumps, chutes, and an extensive hike-to network, Telluride Ski Resort has it all.
The Free Gondola, or “G”, as it is endearingly called, doesn’t only ferry skiers to the middle of the mountain, it serves as free transportation connecting the area’s two complimentary towns: the funky, eclectic Town of Telluride and the manicured, amenity-rich Mountain Village. The G acts as a ski lift, shuttle, romantic evening interlope and hours of entertainment for the youngest in your family.
Telluride’s Main Street may seem short, but what it lacks in city blocks, it makes up for in swagger. You can spend days exploring the shops, eclectic cafes, bakeries, pizzerias, gourmet restaurants, yoga studios, art galleries and day spas, or simply sitting on a bench on the sunny side doing the Main Street hang. Just watch the others on the bench; you’ll pick it up fast. If you make it all the way to the West End, check out the free sledding, groomed Nordic track and outdoor skating rink in the Town Park.
The People in Telluride are as eclectic as the town itself. From the driver of the free shuttle bus, to your ski instructor and bartender, you’ll fall in love with all of them. It’s a town where second homeowners sit on local boards and people stop to talk in passing. Telluride is where movie stars come because no one cares what you do in the outside world; they care about what you do while you’re here. It’s a place where you can let go and fuel the hedonist in you.
The Valley Floor is a three-mile undeveloped prelude to the Town of Telluride. It’s where elk graze, groomed Nordic and winter biking trails roll, and the San Miguel River meanders. It’s open space, free for the public to experience and explore via skate or classic ski, snowshoe, or winter fat bike. It’s an introduction to Telluride and the possibilities a relationship with the mountains can bring.