New To Ski

Discover Skiing in Telluride, Colorado: Ultimate Travel Guide

by Sergei Poljak | Published: December 22nd, 2022
Telluride

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In the United States, Telluride has achieved mythical status for its small-town charm, bluebird powder days, and diverse assortment of slopes for skiers of all abilities. Year after year, Telluride is at the top of the rankings for ski destinations. 

The historic Victorian mining town of Telluride and the modern Mountain Village, connected via a free gondola and ski slopes, make this town legendary. There are very few resorts in North America where you can ski directly from a town that was not purposely manufactured as a resort.

In this guide, I will break everything down and help you plan the vacation of your life. They say that once you ski in Telluride, you can’t ski anywhere else.  (& Yes I actually lived in Telluride so this is written from my experience)

Where is Telluride In Colorado?

Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride is perched high up in the San Juan Mountains in the southwest corner of Colorado – Four Corners National Monument (where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet) is just an hour and a half drive from town. 

Key Takeaway: Telluride is located just a few miles from Silverton and Ouray as the crow flies, but circuitous mountain roads make the drive much longer. 

The closest major cities are six hours away by car – Denver, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque, NM are all equidistant). As far as ski resorts go, Telluride is ultra-remote, and this is a huge factor in reducing crowds and creating a special vibe here. 

How Long Is The Ski Season?

Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado
Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado – Photo by Snowboardguides.com licensed under CC BY 2.0

Key Takeaway: Telluride ski resort is open from Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November) until the first or second Sunday in April. 

However, winter dominates the high mountains of Colorado for most of the year and skiing is often possible in the backcountry, and in other resorts, from October until June. 

Silverton Mountain, a niche backcountry-oriented ski area nearby, is open through April – often with epic powder days right up to the end of the season. 

Telluride tops out on Palmyra Peak at 13,113 ft – that’s over 4000 meters – which lends itself well to long seasons. The resort here could stay open longer than it does, but there is simply not enough tourism to make it economically viable. 

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Some of my best powder days have been in April, so it’s still worth considering a trip if you’re a backcountry-minded skier or rider. 

What Type Of Resort Is Telluride? 

telluride colorado

Telluride is a large ski resort with 149 official trails and 17 ski lifts. All of the important lifts are modern, high-speed detachable quads. There are also a few relics left from the resort’s early days in the 70s and 80s, like the infamous Chairs 7 and 8 spinning from town. 

The Plunge Lift – known to locals as Chair 9 – has just been refitted for the 2022-23 season with a high-speed quad. This is one of the few areas on the mountain where a queue would form on powder days – with double the uphill capacity, the new lift is likely to eliminate this issue. 

There are two base areas – the town of Telluride and the Mountain Village – and there are plenty of restaurants, lodges, and watering holes on the mountain itself. 

The mountain is the perfect mix of old and new. The wonderfully historic town of Telluride dates to the late 19th century, but the ski resort is fairly new, having opened in 1974. Mountain Village was constructed in the 90s and early 2000s so there is lots of new luxurious infrastructure. 

While Telluride’s former reputation was that of a steep and fearsome mountain, it now caters best to the wealthy and is considered a luxury resort. However, because the skiing is so good, the mountain also has options for those looking for a less luxurious and more ski-focused experience. 

What Are The Ski Runs Like? 

Ski Slope

The ski runs in Telluride are abundant and diverse. Out of 149 trails, there are dozens of greens, blues, blacks, double blacks, and even an “expert only” version of double black. Telluride is great for advanced and expert skiers, but also for absolute beginners. 

More so than any place I’ve ever been, the average local in Telluride is an amazing skier. There is so much advanced terrain, and the skiing is so tight and technical that folks here can’t help but dial in their technique. 

Dark Side

The town side of the resort is notorious – its steep faces loom over the town of Telluride and you can easily see the huge moguls and skiers threading their way down between them as you look up from Main Street.

This side is also nicknamed the “Dark Side” by locals because it is north-facing and doesn’t get much sun in the heart of winter. If you live in town, this is the front side of the mountain, but if you’re based in Mountain Village this will feel like the backside. 

Both the free gondola and lift 7 spins from town and give you access to long, steep groomers like Coonskin and Milk Run. 

The Crown Jewel of the dark side is the Plunge lift, known affectionately as “Chair 9” by the locals. This chair is 2200 feet of vertical drop at a steep grade. Until the new chair this year, 9 was a 14-minute lift ride that kept many people away. The snow stays cold and soft on this side of the mountain, and there’s no snowmaking going on at the Plunge lift – they don’t need to. 

There are steep faces, chutes, glades, and groomers to tackle from the top of Chair 9. You can’t get bored with the diversity of the runs here – this is where the powder stashes await days after a storm.

A bonus is that this is the easiest area to ski if you are based in the town.

Sunshine Express And The Real Estate Runs

Solo Skier

Easy to access from Mountain Village, this massive part of the mountain provides essentially unlimited skiing for those looking to break into the sport. The runs here are wide and flat, and even get some sun with their westerly aspect. 

Locals call these trails the Real Estate Runs because there was a lot of luxury real estate developed here in the last few decades, and you are skiing by some impressive slopeside mansions.

This is a great place for kids and adults learning how to ski – I even used to this area to practice skiing backward – but motivated beginners will be eager to move on after a few days here. 

Mountain Village Express (Lift 4)

This is the core hub of the resort, spanning out from the center of Mountain Village. It’s easy to access this terrain from Mountain Village or town using the free Gondola (however, to ski you will need a pass.)  

The terrain here is mostly oriented toward the intermediate skier, although there are also a few green trails. Misty Maidan is one of the best sustained blue groomers on the mountain and it’s super easy to lap. Lift 4 is also one of the few areas of the mountain with no off-piste skiing. 

When you get tired of skiing, the best lodge on the mountain is located right under the lift – you can’t miss it. Called Goronno Ranch, this spot is comfortable both inside and outside. 

In the dead of winter, the Goronno outpost is super cozy with a nice fire going. As the sun angle gets higher in February and March, the afternoon rays shine down on the “beach” and it is wonderful to sit back, soak up the sun, and listen to some local musicians. 

Lift 4 directly connects you with Lifts 5 and 6, and this makes up the original “core” of the resort. Lift 4 can also connect you to Chair 9, or Gold Hill and Prospect Bowl. 

Lift 5 is often used by locals as a connector lift to steeper terrain, but I find that it is great for intermediate skiers looking to break into some off-piste skiing. The terrain is not steep, and there is a good diversity of small moguls, trees, and little rock bands to get comfortable on. There are also a few fun, easy groomers on this lift. 

Lift 6 can be reached via Lift 5, and is almost all expert terrain. There are a plethora of steep trees and chutes in this fun area, and the snow can stay cold and fresh on the north-facing side. Sometimes it can be a great move to come over here and ski the trees on a powder day when Chair 9 is mobbed.

Gold Hill & Revelation

Pink Ski Clothing

Gold Hill is the most popular off-piste area at Telluride. The terrain here is extreme, and there is a cliff band that runs through the slope – the runs may seem easy at the top, but most of them choke down into little cruxes and it takes knowledge of the terrain to navigate. 

The lift (Lift 14) is a high-speed quad that takes you up 1600 ft in about 3 minutes. When the getting is good, you can really stack up the vertical on this side of the mountain!

To ski Gold Hill, you will have to develop the knowledge to ski the natural terrain. This means that rock avoidance, the ability to self-arrest, and navigation around cliffs are mandatory skills. For the expert skier, this zone is absolutely heavenly, especially on a powder day when you can do lap after lap on the high-speed lift. 

Gold Hill is also a must-do for any intermediate skier, however, because of the See Forever trail which starts from the top of this lift. At 2.4 miles long, it’s the longest piste in Colorado. It goes on…well…forever! 

Gold Hill is also the connection for the newest lift in Telluride, the Revelation Bowl lift. Known affectionately as “Revy” to the locals, this is the spot to try and score some of that bottomless powder feeling after a big storm. 

Tip: For those expert skiers looking to get some steps in, the hike-to chutes dropping into Prospect Bowl are excellent when they start opening up later in the season. 

There is also incredible backcountry access from this lift for those who have the knowledge. Fair warning though; it could be a death sentence to venture out here without a local or a guide to show you the way. 

Prospect Bowl & Palmyra Peak

Prospect Express (Lift 12) is a great access point for beginner and expert skiers alike. For beginners, a whole network of green trails starts from this high perch and works its way down to the Real Estate Runs we mentioned earlier. You can ride from 12,300 feet all the way to just over 9,000 on green groomers. 

For intermediates, this is a fun lift to lap after getting your bearings on Lift 4. There is a better diversity of terrain, with some blue groomers but also small glades and off-piste sections. 

Heading left from the top, there are excellent hike-to chutes that flow down into Prospect Bowl. Following the ridge to the top of Palmyra Peak will allow you to access the most extreme terrain in Telluride. The top of Palmyra is steep and narrow and is often a no-fall zone, but the skiing is some of the best in-bounds in America. 

For more information on the Hike-to zones and Terrain Parks, check out the website here.

Terrain Parks

There are three Terrain Parks in Telluride offering up all the usual bells and whistles. You’ll find everything from rails to massive booters to get your freestyle game on. 

Ute Park is the beginner Terrain Park and can be found at Lift 11, a part of the mountain accessible from Prospect Bowl. This is the best place to get comfortable with small features like jumps and rails before really hucking your meat. 

Lower Hoot Brown park is the “intermediate” area with medium-sized jumps and rails. I stick to this zone. Upper Hoot Brown park features some truly astonishing jumps (50 feet) that will crush your organs if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Both Hoot Brown parks are located off to the side of the pistes on Lift 4 and can be easily lapped. There is a healthy park scene in Telluride – Olympic medalist Gus Kenworthy grew up here. 

What Is The Snow Quality Like?

young hikers

The snow quality in Telluride is some of the best in the world. According to snow scientist Jim Steenberg, nearby Red Mountain Pass receives even fluffier snow than the legendary Cottonwood Canyons (featuring resorts such as Alta and Snowbird) of Salt Lake City. 

The Secret To The Real Greatest Snow On Earth

Telluride is located deep within the American continent, thousands of miles away from the Pacific Ocean, where storms draw their moisture. The mountains here are surrounded by desert, and the dry climate, high altitude, and cold temperatures combine to create well-structured snowflakes.  

These “stellar dendrites” stack up on top of one another because of their extensive lattice structure. This is what creates the feeling of “blower” powder, as opposed to thick, maritime snow. 

Areas with a maritime snowpack, like Lake Tahoe or Whistler, will sometimes get this light snow. And Telluride will sometimes get heavy snow, but the snow here falls as “blower” powder with a higher frequency than anywhere else I’ve been. 

Even more important is the cold dry air that characterized the high altitude here. Snow will have the moisture sucked out of it, especially on the clear starry nights that you get so often in Colorado. 

This creates a soft chalky layer, even on snow that has been skier compacted. In other regions like the East Coast of the U.S., groomers will gradually turn to ice as the snow absorbs moisture from the air. 

In Telluride, the opposite is true – the snow sheds its moisture each night and stays soft for weeks after a storm. I have rarely witnessed icy conditions here, even during the worst seasons. 

How Much Snow Does Telluride Get Each Year?

Solo Snowboarding

On average, Telluride gets about 250 inches of snow each year on the upper mountain. The resort claims to get over 300 on average, but that doesn’t happen all that much anymore – or perhaps never did. I think the 300 number stems from a desire to market themselves against other snowier resorts out West. 

Snow coverage is the one area where Telluride suffers a little bit. During average years, the base depth can often range around 50 – 70 inches on the upper mountain, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of room between you and the crunchy, unforgiving ground. 

The base can be a bit thin compared to other ski regions. Other resorts out west, especially those farther north and closer to the coast, can often double Telluride in base depth. High-altitude resorts in Europe are similarly endowed with base depths approaching 3 or 4 meters by the end of the season. 

However, compared to resorts in the Eastern part of the U.S., the coverage at Telluride is good. Nearly all of the terrain opens up by the end of the season and you can ski safely in the trees for the majority of the season. 

Quality Over Quantity

Backcountry skiing

Although Telluride receives less than half of the liquid-equivalent moisture as many resorts in California, Washington, and Utah, the actual skiing is better here than in those places. How does that stack up?

It all has to do with the fact that storms in Telluride drop snow low and slow, usually a few inches a day for several days in a row. This creates perfectly soft conditions and limits brutal storm skiing and lift closures. 

For example, the Tahoe region in California gets massive amounts of snow, but it is thicker and falls all at once. So if you get six feet of snow, the resorts are probably going to be closed for a couple of days as the operations team and ski patrol dig out and secure the area.

Then, you might get one or two fun powder days when the resort opens. But in Telluride, getting a few inches of fresh snow on many days in a row produces amazing snow conditions, fewer crowds, and fewer lift closures. 

Key Takeaway: Telluride may only get 250 inches of snow a year, but it’s the best 250 inches you could ask for.

What Is The Weather Like?

One of the great things about Telluride is that you can expect to have beautiful weather for at least part of your trip. Even when it does snow, the weather is rarely truly horrible. 

Temperatures

Telluride is very cold due to its altitude and the valley inversions that form in town during clear nights. It is not uncommon for nighttime temperatures in town to drop to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because cold air is denser and sinks into the valley when there is no wind. 

Temperatures on the mountain often top out at 10 or 20 degrees Fahrenheit on the upper mountain during the day. 

Therefore, you will need very warm clothing for your trip here, especially from December to February. However, the sun here can also be very warm and make it feel much warmer than the ambient air temperature. I recommend dressing in layers so that you can be warm in the morning but still comfortable in the afternoon.

Sun

There is a lot of sun in Telluride which makes for great skiing. However, it also means you need to be careful. 

At 12,000 feet, there is less atmosphere to filter the sun’s rays and therefore more harmful radiation. It is important to wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes.

Humidity

The air in Telluride can be extremely dry, and you should bring chapstick and moisturizer to counter the effects. Fortunately, this also translates to great ski conditions!

Snow

As I’ve mentioned, Telluride also receives frequent snowfall, usually in the form of snow showers. Plus, it seldom rains during the winter (seen it happen twice in 6 years). It’s typical to see snow showers with light accumulations rather than one big blizzard that dumps a huge amount of snow all at once. 

This makes for great ski conditions, and it reduces the amount of waterproofing you really need out of your gear. I could always make a ski jacket last longer in Telluride because it just didn’t need to be as waterproof, and I wear $20 leather gloves from the hardware store. 

How Busy Is The Resort?

Telluride Ski Resort is not overly crowded and there are usually no lift lines exceeding a few minutes. Moreover, the trails are not packed with skiers like other major destinations in the U.S.

Christmas can get busy because it is early in the season and during thin snow years there is not a lot of terrains open yet. This means that Holiday crowds all get funneled into a few main lifts causing congestion. 

On big powder days, Chairs 9 and 14 can get busy because they are the best spots to go to get fresh tracks. This situation is likely to improve in 2022-2023 as a result of a new high-speed quad at Chair 9.

In my experience, the biggest line you will experience is the Gondola back to Telluride in the early evening (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.), as the crowds make their way into Town for dinner. This line can be upwards of an hour at its worst – try to avoid it if you can (make dinner reservations at a later time). 

See Also:  Does Ice Skating Help Skiing? YES & Here's Why..

If you have a car you could drive, but then you have to deal with the hassle of street parking. You should never drink and drive, but in Telluride, they are especially strict – if you drink, do not drive. Period. There is only one way out of Town and it is heavily patrolled. 

Other than that, you are unlikely to encounter crowds at Telluride. And yes, it is simply wonderful. 

Ski Schools And Ski Lessons?

Telluride is home to a top-notch Ski School with many highly certified instructors. There are many ways to interact with the ski school, with affordable and high-end options available.

For the best deal, you can take a half-day group lesson for $205 in the a.m. or $170 p.m. including the price of the pass. 

For those looking to truly go all-out, a full-day private lesson can be purchased for $1075, not including skis and passes. If you are a beginner, unless you have a lot of disposable income, I recommend going with the group lesson – you will get as much as you can handle out of the instructor, even with the group.

How Much To Rent Ski Equipment?

Skier with Bag

There are dozens of outlets to rent ski equipment in Telluride, all with varying products and prices. However, you can generally find lower-end rentals for about $100 a day, and higher-end rentals for $120 a day. 

Different options can save you money – for example, if you pass on a helmet you could save $13 a day (but you might pay more for that later). Renting ski equipment in advance online can also help you save money.

At this point, nearly all of the rental companies are owned by Vail Resorts. You can get a complete inventory online at their rental website. Christie’s Sports, Telluride Sports, and Bootdoctors are all separate entities owned by Vail Resorts, and their inventories will be available on the website provided. 

Another option is ski rental delivery. The best option in Telluride is Black Tie; they will come right to your door to get you fitted in the comfort of your own home, and their prices are comparable with the shops. 

How Much Is A Ski Pass? 

Blue Skier Pants

Ski passes for Telluride are not cheap. The rate of a day ticket is $162. However, there are other options if you plan your trip far in advance and are looking to save money. 

Tip: In my opinion, the best way to visit Telluride without a season pass is to have an Epic Pass. The Epic Pass costs $949 and allows you access to over 50 ski resorts across the world.

You can visit Telluride for a total of seven non-consecutive days, which is an $1127 value even if you don’t use the pass anywhere else for the rest of the season.

An unlimited season pass is $2600 (cheaper if you get it before mid-November). There is also a 10-day pass for less than $1000 only available before mid-November. 

For more information on passes, check here.

What Are The Accommodation Options?

Colorado snow tunnel

There are many accommodation options in Telluride. The two main options are the Town of Telluride and Mountain Village. However, there are additional (cheaper) options in Placerville, Rico, Ridgway, and Norwood for those that have a car and don’t mind a drive into town for some skiing. 

The Town is without a doubt the better place to stay overall. The charm is unequaled in the U.S. (Telluride makes Aspen look like a strip mall, in my opinion) and all the best restaurants and entertainment are in Town. 

However, you should consider your ski ability when deciding to book. For example, beginner skiers might not want to stay in Town because they will have to take the Gondola back down every day (there is no easy way down this side). In the afternoon, the line for the Gondola can get really long – up to an hour sometimes – and you don’t want to be wasting time like that on your precious vacation.

Additionally, Mountain Village has more spacious and luxurious accommodations – but they are more expensive. 

Assuming you are looking for a small condo or apartment that could fit a family or group of friends, prices in Town are generally less than $1000 a night whereas in Mountain Village they are $1000-2000 a night. 

Telluride

There are dozens of accommodation options in Town: hotels, condos, and houses are all available. Some of the more popular options include:

  • Camel’s Garden Hotel
  • Telluride Lodge
  • New Sheridan Hotel
  • Hotel Telluride
  • Cimarron Lodge
  • Victorian Hotel
  • Element 52

To find condos, check out Alpine Lodging and AirBnb for hundreds of options. I recommend Alpine Lodging because they are a local company.

Mountain Village

Because it’s bigger and more spread out, there is even more lodging available in Mountain Village. There are dozens of hotels, but a few of the more popular ones include:

  • The Peaks
  • Mountain Lodge
  • The Fairmont (Franz Klammer)
  • Bear Creek Lodge
  • The Madeline
  • Lumiere

Mountain Village has nicer options for lodging but it’s more expensive than Town and doesn’t have the same charm. 

Rico, Placerville, and Ridgway

It’s also possible to stay off-site and commute into town if you have a car. Ridgway is a beautiful town with plenty of lodging, restaurants, history, and even a hot spring. It’s worth a visit totally independent from Telluride – but it’s only 45 minutes from the slopes. 

Placerville is only 20 minutes from Telluride and has the cheapest accommodation around – the Bivvi Hostel, where you can score a bed for less than $50 a night. Even their King Suite is only $170 a night – a fraction of what you’d be paying in Town. 

Rico is a sleepy, historical Mining town 40 minutes from Telluride. The Prospector, a restaurant right downtown, is the best in the area, and a much better value than the food in Telluride. 

What Are The Dining Options?

Unlike everything else about this town, the food in Telluride is not exceptional. I think it’s just too hard to find fresh ingredients and consistent employees to create a truly good dining experience. 

Don’t expect to find value – when I lived here, the prices were simply too high. I mostly cooked my own food. 

However, there are plenty of charming places to eat in Telluride. Some of the most popular include:

  • Siam – Thai fusion.
  • Brown Dog – the best pizza in town.
  • Floradora Saloon – long-time establishment, comfort food.
  • Alpinist and the Goat – Fondue.
  • Sugglers’ Union – Brewpub.
  • 221 – American fusion fine dining
  • New Sheridan Chophouse – steakhouse and fine dining.

Most restaurants are in Telluride, but in Mountain Village, you’ve got a few options as well:

  • Tomboy Tavern – American
  • Crazy Elk – Pizza
  • Talay – Thai fusion.
  • Allred’s – Fine dining located at the top of the Gondola.

Tip: If you can afford it, it’s possible to eat dinner at the top of the ski resort at Alpino Vino. A snowcat will take you and your party up and down from the top of the Gondola. 

What To Do Off The Slopes?

slopes party

Even without skiing, Telluride is a mecca for entertainment off the slopes. 

Concerts

There is live music nearly every night in Telluride. The main venues to keep an eye on for shows include the Sheridan Opera House, Club Red, Fly Me To The Moon @ O’Bannons, the Palm Theatre, and the Transfer Warehouse. Every winter, the Town usually gets at least a few big acts so keep an eye on the schedule.

Tune into KOTO, the local radio station, for all of the local betas shows and local events. Plus, you’ll hear great music from local, volunteer DJs. This is one of the only entirely listener-supported radio stations in the country, and it’s a real gem of Telluride. 

Hot Springs

As a result of the past volcanic activity in the San Juan Mountains, there is an abundance of natural Hot Springs in the area. Check out Rico for the most rustic experience, or Orvis for a more refined (and clothing optional) adventure. For those seeking true luxury, Dunton Hot Springs is your spot. 

Historical Museum

The Town of Telluride is a National Historic District. It’s impossible to not be captivated by the charm and history of the old Victorian mining houses and the frontier-style Main Street.

Fortunately, there is an expertly curated museum at the top of Fir Street to fill to answer all the questions you might have about this historical place. 

The Museum is located in a lovely building that used to be the Hospital, and they have good hours. You will need to walk or drive up the hill, though. 

It’s also worth it to just take a walk around town (check out the side streets and alleyways) and see the old houses and buildings up close, and imagine yourself in a different time. 

Partying

Telluride is a place where you want to get up early and get after it. But it’s also a place where you might be tempted to stay out late and have a few drinks. Like any good ski town, there is always music and shenanigans well into the night – just don’t be that guy staggering around in ski boots at midnight. 

Tip: The best bar in town is the Sheridan Old Bar, which has remained nearly unchanged since the late 19th century. They have pictures on the wall to prove it. Games and music will keep you entertained, and drinks include everything from PBR on tap to expensive cocktails. 

One common theme in Telluride that is especially true at the Sheridan Old Bar is that you are as likely to meet a ski bum as a fortune 500 executive – and they are both equally stoked to be in Town.

Apres Ski Scene? 

apres

You don’t have to look far to find something going on for Apres Ski. Nearly every restaurant or bar in town has some kind of drink or food special. 

Telluride

Oak, at the base of Lift 8, is a great place to kick back after a day of skiing and is a local favorite. The Stronghouse and The Last Dollar Saloon are also great options for some drinks.

Mountain Village

Tip: The Distillery in the Mountain Village core is one of my favorite spots to grab a drink. They make great Vodka and the mules are seriously on point. 

Telluride Brewing Company now has a location right next to the Distillery so when you get tired of liquor you can head over for a beer (not the other way around). Poachers is another great option for a friendly dive bar. 

How Do I Get There? 

Telluride is off the beaten path, which is one of the reasons it has retained its charm and relative peace and quiet compared with other resorts closer to the front range. 

However, the resort’s remote location also means that it can be difficult to get there. Airports and flights are smaller, more expensive, and more likely to get delayed or canceled due to weather compared to an airport like Denver. 

Driving

car snow

If you plan to drive, get ready for the long haul. The metropolitan areas of Denver, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque, NM are all about 6 hours away. Phoenix and Las Vegas are 8-9 hours. Anywhere else is a day or more of driving. 

Since Telluride is mostly surrounded by desert to the South, North, and West, road conditions are usually pleasant even during the heart of winter. However, if you come from the East (i.e. Denver), you will have to drive over the mountains and may encounter bad weather and road conditions.

Flying

Because most of the country lives on the East and West coasts, the majority of visitors to Telluride will have to fly. There are three types of options: flying to a major city and renting a car, flying to Montrose (most popular), and flying into Telluride’s little airport (definitely an experience).

Pro Tip: To find cheap flights to ski resorts, we use Skyscanner, which searches all airlines in one go.

Major Airport

One underrated way to experience Telluride is to fly into a major airport like Denver or Salt Lake City and rent a car. The advantage here is that you will get a much cheaper flight and car rental – maybe even half the price in some cases – and your flight will be less likely to be affected by the weather. 

Plus, you can visit several different ski resorts on your trip. This is probably the best option if you have an Epic or IKON pass and are looking to do more of a road trip-type vacation. 

Montrose

Flying into Montrose is the most popular way to visit Telluride by air and there is infrastructure in place to support this option. 

It’s easy to attach a connecting flight to Montrose to your main flight – there is now direct service from several U.S. cities. It’s also easy to book a shuttle to Telluride so you won’t have to worry about renting a car – once you’re in Telluride, you don’t need a car anyways.

Tip: Check out the resort’s webpage to get all of the details on your flight to either Montrose or Telluride.

Telluride

Flying into Telluride’s tiny airstrip is the most exciting way to roll up to town. The airstrip is tucked into a slight bench in a narrow canyon surrounded by high peaks. It’s said to be one of the most difficult airports to land in. 

This airport used to be only for private and chartered flights but has recently been opened up for commercial flights as well. There is currently service from Denver and Pheonix.

While I lived in Telluride, there were several (yes, several) plane crashes associated with this airport. I believe they were all propeller planes (and one glider plane), not jets. 

Still, there are a lot of objective hazards when flying this close to the mountains and it’s more dangerous than flying into Denver or Montrose. 

How Much Is Parking?

Parking is free for the most part. There are a few places where you can pay extra to park in a slightly more convenient location, but it’s not necessary at all. 

Telluride

The main parking spot in the Town of Telluride is Carhenge, a dirt parking lot right at the base of Lift 7. It’s usually pretty easy to find parking here. If there is none available, it is always possible to find street parking on the North side of Main Street (up the hill) for free, but you will need to walk to the lift. 

Mountain Village

In Mountain Village, there is a large parking garage that virtually never fills up and is free for the day (25$ to park overnight). There is another free gondola that connects this garage with the core of Mountain Village where the ski lifts are. 

Click here to find out more about free parking in Mountain Village.

What’s The Transport Situation In Town?

cable-car

The free public transportation infrastructure in Telluride is incredible. The two main options are a free Gondola that runs between the Town and Mountain Village (and also serves as access to the mountain) and a shuttle bus that runs a loop around town every 10 minutes called the Galloping Goose. 

The Gondola

The Gondola was built in 1995 and was the first public transportation of its kind in America. Now, it’s more popular than ever and carries over 2.5 million passengers a year. The ride is about 12 minutes for the whole route, and it is extremely pleasant. 

Tip: Be sure to dress warmly in the wintertime because it can get chilly riding the Gondola, and once you step aboard you are committed. Luckily, they provide blankets as well. 

The Gondola is by far the best way to travel between Mountain Village and Telluride. If you do get stuck on one side or the other after closing (midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends), there are taxi services that will assist you. However, I wouldn’t bank on these, especially on weekdays – it’s best to not miss the Gondola. 

Galloping Goose

The Goose is a lovely shuttle bus that runs around the clock from 7 a.m. till midnight every day. In the winter, it comes every 10 minutes during the busiest part of the day, before trickling down to every 15 minutes and then every 20 minutes as it gets later.  

The loop around town makes is designed to make travel convenient no matter where you’re located. If you’re averse to walking or carrying your gear, the Goose is here to help you. And it’s totally free!

Does Telluride Have Webcams? 

Telluride has lots of webcams of the resort, the town, and even the roads heading into town (for those looking for travel conditions.) 

webcam telluride

Telluride Q&A

We’ve covered some if this above, but here are they key answer in bite-sized chunks.

What makes Telluride one of the best ski destinations in the US?

Well, for starters, the terrain here is super challenging and varied, with everything from steeps to glades to groomers to backcountry runs. (And the season is long too, with snow falling from November to April and sometimes even into May.)

Plus, the mountain town is charming and historic, with a range of dining, entertainment, and accommodation options. And on top of that, the ski culture and sense of community here are top-notch. Oh, and the ski infrastructure is excellent too, with state-of-the-art lifts and snowmaking, as well as plenty of ski schools and rental shops.

So, what’s the ski terrain like in Telluride?

There’s something for everyone on this mountain, with over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and more than 100 runs ranging from easy groomers to steep chutes and bowls.

The vertical drop is a whopping 4,425 feet and the top elevation is a staggering 13,150 feet, making it one of the highest ski resorts in North America.

There are beginner runs on the lower mountain, intermediate runs on the upper mountain, and advanced runs in the Gold Hill and Revelation Bowl areas. Plus, there are backcountry areas and guided tours for the real experts.

Now, what’s the ski season like in Telluride?

The ski season usually runs from November to April, with the most snowfall in December and January. But thanks to the high elevation and reliable snowmaking, the conditions are usually great all season long.

Sometimes the season even extends into May, offering spring skiing and snowboarding on a limited basis. The resort usually gets over 300 inches of snow per season, so there’s always plenty of coverage and variety on the mountain.

Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado

What’s the town of Telluride like?

The mountain town of Telluride is nestled at the base of the ski resort, surrounded by the beautiful San Juan Mountains. It’s a cute and historic town with all sorts of dining, entertainment, and accommodation options. There are ski-in, ski-out hotels and condos, as well as plenty of rental properties and vacation homes.

The town also has a thriving arts and culture scene, with galleries, theaters, and music venues, plus a range of restaurants and bars serving everything from pub food to fine dining. And in the summer, there are loads of outdoor events and activities, like hiking, biking, fishing, and golf.

So, when is the best time to visit Telluride?

The ski season in Telluride typically runs from late November to early April, with the busiest time being from December to March. The weather can vary a lot during this time, with temperatures ranging from the low 20s to the mid 40s. The best time to visit really depends on your preferences. If you want the best snow and fewer crowds, consider visiting in the early or late season. If you prefer milder weather and more amenities, the peak season might be a better fit for you.

And finally, what is there to do in Telluride for non-skiers?

Even if you don’t ski, there’s still plenty to do in Telluride. You could try snowshoeing, ice climbing, or cross-country skiing, or check out the town’s arts and culture scene. There are also plenty of spa and wellness options, as well as dining and shopping. So don’t worry, there’s something for everyone!

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