7 Must-Have Telluride Experiences in a Skier’s Paradise | Kind Traveler

7 Must-Have Telluride Experiences in a Skier’s Paradise

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Escape to a powder paradise with Old West flair in the luxuriously laid-back Telluride, Colorado. 

It’s no secret that Colorado is a gold mine in the ski world. The Rocky Mountains tower in a league of their own when it comes to North American slopes, attracting travelers and trailblazers from all over the globe to its high-powder proficiency and wide range of resorts. But while you may know of the classics such as Aspen, Breckenridge, and Vail, have you ever heard about Telluride? A lesser known diamond in the Wild West rough, this one-of-a-kind, small town vacation destination should sit high on your wanderlust wish list, for many reasons.

So which 7 must-have experiences make Telluride a winner? Read on, folks:

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home." -Edith Sitwell

1. TELLURIDE TOWN

All ski towns afford themselves a certain level of charm by nature. We’re talking cozy, dreamy, vacation destinations that embrace their own versions of a winter wonderland, inherently quaint in comparison to their dramatic backdrops of mountainous peaks. The goal is generally laid-back while luxurious, hip but a little rowdy, ritzy though unpretentious. Fun for all folks on the powder-junky spectrum looking to enjoy time off the slopes just as much as they do on. Telluride, Colorado, however, is an exception. There’s something special about this place. Maybe it’s the history, seeping so deeply from the town’s 

Old Western pores that you’ll find the very first bank Butch Cassidy ever robbed. Or, maybe it’s the people: an eclectic community comprised of artists, affluents, and adventurers, ready to say hello and have a beer on the spot (because why not?). It could be the quality of the slopes (unmatched), its scenery (postcard-worthy), the festivals (year-round), its dining scene (top-notch and Top Chef), or even the public transportation (a free gondola, obviously). An argument can be made for any and all of these factors, therefore its encouraged to visit and uncover your favorite.

2. GONDOLA TO MOUNTAIN VILLAGE

Part of Telluride’s beauty is that Telluride itself is actually only half the town. It's other half, Mountain Village, is just a short gondola ride away. This snazzier and more European-style village lies partway up the slopes, meaning ski-in/ski-out access is a ubiquitous amenity here. Stroll glistening plazas, heated sidewalks, shops and restaurants, as well as an ice skating rink, all surrounded by alpine views that are truly in a club of its own.

And don’t forget: getting to Mountain Village is an attraction in itself. This free gondola is the only public transportation system of its kind in North America, and is not only open late, but also welcomes pups along for the ride. If Fido’s never soared mid-air through the mountains before, I daresay Telluride’s gondola may be his time to shine.

Lumière Telluride

3. LUMIÈRE TELLURIDE

In tune with the sheer luxury that is Mountain Village as a whole, find #KindHotel Lumière Telluride at home amidst the bliss. While it’s lengthy awards list speaks for itself (including TripAdvisor’s #5 Best Small Hotel 2016, Condé Nast Travelers’ #1 Hotel in the West 2015, Traveller’s 1 of the World’s 12 Best Ski Hotels 2015, and many more), Lumière is a hotel that you should experience in person to gleam the full effect. 

This high-brow and home-like, intimate chalet is a true class act down to its core. Revel in warmth of all sorts: its kindly attentive staff (who upon arrival, address you by name), the fresh-baked, daily goodies in the lobby (in accompaniment to gourmet breakfasts included with your stay), and heated ski boots (perched outside your door in the morning, ready to help carve the first tracks). Every detail is set up to pamper, so dive into its many amenities and enjoy. 

Reserve a fireside table at swanky Bijou to wine and dine for a killer happy hour. Afterwards, head up to your room for a private aromatherapy massage, performed with all-natural LATHER products, that’s specifically designed to heal sore athlete muscles. Or maybe you’d rather elect for a yoga or Pilates session, also held privately in the comfort of your room. Reward yourself with a trip to Lumière’s outdoor spa, where a hot tub, warm plunge, and cold splash pools await (in addition to an indoor sauna). With so many de-stressing options offered at this hotel, just remind yourself to get out and explore the area, too. The ski-in/ski-out access and in-room gear fittings from Black Tie Ski Rentals will definitely inspire you, if nothing else.

4. SKI + SNOWBOARD

Colorado’s snow is famously fluffy. Powder days feel like flying, with air-light flakes that dust off your gear like feathers falling through wind. But purely top-notch snow does not equal a top-notch mountain. It needs to have runs that appeal to the masses: cruising blues, lengthy bunnies, sprawling bowls, steep/bumpy diamonds. So what’s the case in in Telluride, you ask? A surefire ‘yes’ to all of the above. This is in-bound skiing that feels like backcountry (so in ski-words, paradise). An all-star mountain also needs to be enjoyable via one board or two–and while Telluride Resort may admittedly lean towards the split-feet option,

I can assure you that snowboarders will not be disappointed. Lastly, while these final two factors aren’t necessarily required to be a good mountain, I’d argue that in the battle for greatness, they’re worth making the list. 1) Picturesque views (have you seen photos of this place? If so, nuff said), and an 2) absence of lift lines–which may seem too good to be true, but is in fact a reality in magical Telluride. It’s for good reason that Condé Nast readers ranked it the #1 Ski Resort in America this year. Hit the slopes and discover why for yourself. 

“Powder snow skiing is not fun. It’s life, fully lived, life lived in a blaze of reality.” -Dolores LaChapelle

5. TRAILS

While I personally may prefer my skis facing downhill, it’s understood that not everyone opts for the vertical decline. For skiers of the Nordic variety, Telluride offers a flat-out expanse of trail-work for your exploration (pun intended). Plow through frosted trees and open terrain amidst scenery that may well be a Christmas card come to life. If your calves aren’t necessarily cross-country prepped but you’d still like to explore these gorgeous trails, have no fear: a plethora of other gadgets are at your disposal.

Fat bikes, named for their cartoonishly-large wheels, help you to conquer groomed trails via bicycle (and can also lead you to a cold one at Telluride Brewing Company, if you please). Snow biking allows for a mix of downhill skiing and mountain biking, where you pedal on a bike made of skis instead of wheels. You can also frolic atop the fresh powder in a timeless mode of travel, with snowshoes strapped to your feet. The list of gizmos go on... I encourage you to try them all. 

221 South Oak

6. APRÈS SKI

The town of Telluride tags itself as a place to “Play Hard. Eat Well.” Based on the aforementioned list, I think we can agree that it’s at least earned the first half of this phrase. And make no mistake: the latter holds serious merit as well. Telluride made Condé Nast’s list of Top 20 Best American Cities for Foodies 2014, with good reason (the awards just don’t cease!). Top Chef Eliza Gavin runs the show at 221 South Oak, where dinner is served in a restored Victorian, accompanied by a sprawling wine list.

Bon Vivant

Grab hipper grub at There, led by Nobu alum, Andrew Tyler, and discover that you had no idea just how much you loved Colorado-Asian fusion. Don’t miss an alfresco lunch at Bon Vivant either, where the French fare gives its views of 14,000-foot peaks a run for their money. But while these views may be some of the best in Telluride town, read on for truly unbeatable eye-candy.

Charm seekers should head up to Mountain Village. Take the gondola to Allred’s: a classy, fine-American-dining treat where even the simplest of drinks and dishes are brought to new heights. Another tasty option is Siam’s Talay Grille, a must-try for fresh and deliciously authentic Thai.

Palmyra at the Peaks Resort

But let’s be honest, what’s après ski dining without drinking, anyway? The boozy scene of Telluride can be booshie, boisterous, or both. Remain in Mountain Village for drinks at Palmyra, full of fireplaces and fiery-good cocktails paired with views of Wilson Peak, enjoyed best from its expansive deck. The Oak is a local favorite down at the bottom of the gondola,

instead favoring the grittier, small town, cowboy boot vibe also famed in Colorado. Another beloved option is New Sheridan Bar, which has been housed in a historic hotel since 1895. All in all, ascertaining that Telluride plays hard by day, you can feel confident that its nightlife lives up to the claim as well.

"Winter is not a season, it's a celebration.” -Anamika Mishra

7. BENEFIT THE TELLURIDE FOUNDATION 

Now, after learning how freaking fantastic this place is, don’t you just wish that somehow, there was a way to preserve its fascination? Lucky for you, there is: cue the Telluride Foundation. Dedicated to creating a tight-knit community for all who visit, live, and work in Telluride, it works to improve the quality of life for all, preserving the region’s beauty both inside and out. It’s created a philanthropic network spanning the entire region. By delivering cash-grants (as the fourth most active grant-maker in the country) it’s able to support many local organizations involved in community-based efforts, spanning sectors of education, athletics, health, human services, conservation, the arts, and more.

As a local Kind Charity on Kind Traveler, supporting this worthy cause is now easier than ever. Simply select them as your benefactor when booking any Kind Hotel–such as Lumière Telluride. By supporting the local community with a $10 nightly donation, you'll unlock an exclusive hotel rate. It feels good to score a sweet deal, but feels even better to give; why not do both with Kind Traveler and help make the world a better place, too? 

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HOW TO GET THERE

The Montrose-Telluride Regional Airport (MTJ) is just 65 miles from Telluride, reached conveniently via several transportation companies available. In the winter, travelers are offered 15 direct flights from 10 major U.S. .cities, including: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Houston, LA, New York/LaGuardia, 

New York/Newark, Phoenix, and San Francisco. Summer options are slightly more limited, but only slightly. You can also elect to fly directly into Telluride Airport (TEX) itself (located a mere six miles from town) by connecting through Denver on Great Lakes/United. Your snow adventure awaits!

BOOK NOW + Receive Exclusive Lumière Telluride Rate

Gus Kenworthy-Telluride’s Native Son

 

Dana is a word junky who loves all things travel, nature, music and food. Based on the West Coast, she's passionate about the planet and protecting all who call it home, living by a belief in education through exploration.