Thirty-Six Hours in Telluride
There are many reasons to fly private, but one of our favorites is the easy access it offers to destinations that are often considered difficult to reach.
Like Telluride, Colorado.
Set within a glacier-carved box canyon 360 miles from Denver, Telluride gives us everything we want in an alpine destination: dramatic scenery, tremendous skiing with no lift lines, a walkable downtown, and a sprinkling of celebrities, all wrapped up within the rocky peaks of the San Juan Mountains.
Here’s how we spend three perfect days in this winter wonderland.
Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) is located just six miles outside of town and directly accessible from nearly anywhere in North America with XOJET’s fleet of Challenger 300 or Citation X aircraft. Perched at 9,070 feet, TEX’s runway is 7,111 feet by 100.
Photo: Telluride Tourism Board | Ryan Bonneau
Telluride has two downtowns—Telluride and Mountain Village—and both are worth exploring. Start in Telluride’s compact downtown, a former mining village that has been named a National Historic Landmark District. Within the colorful Victorian buildings you’ll find the first bank ever robbed by Butch Cassidy, the circa-1913 Sheridan Opera House, galleries, shops, cafes, and restaurants. Overland is the place to go for snazzy fur boots and hats; there’s a good chance you’ll run into Bobbi Brown at Telluride Medicine Ranch, which stocks wonderfully fragrant therapeutic potions made from organic essential oils.
Perched on a mountain slope at 9,500 feet, Mountain Village is a European-style resort town set with an ice-skating rink, large hotels, boutiques, sport shops, and the city’s only Starbucks. Make time to tour Wagner Custom Skis’ just-opened showroom and let owner Pete Wagner explain how bespoke skis can make you a better skier, no matter your level.
The real fun, though, is traveling between the two via the free gondola that makes the 13-minute trip up and down the mountain every day from dawn until midnight.
Dinner at Allred’s, which is located midway up the free gondola route, is a Telluride tradition. We try to arrive before sunset, made even better with a flatliner—Telluride’s signature espresso-and-Baileys cocktail—and the view from 10,000 feet. Don’t miss Allred’s elk steak, which is marinated in bourbon, or the crunchy deep-fried potato croutons.
Photo: Telluride Ski Resort | Brad Foley
Telluride Ski Resort has a reputation for hard-core skiing, and it’s true: Helicopter and backcountry skiing are readily available, and the terrain within Black Iron Bowl, Gold Hill Chutes, and Palmyra Peak is legendary.
But what we love about Telluride is the staggering variety of runs available to non-experts. Of the 127 trails that crisscross Telluride’s more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, 23% are rated for beginners and 36% for intermediate skiers. Best of all, many blue and green runs start on tall mountain crests, giving novices a chance to take in stunning vistas before gliding down low-traffic runs more than four miles long, or trying out advanced-beginner-rated bowl skiing. You’ll have plenty of time to ski, too, since anything longer than a 3 minute wait to board the lift is considered a major traffic jam.
After a morning on the slopes, schuss onto the deck of Alpino Vino, a wine bar and restaurant perched at nearly 12,000 feet, or Bon Vivant, for Cassoulet, cheese, and other French-accented specialties. Both restaurants are open for Telluride’s daily après-ski party as well.
For dinner, refuel at La Marmotte, where CIA-trained chef and Jean-Georges’ Mercer Kitchen alum, Mark Reggiannini, serves French bistro fare in a cozy cottage.
Photo: Telluride Tourism Board
Make time for breakfast at the Butcher and Baker Café, a sunny downtown spot that serves cheesy egg sandwiches on homemade English muffins, decadent baked goods, and giant cups of steaming coffee. Don’t skimp: You’ll need the energy for fat-tire snow biking, which involves riding mountain bikes outfitted with four-inch-wide, super-treaded tires through snow-covered single-track trails, along golf cart paths and through snowy neighborhoods. It’s a challenging ride—but ridiculously fun (especially if you fall into a drift). Bootdoctors runs half-day tours from Mountain Village.
Après ride with a Face Down Brown or Ski-in, Ski-Stout at Telluride Brewing Company, or stroll to Telluride Distilling Company for a Chairlift Warmer, a mixture of hot chocolate and crisp peppermint schnapps, or a Telluride Mule that’s mixed up with house-made vodka and ginger beer.
Where To Stay
Photo: Telluride Tourism Board
Spacious and modern, the Auberge Residences at Element 52 are one of Telluride’s few ski-in, ski-out hotels. Each of the 33 two-four bedroom units have stone accents, full kitchens with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, bathrooms with steam showers, and several outdoor soaking pools.
Within Mountain Village, The Madeline offers both hotel rooms and multi-bedroom residences, all set with mountain views and direct ski access. There’s also a full service spa and a new outdoor Sky Terrace set with hot tubs, fire pits, and a pool.
*Featured Photo Courtesy of: Telluride Ski Resort | Brett Schreckengost
By Katie McElveen
Travel and lifestyle writer Katie McElveen discovered the joy of wandering when, as a teenager, she made a wrong turn in rural South Carolina on the way to a family vacation and ended up taking back roads nearly all the way to the beach. Since then, she hasn’t stopped exploring, although she now travels with a map and more than $3.00 in cash. Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Katie has shared her discoveries through her work in magazines such as Real Simple, Business Traveler, Modern Bride, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Town & Country, Southern Living, Spa and Tennis.