In the last 10 years, I’ve made it to Telluride, Colorado, tucked tight in the end of the prettiest box canyon in the state, at least six times. I always leave exhausted – days of downhill skiing, climbing frozen waterfalls, riding fat-tire bikes through the snow, zooming around on snowmobiles, and inching across a cabled climbing route called a via ferrata will do that.
Thinking about a trip? Here are my recommendations for things to do on your next visit to this classic ski town on the southwestern side of the state. (I’ve got a whole different list for summer.)
The slopes. This one’s obvious, but it’s all about the skiing here. The resort spans more than 2,000 acres, with 19 lifts whisking skiers up those scenic peaks. The longest run stretches 4.6 miles, and from See Forever Run you can, well, see forever. Masks are required in lift lines.
At the end of the ski day, grab a margarita (yes, I live in Texas and I just said that) at Gorrono Ranch on the mountain. Because of Covid, the resort has built a terraced outdoor patio out of snow, and it’s a perfect place to listen to live music and celebrate a day of conquering those black diamond runs. Take a peek inside the log cabin, once a sheep herder’s home and now a cozy bar warmed by a pot-bellied stove.
The gondola. Visitors can stay in the original town of Telluride, on the valley floor, or book a room in Mountain Village. Either way, it’s a free 15-minute gondola ride from one place to the other, and the night view of town lights sparkling far below alone are worth the trip.
Grab an old fashioned (or a bottle of bourbon) at the Telluride Distilling Company’s tasting room in Mountain Village. They make and sell their own vodka, schnapps and whiskey.
Ride a snowmobile to the ghost town of Alta at 11,800 feet, home of a couple hundred miners during the heyday of the Alta-Gold King area in the late 1800s. The old boarding house still stands. Telluride Outfitters offers toursPlan on dinner at There, a multi-course event that changes according to the chef’s whim. During my visit last week, the lineup included andouille mussels, tuna niçoise, wagyu beef tartar, roasted duck, seared lamb loin and Nutella semifreddo, a kind of frozen mousse. Yum.
Stroll down East Colorado Avenue to get a glimpse of Ursa Ravus, a 15-foot sculpture of a waving bear made of 187,000 pennies.
Book a room at Lumiere with Inspirato in Mountain Village. I love the historic old New Sheridan Hotel and Hotel Telluride in town, but this trip I discovered a sweet new place to catch my Zs – the Lumiere with Inspirato in Mountain Village. It’s posh – my room had a kitchenette (and a basket full of bacon, eggs, fresh baked bread and fruit so I could cook breakfast in), a sitting area, balcony, giant cushy bed and access to an outdoor hot tub and a ski valet. Did I mention it’s ski in-ski out?
Drop by the StrongHouse, even if you don’t feel like partaking in one of its fresh house brews (I like the honey ginger blonde ale). The brewery occupies a cool old stone building that dates to 1892 – and some pretty neat old photographs showing its early days.
One more restaurant recommendation – 221 South Oak, which this winter is offering a wine and pairing class that includes a box of ingredients to make a three-course pasta meal for two, plus three half bottles of wine, for just $100. It comes with an instructional (and fun!) video of how to cook it, starring my pal Tom Watkinson. Or just drop by for a meal in the heated yurt out back. The service is excellent.