In the early 1890s, there were more millionaires per capita in Telluride than in New York City. The first local mineral claim was made in 1875, and from that time until the last mine closed, in 1978, billions of dollars worth of gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc were extracted from 350 miles of tunnels carved into the mountains. The town’s name is said to come from tellurium, a rare lustrous silvery-white metalloid, but a more popular explanation is that it’s a contraction of the warning called to miners making the trek to the town, which was known for bars and houses of ill repute: “To hell you ride.” Today people are drawn to Telluride not by the gold in the mountains but by the white covering them. Well worth the journey to Colorado’s remote southwestern corner, Telluride offers world class skiing without the crowds.

Cheat Sheet

  • Experience…one of North America’s top ski resorts (and some of its shortest lift lines)
  • Splurge…on the $24 off-the-menu grilled cheese at slopeside wine bar Alpino Vino
  • Eat…dinner at cozy local standby La Marmotte
  • Drink…at Telluride’s oldest watering hole, the Historic Bar at the New Sheridan Hotel
  • Savor…the unforgettable views of Telluride from the free gondola
  • Shop… for bespoke skis at hometown hero outfitter Wagner Custom
  • Explore…the abandoned town of Tomboy, which once flourished at 11,500 feet
  • See…bluegrass and film premieres at two of Telluride’s most popular summer festivals
  • Indulge…in a few nights of log cabin luxury at nearby Dunton Hot Springs, a fine finale to any stay in the San Juan Mountains

Newly Added:

Historical Tours, Telluride Academy, Summer Farmers’ Market, Garden Store, Apotheca, Turquoise Door Gallery, Black Bear Trading Co., 221 South Oak

Lay of the Land

“Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable.”
~Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Telluride is a tiny town in a big setting. Just some twelve blocks long and eight blocks wide, it is encircled by the soaring San Juan Mountains, which boast the second greatest collection of “fourteeners” (fourteen in all)—mountains more than fourteen thousand feet high—in the country. Situated in the heart of San Miguel County, Telluride is bordered on three sides by 12,000-ft. and 13,000-ft. peaks. The nearest stop light is forty-five miles away, and you won’t see a single chain restaurant. Worlds apart from its better-known state mates Aspen and Vail, and more remote, Telluride keeps to a slower pace.

As a ski destination, Telluride consists of the historic mining town on one side of the mountain and the ski-in, ski-out development of Mountain Village on the other. It’s a choice between atmosphere and convenience: The former has Victorian charm and character, while the latter, with its abundance of ski schools, boot fitters and even an ice rink, caters to families. Though there is also bus service in season, the easiest and prettiest way to get from one to the other is to take a free thirteen-minute gondola ride.

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