It’s not every day you get to fill your lungs with the crispest air, bag the highest peaks, or shred some of the most badass terrain in North America. Whether you’re a guy who prefers a high-end, no-holds-barred ski vacation, or you’re a ski bum turned corporate dude looking to relive your glory days, your annual ski trip is a sacred, time-honored tradition. In our winter Ski Series, we’re delivering you a go-to guide, so you know where to stay, what to eat, and, in some cases, how to discover things only the locals know.
Skiers and snowboarders, this week’s Ultimate Ski Vacation is a must. For the folks lucky enough to call Telluride home, the pull of this magical box canyon is crystal clear. What was once a well-kept secret in the heart of the San Juan Mountains is today a world class destination in Colorado’s southwest corner. For those who have yet to make the journey, perhaps being voted “North America’s Best Ski Resort” by Conde Nast Traveler readers or ranking No. 1 in Scenery according to SKI Magazine’s 2016 Resort Survey will help shed some light on just how special this place really is. And although much has changed since Telluride was featured in the legendary ’88 ski flick The Blizzard of AAHHH’s, the same enthusiasm showcased in the film is alive and well today, as Reggae tunes continue to fill the air and spread eagles are still performed in neon onesies. So, here’s the inside scoop on the greatest damn town on the planet.
In Telluride, an unparalleled sense of community and zest for adventure are as vibrant as ever, with a contagious spirit not even the richest of high-powered execs could stifle. In a town like this, shallow flattery will get you nowhere (unless of course you’re complimenting a local girl’s love of hoop earrings, then by all means), but a sincere love for the great outdoors will make you feel like you’ve belonged your entire life. In a town like this, no one cares about your newest fur coat, but your throwback puffy wrapped in duct tape will earn you some street cred. Driving fast in your fancy car (the town’s speed limit, by the way, is a mellow 15 miles per hour) will impress no one, but skiing fast on your fancy skis (check out Telluride’s very own Wagner Custom Skis for the best custom planks in the industry), however, might turn some heads. In a town like this, the livin’ is easy, simple, and good.
Where to stay
As Telluride’s only Four-Diamond, full service hotel, Hotel Madeline is the spot for anyone looking to get down with their bougie self. Award-winning luxury and impeccable service are the name of the game at this Mountain Village abode, and the brand-spanking new Sky Terrace — home to an outdoor pool, two hot tubs, and two fire pits — is pretty prime-time, as well. If you’re searching for something a little more low-key, check out the Mountainside Inn. Located along the San Miguel River and just steps from Chair 7, accommodations include budget-friendly hotel rooms (with kitchenettes), one- and three-bedroom condos with full kitchens, and a shared hot tub.
Where to eat
Whether you’re in town for your buddy’s bachelor party or on a romantic getaway with your better half, you’ll want the beta on the best eats in town. For the foodie at heart, dinner at Hongas is a must. Featuring fresh Japanese American cuisine and quality dishes created by seasoned chef and longtime local Erich Owen, Hongas hooks it up with a fine dining experience in the newly renovated, mountain industrial atmosphere.
If you’re looking for a more casual scene, pop into Brown Dog for some award-winning pizza and a neighborhood feel. And of course, no ski town would be complete without a great breakfast spot. For any true man of leisure who enjoys the finer things in life, like a baller brunch with top-notch service to boot, make sure you hit up The Sheridan. Where you sit is up to you — on the patio if the weather’s right, in the main Chop House dining room, or belly up to the bar at the Parlor — how much fun you have is up to your bartender. And trust me, the staff will not disappoint. Order up a mouth-watering meal and score yourself some hair of the dog that done bit ya the night before.
Where to shred
Besides the fact that Telluride is home to some of the most stunning views anywhere, ever, the resort also claims some of the most badass terrain on the continent. From open bowls to tight trees to rolling groomers and everything in between, Telluride’s got the terrain some skiers only dream about. The resort includes in-bounds hike-to’s to areas including Black Iron Bowl, Bald Mountain, the Gold Hill Chutes, and Palmyra Peak. And if you’re really feeling ambitious, book a trip with Telluride Helitrax for made-to-order memories with the best in the biz.
After you’ve gotten your fill of face shots, make sure you know the quickest way to Misty Maiden, as it serves as the route to Gorrono Ranch, which is the best on-mountain zone for soaking up the sun, shaking your groove thang to live music, and sipping on some bevies (if you hit it on a Sunday, grab yourself a free tasting of beer brewed by Telluride’s own TBC).
Best après watering hole
With its prime location at the base of Chair 8 and a lively après scene, OAK is the spot for post-skiing cocktails (and grub). Order a $2 Schlitz, a round of Mitch Morgan shots (bourbon and bacon … yum), and high-five your favorite familiar faces on the sun-soaked patio.
Looking to class it up? Pop into La Marmotte for a cozy ambiance and a round of Flatliners. And if you’re thinking a drink called a “Flatliner” might not be the way to go, trust me, it is. Finish your night off with drinks at the favorite local dive bar, The Buck, or Last Dollar Saloon, as the sign out front reads.
Talk of the town
Telluride’s kind of a big deal. With the immense beauty that abounds, it’s no surprise the region has attracted notable high-caliber buzz over the years. Last winter, Quentin Tarantino set up shop just outside Telluride to film his newest masterpiece, The Hateful Eight. Despite what the film wants you to believe, that stunning scenery isn’t actually Wyoming.