When it comes to winter travel destinations, a memorable trip includes an ample amount of time spent on the mountain skiing or snowboarding, soaking in the beauty of nature snowshoeing, or Nordic skiing, rounded out with delicious meals to refuel. Telluride, Colorado is an outdoor and nature lover's paradise, an adventurer's playground. Nestled inside of a box canyon, it is said that one doesn’t just stumble upon the town, rather, people who come to Telluride, are specifically coming to visit, since there is only one way in and one way out.
Once an old mining town during the late 1800s, legend has it that it got its name due to the treacherous route it took to get there—at one time it took 4 weeks to arrive from Denver and hence dubbed, ‘to hell you ride’. Today, the roads are much friendlier and visitors can choose to stay in the town or Mountain Village, which is reached by riding the gondola that is free of charge. If you are looking to spend a weekend or a week in Telluride, we have you covered from what outdoor activities are a must to where to enjoy a memorable meal.
Where to Stay
Hotel Telluride is a luxurious mountainside retreat in the heart of town. A roaring fireplace, worn leather sofas and complimentary coffee, tea and snacks are just a few of the welcoming elements after a day spent on the mountain. Each room is spacious and has a private balcony and guests have access to ammenites like outdoor hot tubs and a spa, which offers and array of treatments to restore tired muscles. Another perk, they gladly welcome your pets if they want to make the trip with you.
With an impressive amount of trails, there is something for skiers and snowboarders of all levels at Telluride Ski Resort from green trails to double back diamonds. The craggy vistas viewed from the top of the mountain soar over 11,000 feet above sea level, including Wilson Mountain, also known as the ‘Coors’ logo mountain. If you are a beginner, the Ski School is an invaluable source for learning the basics or advancing what you already know.
For the Outdoor Enthusiast
If hitting the mountain isn’t for you, or you are looking to experience something new, there are many other winter activities that let you soak in the beauty of the region. Head to The Nordic Ski Center in the Town Park, which offers lessons and ski rentals (we recommend Ashley), or rent a sled and venture to the nearby hill. If you prefer biking, pickup a fat tired bike at Boot Doctors and explore the outlying areas. If you head out of town, on South Colorado Avenue, there are bike lanes that allow you to explore.
The Telluride Food Scene
Telluride is emerging as a food destination, in fact, the new season of Top Chef, filmed a few episodes there with local chefs, including Eliza Gavin of 221 South Oak. Before or after an active day of hitting the slopes, refueling is necessary, so why not do it in style at one these noteworthy establishments.
Where to Begin Your Day
Before hitting the slopes, grab a quick breakfast at The Butcher & The Baker, a cozy bakery that serves egg sandwiches and pastries from croissants to granola with homemade yogurt. Weather permitting, head next door for coffee at The Coffee Cowboy and sip your morning brew outside while looking at the mountains. Or if you prefer a healthier option, stop by Telluride Juice Co. located inside of Apotheca Integrative Pharmacy and grab a green juice to go.
For Lunch & Dinner
221 South Oak
A French bistro from chef Eliza Gavin, serving an inventive cuisine that caters to all eaters, especially vegetarians—she has an entire menu filled with non-meat options. Try the Miso Roasted Colorado Chicken with Dashi or the Shittake Crusted Pork Tenderloin. Be sure to save room for dessert, opt for the decadent Chocolate Torte layered with mousse and candied cocoa nibs. 221 South Oak
Cozy with sweeping views of the San Sophia ridge, Allred’s is located at the first stop on the gondola. The new American menu serves an array of dishes, like salmon accompanied with a confit of purple potatoes and crispy snap peas; you can pair any dish with their custom blended red or white house wines. Allred's
Located in Mountain Village, this ski in and ski out location serves lunch and dinner, inside of the Madeline Hotel, an Auberge Resort. The comforting menu includes dishes like roasted cauliflower hush puppies, manchego grilled cheese and the chef's special, banana cream pie. Black Iron
What do Drink:
Ask any local about the most notable drink in town and they will tell you to order a Flatliner, a mélange of vodka, Baileys, Kahlúa and finished with a shot of rich espresso. Many bars serve them, including the bar at the New Sheridan on the main street in town.
Go on a Sleigh Ride
After a long day of winter activities, book your dinner reservations at Telluride Sleighs and Wagons, a memorable dining experience nestled in the valley outside of town at the Aldasoro Ranch. The dinners were started by Ashley Story, whose family has owned the expansive ranch marked with white Aspen trees and enveloped by white capped mountains for over five generations. With a reservation, you are picked up at your hotel and driven up a winding dirt road dotted with log cabins, there, a Belgium horse drawn wagon or sleigh (snow permitting) awaits to take you to dinner. After about a fifteen minute ride, two covered tents anchored by wooden beams and a roaring fire greet you. Guests are led into one of the cozy tents, the other is the kitchen, which is outfitted with a wood burning stove, sheepskin covered benches, flickering candles and a table setting with a mouthwatering cheese and charcuterie plate.
The menu is inspired by the Basque region of Spain, but with a local flare since everything is sourced nearby. You chose your meal upon booking and there are several dishes to choose from, like trout, lamb and a vegetarian option. On this particular night, dinner began with a hearty butternut squash soup served with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of freshly grated turmeric. After the main, the meal ended with desert—a trio of piping hot churros accompanied with chocolate sauce or bread pudding served with a tasty peach sorbet made from local Colorado Palisade peaches.
The real magic happens after the sun has set and the moon has yet to rise over the ridge, as you make your way back down the mountain, the same way you came up. The night sky reveals a spectacular expanse of stars and galaxies, truly, a sight to be seen.
Note: Telluride Sleighs and Wagons serves two dinners a night, one at 6pm and another at 8pm. Reservations are required and fill-up quickly, so be sure to book as far in advance as possible.
How to get to Telluride
While the town has a small airport, most major airlines fly into Montrose, Colorado, about 65 miles from town. Upon arrival, you have an option to rent a car or take Telluride Express, a van that will drop you off at your hotel. Note, parking is limited in town, while some hotels have underground parking, finding a spot might be hard to come especially during peak times. If your plan is only to ski renting a car isn’t necessary.
Photography by Alison Engstrom / A very special thanks to Visit Telluride for making this trip possible