SET IN A BOX CANYON WITH SPECTACULAR SAN JUAN VIEWS, FEATHER-LIGHT SNOW AND REAL-DEAL TERRAIN, TELLURIDE IS A SKIER’S PARADISE.
The terrain and the powder skiing at Telluride are simply legendary. PHOTO BY RYAN BONNEAU
SURROUNDED BY SKYSCRAPING VIEWS of the Wilson Range, I sit with friends at a wooden table in the snow, sipping white wine and spreading truffle honey on bits of soppressata and a decadent triplecream cheese. We are at Alpino Vino, perched at 11,966 feet, one of Telluride’s European-inspired on-mountain stone huts. Attentive servers in Tyrolean felt hats stop by to ensure our glasses never get perilously low, and skiers spray the lightest mist of snow over the scene as they whiz past. On the deck nearby, Daryl Hannah and Neil Young are also having a late lunch.
I’d worked up an appetite hiking the Gold Hill ridgeline and skiing Telluride’s vertiginous chutes. Set in an amphitheater of volcanic rock in the postcardworthy San Juans, Telluride is known for its steeps, but it also has meandering cruisers like See Forever, which we discover is the perfect post-Alpino Vino run, with views of Utah’s La Sals 90 miles to the west.
The next day, we go full throttle on cutting-edge Polaris snowmobiles, complete with heated grips. The Telluride Outfitters tour leads to Alta Lakes, with stunning views of Palmyra Peak and the Ophir Needles. As we pass by the Alta ghost town, with its well-preserved mining structures, our guide pauses to dispense historical nuggets about Butch Cassidy, Nikola Tesla and John Wayne, who is rumored to have won a parcel of land now known as Ophir in a poker game while filming 1969’s True Grit. It’s a good story anyway.
We spend the rest of the weekend window shopping at boutiques and art galleries in town and mingling over après with locals decked in flannel shirts and Cotopaxi puffers. We have a lovely Champagne brunch at the historic New Sheridan’s Chop House, taking a quick unofficial tour of the 1899 saloon with its handsomely carved mahogany bar and original ornate light fixtures.
We love the 3-mile, 12-minute gondola commute through the aspens from our home base in swanky Mountain Village to the 19th century mining town of Telluride. From the gondola car at night, the twinkling lights of the town below are magical.
An award-winning boutique luxury residential hotel with expansive mountain views in Mountain Village, Lumière with Inspirato (lumierewithinspirato.com) is known for high-touch service and luxury amenities like chef ’s kitchens, resident concierge to arrange your heli-ski excursion and a ski valet who will warm your boots overnight and help you buckle them in the morning. On arrival, a basket of locally sourced breakfast victuals awaits, including an artisanal loaf from Blue Grouse Bread, which takes three days to make using Old World bread baking techniques.
Lumière with Inspirato. PHOTO COURTESY OF TELLURIDE OUTFITTER
At Alpino Vino (tellurideskiresort.com), pair grilled cheese panini on Parmesan sourdough with the tomato-gorgonzola soup. A new on-mountain hot spot, Bon Vivant (tellurideskiresort.com) is a round deck and bar shaded by an enormous central umbrella. It’s known for dishes like duck cassoulet and beef bourguignon and a French wine program to match. While you’re sipping your sauvignon blanc, the bottle stays chilled in a snow bucket fashioned from a WWII 105 caliber howitzer shell. In Telluride, 221 South Oak (221southoak.com) is set inside a refurbished historic home and features new American cuisine from former Top Chef star Eliza Gavin, who also does cooking demos and wine pairings. Chefs Erich Owen and Ross Martin, masterminds behind The National (thenationaltelluride.com), recently opened LittleHouse (littlehouseeats.com), a cozy Euro-influenced bistro that embraces experimentation, inventing new classics like the fried bologna sandwich on Texas toast.
The town of Telluride is famously and dramatically framed by a box canyon. PHOTO BY RYAN BONNEAU
Enjoy Alpine-inspired food and tank-to-tap microbrews at Stronghouse (stronghousebrewpub.com), a restored 1892 warehouse. The space has character, with the original stone walls and an 1880s Brunswick bar. Ask to be seated inside the frame of the original manual lift that was once the only way to access the basement’s storage. For sophisticated fireside après, head to the Timber Room inside Madeline Hotel & Residences (aubergeresorts.com/madeline). To craft the New Fashioned, a melange of bourbon, ginger, cardamom and coriander drips through a series of glass coils in a Yama slow-drip infusion tower for 12 hours. At the Telluride Distilling Company’s (telluridedistilling.com) tasting room in Mountain Village, enjoy a Telluride Mule in a copper cup that distiller Abbott Smith makes with housemade ginger beer and bitters. Or warm up with a nip of handcrafted Euro-style peppermint schnapps (Read: It’s not overly sweet).
Wagner Custom Skis (wagnerskis.com) are handcrafted in a small factory right in Mountain Village. Start by chatting with a designer to sketch out a plan for skis built to your specifications. Aspen, white ash or cedar in the core? Full carbon weave? You’ll also choose from the brand’s stock graphics or design your own. The marbled chechen wood veneer from tropical Africa makes for an elegant, exotic look.
Wagner Custom Skis. PHOTO COURTESY OF WAGNER CUSTOM SKIS; BY DANNY GERMAIN
For laps in untracked powder in highalpine cirques and summits, book a day of heli-skiing with Telluride Helitrax (helitrax.com). With a high-touch ratio of four guests to one guide, you’ll feel pampered. The company sets clients up with powder boards and avalanche gear, and at lunchtime guides serve a gourmet picnic. Your conveyance for the day: a Eurocopter AS350 B3e, a bird built for high-altitude mountain flying. Helitrax’s permit grants it exclusive heli-skiing access to over 200 square miles of terrain surrounding Telluride. You’ll log 10,000 to 14,000 vertical feet over six runs—all in Colorado’s light fluffy powder.
In Telluride, Two Skirts (shoptwoskirts.com) has thought-provoking Lingua Franca sweaters from Italy and Michelle Daccarett bags handwoven by Colombian artisans. Crossbow Leather (crossbowleather.com) makes leather belts, backpacks and bags in the back of its shop on Telluride’s main street. Pop by to see owner Macy Pryor and her creative team at work. At Society (societytelluride.com), shop for hand-tie-dyed cashmere from Zenzee and handpainted Louis Vuitton bags from New Vintage, then recharge in the shop’s lounge with a wine or a coffee. For Fiorentini + Baker boots made by Italian artisans dedicated to the centuries-old tradition of shoemaking, head for Sublime (sublimetelluride.com). At Sunglass HQ (sunglasshqtelluride.com), located in the historic 1892 First National Bank, you’ll find shades from Matsuda, SALT., Oliver Peoples and handmade Italian eyewear from L.G.R—and the original walkin bank vault with time lock. In Mountain Village, Heritage Apparel (970.728.7340), a boutique department store with sophisticated looks and designer labels, carries Kempton, Zadig & Voltaire and Vince, as well as a selection of home goods, artwork and sunglasses from Gucci and Chloé.
New Vintage Handbags. PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW VINTAGE HANDBAGS
Snowmobiling with Telluride Outfitters. PHOTO COURTESY OF TELLURIDE OUTFITTER
Telluride has a handful of galleries where you can peruse the work of local and global artists. Mixx Projects + Atelier (mixxatelier.com) has fine art but also a curated collection of sustainable home decor, handmade furniture and artisan jewelry, all with a focus on creativity, sustainability and ethical collaboration. Look for work by Meredith Nemirov, a Ridgway-based artist who creates idiosyncratic abstractions of Colorado’s aspen trees in gouache, watercolor and ink on paper. Stop into Slate Gray Gallery (slategraygallery.com) to see works from Telluride artist Molly Perrault, who renders landscapes of the West out of tiny paper shards cut meticulously from magazines