Maybe it’s because it was Valentine’s week. Or maybe it was because my husband and I found ourselves in Telluride with a free afternoon to ski, but as I was resting my legs riding up Lift Nine, it hit me.
We needed a getaway, a little time without the boys, to recharge, reconnect and best of all, ride up a chairlift without talking (I know that sounds a little weird, but ski moms and dads out there, you understand, don’t you?).
Where better than Telluride?
Telluride For Big People
We’ve had plenty of family fun in Telluride and the mountain and town have plenty to offer little people (see below). Still I think Telluride is one of the more adult-oriented resorts in North America. It is also, arguably, the most beautiful.
Let’s start with the landscape.
Big Vistas. The views from Telluride Ski Resort are astounding. Stand at the top of the Prospect Express and look south over the Alta Lakes basin. To your left is Palmyra Peak, which offers a heart-pounding climb to 13,320 feet and some thrilling and challenging skiing.
To your right, looking west, is the Wilson Peak group, with three of Colorado’s famous 14‘ers. It’s an iconic vista that has made Telluride famous and no matter how many times you see it, it takes your breath away.
Turn in any direction from any high point on the mountain and the story is the same.
Gorgeous, stunning, breathtaking, awe-inspiring: which superlative will you choose to describe the view? And while kids can definitely appreciate natural beauty, I think staring at peaks, and drinking them in, is really an adult pleasure.
Big Skiing. Of course, you’ve come to Telluride in winter to ski. Without a doubt, Telluride offers up plenty of technically challenging in-bounds terrain. For 40 years, Lift Nine (The Plunge) has propelled bump skiers to their cardio limit. Two thousand vertical feet of bump-de-bump-de-bump, runs like Spiral Stairs and Mammoth test not only your muscle but your mojo. While both of these runs have steep vertical pitches, they hold snow remarkably well.
In the past 10 years, Telluride has added significant lift-served and hike-to terrain. Revelation Bowl, which dips to the east from the top of Gold Hill, is a moderately steep basin with options for groomed or natural snow descents. Ski around to the most north-facing aspect for the softest snow and a shot at dodging some trees. Gold Hill’s most accessible run, Little Rose, lies along east-facing shoulder of mountain and terminates in a gully run out. It challenges skiers in two ways: the steep double fall line of the shoulder and the tight, halfpipe-like discharge back to intermediate terrain in Prospect Bowl.
For diversity, Prospect Bowl is a favorite spot. Motivated skiers can click out of their skis and start hiking at the top. The ultimate goal is the expert terrain on Palmyra Peak, which is about a 2 hour hike. Closer in, you can experience the double black pleasure of Black Iron Bowl. Similar in steepness to Little Rose, these shots are shorter, and often less trafficked. Laps are not out of the question. Groomed intermediate terrain, as well as many beginner runs are also found on this western edge of the resort.
Decadent Dining. When we ski with our kids, our lunches are apt to be quick, easy and inexpensive. When we ski as a couple, we’re much more likely to ski hard and reward ourselves with a proper meal. Telluride offers two on-mountain dining venues, unlike any others. Both Alpino Vino and Le Bon Vivant take on-mountain cuisine to a new level — literally.
Find Alpino Vino in a small Tyrol-inspired cabin tucked into the trees along the See Forever ridge. On sunny days, the small patio is the place to enjoy rustic Italian fare, and for those who dare, wine at 11,966 feet above sea-level. Start your lunch with an antipasto selection of meats, cheeses and some incredible Spanish almonds. This could be a meal in itself, but then you’d miss the tomato soup with gorgonzola and you don’t want to do that. Other choices include freshly grilled paninis. Mmmm.
Le Bon Vivant is Telluride’s French option. I’m a soup girl, so I enjoy their soupe à l’oignon. Still, my favorite is the Croque Monsieur sandwich (the French answer to All-American grilled cheese). Desserts are said to be fantastic, especially the bread pudding and crepes. After 2:15 p.m. desserts are half-price, making this al fresco spot at the top of the intermediate Polar Queen lift a popular place to take a break, drink in the views (again) and enjoy the afternoon sun. Should you find yourself spending the whole afternoon in this mountain café, the runs back to Mountain Village are solidly blue, and mostly groomed.
Telluride For Little People
Telluride is, undoubtedly, a romantic retreat for couples and a fun escape for friends. I’ve not skied in Europe, but I’m told the mountain has a European feel, especially the views and the emphasis on the long lunch.
Still, Telluride welcomes kids with open arms, and there are plenty of options for them too.
Ski and Snowboard School. As you would expect, Telluride offers a full range of ski and ride lessons for kids ages 3-14. What you may not know, is that for beginner skiers and snowboarders, Telluride is heaven. Extensive teaching terrain is found at several spots on the mountain and there is always plenty of room to learn without being pressured by other skiers and riders.
Additionally, the Ski School has a nursery program for kids ages 2-4. Little ones take a short 1-1.5 hour introductory lesson and then spend the rest of their day indoors, playing and having fun!
EcoXploration. An alternative to ski school, EcoXploration is for kids ages 4-12 who want to play outside in the snow and play hard. Activities include snowshoeing, snow caves, ice skating and more. All day programs are available, as well as an indoor Kids’ Happy Hour each afternoon.
When You Go…
We stayed at the lovely Hotel Madeline in Mountain Village. A large, full-service property surrounding an outdoor ice rink, the Hotel Madeline has standard rooms, as well as spacious condos with full kitchens and up to four bedrooms. Hotel services include a slopeside ski valet, where guests can store their skis, poles, helmet, ski bag, and boots (which will be dried and warmed).
There is a small Spa on-site offering a full range of treatments, including the Mountain Love Journey for couples. We didn’t spring for that, although I did have a massage and I happily endorse that experience. There is also an indoor pool, hot tub and a very complete weight and exercise room.
Finally, for visiting families, the Hotel Madeline coordinates closely will all on-mountain kids’ programs and can arrange lessons and rentals. Other adventures include dog sledding, snowshoeing and mountain sleigh rides.
Finally, if you’re in a condo and you don’t want to cook, the Hotel will happily send one of their chefs up to prepare a gourmet meal. We had dinner one evening in a condo with a small group of friends. Chef Patrick Laguens prepared an amazing meal, paired with some incredible wines.
What can I say? Another great experience…for All People.
- The Perfect Big Day Out: Skiing At Telluride, Colorado, March 8, 2011.
- Why My Family Loves Skiing at Telluride, Colorado, October 19, 2010.
- Where Adults Eat, December 28, 2012.
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