Charlotte Magazine Hearts Telluride
The first major magazine to weigh in this year was Travel and Leisure with David Amsden making a case for why “Telluride Just Might Be America’s Coolest Ski Resort.” Now it’s Adam Rhew’s turn. Writing for Charlotte Magazine, Rhew describes Telluride as “the unpretentious Colorado ski town… packed with history…,” adding that town is a direct flight from his hometown of Charlotte. And now to sweeten the deal, we have powder…
THE SNOW STARTS just as I arrive, fine specks of icy glitter that turn to heavy, fat flakes within an hour. I grab a cinnamon-sugar doughnut from a busy bakery and sit at a picnic table on the covered front porch, watching excited locals and wide-eyed tourists relish in the winter weather.
Telluride, an old silver mining town in southwest Colorado that’s now home to fewer than 2,500 full-time residents and an exceptional ski resort, is magical when it snows. Set at 8,750 feet, it has the edge of a place that refused to obey prohibition (the miners raised hell and the county sheriff agreed to look the other way) blended with the comforts of a luxury ski enclave. This winter, Charlotte became the 12th city to run a direct flight to the area, part of an effort to attract more East Coast visitors to a place many have heard of but few have visited.
Although residents are careful to avoid pandering, Telluride does appeal to a broad group of visitors. During my stay, for three nights in early January, I ran into college kids on a party weekend, retirees sipping wine, and Australian families who’d decamped to Colorado for a month-long vacation.
As the clouds dump snow at more than an inch an hour, I wander the compact downtown, which is filled with touches of the past: an opera house built in 1913 as a vaudeville theater, a plaque that marks the site of Butch Cassidy’s first bank robbery.
Eventually, I find my way inside the historic bar at the New Sheridan Hotel. The barroom is dark and warm—a fireplace at the far end and copper light from old glass fixtures take the chill off of the blue, snowy twilight outside. I grab a seat on the corner, lean my elbows on mahogany paneling that dates back to 1895, and take a pull from a pint of Tempter, a popular local IPA. All around me, it seems everyone is having the same conversation: Tomorrow is going to be a powder day.
SURE ENOUGH, I wake in the morning to the sight of nearly a foot of fresh, fluffy snow. The temperature is in the low teens, and I quickly layer up and head for the ski resort, which is actually based out of Mountain Village, a separate municipality above the valley floor. It is connected to Telluride by a free gondola, which takes 13 minutes and delights riders with a view of snow-covered evergreens below and 14,000-foot peaks on the horizon.
Even with the collective enthusiasm about new snow, the ski resort doesn’t feel crowded. Lift lines are delightfully short and the runs—there are plentiful options for all experience levels—don’t get jammed up. I ski for six hours, with a quick break for lunch, before joining the sunglassed-and-fleeced crowd at a mountainside tavern for après-ski beers. Bt the time I’ve showered and changed, my legs are a little sore, and I’m ready for dinner at Allred’s, an upscale space with antler-adorned chandeliers and sweeping views of the valley. A juicy beef tenderloin, earthy sauteed mushrooms, smooth potato purée, and a cocktail take the edge off of a full day. The sun has long set by the time I’m finished eating, but I can’t help but linger against the windows, staring through the glass at the lights from Telluride below.
MY BOUNCY BIKE TIRES crunch their way along a narrow path of packed powder, beside the San Miguel River and through a thicket of evergreens. It’s the next afternoon, and a band of heavy snow has settled overhead. Every few minutes, my guide and I brush our arms—or hit a bump—and watch the flakes shake from our bodies.
Fat-biking, on modified mountain bikes with nearly five-inch-wide tires, is a popular activity here; as you walk through downtown Telluride, you’ll spot the rigs parked outside of homes and businesses…
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