Known for its world-class skiing and breathtaking vistas, Telluride, Colorado is a favorite vacation destination for winter travelers looking to get away from it all. But Telluride has much more to offer the discerning vacationer, be it winter, spring, summer or fall.

Nestled in a canyon below the majestic San Juan mountains, the town of Telluride offers the aforementioned famous alpine environment, plus a thriving arts community, hiking, mountain biking, off-roading, plus the opportunity to pamper yourself in one of the world's finest spas.

Solstice Telluride
Solstice Basque Retreat
The discovery of gold in the San Juans led to the birth of Telluride. The first claim was staked in 1875, and the town was officially established in 1880. The town flourished with the coming of the railroad ten years later, and its new wealth attracted the attention of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch, whose first holdup was at the San Juan National Bank.

The boom times didn't last forever. The fall of the price of precious metals and the two world wars left Telluride practically a ghost town by the 1960's. But in the 1970's residents placed their faith in another kind of gold: white gold. With the help of investors, a ski resort was born, including a mountain village, snow makers, a gondola, a year-round destination resort and an 800-vertical-foot terrain park.

Telluride's population today is less than half of what it was during its mining heyday, and that's exactly how residents and visitors like it. The town feels cozy and welcoming, and there is room to breathe the crisp, fresh mountain air while letting your cares slip away into the breeze.

Telluride activities

Winter visitors will obviously want to experience Telluride's world famous powder. Skiers and snowboarders alike will revel in the miles of diverse terrain. As a matter of fact, there are over 1,700 acres of must ski terrain for all skill levels, plus a snowboard park with over 1,000 vertical feet of play space on 13 acres. Telluride was home to both the USASA National Snowboard Championships and the ISF Junior World Snowboard Championships.

Need to brush up on your mountain skills? No problem -- the Telluride Ski and Snowboard School staffs 200 professional instructors from around the world. Both group and private lessons are available for every skill level.

If you'd rather skip the lines at the lifts and enjoy a more private ski experience with your small group, heli-skiing might be for you. The San Juan Mountains offer the highest heli-ski terrain in North America with challenging runs from December through April. Wear your fat skis so you don't sink into the powder!

Nordic skiing, or cross-country, is another popular Telluride activity. The Telluride Nordic Association grooms Nordic trails at Trout Lake, Priest Lake and Faraway Ranch. Other active trails are the Telluride Valley Floor loop, Town Park, Prospect Basin, Magic Meadow and 6 km trails at the Telluride Golf Course.

Take a break from the slopes and still stay active at the three ice skating rinks in town. The Telluride Town Park has two: an outdoor rink offering stunning vistas, and the indoor Andy Hanley Ice Rink/Pavilion. The pond near Heritage Park in Mountain Village freezes sufficiently for skating between late December and early February. Skate rentals are available at the Nordic Center.

If these activities aren't loud enough for you, maybe snowmobiling is more your speed. Experience spectacular scenery and a heart-pounding ride to hot springs, a mountaintop or some powder in the back country.

For visitors seeking the ultimate winter adventure, Telluride ice climbs offer exceptional single-pitch cragging, to mixed testpieces, mulitpitch and alpine. Check out Bridal Veil Falls, Ames Falls and Ouray.

Don't rule out Telluride as your summer getaway destination. The natural splendor of the San Juan Mountains blooms in the warmer months, and there is just as much to see and do.

Tour the breathtaking trails in a 4x4, either driving yourself or with a guide. Alta, Black Bear Pass, Imogene Pass, Last Dollar Road and Ophir Pass offer rides with stunning scenery and stop-your-heart trails.

Mountain bikers of all skill levels will love Telluride's terrain, either challenging themselves on the vertical climbs or taking a more leisurely ride through the Uncompahgre National Forest. The San Miguel River Trail and Ilium Road are popular mountain bike trails. Riders also enjoy the intermediate terrain of nearby river roads and road biking on the San Juan Skyway.

The Delores River offers some of the best whitewater in the United States, and visitors would be remiss to not experience the wilderness whitewater rafting in the area. Rides on class II-III rapids are available from late May through early August.

Tired of all this roughing it? A spa day must be in order. Atmosphere Spa, located in the Camels Garden Hotel at the base of the gondola, offers complete spa packages including massage, facial treatments, body treatments, manicures and pedicures, and electrolysis are all offered at this world-class spa.

Luxury living

Telluride has a large and varied selection of destination club homes and private residence clubs that give the discerning traveler a home away from home in the heart of the San Juan Mountains.

Destination Club Homes

The Basque Retreat, part of the Solstice Collection, is a 5,300 square foot mountain estate featuring award-winning design on a secluded lot with an outdoor fireplace on multi-level terracing, and sleeps eight.

Quintess Telluride
Quintess Telluride
Quintess LRW Yankee Girl Mine offers incomparable views of the San Juan Mountains through large expanses of windows. The five bedroom, five-and-a-half bath home sleeps thirteen and is a short walk from Mountain Village and Golden Door Spa.

Ultimate Resort Telluride is only two minutes from the golf course and offers t he best ski-in, ski-out access in Telluride. Sleeping ten, this 2,250 square foot mountain cabin is the perfect place to relax or entertain.

Waste no time getting on the slopes at High Country Clubs Telluride home. Located a mere 100 yards from the chairlift, this three bedroom, three story home is also just a short walk to town and offers amazing views of Box Canyon, the Northeast Mountains and the slopes.

The dramatic alpine chalet that is Private Escapes Sundance is 3,450 square feet of complete privacy. Four bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, a gourmet kitchen, great room, family room and private deck off the master suite make this a property not to be missed.

Private Residence Clubs

Featuring two- and three-bedroom homes, the Fairmont Heritage Place Franz Klammer Lodge also offers guests a world-class private spa, 24-hour concierge, valet parking, heated indoor/outdoor pool mid-mountain in the skiing area of Mountain Village.

The River Club has 26 two- and three-bedroom homes with all the luxurious amenities one would expect, including a steam shower and spa/soaking tub, a gas fireplace and Aveda products in all the bathrooms.

The Inn at Lost Creek offers guest special amenities like nightly ski waxing and deburring and hotel services such as twice-daily housekeeping and nightly turn-down service, as well as a ski and golf valet. Facial and massage treatments are also available at the Inn.

Twenty villas nestled into the mountains of Telluride make up the Club at Tristant in Mountain Village. Enjoy the benefits of home ownership as well as the perks of a world-class resort -- even a stocked pantry.

Other Luxury Accommodation

Enjoy five-star luxury on a smaller scale at one of the many luxury resorts in Telluride. The Mountain Lodge Telluride offers a variety of guest rooms, condominiums, and luxury cabins. Camel's Garden is adjacent to the ski area and offers guest rooms, condominiums and a spa.

Other activities

There are some great times in Telluride which are not to be missed. Summer events include the Telluride Film Festival, the Telluride Festival of the Arts, Bear Awareness Week, the Tech Festival and the world-renowned Bluegrass Festival. In autumn, celebrate the new season at the Ridgeway Rodeo, the Imogene Pass Run, Grey Head Gold Rush, the annual Blues and Brew Festival, Oktoberfest, and the Ideas Festival.

Visitors to Telluride can also enjoy horseback riding, hot air ballooning, paragliding, tennis and educational excursions.

Getting there

Four major airports serve the Telluride area. The Telluride Regional Airport is five miles west of town. Montrose Regional Airport is a scenic hour-and-a-half drive away. Durango-La Plata County Airport is three hours southwest of Telluride and Grand Junction-Walker Field Airport is a 2-1/2 hour drive.


Winters are cold and snowy -- optimal ski weather -- but summers are warm and temperate. Pack lots of sweaters and thermals in the snowy months; shorts and tee shirt will suffice in the summer with a sweater for cooler evenings.

HeliTrax - The Telluride Heli-Ski Company
Telluride Nordic Association
Telluride Outside
Telluride Yoga
Atmosphere Spa

Read our Luxury Travel Guide to Vail for insights on another fabulous ski town. There are lots of other private residence clubs and destination club homes throughout Colorado.