Telluride Ski Resort

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Telluride Ski Resort
Telluride ski resort logo.jpg
Location Telluride, Colorado, Colorado, USA
Nearest city Telluride, Colorado
Coordinates 37°56′11″N 107°49′13″W / 37.93639°N 107.82028°W / 37.93639; -107.82028 (Telluride Ski Resort)
Top elevation 13,150 ft (4,010 m)[1]
Base elevation 8,725 ft (2,659 m)[2]
Skiable area 2,000 acres (8.1 km2)[3]
Runs 127
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg 23% beginner
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg 36% intermediate
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg 41% advanced/expert
Longest run "Galloping Goose" - 4.6 miles (7.4 km)
Lift system 2 gondolas - (8)
12 chairlifts
- 7 hi-speed quads
- 1 quad
- 2 triples
- 2 doubles
2 surface lifts
2 magic carpets
Lift capacity 22,386 skiers per hour [4]
Terrain parks 3
Snowfall 330 in/year (838 cm/year)
Snowmaking Yes
Night skiing none

Telluride Ski Resort is a ski resort located in Mountain Village, Colorado right next to the Town of Telluride.

The Telluride Ski Resort is a year round destination located in the southwest corner of Colorado. The resort is in the southern San Juan Mountains, part of the Rocky Mountains, and is home to the highest concentration of 13,000 and 14,000 foot peaks in North America. Being one of the youngest mountain ranges in the country, the peaks and faces of the San Juan Mountains have not yet been worn down by weather and time thus providing scenic and dramatic landscape views.[5]

Telluride Ski Resort has over 2,000 skiable acres and spans between the historic town of Telluride, Colorado and the modern alpine community of Mountain Village, Colorado. Telluride began as a mining camp in the late 1800s and is currently a National Historic Landmark District [6] retaining its old world feel and charm. Mountain Village is a contemporary mountain community home to luxury hotel and condominiums, many ski-in/ski-out properties, stylish boutiques and innovative dining.

While Telluride is well known for its advanced terrain[7] the resort boasts over 50% beginner and intermediate runs.[8] The top of resort features primarily expert and advanced terrain. The middle of the mountain offers plenty of cruisers and corduroy for intermediates and the lower/southwest side offer gentle runs where beginners can comfortably learn how to ski or grow their skills and confidence.

Telluride is located 330 miles from Denver, Colorado. The nearest stop light is 45 minutes away in Ridgway, Colorado and the closest major city is Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ)—a five and half hour drive. Thanks to its location the ski area does not attract the day traffic found at other Colorado resorts making for less crowded trails and little to no lift lines. The Ski Resort has been ranked #1 in the annual Conde Nast Traveler's Reader’s Choice Survey in 2013, 2014 and 2015[9] and was named #1 small city in America[10] in 2015.


Before Skiing[edit]

The Telluride region was shaped over millions of years by changes in the climate and various rock formations. Originally an inland sea, the area was underwater until a mountain building episode called the Laramie Progeny pushed up the land 70 million years ago. Following that episode a period of volcanic activity added to the mass of these mountains as well as enriching them with minerals and heavy metals.[11]

Gold was first discovered in the Telluride region in 1858, and the fledging mining camp was originally founded under the name Columbia in 1878. Due to post office confusion with another mining camp called Columbia in California, Telluride was forced to change its name by the U.S. Postal Service in 1887.[12]

There is disagreement on where the name Telluride actually comes from. Most say town leaders named it after tellurium, a non-metallic element associated with rich mineral deposits of gold and silver (which was never actually found in Telluride) to lure investors and workers by the promise of implied fortune. Others maintain that it originated from the castaway call “To-Hell-You-Ride,” shouted by those who knew of the town’s boisterousness as well as the rough and lengthy road to the rugged southern San Juan Mountains.[13]

As mining business boomed so did Telluride’s population. Nearly 5,000 people inhabited the “Town without a Bellyache” at the height of the Gold Rush, and more millionaires (per capita) lived in this thriving community than in New York City at the turn of the century.[14] By 1904, more than $360 million of gold was pulled out of Telluride’s mines. However, the world of mining was tough and would set the town on a boom and bust cycle until the development of a ski resort in the 1970s.

The miners brought the original interest in skiing to the region. Allegedly the Swede-Finn immigrant miners were the first to introduce the sport, and once off duty would ski down from the mines beating the rest of the workers to Popcorn Alley, the home of Telluride’s active brothels.

In 1937 William H. Mahoney erected a primitive tow rope fashioned from a Volkswagen engine near Town Park’s Beaver Pond. Bill “Senior” Mahoney first worked as an Idarado Mining Company shift boss and later served as the first ski area mountain manager. Senior was instrumental in the development of the Telluride Ski Area and inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1997. In the winter of 1938/1939 a real Swedish rope tow was built on Grizzly Gulch, presently known as Kid’s Hill.

As the times changed, Telluride’s boom days started moving toward bust. Many of the area’s mines shut down in the 50’s, and in 1953 the population dwindled from thousands to hundreds as people left in droves to find their fortunes elsewhere. For the next 20 years Telluride was practically a ghost town.

Birth of a Ski Area[edit]

In 1964, Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark District for its outstanding degree of historical significance due to its early mining history. This is the highest level of historic status given by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and Telluride is one of only a handful of Colorado communities to boast this honor.

Joe Zoline, a Chicago and Beverly Hills based businessman, heeded the advice of a friend from Aspen from years earlier who suggested he check out Telluride, thinking it would make a great ski area. Thanks to the tip, Zoline bought two ranches - Adam's Ranch and Gorrono Ranch located on the mountain sight unseen and showed up in Telluride for the first time in 1968. He saw the potential profits from the region’s natural endowments and went about creating a resort from scratch as there was little more than a few restaurants and one run down hotel at the time.

Zoline hired Emile Allais, a French Olympic skier to help configure runs and lifts and consult on the design and layout of the mountain. He enlisted the help of Bill “Senior” Mahoney and Ed Bowers to cut trails, clear slopes, and obtain land-use rights, mining claims, and water rights for the ski company. Zoline hired ecologists and environmental planners and encouraged local preservationists to protect the Victorian-era town. The Ski Area started in 1970-71 with snowcat skiing for $10 a day including a sack lunch. Five lifts were constructed, and the Telluride Ski School was founded in conjunction with the mountain’s opening. Zoline’s vision finally became a reality when the Telluride Ski resort officially opened on December 22, 1972. [15]

At that time there was no access from town and skiers took a bus to the day lodge located on the western side of the mountain where Big Billie’s is today. Proficient skiers could ride the five lifts it took to get to the top of the mountain, ski to town and catch the bus back to the day lodge three times in one day. While you could ski into Telluride, it wasn’t until 1975 when Coonskin Lift 7 was built that the town and ski area were actually connected.

Allred and Wells Ownership Era[edit]

Two Colorado Natives, Ron Allred and Jim Wells of the Benchmark Corporation in Avon, Colorado, purchased the ski area from Joe Zoline in 1978.[16] That year Annie Savath was named Director of The Telluride Ski School, the first female in the country to hold such a position.[17] Through the years, Allred and Wells transformed Telluride into a world-class resort though mountain and lift upgrades, construction of on-mountain restaurants and trails, the development of Mountain Village, creation of innovative public transportation systems (the Gondola and Chondola) and the development of Prospect Bowl.

The 1981-82 ski season saw Telluride’s first snowmaking system which included two miles of welded steel pipe buried three feet underground. The winter before, Colorado experienced one of the driest snow seasons on record. 1981 also was the inaugural year of Telluride Women’s Week. It is currently the longest running women’s focused program in the country.

Growth in the region between 1984 and 1986 included the opening of the Telluride Regional Airport(TEX), the start of construction on the Mountain Village, and continued on mountain improvements such as two triple chairs: the Plunge Lift 9, Village Express Lift 4, a surface lift for the race hill, as well as the purchase of snowcats and more snowmaking equipment. Although unofficially skied since the early days, ski run "The Plunge" was officially created along with "Kant-Mak-M" and "Mammoth", on the front face. "Pick-N-Gad" and "O’Reilly’s" were also cut.

Allred’s and Wells’ vision of a high-end community on the mountain came to fruition with the founding of Mountain Village in 1987. The addition of an 18-hole golf course in mountain village in 1992 transformed the Telluride Ski Area into the Telluride Ski & Golf Company, creating a year-round tourist destination offering activities catering to a wide range of guest interests. Subsequently in 1994, the resort built new Corporate offices, various facilities for mountain operations, golf and skiers services, and Big Billie’s, a restaurant and 150-unit employee housing complex at the base of the Chondola Lift 1.

Incorporated in 1995, Mountain Village, Colorado formally became a home rule municipality. The following year the free pedestrian Gondola, spanning between the historic town of Telluride and Mountain Village opened on December 20, 1996, providing free transportation for employees, skiers, and visitors.

In July 1999, Allred and Wells acquired a joint-venture partner, Hideo “Joe” Morita of Morita Investments International (MINT) who was an avid skier and part owner of Arai Ski Resort in Japan. This year also brought the upgrade of three new lifts, two high speed detachable quads and one fixed grip triple. The Telluride Conference Center also had its Grand Opening. Presently the Telluride Conference Center is under the management of Telluride Ski and Golf and is host to multiple events and live music in addition to conferences throughout the year.

Allred’s, the resort’s flagship restaurant, opened its doors in 2000. This fine dining establishment serves contemporary American cuisine at 10,500 feet. Perched above Telluride at Station St. Sophia station, the vistas from the 25 foot floor to ceiling windows overlook the sawtooth ridges and the historic town of Telluride.

Morita Ownership Era[edit]

By March, 2001, Morita had acquired 100 percent of the Telluride Ski and Golf Company (TSG), taking Allred’s and Wells’ visions into the 21st century. Mr. Morita gave the resort the flexibility and latitude to focus on guest service and significant improvements like $3.1 million invested to increase snowmaking capacity and expanded terrain.

The resort added 733-acres of beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain with the opening of Prospect Bowl between 2000 and 2002. The additional terrain nearly doubled the size of the resort and added runs for every ability level including advance, intermediate, and beginner all from the same chair.

2004 to present[edit]

In February 2004, the resort transferred hands to Chuck Horning, a real estate investor from Newport Beach, California, who remains the current owner today.[18] Horning’s tenure brought even more terrain expansion and unique strides towards creating a luxury experience that appeals to families and high-end guests.

The 2004/2005 winter saw the opening of Mountain Quail and with it a guided skiing and snowboarding program through some of the Resort's most challenging and breathtaking terrain.

The high altitude private home, Tempter House, was purchased by the resort in 2006. One of the highest elevation homes in North America, this unique structure originally built on an old mining claim sits at 12,200 overlooking the notorious Bear Creek Preserve. Tempter House is currently a high end rental available nightly throughout the winter.

Winter 2007-2008 brought even more expansion for the resort with the opening of Black Iron Bowl. Eight new runs and 1100 feet of vertical opened for public access adjacent to the breathtaking Prospect bowl. The area, including the previously guided-only Mountain Quail, spans from West Lake around to Review and Nice Chute, and sits against the dramatic backdrop of Palmyra Peak offering extreme terrain with a backcountry feel all while being within the ski area boundary. Palmyra Peak and the Gold Hill Chutes 1 & 6-10 opened to the public for the first time ever in January 2008. The addition of Palmyra’s hike-to runs offered some of the most stunning skiing and riding in North America.[19]

The following winter Telluride Ski and Golf continued their terrain expansion with the opening of spectacular Revelation Bowl, located on a northeastern aspect that naturally gathers huge amounts of snow and directly off the back side of the famous Gold Hill. Skiers and riders have a number of choices in either direction off the life, with steeper pitches and rock features on the far sides balanced by a center groomed path for cruising.

In winter 2009, Telluride Ski Resort announced Gold Hill Chutes 2-5 would open for full public access to Gold Hill Chutes 1-10. The highest elevation restaurant in North America, Alpino Vino, also opened this season. This European style eatery sits on See Forever run at 11,966 feet and is modeled after the restaurants found throughout the Dolomites of Italy. This was the beginning of Telluride Ski and Golf’s shift to finely curated on-mountain dining with a focus on smaller scale high-end establishments serving impeccable food and refined tableside service.

Telluride Ski and Golf continued its commitment to fine culinary offerings with the opening of Bon Vivant in 2011. Bon Vivant is an outdoor only establishment located at the top of Polar Queen Express Lift 5 serving French country cuisine such as Croque Madame and duck cassoulet. The restaurant’s setting is just below Palmyra Peak with 360 degree views of the southern San Juan Mountains.

In the spring of 2013, Telluride Ski & Golf purchased the luxury boutique hotel The Inn at Lost Creek. Since purchasing The Inn, the hotel has earned the Certificate of Excellence and been named one of the top 10 hotels in the nation by Trip Advisor.[20][21]

Telluride Ski and Golf enhanced its already strong culinary scene when they committed to expanding their wine program with the creation of a Wine Director position in 2014. Certified Sommelier Andrew Shaffner was appointed to this unique position to oversee the wine lists, and focus on server education at all 10 of the resort’s restaurants. Since Shaffner’s appointment the Resort’s restaurants have garnered raves and awards from top publication including Wine Spectator Magazine and Wine Enthusiast.[22] Shaffner was also recently nominated as the 2015 Sommelier/Wine Director of the year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

In July 2015, Telluride Ski and Golf purchased all of the retail space within the Peaks Resort and Spa and assumed the management of hotel operations and the HOA.[23] The 73,000+ square feet of commercial space within the building will include the spa and fitness center, meeting space, restaurants, commercial kitchens and banquet facilities. The Peaks Resort and Spa is a ski-in/ski-out, full service hotel located adjacent to the Telluride Ski & Golf Club. The hotel features 177 guest rooms, a 42,000 square foot spa with 32 treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and 9,100 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

Terrain Features[edit]

The mountain itself covers the face facing the town of Telluride as well as goes over onto the other side (Revelation Bowl). Telluride has a total of 120 runs and 2,000+ acres (810+ hectares) of skiable terrain. 23% of Telluride's runs are ranked at Beginner, 36% Intermediate and 41% Advanced / Expert. Telluride on average receives 309 inches (789 cm) of snow each winter season.[24] All lifts on the mountain close at 4:00 PM, while those on the upper areas of the mountain close earlier so to make sure skiers make their way down the mountain in time for closing.

Slope Aspects[edit]

  • North: 50%[25]
  • South: 7%
  • West: 33%
  • East: 10%

Telluride Ski has greatly increased its skiing area in recent years much to the enjoyment of local and international skiers. These have been:

Prospect Bowl (2002)[edit]

Prospect Bowl almost doubled the amount of skiable terrain and opened in 2002.

Black Iron Bowl (2007)[edit]

For the '07 - '08 ski season, the resort opened the Black Iron Bowl.[26]

Revelation Bowl (2008)[edit]

The Telluride ski resort in the summer of 2008 installed a fixed grip quad so skiers could enjoy the other side of the mountain without risk from the hazardous cliffs (also on this side of the mountain).


Lift # Lift Name Vertical Rise Length Ride Time Capacity/Hour Manufacturer Year Installed Type
1 Chondola 385 ft. 2,890 ft. 3.64 min. 2,000 CTEC 1996 Chondola
2 Race Hill 355 ft. 322 ft. 4.07 min. 390 POMA 1985 Surface Lift
4 Village Express 1,244 ft. 6,101 ft. 6.23 min. 2,800 Doppelmayr 1999 Detachable, high-speed quad
5 Polar Queen Express 936 ft. 4,809 ft. 4.9 min. 2,400 Doppelmayr 1999 Detachable, high-speed quad
6 Apex Lift 1,144 ft. 2,727 ft. 5.91 min. 1,500 CTEC 1985/1999 Triple chair
7 Coonskin Lift 1,845 ft. 4,350 ft. 9.45 min. 876 RIBLET 1975 Double chair
8 Oak Street Lift 1,055 ft. 2,470 ft. 5.97 min. 900 SLI 1972/1985 Double chair
9 Plunge Lift 2,125 ft. 5,860 ft. 12.47 min. 1,042 CTEC 1985 Triple chair
10 Sunshine Express 1,735 ft. 10,400 ft. 10.54 min. 1,200 Doppelmayr 1986 Detachable, high-speed quad
11 Ute Park 274 ft. 2,478 ft. 2.49 min. 1,500 Doppelmayr 2001 Surface lift
12 Prospect Express 1,048 ft. 4,988 ft. 5.10 min. 2,400 Doppelmayr 2001 Detachable, high-speed quad
13 Lynx 32 ft. 700 ft. 1.48 min. 585 Doppelmayr 1975/2001 Surface lift
14 Gold Hill Express 1,475 ft. 3,333 ft. 3.64 min. 1,500 Doppelmayr 2001 Detachable, high-speed quad
15 Revelation Lift 785 ft. 1,665 ft. 4.12 min. 1,240 POMA 2008 Fixed-grip quad
Meadows Magic Carpet 16 ft. 119 ft. .80 min. 1,500 RMCE 2007 Surface lift
Magic Carpet 6 ft. 75 ft. 1.18 min. 480 RMCE 1996 Surface lift
G1 Free Gondola (Town - San Sophia Station) 1,780 ft. 5,570 ft. 6.02 min. 930 CTEC 1996 Gondola
G2 Free Gondola (San Sophia Station - Heritage Plaza) 995 ft. 3,920 ft. 4.04 min. 720 CTEC 1996 Gondola
G3 Free Gondola (Heritage Plaza - Town Hall Plaza) 5 ft. 2,770 ft. 2.77 min. 660 CTEC 1996 Gondola

Free Gondola[edit]

Telluride's Gondola system provides free transportation between the town of Mountain Village and the town of Telluride. It's the first and only free public transportation of its kind in the United States.[27]

From the town of Telluride at 8,750 feet, the gondola climbs 1,790 vertical feet before reaching Station St. Sophia at 10,540 feet. In the summer, these trails are abundant with wildlife including deer, elk, marmot, porcupine, bear and more. As you gain elevation, the San Sophia Ridge comes into view above the town. 13,000 foot peaks Mears Peak, Dallas Peak, Gilpin Peak, Mt. Emma and Chicago Peak gain prominence. Near Station St. Sophia, you’ll see nearly the entire town and the surrounding mountains in a single view.[28]

From Station St. Sophia at 10,540 feet above sea level, the Gondola continues towards the Mountain Village Core. In the distance, Wilson Peak, Mount Wilson and Lizard Head appear to the west. On a clear day looking west you can also see the La Sal mountain range in central Utah near Moab. Continuing down, the Gondola places you just a short walk to the Mountain Village Core where shopping and dining await.[29] It’s a quiet 13-minute ride from town to town with breathtaking scenery and 360 degree panoramic views.[30]

What was once an eight-mile drive between the two towns, the Gondola provides a more direct 3-mile route over the mountains. Over 2.5 million people ride the Gondola each year, which reduces environmental impacts caused by vehicles. The Gondola has also adopted the state of Colorado’s Climate Action Plan to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020. The plan, called the Green Gondola Project, has a goal to replace 20 percent of its traditional electricity use with locally generated alternative energy. These local alternatives include solar panels installed on gondola stations, and the purchase of solar panels through the SMPA Community Solar Array.[31]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Source Telluride Ski Resort
  2. ^ Source Telluride Ski Resort
  3. ^ Source Telluride Ski Resort
  4. ^ Source Telluride Ski Resort
  5. ^ Source:
  6. ^ Source: Town of Telluride
  7. ^ Source: Resort Guide, 2015, Ski Magazine
  8. ^ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
  9. ^ America's Best Ski Resorts: Readers' Choice Awards 2014 - Condé Nast Traveler
  10. ^ The 30 Best Small Cities in America: Readers' Choice Awards 2014 - Conde Nast Traveler
  11. ^ Telluride Region, Source:
  12. ^ History of Telluride,
  13. ^ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
  14. ^ Dallas Morning News,
  15. ^ The History of Telluride Ski Area
  16. ^ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
  17. ^ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
  18. ^ Telluride History
  19. ^ Telluride Hike to Terrain
  20. ^ Inn At Lost Creek Named #10 Hotel in the Nation by TripAdvisor
  21. ^ Inn At Lost Creek Awarded 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
  22. ^ Allred’s Recognized by Wine Spectator Magazine
  23. ^ Telski closes on purchase of the Peaks Resort and Spa,
  24. ^ Source Telluride Ski Resort
  25. ^ "Best Ski Resorts: Telluride Terrain, Snow Quality and Mountain Ranks". ZRankings. ZRankings LLC. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  26. ^ Source
  27. ^ Source:
  28. ^ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
  29. ^ Source:
  30. ^ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
  31. ^ source: Town of Mountain Village