Telluride Ski Resort
|Telluride Ski Resort|
|Location||Telluride, Colorado, Colorado, USA|
|Nearest city||Telluride, Colorado|
|Top elevation||13,150 ft (4,010 m)|
|Base elevation||8,725 ft (2,659 m)|
|Skiable area||2,000 acres (8.1 km2)|
|Longest run||"Galloping Goose" - 4.6 miles (7.4 km)|
|Lift system||2 gondolas - (8)
- 7 hi-speed quads
- 1 quad
- 2 triples
- 2 doubles
2 surface lifts
2 magic carpets
|Lift capacity||22,386 skiers per hour |
|Snowfall||330 in/year (838 cm/year)|
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.
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 1800’s and is currently a National Historic Landmark District  retaining its old world feel and charm. The 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 best known for its extreme terrain the resort boasts over 50% beginner and intermediate runs. 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 and was named #1 small city in America in 2015.
The Telluride region was shaped over millions of years by changes in the climate and various rock formations. Orginally 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.
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.
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.
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.  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 1970’s.
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, present day 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
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 suggest he check out Telluride, thinking it would make a great ski area. Thanks to the tip, Zoline bought a sheep ranch located at the base of 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 are constructed, The Telluride Ski School is founded in conjunction with the mountain’s opening, and the start of Zoline’s vision finally became a reality on December 22, 1972 when the Telluride Ski resort officially opened.
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. The really good 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. (oral history) While you could ski into Telluride, it wasn’t until 1975 when Cooksin Lift 7 was built that the town and ski area were actually connected.
Allred and Wells Ownership Era
Two Colorado Natives, Ron Allred and Jim Wells of the Benchmark Corporation in Avon, Colorado, purchased the ski area from Joe Zoline in 1978. That year Annie Savath was named Director of The Telluride Ski School, the first female in the country to hold such a position. 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, development of Mountain Village, creation of innovative public transportation systems (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 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. Subsequently in 1994, the resort built new Corporate offices, various facilities for mountain operations, golf and skiers services, and Big Billie’s, a 2000 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 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 allowing. The Telluride Conference Center is currently under the management of Telluride Ski and Golf and is host to multiple events and live music in addition to conferences.
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 gondola station San Sophia the vistas from the 25 foot floor to ceiling windows overlook the sawtooth ridges and the historic town of Telluride.
Morita Ownership Era
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 gust 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
In February of 2004, the resort transferred hands to Chuck Horning, a real estate investor from Newport Beach, California, who remains the current owner today. 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 04/05 winter saw the opening of Mountain Quail and with it a guided skiing and snowboarding program thru some of the resorts 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 (1500 back to lift 12) opens 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 elevated the ski area’s vertical drop to 4,425 feet, and offered some of the most stunning skiing and riding in North America.
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. Choices of ridgelines in either direction from the lift, 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 to open to for full public access to Gold Hill’s 1-10 Chutes. 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 is the beginning of Telluride Ski and Golf’s shift to a 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 Chair 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 south San Juan Mountains.
Spring of 2013 Telluride Ski & Golf purchased Colorado 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.  
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 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.
July 2015, Telluride Ski and Golf purchased all of the retail space within the Peask Resort and Spa and will take over hotel operations and management of the HOA. 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.
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. 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.
- North: 50%
- 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)
Prospect Bowl almost doubled the amount of skiable terrain and opened in 2002.
Black Iron Bowl (2007)
For the '07 - '08 ski season, the resort opened the Black Iron Bowl.
Revelation Bowl (2008)
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|
- Telluride Ski Resort
- ColoradoSkiHistory.com - Telluride Ski Area
- Telluride Weather Forecast - WeatherUnderground.com
- Telluride Tourism Board Official Site
- 3dSkiMap of Telluride Ski Resort
- Source Telluride Ski Resort
- Source Telluride Ski Resort
- Source Telluride Ski Resort
- Source Telluride Ski Resort
- http://www.13ers.com/peaks/userpics/large/200604_Palmyra01.jpg Source: 13ers.com
- http://www.telluride-co.gov/index.aspx?nid=296 Source: Town of Telluride
- http://www.skinet.com/ski/galleries/resort-guide-2015-best-challenge?i=55595484&s=10 Source: Resort Guide, 2015, Ski Magazine
- http://www.tellurideskiresort.com/the-mountain/terrain/ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
- http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-12-05/america-s-best-ski-resorts-readers-choice-awards-2014/39 America's Best Ski Resorts: Readers' Choice Awards 2014 - Condé Nast Traveler
- http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-07-29/the-30-best-small-cities-in-america-readers-choice-awards-2014/30 The 30 Best Small Cities in America: Readers' Choice Awards 2014 - Conde Nast Traveler
- http://www.westernusavisitor.com/telluride_colorado.htm Telluride Region, Source: www.westernusavisitor.com
- http://www.telluride-co.gov/index.aspx?nid=296 History of Telluride, www.telluride-co.gov
- http://www.tellurideskiresort.com/trip-planning/about-telluride/ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
- http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/travel/ski-snow/20140117-the-two-sides-of-telluride.ece Dallas Morning News, www.dallasnews.com
- http://www.coloradoskihistory.com/areahistory/telluride.html The History of Telluride Ski Area
- http://www.tellurideskiresort.com/trip-planning/about-telluride/ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
- http://www.tellurideskiresort.com/ski-school/specialty-camps/biomechanics/ Source: Telluride Ski Resort
- http://www.tellurideskiresort.com/press-room/press-about/ Telluride History
- http://www.coloradoskiauthority.com/telluride/hike-to-terrain/ Telluride Hike to Terrain
- http://www.tellurideskiresort.com/press-room/press-releases/inn-at-lost-creek-named-top10-hotel-in-the-nation-by-tripadvisor/ Inn At Lost Creek Named #10 Hotel in the Nation by TripAdvisor
- http://www.tellurideskiresort.com/press-room/press-releases/inn-at-lost-creek-awarded-2014-tripadvisor-certificate-of-excellence/ Inn At Lost Creek Awarded 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
- http://www.tellurideskiresort.com/press-room/press-releases/allreds-recognized-by-wine-spectator-magazine/ Allred’s Recognized by Wine Spectator Magazine
- http://www.telluridenews.com/news/article_2a9a7f9a-320d-11e5-a479-f3ef9e6831ee.html Telski closes on purchase of the Peaks Resort and Spa, TellurideNews.com
- Source Telluride Ski Resort
- "Best Ski Resorts: Telluride Terrain, Snow Quality and Mountain Ranks". ZRankings. ZRankings LLC. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
- Source ultimate-ski.com