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Big charm. Big vertical.

Far from everywhere. Snow can be fickle.

Telluride sits in the San Juans, among the tallest peaks in Colorado. So it’s not surprising that the resort boasts “some of the most challenging lift-served skiing in America.” The flip side: The rugged setting deters interstates and airports, making Telluride notoriously hard to reach. (“Long trip from south Florida!” a reader gripes.) Though spectacular, Telluride’s acreage isn’t overwhelming; neither are its people movers. (“They might add character for locals, but they are cold and slow for the rest of us.”) But if you’re itching for big vert, come on down: 3,845 feet. Bump that up to 4,425 feet by hiking Palmyra Peak. Like Utah’s Wasatch, the San Juans face west and welcome dry snow. But sometimes those flakes act finicky, prompting a complaint of “lousy weather this year.” Yet despite what’s outside, Telluride swings like a smaller Aspen after dark—with a little more soul. —Rob Story

Après Spot » Oak, in the place of Fat Alley BBQ at the base of Lift 8, serves up sunny tables and its predecessors' signature cans of Schlitz.

Don’t Miss » The Telluride Room at the Wilkinson Public Library gives a unique—and free—glimpse into Telluride’s heritage, with artifacts and views of the Bear Creek drainage.

On-Hill Lunch » Alpino Vino, high on Gold Hill, has the finest wine list and antipasti. Getting a seat can be tough; go early—or late.

2015 Top Ski Towns: Telluride, Colorado

Once the first chairlift started spinning in 1972, Telluride became the ultimate ski town. And that’s one reason we love it.

Back in the day, Telluride produced over $60 million of gold, silver, zinc, copper, and lead. Though the last gold was extracted decades ago, it seems wherever you go in Telluride, mining still gets in your face. Riding the gondola, one can scan east to west from the ginormous, treacherously toxic tailings pile to the pickax-stuffed museum in town. Me, I’m over the mining heritage. In the end, it’s just a bunch of rusted metal.

How to Ski Telluride’s Mountain Quail

The ultimate steep and deep adventure in Black Iron Bowl.

» Location: Telluride, Colo.

» Getting There: Unload Lift 12 and click out of your skis. Shoulder them or use a carrying strap (ask patrol in the shack beneath the High Camp restaurant) or backpack. Head up the ridge to your left. Take your time. Enjoy the views.

» Vertical Feet: 1,459

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