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Telluride

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.

San Juan Sojourn

Where to ski: Colorado, Highway 550 | Photo: Liam Doran
Where to ski: Colorado, Highway 550 | Photo: Liam Doran
Where to ski, find ghost bears, and relish funky mountain culture along Colorado’s U.S. Highway 550.

“Do you speak English?”

It’s not every day you get asked such a question in your home country. This Forest Service ranger is clearly flummoxed by the camera-toting tourist shooting frozen roadside waterfalls: me.

“Uh, ya,” I manage, though still thoroughly absorbed by the row of 30-foot icicles dangling over the road. Apparently, I hadn’t responded fast enough to his stern warnings of avalanche danger.

“Well, you should probably get moving,” he warns and speeds off, burying me in diesel fumes from his four-wheel-drive truck.

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