Unlike many ski resorts, Victorian-era settlement Telluride has history, character and one of the most beautiful settings in Colorado. The skiing is superb, offering a great mix of sunny and snowy days, and groomed and steep runs. It has challenging terrain, but beginners too will be happy, particularly with the lack of people on the slopes. The resort is seldom crowded, averaging 8000 people a day on lifts that have a capacity for 22,000.
Before it was a ski resort, Telluride was a rollicking mining town. Its well-preserved centre has dozens of Wild West buildings, including a courthouse, church, the first bank ever robbed by Butch Cassidy in 1889, and a vaudeville theatre turned Opera House (www.sheridanoperahouse.com). Stop by the chophouse at the 1895 New Sheridan Hotel (www.newsheridan.com) for a drink or slab of meat.
Allred's Restaurant (www.tellurideskiresort.com) has a spectacular setting atop the village gondola, a warm atmosphere, and upmarket contemporary American cuisine; the bourbon-marinated elk loin is scrumptious. On the mountain, Alpino Vino (www.tellurideskiresort.com) has fewer than 30 seats, plus a mountain-ogling terrace if the sun shines. Get there early, as it doesn't take reservations. The northern Italian food is excellent, as is the wine list. Though informal, waiters wear gold ties and long black aprons.
Telluride has 84 runs served by 16 lifts, a quarter suitable for beginners and the rest about equally divided between intermediate and advanced. It also has one of Colorado's best snow parks for boarders. The ridge-following See Forever run might have the best scenery, but views anywhere near the top of the mountain, especially around Gold Hill lift, are magnificent. For a profoundly satisfying swoop, hit the longest run, Galloping Goose, for more than seven kilometres of pure pleasure.
Good skiers should hit the north-facing mountain's challenging groomers, steep moguls and tempting between-trees runs that plunge towards Telluride town. Local favourite Chairlift 9 is the place to be; it has all black runs that taunt with names such as The Plunge and Spiral Stairs. The in-trees Log Pile run is a must on a powder day. If you really want to terrify yourself, hit Gold Hill 9, one of 10 hike-in chutes on Gold Hill Ridge.
Ski-in, ski-out The Peaks Resort & Spa (www.thepeaksresort.com) has big rooms, relaxing lounges where fires crackle, and an impressive spa. The heated outdoor pool allows a float while admiring mountain views, and Altezza restaurant offers Italian-influenced Coloradan dishes. Luxury lodge Lumiere (www.lumieretelluride.com) has view-admiring suites and top-notch personal service, including a ski valet. It would suit those with a liking for upmarket boutique pleasures rather than big-resort amenities. Its apres-ski bar does impressive cocktails and leading Australian tour operator Travelplan Ski (www.travelplanski.com) is a specialist in ski holidays and has a great variety of Telluride ski packages that include discounted accommodation, lift tickets, equipment rental and snow-school lessons, as well as airfares.
Long-time Telluride resident and adept storyteller Ashley Boling (email@example.com) runs an entertaining and insightful historical walking tour.