I wouldn’t have guessed that I would be writing a SKI guide! You probably know I prefer beach vacations and we usually prioritize scuba diving vacations. We decided to try something new! I had skied once about 10 years ago and Will had never skied before. We took a ski trip to Telluride with a few friends and had so much fun!
This post will give you tips about planning a trip to Telluride and beginner skiing in Telluride.
Why Ski in Telluride
We picked Telluride because the town is smaller and the ski mountain would be less busy than the bigger ski resorts in Colorado near Denver. It is also a beginner-friendly mountain. We also considered Breckenridge, Keystone, and Steamboat Springs. The charm of the town of Telluride won us over.
Telluride is great for beginner skiers, with class options and plenty of beginner runs. From what I’ve read, Telluride also has plenty of variety for advanced skiers. One of the best factors I experienced was a maximum 10-minute wait for a lift. Locals say a maximum wait can be 40 minutes but that’s rare, compared to bigger resorts where that is normal. I guess your decision on where to go skiing depends on if you want to have a longer journey to the destination with shorter lift lines (Telluride) or an easier journey with longer lift lines (somewhere near Denver). Keep in mind, Telluride is getting more popular every year, so this will change!
(Edit: We skied Alta, Utah the next year and I liked Telluride more! See that trip and comparison in this post.)
Best Time to Ski Telluride
The ski season in Telluride is from Thanksgiving to the first weekend in April. The end of January to President’s Day has the best ski conditions and fewer people. The middle of March to the end of the season is busiest because of spring break and it can get very warm. We visited in the middle of March and the high got up to the lower 50s, which made some slopes icy in the morning and slushy in the afternoon. Some runs were a little crowded for me, but skiing around 11 am when many have gone to lunch and you almost have the run to yourself was perfect.
Getting Around Telluride
Telluride is a very walkable town, meaning everything you need is a short walk away. I think our longest walk was about 15 minutes. But there is a free shuttle – Galloping Goose – that makes a constant loop if you don’t want to walk. You can see the schedule here.
To get up to Mountain Village, there is a free gondola that is less than a 15-minute ride. It runs early and ends late, so plenty of time to get your skiing in.
How to Get to Telluride
The nearest large airport is Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ), which is about an hour and a half drive to Telluride. The non-stop flights come from Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and San Francisco. From Austin, we had stopovers in Dallas (on the way there) and Phoenix (on the way back). Telluride has an airport also if you are flying from Denver. A round-trip flight to Montrose is usually $200-400.
Since Telluride is very walkable, you likely won’t need a car during your trip. For that reason, a shuttle from Montrose to Telluride is a popular way to get to Telluride. There are shared 14-person vans and private SUVs available. We used Telluride Car Service for a private ride and they were excellent! Service was great and their pricing is lower than other shuttles.
Where to Stay in Telluride
First, decide if you will stay in the town of Telluride or Mountain Village. We decided to stay in the town because it was less expensive and there were more lodging options to choose from in Telluride. The average lodging price per night (when we looked for five people) in Telluride was $500-800 while Mountain Village was $1,000-2,000 per night.
The difference is the 15-minute gondola ride up and down the mountain. It’s an extra trip back to your place in Telluride after skiing. If you’re skiing until the lifts close (until 3:30-4:30 pm), you’ll have a 15-30 minute wait in the gondola line to get down. The commute wasn’t too bad, and I would stay in the town of Telluride again. This might be different if you decide not to rent a locker and have to lug your ski gear to and from your rental.
Since we wanted at least four beds and enough space so it didn’t feel cramped, the options were limited for our price range, especially booking about a month out. We ended up staying at Cimarron Lodge, which was great for us. The six-person condo had a living room space to hang out and a kitchen with an oven, stove, and dishware. It was a short walk to the grocery store and about a 10-minute walk to the free gondola. If I could change something about our lodging, I would want more comfortable beds and an overhead fan or A/C in the bedroom.
I would highly consider a place with a hot tub because it would feel great after a long day of skiing!
Here are some other options we considered in town.
- Bachman Village Rentals
- Telluride Lodge
- Boomerang Lodge
- Ballard House Condo
- Camels Garden Hotel
- New Sheridan Hotel
- The Hotel Telluride
I recommend looking at the Alpine Lodging website and Airbnb for condo rentals, but booking through Alpine Lodging is cheaper than Airbnb. Telluride Ski Resort and Telluride Resort Lodging also have listings.
What to Wear When You Ski
As someone who was born and raised in Texas and who has prioritized beach vacations, winter clothes were a big endeavor. 😀 Thankfully, I borrowed a lot of my ski clothes from friends. If you’re looking for cheaper options, look at thrift and outlet stores. You can find gear at REI, Columbia, and Eddie Bauer, among others.
The high temperatures during my ski trip were around 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and it felt warmer than I thought it would be. Being comfortable and dry (in case you fall down) will make skiing much more enjoyable! I recommend having thicker and lighter options of jackets, gloves, and gaiters so you can switch out.
- Rentals – A typical rental package includes skis and ski boots. Helmets are also available. Helmets also cover your ears, so no need to worry there.
- Jacket – Get a waterproof and warm jacket. If you’re skiing in the warmer part of the season, I would consider getting a jacket with vents and/or bringing a lighter option (jacket shell) you can switch into.
- Pants – Get your waterproof ski pants ready. If you’re wearing thermal pants or leggings, something that hits right below the knee is ideal so that you’re not constricting your legs inside your boot (your calves) as much. A ski bib is like overalls and aims to keep snow out of your pants from the top. It’s typically a more snug fit around the waist and very comfortable.
- Gloves – You’ll need waterproof gloves. Same as the jacket, consider bringing a lighter option if you’re skiing later in the season.
- Goggles – You can buy some online for about $40. I recommend getting a pair that reflects the sun/snow well (like sunglasses) and won’t fog up.
- Socks – You want crew socks (tall socks that hit mid-calf) that are warm yet breathable. If you’re afraid of being cold, look for thicker, wool socks. Ski-specific socks may also have extra padding in the shin area.
- Warm layers – Since it was warmer when I visited, I only wore a long-sleeve thermal shirt on top under my jacket. If it’s colder, you could try a fleece layer on top of that. Layers are necessary!
- Neck Gaiter – Having this was so useful! I had fleece and lightweight options. These will keep you warm and save you from wind and sun.
- Sunscreen – Don’t forget to apply in the morning and reapply in the afternoon!
- Snow boots – You’ll need these for walking around if it’s snowy and/or icy. Typically, most ski places will have walkways shoveled and ice-free, so it’s not necessary, but if you’re walking around or the temperature is lower so that ice and snow can build up, these will keep your feet warm and keep you from slipping and falling.
How Many Days Should You Ski Telluride?
I recommend skiing for three to four days, especially if you’re a beginner and/or skiing for at least five hours every day. That’s about six to eight runs a day with a break for lunch. You can easily ski all the green courses in this length of time.
I also recommend taking a class at any level. It’s a good refresher and there’s always something to improve or learn.
Is Telluride Hard to Ski? Is Telluride Good for Beginners?
As a somewhat beginner skier, I didn’t think Telluride was hard to ski. The greens were an easy challenge. I think Telluride is good for beginners but it could have had more green runs and/or flatter green runs. You can easily ski all the greens in two or three days, so you’ll either move on to blues or re-run the greens, which could get boring.
What are the Best Easy Runs in Telluride?
From Mountain Village, you’ll ski down Meadows or The Peaks to get to the main lift for green runs. From there you’ll take Sunshine Express up to all the fun.
Favorite Run From the Top:
- Take Sunshine Express – lift 10 then Ute Park Express – lift 11.
- Ski down Little Maude and Madison to Prospect Express – lift 12.
- At the top of lift 12, follow this route: Galloping Goose > Bridges
- Bridges (Double Green) has some great fast sections!
- Meadows and The Peaks (Single Green) – You’ll probably take these every day. They’re good to warm up on.
- Ute Park (Single Green) – This big open route is easy and good for practice.
- Little Maude and Madison (Double Green) – You’ll ski through lots of trees and it’s a fun jaunt before going up lift 12.
- Galloping Goose (Double Green) – You can take this run from the top all the way to the bottom. It can seem a little narrow and there is a drop-off on one side. When I was there, the bottom section was very slow because it was so warm.
- Nellie (Double Green) – this is a nice little tree-lined, quick run
- Village Bypass (Double Green) – One of the harder double greens, this run is at the top of Village Express – lift 4 and is the steepest green on the mountain.
How to Make Your Ski Trip Better
You’ll probably be very sore the first two days, so be sure to hydrate, stretch, and use muscle patches or rubs to relieve your legs. A hot shower after skiing feels great and I bet a hot tub would be excellent! (So sad our condo’s hot tub wasn’t available!)
What to Do in Telluride Besides Skiing and Snowboarding
While we didn’t make time to do anything other than ski, there are options for non-skiers or if you don’t want to spend all day skiing! Here are some winter options:
- Snowmobile Tours
- Sleigh Rides
- Fat Tire Biking
- Cross-country Skiing (like hiking on skis)
- Spa Time at Pure Beauty and Wellness, The Peaks, or Madeline Resort
- Telluride Historical Museum
What to Eat and Drink in Telluride
Since we made breakfast and lunch every day, dinner and drinks were the time we explored Telluride’s restaurants. We visited Telluride to ski and the food isn’t something I’d write home about, but the restaurants were good after a day of skiing. We tried the first five on the list. If you’re staying in Telluride town, here are some options:
- Smugglers Union Restaurant & Brewery – The best food and beer we had in Telluride
- Brown Dog Pizza – Classic and Detroit-style pizza
- Siam – Thai food
- Telluride Bottleworks – liquor store
- Last Dollar Saloon – Bar with a rooftop and nice cocktails
- There – A trendy bar for fancy cocktails
- 221 South Oak – New American fancier restaurant
- Baked in Telluride – Casual cafe
- The Butcher & The Baker – Local bakery and cafe
- Cosmopolitan – Fancy eats
- Rustico – Fine Italian restaurant
- New Sheridan Bar – Historic building, eats, and drinks
If you’re looking for more options and the most updated information, check out this list on Eater.
Telluride Ski Trip Budget
A 4-night trip with three days of skiing costs about $2,300-2,500 per person with money-saving tips. Below are some of the things you need to budget for your trip. I’ve also included price estimates and ways to save money.
- Flight to Montrose: $200-400
- Stay: $100-2,000 per night
- Book a place in Telluride instead of Mountain Village.
- Stay in a condo instead of a hotel.
- Round-Trip Shuttle to Telluride from Montrose: $370 for five people
- We used Telluride Car Service, which was a lot cheaper than other options.
- Ski Lift Ticket: $169/day
- The price is what it is and you can get them on the Telluride Ski Resort website.
- Ski Rentals: $80/day for skis, ski boots, and helmet
- Book online early and look for discount offers.
- The damage waiver is about $2 a day.
- We used Christy Sports, which seemed to be slightly less expensive than other options.
- Ski Lesson: $160
- The three-hour lesson is helpful to get started and be more comfortable, especially for someone who hasn’t skied in a long time. I would ask if there is an opportunity to switch to a class to a higher level midway through if you find yours too easy.
- Ski Locker: $10/day – $40/night
- Having a large ski locker in Mountain Village is very helpful so you don’t have to carry all your gear down to Telluride every night. Each big locker can fit the stuff of two to three people, so you could share.
- Ski Clothes: $150+
- Borrow from a friend
- Buy them in the off-season
- Shop at thrift stores and outlet stores.
- Food: $100+
- Buy groceries for meals. This is especially easy for lunch – make sandwiches and keep them in your locker.
- Bring a water bottle to refill. There are filtered water stations available.
Plan Your Telluride Trip
Don’t ski? Telluride is also a popular destination in the summer! Without the snow, it becomes a hot spot for hiking, biking, and camping. This means no matter if it’s winter or summer, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities in Telluride and a beautiful mountain landscape to enjoy!
I always thought I preferred the beach and I still do, but I wouldn’t mind a mountain vacation to ski and apres-ski every once in a while.
P.S. If you’re looking for another ski location, we visited Alta, Utah the next year. See all the info here.
P.P.S. Need some more ideas for a vacation? See my Destinations page here.