Great winter trips in the West

Telluride on a dime

Think this ritzy Colorado ski town is out of reach? Get 4 end-of-season strategies to save

Telluride ski view
Photo: Brown Cannon III

Tucked into a box canyon with only one road in or out, tiny Telluride is easy to miss. And for most of ski season, it can feel impossible to pay for.

Not in March. As winter winds down, locals know that prices drop, sunshine is reliable, and a thick base of snow usually holds out until the end of the month.

And if you’re not a local? This is your best chance to make a trip to a one-of-a-kind ski town―uncrowded, charming, with jagged peaks and above-treeline bowls that are the closest you get in North America to the Alps. Take in the view from the resort’s Revelation Bowl, and you could swear you’re in Switzerland―without the nine-hour flight (or fares in euros).

Thankfully, there’s no faux-Bavarian village to match. Telluride is truly Western, with a historic district of gingerbread Victorians and saloon fronts preserved since the days of Butch Cassidy, who staged his first bank robbery here.

4 Telluride travel bargains

Here, we give you the skinny on four late-season bargain strategies that put it all within your reach.

Fly for half the price: Nonstop flights from Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, Dallas, and Houston land at Telluride Regional Airport, the highest commercial airport in North America, or Montrose Regional Airport, a little more than an hour away.

Late-season flights can be found for under $200 round-trip, versus high season’s $500 or more. Last March’s fares included $188 round-trip from Phoenix and $198 from Salt Lake.

Sleep for a song: In March, Telluride Resort Lodging (800/778-8581) offers a late-season ski-and-stay package that seems (almost) too good to be true: a condo or home starting at $93 per person per night―lift ticket included. Just how good a deal is this? Well, a lift ticket alone runs $92 a day.

If you’re more of a hotel person, the historic New Sheridan Hotel (800/200-1891), in the heart of town, just underwent a renovation but retains its Old West charm. Beginning March 20, you can get a room for $130 per person, including lift ticket.

And starting March 23, the Hotel Telluride (866/468-3501), a cozy mountain lodge with free shuttle service to the gondola and restaurants, throws in two lift tickets with a room for $332 per night (three-night minimum), compared with its usual $299 rate for just the room.

Skip the rental car: Instead of renting a car at the airport, spend just $30 round-trip for a shuttle from the Telluride airport or $102 from the Montrose airport (tellurideexpress.com).

Everything in town is within walking distance, and a free Galloping Goose bus makes a loop every 10 to 20 minutes (7 a.m.–midnight).

Lifts whisk you straight to the slopes, and if you want to après ski in nearby Mountain Village, that’s not a problem either―a free gondola runs from town to the village from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Search for the freebies: Nordic skiing in the Town Park, the Valley Floor, or the Telluride Golf Course is always free. If the snow at the base is sparse, the TopAten Nordic and Snowshoe Area ($20 lift ticket) offers trails through the forest and along mountain ridges.

You can also join a downhill ski host at the top of Coonskin Lift for a two- to four-hour exploration of ski trails and Telluride’s colorful history (10 a.m.; free with lift ticket). And at mid-mountain lunch spot Gorrono Ranch ($$), skiers listen to live bands and loosen up with free chair massages (1–3 p.m.).

Finally, don’t miss the Free Box (Colorado Ave. at Pine St.), where locals deposit their castoffs. You might just find the perfect book, game, or down coat.

More winter tripsGreat snowy getaways

 

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  • Telluride map

    Getting there

    Telluride is a 7- to 8-hour drive from Denver or Albuquerque on mostly dry roads in late season. There are daily flights from major airports into Telluride or nearby Montrose. Information: visittelluride.com

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