A Week In Telluride

A week’s a long time, and a lot happens. But here’s what you need to know, where you need to eat (broken off into a different post now), and what you should avoid. Most importantly, I’m giving you the lay of the land – something I really didn’t understand until I arrived, and something which would likely change the way I organize a trip here next time.

Telluride is really two distinct areas: the old city of Telluride, and the newer area up on the hill called Mountain Village. The two are linked by free gondola (amazingly well designed and run), by roads, and by ski slopes. Beyond that, they’re two different worlds.


(Skiing down Telluride trail into the town)

So we stayed in the Mountain Village. Mountain Village is really a company town, like many of the big ski resorts these days. One company seems to own or at least develop the whole thing (you’ll get to know their logo with the mining pickaxe pretty quickly), but stays pretty low-key and licenses out the concessions to multiple vendors to keep the place from feeling too homogeneous. I’m not a big fan of these planned developments.

Our place is in Mountain Lodge, which is ski-out (so we can hit the slopes a few steps from our front door, and return to the condo just as easily). They offer a van/shuttle service around the village. And they have a concierge and a pool, etc. For skiing, this is great. For everything else, we really had to spend time getting down to the town, which we did almost every night for dinner, and most days for lunch and other commerce also.


(our cabin in Mountain Village)

The skiing is really pretty excellent. The skiing that is centered on Mountain Village is the beginner and intermediate terrain. It basically feeds down into one main area (the bottom of lift 4 and the top of lift 1) that has several restaurants (pretty uniformly bad – ski food like burgers and low-end draft beer) and a few sporting goods stores. That’s also where the gondola to town ends, and the second gondola starts.

The second gondola goes to the grocery store and everything at the other end of Mountain Village. The grocery store is really the star of the area. But it’s strange: if they recognize the need for good, gourmet food up there, why is it only available in the grocery, and not for lunch or dinner? Maybe this is to keep the town in the loop? I doubt it, frankly, but the town is pretty wonderful.

The town, down at 8750 feet (Mountain Village is at about 9500 and the lifts take you up beyond 12,000 feet) is a real charm. It’s basically an old western mining town, that’s been updated maybe once in the ’60s (it feels very Berkeley there) and then again in the late ’90s (gourmet food, high end clothes boutiques, and the ubiquitous real estate storefronts).


Through all of that, the town maintains both a sense of community, and great commerce. It’s like the little town that caters to the big town person. You can stroll down Colorado (the city’s main street) and get a good latte, some baked goods, a Stetson, and a new fishing rod. And the views are fantastic – from almost everywhere in town, you just look up and see the untouched or barely-touched mountains surrounding you.


In the end, there’s no question that for the skiing aspect of the trip, Mountain Village is the more convenient place to stay. If you do, try to stay in the village itself, where you can walk to the two gondolas. But for the rest of the trip (food and lazing around a comfortable small town) the town of Telluride is where you want to be. For me, I think next time I’ll stay in town and avoid the company-town feel of the new condos up in the Mountain Village.

Be sure to read all about the food in Telluride coming soon in another blog post!

Update: Dinner Restaurants in Telluride is now up. Lunch is coming soon.

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