Legend has it that Telluride got its name from its brutal mining town reputation. When Old West gold prospectors headed to the town, they were warned, “To hell you ride.” That doesn’t line up with what Dizzy Gillespie thought when he visited this Colorado town: “If Telluride ain’t paradise,” the trumpeter said, “then heaven can wait.”
The legendary jazzman is but one of a multitude of artists, celebrities, intellectuals and everyday people who consider this erstwhile mining town in southwestern Colorado one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Playboy.com decided to send a beauty in her own right—Playmate Pilar Lastra—to spend a weekend enjoying the spring skiing charms of Telluride. Pilar sampled the slopes and snow sports, dining, nightlife, history and epic natural landscape of this San Juan mountains mining town–turned–tourist mecca. Don’t miss Pilar’s video rundown of her visit below, and read on to learn how to do it up right in Telluride.
WHERE TO STAY
Lodging in Telluride comes down to one basic decision: do you want to stay in the historic town itself or amid the posh hotels and shops of the nearby Mountain Village? To preserve the venerable structures within Telluride, the resort stewards confined all new development (resort hotels, condos, boutiques and shops) to the Mountain Village. A brief gondola ride up the mountain, Mountain Village affords ski-in, ski-out convenience (or a near approximation, depending on where you stay). An alternative is to stay down in the town of Telluride. The New Sheridan is one of Telluride’s oldest establishments, while the Hotel Telluride—at the entrance to town—has all the comforts of a rustic lodge. Visit www.tellurideskiresort.com and check out the lodging tab for options all around town.
Don’t want to schlep your own equipment? No problem. Get geared up at Boot Doctors, with locations in Telluride and Mountain Village. The expert outfitters know how to fit ski boots so you’re spending time enjoying the powder, not adjusting buckles so your feet don’t hurt. Once you're properly outfitted, snowboard and ski paradise awaits. More than 4,400 feet of vertical drop. Total trails: 127. Longest run: 4.6 miles. Terrain parks for beginners and experts. One of the best skiing and snowboarding schools in North America. No crowds, 300 days of sunshine and 300-plus inches of snow per year. Got expert skills? More than 40 percent of the mountain is geared toward advanced and expert skiers. Don’t have expert skills? Consider taking a lesson at the Telluride Ski & Snowboard School, where you can learn from some of the best instructors in the country.
CULTURE AND NIGHTLIFE
Many a long night of partying starts at the Tomboy Tavern, located at the foot of the slopes. Its broad patio gets especially packed as the afternoon cools down and the après-ski warms up, with patrons enjoying selections from a broad list of Colorado craft beers. Down in the town of Telluride, whiskey flows freely at the New Sheridan bar and pretty much every other drinking establishment around Main Street. The New Sheridan is a hub of nightlife and a great place to start off your evening (as are two nearby restaurants with standout cocktails, 221 South Oak and There…). And when the night is winding down, hit up the Buck, the nickname for the Last Dollar Saloon.
For first-time visitors, Telluride is a dining revelation. While only 2,500 people call the town home, the quality of cuisine (whether casual or high-class) is topflight. Fine dining experiences await at such gems as Alpino Vino, accessible via a snow coach ride at more than 11,000 feet up the mountain, or at 221 South Oak Restaurant. Other musts include There… Bar, as well as a stop at Bon Vivant, a restaurant on the mountain with a terrace and flower vases fashioned out of avalanche mortar shells. After a long night, hangover breakfast emergencies can be treated at Baked in Telluride, where you can get the necessary breakfast sandwich and coffee to start your day.
OFF THE SLOPES
Winter sports don’t just mean sliding down a hill on a plank (or two). Don’t miss the chance to experience the slopes of Telluride on a snowmobile. Even if you’ve never ridden before, Telluride Snowmobile Adventures can get you up to the base of Palmyra Peak via serpentine tree-lined paths, with a little hot-dogging hill-climbing thrown in. Try the Alta Ghost Town tour, which brings you up to an abandoned mining town that played a key role in the implementation of electricity in the mountains. And if you’re planning the ultimate bachelor party, the tour stops near the ultimate Telluride party house, Alta Lakes. The site of decades of debauchery, it's worthy of any epic bachelor party or guys’ weekend. If snow sports aren’t exactly your thing, Telluride isn’t only a winter destination. At the popular September festival Blues & Brews the region’s craft beers are on full display, and you’ll find a great selection of Colorado and wider-ranging craft brews throughout the year at most bars. Telluride has a well-deserved reputation as a great festival town. The Telluride Film Festival boasts a series of Oscar-winner premieres, and the summertime Bluegrass Festival has hosted Mumford and Sons, Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett, David Byrne and other major acts.
Compared to other well-known Colorado ski resorts, Telluride is a little off the beaten path—and that’s to your benefit. You’ll own the place when you arrive, rather than fighting flocks of weekend warriors who inundate resorts closer to Denver. You can fly directly into Telluride airport, but you’ll have more flight options heading into Montrose airport, about 70 miles away. On the shuttle ride, you’ll pass through Ouray County—the setting for the John Wayne film True Grit—before arriving in skiing paradise. Saddle up for a memorable adventure.