It is no secret that I have based myself in Telluride for the ski season just finished. I’ve learned a lot of things about myself and the town of 2000 people while being here but there are nine things I wish I had known before I visited Telluride the first time back in the day.
‘Local’ knowledge can go a long way to enhancing your holiday experience so take these tips from a season local.
Make friends with a ski patroller
The ski patrol team at Telluride love it when you drop in to the patrol hut on See Forever run and say hi to their dogs. The avalanche rescue dogs have their own website and the patrollers are happy for you to take pictures with them when they’re not out working. If you drop in enough times you may be invited to The Lizard Lounge, the ‘invite only’ patrollers bar at the base of Lift 7. What happens at the Lizard Lounge stays at the Lizard Lounge.
There Bar is not easy to find but highly addictive
There Bar is hard to find but worth the effort. The hole in the wall Portland-esque cocktail bar is a den of local iniquity with fun bar men (tell Tanner we said hello) who know how to mix a wickedly mean cocktail (that’s a good thing). Be warned, one grapefruit martini is never enough and that’s the problem. You’ll meet locals and the occasional under the radar celebrity (Jake Gyllenhaal was there when we were) and dine on Asian inspired tapas including pork belly bao buns.
Chairs are numbered not named
The chairlifts here go by number not name. Yes you’ll see names plastered across the base tower but the locals only know them by number so familiarise yourself with 1 – 15 and where they are. Chair 9 is the local’s go to on a powder day and you’ll find a line up of patient powderholics waiting at the rope drop near Bon Vivant for Chair 12 and 15 to open once avalanche bombing makes the tree runs, chutes and open bowls of this terrain safe.
Burlesque and TAB
Many of Telluride’s creative locals don’t mind the spotlight. This works in visitor’s favour if you choose your dates right. The Telluride Aids Benefit Gala is part fashion show, part dance party on a cat walk. The annual event sees local ‘models’ dress up in designer fashion labels and strut their stuff to some hilarious choreography designed to entertain and delight while raising money for AIDS and HIV education and prevention.
If you can’t make the February dates for TAB then consider March for Burlesque when a handful of locals put on their take on burlesque entertainment with some seriously saucy solo performances. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
The best breakfast is from a food cart
USA ski towns don’t traditionally celebrate breakfast as an institution the way the coastal cities of Australia do. Most folk just want to get to first lifts. Telluride is known for having little if any lift lines so there’s a bit more time to get fed before hitting the powder.
The best breakfast is in the plaza at the Mountain Village and is a food cart called Friends with Bennys. The eggs benedict sandwiches are served up on home made organic muffins with local free range organic eggs, pasteur fed butter hollandaise sauce and avocados straight from the farm. Add chorizo, proscuitto, pork belly, whatever is on offer. All this for $10 and under.
It’s all about Steve and The Lovely
Like most Australians with a coffee addiction thanks to the coffee culture and snobbery of back home, I struggle with coffee in the USA and particularly ski towns. This winter was no exception but salvation arrived in the final week of the season when barista Steve came to town and the doors opened on Ghost Town Grocers on Main Street. Ask him for ‘The Lovely’ – a single shot 6 oz latte served up in a crystal cup. It will taste just like home.
Get a Sweet Deal
If you want the inside direct line to the local scene then join Telluride Sweet Deals Facebook group. This is where locals all come to play and offer up housing solutions, accommodation options, sell of ski gear, tickets to events and more. But whatever you do don’t join Telluride Rants by mistake. This is where they offload all their complaints.
Dog Tag #dogsoftelluride
There is no ski town with as many dogs per capita. Think of a ski town that has as many dogs as you have seen then double it. Dog owners here are friendly and want you to love their dog the way they do. Take pics and tag them #dogsoftelluride. I’ve been doing this all winter and have quite the collection.
Wagner skis are a status symbol
Pete Wagner makes custom bespoke skis to your choosing. He designs skis for the way you ski, what you like to ski and when you ski and then loads up a top sheet with graphics designed just for you. His factory is in Placerville next to Telluride and anyone who is anyone in the ski town will be sporting a Wagner logo on their hand made skis.