All the Things You Can Ride in Telluride

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All the Things You Can Ride in Telluride
Telluride isn’t just a world-class skiing destination—it’s a veritable wonderland of activity; no matter which area you’re planning to explore, getting there is half the fun. From your own two feet to an actual helicopter, the ways in which you can get from point A to point B in Telluride span the spectrum. In fact, there’s basically only one way that no one gets around: a car. Some locals may use them, but with all the other forms of transportation at your fingertips, why take the boring route?
By Maggie Fuller, AFAR Staff
Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort
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    The Gondola
    If you’re heading to Telluride to ski, chances are you’ll actually be bouncing back and forth between the town of Telluride and the town of Mountain Village, where the ski resort sits. Delightfully, the main method of transportation between the two is a free pedestrian gondola that takes passengers on a 13-minute ride, which happens to have some of the best views of the area. Even better, the gondola runs from 6:30 a.m. until midnight, so if you’re out late enjoying the nightlife, you’ll still be able to make it back to your hotel room. 

    Similar to the gondola, but notably different enough to merit a mention is the Chondola—a sort of chairlift-gondola hybrid with a four-person mini-cabin every 10th chairlift. The Chondola connects the base of the mountain with the hub of lifts at Mountain Village. Plus, it’s just a really fun word to say.
    Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort
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    The Chairlift
    There are over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain in Telluride. Of course, with so much mountain to ski, the resort boasts an equally impressive number of lifts—18 to be exact—including nine high-speed lifts. You could take Lift 10 up to the top of the easy, double green “Double Cabin” run, or try out some of the black diamond runs around Lift 9. But no matter which lift you’re on, the scenery is guaranteed to be memorable.
    Photo by Maggie Fuller
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    Skis (or Snowboards)
    Skiing isn’t just a pastime during a Telluride winter—it’s a way of life. The mountain’s excellent terrain entices skiers of every level from first-timers to experts, but skiing can also be the best way to get around. Sure, the gondola can bring you from Mountain Village down to Telluride for lunch, or you could ski down. After an especially good snow day, you might even see people skiing through the streets! Additionally, the Valley Floor is an excellent Nordic skiing area just outside of town, and you may spot locals skiing with kids or even a baby buggy in tow.
    Photo by Matt Kisiday
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    Some of the best family-friendly fun you can have in the snow is on the back of a snowmobile. For kids and older folks who can’t spend all day skiing, the easy rush of a snowmobile is a great way to spend hours in the snow. There are routes of all levels snaking through the valleys and forests around Telluride outside of the ski resort. In fact, in the winter, snowmobiling is the best way to get up to Alta Lakes and explore the nearby abandoned mining town of Alta.
    Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort
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    Fat Bikes
    Colorado used to be all about skiing and snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking or hiking in the summer. But somewhere along the way, clever bike enthusiasts who were impatient for the snow to melt realized that, by putting fat snow tires on their bikes, they no longer had to wait until spring to ride. Since then, “fat biking” has become one of the most popular forms of transportation in the area. On a visit, you can book a tour through Bootdoctors going from town to the Telluride Brewing Company (a good hour-long trip), but some people use fat bikes simply to get around town.
    Photo by Maggie Fuller
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    One reason Telluride is such a beloved ski destination is that there is a lot of mountain to ski and relatively few other people on the slopes. But if even a few other people just feels like too many, you can hitch a ride on a helicopter to experience pristine parts of the mountain that aren’t connected by lifts. And the most exciting part? You don’t have to be an expert or pro skier to try heli-skiing in Telluride. Open to advanced intermediate skiers and above, the Telluride Ski Resort runs a three-day heli-skiing school with Helitrax, the only heli-ski outfitter in the area. Not only will you get to ride in a helicopter, but as you ski down, you’ll also feel like you own the mountain.
    Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort
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    What’s bigger and more badass than a snowmobile but still runs in the snow? A snowcat. These giant snow machine monsters are generally used for official purposes, but Telluride figured out how to make the experience accessible to the general public. The Telluride Ski Resort can organize snowcat ski trips to powder-heavy backcountry ski areas, and Telluride Ski & Golf Club members can take the ’cats to the slopes for “First Light” skiing before anyone else can get on the slopes. But the best way to find yourself inside a snowcat is to book a dinner at Alpino Vino, a tiny, outstanding Italian restaurant with a five-course set menu set in a cozy cabin high on the mountain. At night, the restaurant is only accessible by snowcat, but the interior walls of the ’cat are carpeted and the benches are covered in fluffy blankets, making the 20-minute drive up the mountain comfortable.
    Photo by Matt Kisiday
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    OK, so ice climbing isn’t technically something you can “ride,” unless you count belaying down the mountainside “riding” the rope. But it’s an ultra-cool activity nonetheless. A few different falls in the area freeze in the winter, and about an hour outside of Telluride is a man-made ice wall in Ouray. Outfitters in Telluride can arrange an ice-climbing trip for climbers of all levels, from beginner to advanced.
    Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort
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