For centuries tales of legends have echoed off the snow-capped Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Over a thousand ghost towns, once thriving mining towns, are scattered across the rugged terrain. Even infamous cowboy Butch Cassidy, dressed in silver studded bridles, robbed his first bank in Telluride in the summer of 1889. I had always been curious about venturing to that part of the globe, renowned for its world-class skiing and winter adventure sports. I normally balk at the thought of winter and the cold that comes with it. Yet somehow there I was on a Colorado ski trip, donning a recently purchased parka bound for a place called Copper Mountain. Just the name itself sounded enticing to me. We drove up from Denver, passing rocky boulders and jagged cliff formations. The sun peeked out through the bluest sky I had ever seen – all the way to copper mountain. It was dusk when I settled into my cozy Alpine inspired condo with views of the mountains and the twinkling lit center village below.
The Village at Copper
The Village at Copper is the perfect place to hunker down for a few days of superb skiing and snowboarding. Strolling the picturesque village during the day or night is indeed magical. Tall pine branches laden with snow peek out, and fire pits are everywhere in the village – ideal for warming up after a day on the slopes. Copper Mountain even has a large fireball inspired sculpture etched with tiny snowflakes in the town centre (I wished they had a mini one to take home). You can skate to your hearts content on the West Lake Rink. Pop inside the many ski shops for some trendy ski gear and dine at top-notch restaurants
Colorado Ski Bound
I hadn’t skied in years, not since grade eight, where I swapped my beginner ski ticket sticker for a higher level to join my friends on the hill. I thought it was a cool thing to do. That was until I went flying down a hill, heart pounding, trying to swerve my skis inwards to stop. Let’s just say I had not attempted it again. Yet there I was at Copper, lining up at the mountain sports desk to be fitted for a private lesson.
Weighed down with skis and poles, my pro instructor and I headed for the beginner terrain. Copper boasts eight surface lifts, and fifteen chair lifts with over one hundred and twenty trails. My instructor filled me in on some ski lingo, like how corduroy the slopes were (meaning “perfect snow”). After only a slight tumble and some ski tips my three hour crash-course had me part of the way up a hill where I happily glided back down, taking in the glorious mountain views along the way.
To the Tip of Telluride
It is said that Telluride’s name comes from “To hell you ride”, on account of what once was a perilous journey through the mountains, which many miners would have embarked on. The remote town of Telluride, Colorado, is surrounded by the Grand San Juan Mountains, 8,750 above sea level. Driving up the mountain towards Telluride Ski Resort, I could see the rugged topography stretched out before me, Miles and miles of snow capped mountains lit up with an almost “Alpine Glow”. Telluride is home to some of the most diverse ski terrain in North America.
Ski In, Ski Out
No matter what your level is “powder” fresh white snow for skiing is everywhere at Telluride. Novice skiers even have a 4 1/2 mile run to navigate and for the ski pros the options are endless, as are the incredible views. At 8,750 feet above sea level, be sure to stay hydrated to avoid altitude sickness. One of the many amazing things about the resort is that you can ski from the top of the mountain right into the “Old West” town of Telluride.
Mountain Village & Gondola Rides
Mountain Village with its heated sidewalks, trendy shops and fine dining is a lovely place to stroll around. I loved making my way to the free Gondola that climbs 1,790 vertical feet before dropping you off into town. Riding the gondola gives you the most sweeping views of the mountain range. In the evenings lap blankets are given to stay cozy. If by chance your doggie came along for the trip, they can ride the gondola too.
Riding the gondola to the top takes you to Allred’s Restaurant, a place where fine dining magic happens. With its antler chandeliers and alpine inspired ambiance, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy some “Après Ski”. I suggest indulging in the bourbon marinated elk disk, and capping off the evening with a cocktail. Try the “Cruising at Altitude” with gin and chartreuse. Be sure to bring your camera along to capture the moon peeking out behind the San Juan Mountains.