Forego Route 80’s Tahoe-bound traffic, and escape to Telluride, Colorado with your sanity intact. Here the slopes are still rugged and untamed, and the southwestern climate ensures light, fluffy snow. With runs so pristine, you won’t want to leave the mountain—and with so many restaurants and cafes, there really is no need.
Hotel Madeline is the newest ski-in-ski-out stay, located at the base of Mountain Village’s moderate trails and black diamonds. It’s a sleek ski lodge (no log cabin decor in site) with fireplaces and in-room soaking tubs and ski valet for those who want to be steps away from the lifts and have quick access to a cushy bed with a goose down comforter. This past spring, the five-star hotel opened Spa Linnea, a full-service alpine retreat where a Boots & Boards massage helps ski bums recover before dinner at Madeline’s farm-to-table M’s Restaurant. Order the pretzel-crusted lamb chops, wild mushroom soup, or a wine-and-cheese tasting flight.
If you prefer to stay downtown, check in at Ice House Lodge where Telluride’s French bistro, La Marmotte, is known for its coq au vin and elderberry cocktails. You’re also just a few blocks from Chop House Restaurant, a carnivore’s favorite for Parmesan pommes frites with truffle oil and grass-fed steaks cooked in a 1,800-degree custom broiler.
Whether you sleep in or set the alarm for first tracks, The Steaming Bean will wake you up with nutty, slow-roasted organic joe. Don’t ski on an empty stomach though: Grab a chocolate croissant or black bean, corn, and sweet potato breakfast burrito at The Butcher & Baker Cafe before making your way to the Oak Street Lift. This will deposit you atop some of the steepest groomed trails in North America. For more moderate trails, take the free gondola instead.
When your toes go numb after a few runs up top, thaw out with a bowl of homemade chili at Giuseppe’s Restaurant atop the double black diamonds of Plunge Lift. For a more refined lunch—and at this altitude, you can afford the calories—ascend 11,966 feet to Alpino Vino, a quaint mid-mountain dining room with stone floors, furniture crafted from reclaimed wine barrels, and a wood-burning fireplace. From this vantage point on top of Gold Hill, you can see all the way to Utah’s La Sal Mountains on a clear day. Take it in with a grilled vegetable panzanella, organic tomato bisque with a drizzle of olive oil on top, and a glass of wine from the international list.
If a Colorado microbrew is more your speed, cap the afternoon at The Hop Garden at the base of the Village Express Lift. With an extensive selection of beers and casual outdoor seating, this is a lively après ski. When the sun slips behind Palmyra Peak, load your gear into the gondola and make for Allred’s Restaurant, where a New American dinner and creative cocktails await. A ski restaurant to the core, Allred’s even provides slippers for your boot-stiff feet. Relax: Unlike the end of the day in Tahoe traffic, you don’t have anywhere else to go.