Alpine Skiing

Where powder snow, blue skies, great views, and fun reign

By Ninah Hunter, senior editor

Top of 9 ski lift, Telluride. Image by Laurie Cassleberry (on snowboard), top of 9 lift at Telluride.

[Western Colo. | January 2020 | By Ninah Hunter]

WHOOSH! WHEE! WHOA! OOH! AH! OOPS! SWEET! That pretty much sums up a day for me on the slopes, except for “clink” at its end when I drink a toast to it. We are fortunate to have so many options on the Western Slope for alpine skiing and snowboarding.

Telluride Ski Resort. The jewel of Western Colorado skiing is no doubt the Telluride Ski Resort (Telski). It offers some of the most epic skiing and snowboarding in Colorado on over 2,000 acres of legendary vertical terrain with a 3,790-foot lift-served vertical drop. With most of it above timberline, the views from the slopes are phenomenal. There are 148 trails offering a run for every ability level. Begin your day at either Mountain Village or Telluride and take the free gondola up and down between them. At the end of your day, enjoy one of the many restaurants or pubs available in both towns.

Silverton Mountain. The Silverton Mountain Ski Area provides a very unique experience. Silverton, which receives over 400 inches of snow a year, has no groomed or cut trails. It’s for the advanced/expert skier or boarder who enjoys going off piste. One chairlift serves the entire mountain. Silverton offers guided skiing, which can take you outside the boundaries. Explore even more territory by getting a heli drop. You can book just one drop or an entire day of heli skiing or boarding. If thrills and challenges are your thing, Silverton is your mountain.

Purgatory Resort. Located 25 miles north of Durango, Purgatory is renowned as a family-friendly resort and was named “Best Ski Value” by TripAdvisor. The 101 trails offer a great blend of steep tree-skiing trails and wide-open cruisers on over 1,605 acres with a 2, 209 vertical drop and great views. Warm up after you hit the slopes at one of the many restaurants and bars in Purgatory Village.

Sking at Telluride. Telski courtesy photo.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Crested Butte Mountain Resort is considered an adventure ski destination and is known for some of the best lift-served extreme terrain in the nation. It hosted the first winter X Games, the longest extreme skiing competition in the world. Despite its reputation, the resort features plenty of trails for the beginner and intermediate.

Monarch Mountain. Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area, located on the Continental Divide, is a family-friendly destination advertised as a “locals’ ski area.” It has 54 trails, two terrain parks, and an extreme terrain area called “Mirkwood.” Monarch’s coffeeshop, two bars, and cafeteria offer food and adult beverages. Monarch hosts monthly events and offers many different activities and programs for both adults and children.

Powderhorn Mountain Resort. Powderhorn Mountain Resort is tucked away on the north side of Grand Mesa. It claims to be the “most family-friendly resort you’ll find in the West.” Seventy percent of the runs are designated beginner or intermediate. (Story, page 7)

The best part of our Western Slope ski resorts is that they are much less crowded and less expensive than those of the Front Range. And, because we enjoy a vast majority of sunshine and bluebird days, you’ll discover just how sweet it is this winter to enjoy alpine skiing or snowboarding here.