It’s been over a week since Telluride has seen snow and there is nothing in the immediate forecast. Although there is still fun to be had on the ski area, it’s certainly not a powder day out there. But, the beauty of a Telluride winter is that, even with limited snow, there is still plenty to do.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s still more fun when there is lots and lots of snow! But, a little dry spell makes us appreciate it all the more when it comes. In the meantime, check out the following winter(ish) options.

Nordic Skiing: With the agro-endurance athletes that live in and visit Telluride, combined with the groomed trails in the Town Park, on the Valley Floor (not in yet this year), the Mountain Village Golf Course, Priest Lake and Trout Lake, it’s no wonder Nordic skiing continues to grow in popularity in Telluride.

The Telluride Nordic Center  maintains many of the trails and strongly encourages regular skiers to become Nordic Association members. Non-members can make a donation at the Priest Lake and Trout Lake trailheads. The Nordic Center also offers clinics for all levels of classic and skate skiers Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Ice Skating: Telluride has turned into a ski town with a propensity for hockey. It’s not uncommon to see kids going directly from afternoon ski training to hockey practice. And, the adults have become addicted to the fast-paced sport through the Town’s coed recreational league and adult traveling Lizard Head teams.

So it’s no surprise that the Hanley Ice Rink  and outdoor rink at the Town Park and Mountain Village are full of kids, little and grown up, honing their skating skills.

Bike Riding: Because of Telluride’s southwestern location, there is usually a way to sneak a bike ride in every month of the year. During dry weather, stick to the sunny side of the valley and get in some hill climbs in the Aldasoro development near the Telluride Airport, or ride to the top of Lizard Head Pass or Dallas Divide.

For those who prefer the single track, a day-trip to Phil’s World outside of Cortez, makes for an amazing, desert ride on a warm southwestern winter day.

And, then there are those who ride all winter long in the snow—that hard-core, fat-tire Pugsley riding crew who believe riding on snow-packed trails is all part of the fun.

Scenic Picnicking: After skate-skiing at Trout Lake the other day, I saw a couple sitting and enjoying a sandwich and a beer. With the rock face of Sheep Mountain as their backdrop and the Wilsons, Yellow Mountain and Lizard Head surrounding them, their picnic appeared rather idyllic.

It’s not hard to find a spot with a breath-taking view to enjoy a sandwich in Telluride. A snowshoe up Bear Creek or on the Valley Floor will get you there, as will small hikes on the ski area, such as up Prospect Ridge to the top of Genevieve.

Libation Skiing: Although this type of skiing usually fits in well at the end of the season on a beautiful spring day, it’s also fun during the holidays. This is the “Euro” style ski day, in which you take a few runs, maybe hit the Gorrono Saloon, then make your way to Giuseppe’s and perhaps even end at Alpino Vino.

Fair warning from my mom (who seems to be a regular personality in these columns lately) you cannot get a “little something, something,” in your hot chocolate at High Camp. Apparently, it’s an alcohol-free establishment.

Hitting the Groomers: Telluride is known for its steep, rugged terrain, but equally as fun is ripping Giant Slalom turns down Bushwhacker, the Plunge or Lookout right after they’ve been groomed. Outside of powder days, Telluride seems to be a “late-morning” ski area, meaning folks like for the weather to warm up a little before getting on the Mountain around the crack of 10:00.

But, for those with tuned skis and the inkling to spark a few arcs, get out right at 9:00 to cut up the corduroy. And, check the ski area’s grooming report to find the best-tilled snow.

Creating Good Snow Karma: Although there is plenty to do in Telluride throughout every season, at the heart of the winter season is skiing. So, make sure, as you cruise about your day, you’re consciously doing good to create good snow karma. And, then, after exhausting all of the non-powder day options, let it snow!


  • Joan Knowles
    Posted at 07:28h, 02 January

    The Nordic trails at Priest Lake and Lizard Head are not free. Donations are requested. It would be nice if more people donated. The nordic association gets help from the county grooming but other wise it’s mostly volunteer. Maintaining the equipment is huge. Thanks JONI

  • Jesse James McTigue
    Posted at 21:39h, 02 January

    Thanks Joan, I corrected the info. in the article!