My First Winter in a Ski Town

Let me start by saying that the decision for me to move to a ski resort was because I actually despised winter. At first thought that statement may seem strange and perhaps very questionable. But yes, I truly resented and dreaded the cold weather when I accepted a job to live and work in Telluride Colorado.

Growing up in Michigan, winters meant gray skies, black slush on the roads, and ice everywhere. To try and ski or snowboard in Michigan meant to mostly scrape down patches of hard packed ice and freeze your butt off attempting to get some good runs in on mediocre hills.

The crazy part was that as much as I hated winter, something inside of me craved the feeling of overcoming the cold while being immersed in it in a way that Michigan couldn’t offer. So when I found a job at a Colorado ski resort, I decided to face my hatred and embrace all that the season had to offer. So I packed up my warmest clothing, snowboard & boots, and took off for the snowy unknown.

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To begin with, I had never even heard of Telluride before I found a job working for the ski resort online. I was familiar with the super popular mountains of Colorado; Vail, Breckenridge, and Aspen, but Telluride was a complete unknown to me, drawing me in entirely by its mystery. Even driving through the red rock canyons towards the town, I was left wondering if snow and mountains even existed within a few miles of this desert-like terrain. But after a few winding turns, I came around a bend to discover the sprawling mountainous magic of Telluride

The Telluride Valley from the outskirts of town

The Telluride Valley from the outskirts of town

Located in the southwest region of Colorado, Telluride sits in a box canyon, perfectly tucked away in the San Juan Mountain range. Founded in 1878 as a mining town, remnants of Telluride’s history still remain today in the form original town buildings and hidden mining ruins speckled around the area. The mountain was developed as a ski destination in the 1970’s and has since offered some of the most unique skiing terrain in the country.

Sitting in the four corners region means that the area is considered high desert, which translates to dry air and constant sunshine, around 250 days of sunshine a year to be exact. Coming from dull monochrome winters at home, Telluride’s sunny days and common blue skies all winter made being outside all day actually enjoyable. And when Mother Nature decided to treat us with fresh snow, the flakes fell fluffy and full, blanketing the town and mountain with powder that never went taken for granted.

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Where I lived was in the town of Mountain Village, which was a small town that sat at the base of the ski area and allowed me to literally walk out my door, strap into my snowboard, and jump on a lift from my apartment complex. Mountain village itself was ideal in that way; situated perfectly for mid-skiing drinks at a bar or hot tubbing at lodges after a long day on the mountain.

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Unique only to the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village was the transportation system which connected the two by means of a free gondola system; the only transit of its kind in the world. This system eliminates the need for cars to commute to either town, making the gondola eco-friendly and efficient, and perfect for getting home safely after a night out on the town.

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After falling in love with the landscape of Telluride, I fell in love with its community. Being a small town, it wasn’t long before I knew the people I passed on the street (and their dogs). What I loved most about the Telluride locals though was their absolute kindness for one another, and willingness to be giving and compassionate. Down one of the streets in town even existed a free box which contained a shelf for leaving possessions no longer needed, like clothes, gear, or home goods, for the next person who came along; creating a sort of free take-what-you-need system.

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And for being such a small town, the local businesses were enough to keep me coming back each time I wandered the streets. Ghost Town Coffee for instance, was one of my favorite coffee shops to sip hot drinks, read a book, and watch the passing people on the streets. The library was another favorite, offering the best free wifi in town, literature of every type, and movies for rent along with a long list of other rentals such as GoPros, snowshoes, bikes, telescopes, disc golf supplies, fly rods, and more. An afternoon in town wasn’t complete without a trip to the ‘Baked in Telluride’ cafe, where dozens of fresh baked goods were available each day, and too tempting to pass up. And as a Michigander, I’d be doing an injustice if I didn’t mention the best pizza in town (or maybe on Earth) Brown Dog Pizza, which is actually owned by an old University of Michigan football player, and heavily reflected in the U of M décor all over the restaurant. Stop in and have a slice if you’re ever in Telluride, you’ll be happy that you did.

As for the actual skiing, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a being on a snowboard more in my life. I put in 50 days on the slopes this season (a low number compared to many of my friends), but with each day I found my skill level growing stronger as I dared to take on expert hills and runs that were only available by hiking up to them. On my last day, I was fortunate enough to tackle the Gold Hill Chutes, which stood at 12,800ft elevation and ended in a total powder field (aka pure heavenly bliss).

Between the numerous bands playing in town and on the slopes every week, the après-ski culture, the friends I made, and the overall experience that Telluride gave to me, I fell in love with winter in every single way. I now anticipate winter with eagerness, excited at the thought of bundling up and being dusted with fluffy snowflakes. As I daydream about the next winter and where I’ll be spending it, I can’t help but hold Telluride close to my heart, where it will forever remain.

Watch how I spent my Christmas in Telluride below!