Outdoors

The Edge: Our guide to the season's best skiing, boarding and more

Page 10 of 12

General Information: www.sunlightmtn.com; 1-800-445-7931.

Location: 160 miles west of Denver via I-70, Colo. Hwy. 82 and Four Mile Road (County Road 117).

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Snow Report: 970-945-7491; www.sunlightmtn.com/the-mountain/snowreport.

Lift Rates: Adult day pass: $50.

Terrain: 470 skiable acres with 67 trails; 20 percent beginner, 55 percent intermediate, 20 percent advanced, 5 percent expert. Base elevation is 7,885', with a 2,010' vertical rise; summit: 9,895'.

Telluride Ski Resort

Tom Watkinson, Telluride Ski Resort's communications manager and lifelong Telluride resident, thinks that the true, die-hard skiers and riders on the Front Range should know something about his resort:

"We've got the terrain that they're looking for," he says simply. "I think we also have the community that they're looking for: fun, easy, laid-back and not crowded. You're not getting any of the weekend-warrior traffic that you get in Summit County. The crowds are non-existent here. What we would consider a lift line, you guys would laugh at."

Not to mention the surroundings: "The scenic beauty of Telluride is really second-to-none," says Watkinson. "The town itself has character. And once you get into Telluride, you'll never get in a car again. Everything's walking distance. You literally can ski right up to a restaurant.

"We have enough for all levels of skiing for somebody to come here for a week," he adds. Even better, "you can get a beginner skier up to the highest lift points of the mountain and get the views that Telluride is famous for, and not have them committed to something they can't handle to get back down."

Watkinson grew up as a freestyler; he recommends the bump skiing underneath the Gold Hill Express lift down Millions. He also likes to hike Palmyra Peak and take the Gold Hill Chutes down. "You can hike up to 13,150 feet and see some amazing stuff up there," he says. The new-last-year Revelation Bowl is another favorite.

For a high-end après experience, try Allred's; Watkinson says that the Hop Garden has good beer on tap, and the X Cafe offers a more mellow environment.

One final suggestion: "If you're making the effort to come all the way to Telluride, you may as well go check out Silverton while you're at it. People who are committed to skiing and skiing amazing terrain: If that's why you're going to Telluride, then you want to check out Silverton, as well.

"When you get here, you're just going to be blown away."

General Information: www.tellurideskiresort.com; 970-728-6900.

Location: 335 miles southwest of Denver via I-70 to Grand Junction, Colo. Hwy. 50 south, Colo. Hwy. 550 to Ridgway, Colo. Hwy. 62 and Colo. Hwy 145 to Telluride.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Snow Report: 970-728-7425.

Lift Rates: Adult day pass: $69 to $92.

Terrain: More than 2,000 skiable acres with 120 trails; 23 percent beginner, 36 percent intermediate, 41 percent advanced/expert. Base elevation is 8,725' with a 3,845' vertical rise; summit: 12,570'.

Vail

Vail is one of the largest ski resorts in the world, which in this case makes it one of the best: The 5,000-plus skiable acres mean that for every crowded trail, run or bowl on the mountain, there's bound to be equally awesome terrain available that people are just passing right by. To help visitors get to know their surroundings, Vail offers daily free tours beginning December 7 for intermediate skiers who want to get oriented on the terrain and for advanced and expert skiers who want to get the ins and outs of Blue Sky Basin; there's also a weekly tour for skiers ages fifty and older. To get the best out of your Vail experience, grab a grooming report from any of the guest-services employees and check out what's fresh that day. Thirty-year Vail skier Julie Rust recommends all the back bowls for skiers who want to try a challenge.

Experts will enjoy the Blue Sky Basin at Vail, including the Cloud 9, Big Rock Park, Lover's Leap, Champagne Glade and Earl's Bowl terrain. Pack a brown-bag lunch, because there are no restaurants in the basin — but there are enough picnic tables to go around.

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen