Colorado is known for its world-class snow sports, with some of the nation’s best ski resorts dotting the Centennial State’s rugged landscape. While you can rip and shred at Buttermilk, Echo Mountain, Telluride, and Vail, the true spirit of the mountains is found in the backcountry. Far from the masses and developed regions on untouched and wild slopes is where you’ll discover winter adventures at their best. Weaving through trees, bombing down ridges, and taking in panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, it’s no wonder why so many locals head out to their favorite bowls on a daily basis for their pow fix.
Slower paced winter adventurers aren’t ever at a loss for something to do around the Telluride region, either. Just a short drive from town are miles of unspoiled wilderness primed for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, each showcasing the inspiring beauty that helped Colorado and the Rocky Mountains become a worldwide winter destination. So go ahead and book your plane ticket, load up your Osprey Ozone, Sojourn, or Shuttle, and come get that Rocky Mountain High that comes from life above 8,000 feet.
Get Your Gear and Some Local Beta
For over 20 years, Jagged Edge Mountain Gear in Telluride has been inspiring locals and visitors alike to create their own winter adventures. This small mountain town, tucked away in a box canyon and surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, has just a few thousands residents, but endless outdoor adventures. Jagged Edge, since opening a few decades ago, has become a hub for outdoor enthusiasts from all over world, thanks to their great selection of products and their extremely knowledgeable staff. A stop at Jagged Edge will ensure you have the right gear for winter exploration of the mountains, hooking you up with the perfect Osprey backpack for whatever adventure lies ahead. The staff members will not only get you outfitted correctly, but will get you the latest and greatest beta for the region. Giving you everything you need to explore the backcountry, Jagged Edge Mountain Gear is the premiere outside travel shop in town, specifically catering to those looking for awesomeness.
A Local Favorite
One of the Jagged Edge staff’s favorite spots to send people is Lizard Head Pass. Located 12 miles south of town along State Highway 145, this region is easy to get to, and promises stunning snow experiences. Lizard Head Pass seems like it was created perfectly for recreation and outdoor adventures, with incredible views, meadow-skipping style backcountry for skiers, a chance for hikers get into serious backcountry, and a place to enjoy groomed nordic tracks. This is an ideal multi-sport area, perfect for all styles of human-powered winter recreation. Keep in mind that there is no avalanche control, as this is an uncontrolled area. Three feet off the road, you are in wilderness, so make sure you understand the risk of exploring mountains in the winter.
One of the more popular areas to snowshoe or use as a destination for backcountry skiing is the Lizard Head Trail, starting right off the highway. Leading to Black Face Peak, the 7.6-mile round trip trek will give you views for days, glimpses of stunning alpine lakes, and access to 13-14,000 foot peaks. The first three miles of this trail gain 1,400 feet as you climb up to the ridge that leads to Black Face Peak. This is a great stopping point for many, as just getting this far will give you that sense of deep connection with the wilderness of the region. An Osprey Kamber or Kestra pack is designed with backcountry skiers and mountain climbers in mind, so you’ll have plenty of space for any gear you might need, whether you turn around here or continue on.
From here, you can go higher to the snowy summits that surround the region, or bomb down some stable snowy slopes and experience true powder bliss in the San Juan Mountains. The most amazing part of this trail is that it doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface of winter adventure and wilderness beauty to be discovered along Lizard Head Pass.
Don’t Forget the Ski Resorts
Of course, you can also head to the ski resorts in and around Telluride to have a good time, too. After all, they provide incredibly stunning access to some of the greatest skiing and snowboarding in North America. Groomed, accessible, and offering some of the best views around, the Telluride Ski Resort will get you stoked on winter, even if you have never skied before in your life. The area has over 2,000 skiable acres, with 15 lifts and three gondolas leading up to 13,150 feet above sea level, for over 4,000 feet of descent waiting for you at the top.
Want the views without the work? Good news—there are free gondolas in Telluride, open to everyone. The town’s gondola system is said to be first and only free public transportation of its kind in the United States, and the ride between the town of Mountain Village and Telluride is 13 minutes of 360-degree views of the San Juan Mountains.
If you love mountains, winter snow, and panoramic views that will have you planning your next trip before you even leave, Telluride has what your soul craves. Take the trip and enjoy the ride around the summits of Colorado. You deserve it!
– Via Roots Rated