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Telluride’s Eco Adventures is the Road That Should Be Taken

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Telluride Ski Resort has created a road-less-traveled impasse for families: Register the kids in ski school and conquer the terrain of Colorado’s most awe-inspiring resort.

–OR–

Enroll in Eco Adventures, a one-stop adventure shop designed to connect the entire family to the surrounding Telluride region.

Ever the fence sitters, my family did both. And sorry, Mr. Browning, our indecision made all the difference.

Eco Adventures for Kids

While most of Colorado’s resorts focus their efforts solely on ski and ride school, Telluride’s Eco Adventures offers an unparalleled opportunity to try a compendium of activities while learning about area ecosystems.

Prior to our trip, I sat Hadley (6) and Bode (4) down to review their many class choices that include identifying animal tracks, constructing energy kits, making snow caves, building their own snowshoes, learning about local plants and animals or discovering how skating is possible. Prices start at $25 for potty-trained children 3 and older.

After careful consideration, my children opted for The Bucktooth Builders ($50) where they would hike to a real beaver dam and also Cool Kitchen Science ($60) that included creating weird experiments that included making goop and a pickle glow.

Basically, it was kid heaven.

After introducing Hadley and Bode to their instructor Lexi, they forgot about my existence as they delved into the environmental center’s animal skulls (including black bear, bobcat, elk and mountain goat), dress-up pelts, plants, insects, cool science experiments, and so much more.

That’s my way of saying I had no idea what most of it was.

By day’s end, they were a database of knowledge. Bursting with exuberance, they showed me their science experiments (complete with a hypothesis and conclusion) and downloaded everything I’ve ever wanted to know about beavers. They had snowshoed for the first time to a beaver dam and made their own buck teeth and tail out of cardboard.

(Buck-toothed Haddie and Lexi)

If it wasn’t so endearing it would have been a wee bit disturbing.

Eco Adventures is conveniently located in the Mountain Village near the base of the lifts and is open 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. year-round. Don’t miss their summer programs that include Kids Programs for kids ages 3 and up and their full-day adventure camps for ages 5-12. Half- and full-day custom excursions area also available for the entire family. 970-728-7300, ecoadventures@tellurideskiresort.com

Eco Adventures for Grown-up Kids

Eco Adventures doesn’t just cater to children and offers adults ice climbing, heli-skiing, Nordic ski, snowcat skiing and fly fishing.

While my kids were happily exploring their environs, this mama took to the trails in Eco Adventures’ guided snowshoe tour. For just $45, my group of five received loaner Atlas snowshoes and rode to the top of lift 10.

I enjoy the solitude of solo snowshoeing so was a bit wary of sharing my backcountry spoils. My concerns were quashed as our guide, Warner Paige, unleashed geology in action. We wound through a conifer forest heavily blanketed in snow along the resort’s TopAten Snowshoe and Nordic Area (which offers 10 kilometers of trails).

We frolicked in the glistening Magic Meadow, identified dizzying 14,000 peaks in the Wilson Range, chuckled at John Wayne Stories, spotted lynx and snowshoe hare tracks, saw celebrity cabins, and had our breath taken at every turn. After two hours with Warren, I had an intimate knowledge and appreciation for the region.

Though it doesn’t take much to appreciate views like this.

Why Telluride?

When I told many friends I was going to Telluride, their response was always “why?”

(Free gondola)

The magnificence of the sky-scratching panoramas that meld into red-rock mesas are not in question but rather, their proximity to Denver (a six-hour drive).

The reasons are simple: beauty, services and more beauty.

This southwestern resort is not a quick weekend trip, it is a destination. After a mere few days, my family was wooed by Telluride’s western charm, the Mountain Village’s sleek European-style amenities and the free gondola (the first and only of its kind) that connects them both.

The Mountain

Jamie and I fell in love with Telluride Mountain Resort’s 1,700 skiable acres, which offer something for everyone. Though we missed eight inches of fresh powder that had fallen a few days prior and conditions were really tracked out, getting around was simple and fluid. We were able to easily access the entire mountain from one end to the other in just one morning. Jamie hiked and skied down expert terrain in reputed Prospect Bowl while I opted for more sane choices off the Polar Queen Express.

To each his or her own.

Telluride is also a great beginner’s mountain and my children flourished in Telluride Ski School. While most novices are relegated to trails near the base with limited views, anyone can access the top of Prospect Express (lift 12). It is one of the four highest lifts at the resort and has a 13,320-foot peak looming over the ridge. Best of all, the entire family can ski down green-level Galloping Goose, the longest run at Telluride Ski Resort.

Stay

The Peaks Grand Heritage Resort & Spa is about as good as it gets for family travel. Perks include ski-in ski-out access, 161 guest rooms, a Kids Camp for ages two and over as well as private daycare. Your kids will love Telluride’s only water slide that spills into an indoor and outdoor heated swimming pool, moms are pampered at the world-class spa and everyone will relish the live music on the heated decks that offer the best après ski vibes in town.

Eats

For on-mountain dining, we ordered in Crazy Elk Pizza one night and chowed down on Hop Garden’s delicious burgers another evening (both at the resort’s base).

Another delight was riding the free gondola into town and eating at The Sweet Life, the sweetheart of family dining. While I can’t say I recommend the dinner menu (our items were overcooked), this candy store and ice cream parlor has must-order items like 15 varieties of cupcakes (including root beer float and candied lemonade), fried Oreos, funnel cake fries, and a separate menu of nine different S’mores.

The Perfect Family Destination

As we drove home from Telluride, I reflected upon our whimsical, incident-free weekend and then panicked.

Me: “Quick—Tell me something that went wrong this weekend.”
Jamie: “Excuse me?”
Me: “I always have funny misadventures to write about on our trips, like when I fell getting off the chairlift in Crested Butte, or when we locked the keys in the running car in Steamboat.”
Jamie: “Huh. I don’t think anything went wrong this weekend. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

I won’t. But I’ll just classify Telluride as the perfect resort for an imperfect family.

Disclosure: Mile High Mamas is deeply committed to providing you with honest and accurate reviews even though some services may have been discounted or comped. Our reviews are only what we would tell our best friends and we welcome any dissenting feedback.

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Comments
  • comment avatar candace March 3, 2011

    OK. i already love telluride but i love love love this. we’re not skiers so don’t venture to the mountains in the winter but this gives us a great reason to go and enjoy the resort town we already love. fun write-up!

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck March 3, 2011

    We’re a skiing family so it really did pose a bit of a dilemma. As much as my kids love ski school, they said they loved Eco Adventures even more (high praise indeed). I’m itching to back and check out their summer program!

  • comment avatar One Mom's Opinion March 3, 2011

    Sounds great. My husband and I skied Telluride decades ago right after I learned to ski. We haven’t made it back since that long drive has kept us away.

  • comment avatar Jaime March 3, 2011

    Sounds awesome – disturbing cardboard teeth and all! I might have to give those a try. They make for some excellent adventure photos 😉 Great info, thanks!

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