If you’re looking to visit a small mountain mining town-turned-ski resort with plenty of charm, both Telluride and Aspen are obvious choices, though they’re 200 miles apart. Spectacular views, gondola rides, great restaurants, plus as much hiking and biking and skiing as you can handle.
We’ve compiled our comparisons into categories to let you decide which holds the most appeal.
Aspen and Telluride: Accessibility
Aspen’s got its own airport with frequent flights to and from the international hub at Denver. It’s less than an hour’s drive south from I-70, the major artery through Colorado, and can also be accessed by driving over Independence Pass.
Telluride, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult to access – which some say adds to the charm and the overall “away from the crowds” experience. A longer drive from the interstate 70 corridor – about 2 ½ hours from Grand Junction – or you can fly into Montrose, a 75 mile/ 1 hour 20 minute drive from Telluride, it’s a significant investment of your time. That said, once you’re in Telluride, the Gondola will give you easy access to most places you’ll want to go.
Aspen and Telluride: the Gondolas
Aspen’s Silver Queen Gondola requires a $29 fee and takes you up to the top of Aspen Mountain (11,212 feet in elevation), where you can relax on the Sundeck with an impressive view of the town and surrounding peaks and valleys. The Gondola only runs from 10am to 4pm, so be prepared to hike outside of those hours!
Not only does the Gondola in Telluride run to and from Mountain Village from 7 am until midnight — it’s also FREE, thanks to ample funding from the community. Your Gondola ride will take you to an elevation of 10,540 feet for 360-degree views of the San Juan mountains.
Aspen and Telluride: Ski Terrain
Aspen Snowmass encompasses four ski areas, adding up to about 5,300 acres of terrain. Aspen’s skiing has something for everyone: each of Aspen’s four ski mountains has its own personality and demographic.
Telluride, on the other hand, has around 2,000 acres of terrain, though they’re far less crowded than those at Aspen. You’ll find top-quality snow, runs of legendary steepness, and breathtaking views in all directions.
Aspen and Telluride: Events
Aspen is known for a slew of popular and high profile annual events, such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, Food and Wine, and X Games at Buttermilk. You can expect downtown to be absolutely packed as the masses fly in to attend and be seen.
Telluride is home to many annual festivals all with undeniable charm. The Bluegrass Festival, Jazz Festival, Wine Festival, and Blues & Brews are just a few of the notable yearly events.
Aspen and Telluride: The Towns
Aspen boasts streets upon streets of the high profile, high-end shops, with available lodging and restaurants on nearly every corner. You can find the gondola right downtown for skiers who want to get on the slopes from any chosen condo rental. There are close to 8,000 year-round residents in Aspen.
Located in a box canyon, Telluride has less than 2,500 year-round residents. Its downtown offers more of a cozy, local feel — “consciously casual,” as many call it. Downtown Telluride is also home to high profile shops and restaurants for every occasion. In 1987, Mountain Village (the ski base area) was built to be its own town (1,000 feet higher in elevation) in order to relieve expansion pressures on downtown Telluride, and you can enjoy shopping and dining throughout the quaint cobblestone pedestrian corridor
Choose Your Colorado Adventure
In the end, you can’t go wrong with a visit to either of these stunning and without-a-doubt memorable Colorado ski towns. We are, of course, are biased and love Telluride. We look forward to welcoming you on your next vacation!