Located in Colorado's southwestern corner about 200 mi/320 km southwest of Denver, the ski resort of Telluride was for years relatively inaccessible and undiscovered. But then the airport (the second highest in the nation) was built in the late 1980s. Now there is regular service from Denver and other cities, and Telluride has become both a fashionable ski destination and a summer vacation spot.

Even though its popularity has skyrocketed, Telluride has a slightly funkier, more authentic feel to it than some of the more antiseptic upscale resorts. It offers a mix of cowboy chic and movie-star glamour. Among the celebrities who have owned houses there at one time or another are Oprah Winfrey, Ralph Lauren, Christie Brinkley and Oliver Stone. Despite the glam factor, locals are proud of their laid-back, jeans-wearing style. Telluride is also the kind of place where ski instructors and tour guides are likely to be renegade physicists or corporate lawyers who went there to ski and never left.

The town of Telluride, located at the end of a highway in a magnificent box canyon, has so far retained its small-town charm, including Victorian architecture and quaint bed-and-breakfasts. It also offers full-service lodging, boutiques, restaurants and apres-ski amenities. The Peaks Resort and Spa is one of the top spas in the U.S.

Some of the nonski attractions in Telluride include a downtown historic district where restored buildings have been converted into shops and restaurants. Bridal Veil Falls, the longest in Colorado, is absolutely gorgeous.

A free gondola system provides a scenic way to get between Telluride and its newer, European-styled sister city, Mountain Village.

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