Telluride December Skiing
Telluride in December: Overview
- Telluride averages 70% open at the end of December for Christmas, a good record considering the steepness of some of its terrain. The resort has added a good deal of snowmaking coverage during the last several off-seasons, which helps. The ownership of the resort is very focused on getting certain expanses of terrain open by the holidays, including Chairs 1, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, and 14, in addition to the gondola.
- Only 15% of winters pass with Telluride being less than half open on Dec. 25, making it a solid bet for trips in late December.
- Telluride offers families a perfect canvas for a ski trip in December, with a town that's unrivaled and no need for a car. Visitors can effortlessly travel from Mountain Village in the upper resort area to the town of Telluride via the gondola, which runs from 7 am to 2 am during the holidays and is free for all to ride
- Crowds that bedevil other resorts during the latter half of December simply aren't an issue in Telluride. There's no major hotels, the lodging space is limited and getting here is a little tough, which keeps the threat of lift lines low
- It takes some determination to get here. The best bet is to fly to Montrose-Telluride Airport. Once there, skiers have to rent a car or book a shuttle ride for the 70-minute drive.
- Lodging is limited and expensive during the spate between Christmas and New Year's. Those who want larger accommodations—4 BR and up—should expect sky high prices during the holidays
- The resort's management has a tendency to leave terrain unopened in December right up until Dec. 23 or so, even if there is enough snow to open it. This is a local pet peeve but one to be aware of when planning a trip to Telluride in mid-December. Skiers at that point can reasonably expect chairs 1,4,5,6 and 10 to be turning by Dec. 15, but whether 9, 12 and 14 get the nod is 50/50.
As the best ski town in North America, in our opinion, Telluride makes for a magical backdrop during the entire winter, especially during the latter half of December when town is thrumming with activity. Families will find negotiating the old town and its gondola-connected sibling, Mountain Village, a delight—and something that doesn't require a car.
If November brings snow, it often sticks around at Telluride to provide a good base for December thanks to the resort's high elevations and its north-facing aspects, which comprise more than 50% of the ski resort's terrain.
Getting good snow at Telluride during the holidays is special, because the competition for powder is far less marked than other spots in Colorado in late December. The crowd here is laid back and there's simply not that much lodging compared with other resorts, which limits the number of people on the mountain.
Telluride snow in December
Data show December is the fifth best month Telluride for overall snow quality when considering the following factors:
- Snow quantity at Telluride
- Snow quality at Telluride
- How much snow is required for proper terrain coverage at Telluride—steeper resorts require more snow to get 100% open.
- Telluride's snow frequency (standard deviation)
- Telluride's elevation
- Telluride's latitude
- Telluride's slope aspects - more north-facing slopes protect snow later into winter
Finding good snow early in the season is often a game of chance. But there are mountains and regions that historically perform better than others. We take these factors into account when grading out our scores for resorts and the given season. That said, it's almost always a better bet, in terms of snow and open terrain, to ski in January or Feburary compared with December.
But skiing during the December holidays is a great tradition and it's also one of the only times many families can get away for extended periods.
Those skiing December should look for ski resorts with high average annual snowfalls and low standard deviations. In addition, steep and rocky ski resorts need more snow to get terrain open compared with ski resorts with more modest terrain.
This is also the time of year when slope aspects—north, east, south, west—matter the least. The sun is at it lowest angles in North America in December and has less effect on the snowpack at this time of year than at any other. So ski resorts that possess lots of south-facing and east-facing terrain will generally ski better—assuming there is enough snow—during these darkest times of winter rather than the spring. More explanation on this topic can be found on our snow rankings page.
Data show that March is the best month Telluride for overall snow quality.