Club Profile: Tellluride Nordic Association
by Lisa Evans
Telluride, Colo. proclaims itself America's Greatest Ski Town, and with great reason. The area was recently named No. 1 in scenery by Ski Magazine, and with 300 days of sunshine each year, Telluride is consistently ranked among the top-destination ski resorts. Although this small, remote town is well known for its ski hills, it also has a very active Nordic association.
Formed in 1990 to encourage public participation in cross-country skiing in the Telluride region, the Telluride Nordic Association has been providing education-enhancement opportunities to individuals of all ages and abilities. Although Nordic ski trails have existed in the region since the mid-1970's, the absence of an association meant trails were not well-groomed.
To make Nordic skiing more attractive to locals and guests who arrive at the premier ski area, the Telluride Nordic Association began offering memberships to individual supporters. The Association currently has more than 100 paid members. The majority are individual or family members who pay $150 a year, but for those who want to give a little more, the Association also offers tiered memberships. A Bronze membership is $500 a year, Silver is $750 and a Gold membership is $1,000. These higher-level memberships provide all access passes to educational clinics offered by the Telluride Nordic Center.
The tiered-membership structure was offered “to encourage higher level contributions for those who can afford it,” says Bill de Alva, board treasurer. “If it weren't for those high-level contributions, there's no way we could do everything that we do and provide the quality of groomed trails that we do,” says de Alva.
Telluride Nordic Association grooms approximately 10 kilometres of trails at Priest Lake and another 12 kilometres of trails at Trout Lake. De Alva says the Priest Lake trails are the most interesting in the region. With a good mix of beginner to advanced trails and many intersections that force skiers to double back on some connectors to ski the entire system, the 10 kilometres of trails feel more like 12 kilometres. “There are no big long straightaways, so it keeps your attention going all the time,” says de Alva. Trout Lake also has an interesting network of trails. Located at a higher elevation than Priest Lake, the Trout Lake trails are the first to open in November and still have snow in May, oftentimes into early June.
Telluride Nordic Association has been instrumental in ensuring the existence of these groomed trails in the region. One trail system it is particularly proud of is the Valley Floor, an area comprised of 15 kilometres of groomed trails adjacent to the town of Telluride.
Telluride Nordic Association also hosts the Butch Cassidy Ski Chase, a Nordic equipment swap and provides lessons, clinics, tours, rentals and youth programs through the Nordic Center in Town Park.
Since the area of Telluride attracts many visiting skiers who don't always purchase memberships, the Association has placed donation boxes at trailheads and suggests a $15 donation for day use, though de Alva admits trailside donations are small in comparison to what is received through memberships, demonstrating the importance of consistent supporters to the region's Nordic community.
Just the Facts
The Telluride Nordic Association P.O. Box 1784, Telluride, CO, 81435 www.telluridetrails.org 970-728-1144