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The view from Allred’s in Telluride


Road Trip Through the Rockies with Mountain Collective

By M. John Fayhee

Hotel Jackson Photo Courtesy of Hotel Jackson | Cliff Lodge Photos by Matt Crowley


This itinerary is the ultimate resource for 1,888 miles of endless on-slope fun and frolic in the Rocky Mountains.

With 16 destinations under its umbrella, the $519 Mountain Collective pass—good for two days at each resort—is one of the best deals to grace the ski industry. The main concern is how to take advantage of all those opportunities. Though road tripping is generally considered a warm-weather activity, this seasonal protocol presents a progressive itinerary that takes adventurers to six of the participating Mountain Collective resorts within reasonable driving distance of Aspen—and each other.

Aspen to Telluride Ski Resort: 205 miles Drive time: 5 ½ hours
What’s new in Telluride: A 15-acre terrain-based teaching facility and new 300-foot magic carpet
Where to sleep: The Peaks Resort & Spa, Telluride’s largest hotel. The Spa at the Peaks recently partnered with Naturopathica, a New York-based skincare line and holistic spa.
Where to eat: Allred’s. Telluride’s flagship restaurant at the top of the gondola offers amazing views from its perch at 11,000 feet.
Where to drink: Altezza at the Peaks. This casual bar offers panoramic views of nearby Mount Wilson, one of Colorado’s famed fourteeners.

Telluride Ski Resort to Alta Ski Area: 368 miles
Drive time: 8 ½ hours
What’s new in Alta: The new Supreme lift is 5,030 feet long with a 1,200-foot vertical rise, and ride time of just under six minutes.
Where to sleep: Mountain Collective pass holders receive a 25 percent discount at Alta’s Rustler Lodge on stays Sunday through Thursday.
Where to eat: The Shallow Shaft Restaurant is Little Cottonwood Canyon’s only independent fine-dining restaurant. It overlooks the Wasatch Range and Alta Ski Area.
Where to drink: The P-Dog at the Alta Peruvian Lodge is a true locals’ hangout.

Snowbird’s The Cliff Lodge pool

Alta Ski Area to Snowbird: 2 miles
Drive time: 6 minutes
What’s new at Snowbird: The Cliff Lodge has undergone $35 million in renovations. The Cliff Spa has two new gas fireplaces on the outdoor pool deck, specifically designed to provide down-canyon and Snowbird-mountain views.
Where to sleep: The Cliff Lodge is one of North America’s iconic ski lodges. Enjoy ski-in/ski-out convenience and excellent service with a luxurious resort experience.
Where to eat: The Aerie, located on the 10th floor of The Cliff Lodge. Serving modern-American gastropub cuisine, The Aerie has an award-winning wine list. A popular skier’s breakfast buffet is served in the winter.
Where to drink: More of a locals’ favorite for après is the Wildflower Lounge, located in the Iron Blosam Lodge, which has a good happy-hour bar menu.

Alta Ski Area to Sun Valley: 319 miles
Drive time: 5 hours
What’s new in Sun Valley: The Cold Springs Canyon project on Bald Mountain, opening up 380 acres of new terrain, is underway. This winter, enjoy a preview of the area courtesy of Sun Valley’s ski instructors and ski patrol, who will be leading advanced skiers on tours, with the new lift scheduled to open for winter 2018-19.
Where to sleep: Phase one of a massive renovation of the Sun Valley Inn was completed mid-December, with the rest slated to be finished at the end of this year.
Where to eat: Newly remodeled, The Ram, located in the Sun Valley Inn, is a modern steakhouse featuring a menu stocked with locally sourced Idaho foods.
Where to drink: Duchin Lounge. All new and inviting, this venerable watering hole serves up cocktails, imported beer and an extensive wine list.

A suite in the new Hotel Jackson

Sun Valley to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: 276 miles
Drive time:
4 ½ hours
What’s new in Jackson Hole: The Sweetwater Gondola, which replaces the Eagles Rest and Sweetwater chairlifts, will service an enhanced ski school facility coming this winter. The gondola, which opened last year, holds eight and ascends 1,276 vertical feet.
Where to sleep: Hotel Jackson. Opened in 2015, this boutique hotel is perfectly located in downtown Jackson.
Where to eat: Big Hole BBQ. With locations in Victor, Idaho, and Jackson, its Idaho-style barbecue is quickly becoming a local’s favorite on both sides of the Tetons.
Where to drink: Old Yellowstone Garage—in the new Caldera House in Teton Village—has a retractable glass wall that opens to an outdoor slopeside patio. Burgers come with the best fries in town.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to Taos Ski Valley: 718 miles
Drive time:
12 ½ hours
What’s new in Taos Ski Valley: An $8 million state-of-the-art children’s center and new pedestrian gondola, increased snowmaking technology and capacity, and expanded gladed terrain.
Where to sleep: The Blake at Taos Ski Valley, newly opened in spring of 2017, is a slopeside lodge that is part arthouse and part Alpine retreat.
Where to eat: In Taos Ski Valley: 192 is the newest dining hot spot, with shared plates and a custom-built bar. In Taos: Authentic New Mexican food at Orlando’s has long been a favorite for locals and visitors alike.
Where to drink: In the Ski Valley, Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina is as famous for its chile as it is for its beer. In Taos: The Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn is one of the best people-watching venues in the West.