The best ski touring area for beginners near Telluride.

Statistics

3 - 4

hrs

599

m

599

m

27

max°

Difficulty

FATMAP difficulty grade

Easy

Description

The south-facing slopes above Lizard Head pass provide the easiest ski touring terrain near Telluride.

This expansive area of open meadows and gentle glades is located directly off the road, and is surrounded by beautiful alpine peaks including Mt.

Wilson, Sheep Mountain, Pilot Knob, Golden Horn, and Vermillion Peak.

The views and accessibility make this tour an obvious choice if you are new to ski touring in the Telluride area, or are looking for some mellow backcountry skiing with minimal approach.

The ski run is located above the west side of the highway atop Lizard Head pass.

Open meadows, nearly a mile wide and gently angled, line the uphill side of the highway as it crests over the summit of the pass.

A common run is to park at the plowed pullout directly at the top of the pass, and skin uphill from here, skiing almost directly back down to the car.

However, driving along the highway for a short distance either direction from the summit reveals more options for additional runs.

The pullout at the top of the pass is the largest and most obvious starting point, but a few other pullouts offer additional access points, if they are plowed.

The line drawn here shows some of the more popular descents, but there's plenty more to choose from other than what is shown here. Lizard Head Pass’ south slopes offer safe powder skiing after winter storms and reliable corn skiing in the spring.

The terrain is gentle, but snow conditions can be variable due to sun and wind.

Avalanche exposure is minimal, and although there are a few small gullies between some of the slopes, these terrain traps are easily avoidable.

Generally, skin uphill until you hit dense forest, and rip skins here.

An average lap takes only 45 minutes to an hour, round trip.

There are, however, some alleys and glades hidden in the forests above, and skiers can spend a whole day exploring options and finding hidden stashes.

Or, put in a skin track and lap your slope of choice until it is tracked out.