Evolution of Telski

By in Resort Blog

Ron and Joyce Allred 2020

Ron and Joyce Allred

America’s Greatest Ski Resort
One Man’s Vision for Telluride

It began with a simple question over lunch in September 1979. “What have you been doing?”
asked Pete Siebert, the founder of Vail, of Ron Allred, the developer of Avon, CO. Ron’s answer
was that he had been traveling around the country for a year and a half trying to find a place to
build one of America’s great ski resorts. His answer set history in motion.

Ron drove to Telluride the very next day to take a look at what Pete called “the most beautiful
location for a ski resort.” But not before Pete cautioned Ron that he would need an entire fleet of
D9 snowcats to make it work. The D9 was the premier dozer of its time, often said to increase
work production by 50% over previous cats.

As Ron drove toward the town of Telluride, he stopped at the old gas station at the entrance to
town (where the Conoco is now) and was overwhelmed at the beauty of the mountains and the
box canyon. “I was immediately hooked,” said Ron.

However, as he drove into town, he saw that it was in bad shape. “When the Idarado Mine
closed in 1978, most of the miners left the area, leaving behind boarded-up buildings and a
vacuum of empty houses falling to ruin,” said Allred, “the town looked like a ghost town.” The
only buildings that were open were a couple of saloons, most notably the Sheridan Bar, which is
still open today.

The next morning, Allred started talking to locals about the viability of skiing on the surrounding
mountains. They all said he needed to look at the other side of the mountain facing the town of
Telluride. Allred drove up Hwy 145 towards Cortez, parked his car near where the Mountain
Village entrance is now and hiked all the way up to the current site of Allred’s Restaurant. He
immediately saw where the skiing could be.

“At that moment,” said Allred, “I knew I had finally found what I was looking for, in my search to
build America’s greatest ski resort.”

Allred knew that the most important aspect of building a ski resort from scratch was to have a
bed base. Fortunately, his 4.2 million purchase from Joe Zoline and Simonius-Vischer
Corporation, included enough land for both the ski resort and future lodging. He set up a small
Telluride Ski Company office on Main Street and he was in business.
While he faced a minor hurdle to negotiate the purchase from Joe Zoline and his Swiss backer,
Simonius-Vischer Corporation, one of Allred’s toughest hurdles was to get the town council and
county commissioners on board for the vision he had in mind. “They did not want change at all,
and we fought that for 5 years, “ said Allred.

Finally, a rancher from Norwood who was supportive of Allred’s vision for the resort ran for and
won the county commissioner’s seat which meant he had the support of two of the three. “We
ran like hell at that point to get all of the approvals,” Allred said, “and on the advice of my
attorney, we spent as much as we could, right away.”

In that first year, Allred spent 5 million followed by 4 million the second year. He also invested
$4 million in the design and construction of the Telluride Regional Airport, which was a very
important aspect of Allred’s vision. “If we didn’t get the airport done, we would not have built the
resort,” said Allred.

Allred went on to build the gondola, the only one of its kind in the country because it connects
the two towns, Telluride and Mountain Village, as a free public transportation system.
The year after the gondola was constructed, Allred’s Restaurant was completed on the original
site where Allred first stood to begin to realize his dream. Now and into the future, Telluride
guests can see Allred’s vision and why, today, Telluride is one of the greatest ski resorts in the

Telluride’s Past, Present, and Future

A look into the past, present and future of Telluride and Mountain Village with short videos featuring Ron Allred, one of the founders of Mountain Village and developer of Allred’s restaurant at the top of the gondola, Johnnie Stevens and William (Bill) Mahoney two of the early leaders of Telluride Ski Resort.

Telluride, Colorado was established in 1870 when miners came to work mining copper, lead and zinc. The beginning of skiing in Telluride was a rope tow by the beaver pond for the kids to enjoy.

While mining first brought people to Telluride, when a couple of miners quit their jobs at Pandora Mine and decided to build a ski resort, the dream of Telluride Ski Resort was born.

With a couple of the first ski lifts built and the ski area in operation, Ron Allred came to the town in 1975. He came in with big ideas, and aspirations for the little town of Telluride to one day to become a top ski resort in North America.

Ron Allred’s commitment to Telluride made the far-fetched dream (to become a top ski resort) come true but not without years of hard work. That vision and commitment has become the Mountain Village visitors enjoy today.

The future of Telluride and Mountain Village is managed growth, a vibrant year-round resort community, and sustainability.

Rich in history, Telluride has a unique mountain destination tucked away in the San Juan Mountains. Once you visit, you’ll never forget your first time.

View more videos of Telluride on our Youtube channel or Vimeo page.


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