Take a Telluride time out with this 2 day itinerary. It would be easy to spend a month here. Over time Telluride has transitioned from a rough and tumble mining town where Butch Cassidy robbed his first band, to a small, funky ski town to a full-blown resort. The original town sits at the base of ski slopes, and there’s a swanky village high on the mountain. They are connected via a gondola (free for pedestrians) between the village and town.
Telluride in the summer and fall
As great as it is to ski in winter, many believe it’s even better in summer. We don’t know if Telluride has laid claim to “Festival Capital of the West”, but they could make a good case for it. Arrive in May and depart in October and enjoy a festival every week, although there are festivals during winter too. Favorites include the Hot Air Balloon Festival and Blue Grass Festival in June and the Jazz and Chamber Music Festivals in August.
Little “heads up” about expectations: This is not New York or London where service folks do their jobs as long-time careers. The “Telluride Attitude” has always been laid-back, and many service people are young, scraping enough money together to pay rent to stay in the area. Go with the flow, chill out and enjoy yourself.
Skiing Telluride, for the record:
Start at the Butcher and Baker, with perhaps very good breakfast sandwich, eggs or a loaded bagel with lox and good coffee.
Take a guided 4-WD ride to the ghost town of Tomboy, a mining town of up to 900 men until the gold ran out in the late 1920’s. There’s more to see than in most ghost towns, and while you can legally drive your own high clearance 4-WD up the road, it’s not for faint-hearted drivers. Most tours include the east side of the box canyon and the 365 foot Bridal Veil Falls, a prominent feature you see from town.
For lunch try the small, Italian Telluride Bistro. If the weather’s right it’s delightful to eat on the patio. Paninis come open-faced.
Take a hike to enjoy the scenery
Hiking is a way of life in Telluride. Chances are strong that while hiking you’ll meet visitors and locals out for a few hours or a day. Bridal Veil Falls is two miles outside of town; you can walk the trail to the top. The 1985 Hydroelectric plant at the top is the second oldest in the world. The Ridge Trail is popular, but depending upon where you start, you can be walking uphill or downhill most of the way.
Before heading out get information about the hiking trails and a map. Take plenty of water, wear good hiking shoes, bring rain gear and layers of clothing and let someone know where you’re heading.
Golfers enjoy a round at the Telluride Golf Club, whose course flows across summer-green ski trails. If you’re from lowlands, plan on a club difference. Most tee boxes are elevated creating bragging opportunities for drives.
Dinner will be an event. Make a reservation at the Sheridan New Chop House, located in the historic New Sheridan Hotel and arguably Telluride’s best steak house. If price matters, check out the special menu in the Parlour and Chop House Bar. Contemporary cuisine in the bistro-style Cosmopolitan is another choice.
Breakfast at Baked in Telluride is not fancy, but it is good and very reasonably priced: croissant sandwiches, breakfast burritos and a chorizo and egg burrito that may carry you through to dinner.
Rafting the nearby San Miguel River has been called Colorado’s best kept whitewater secret. It can be bit wild or a great opportunity for first timers (generally classes II and III). We did the San Miguel with Telluride Outside and had a great trip. Mild and Wild in Durango also runs the San Miguel and has morning, afternoon, full day and multi-day trips.
Mountain biking is big in Telluride
Mountain biking is the alternative religion to hiking. Ride on mountain trails or old railroad beds; rent equipment around town; check mountain bike trails and outfitters. Just remember that Telluride is located at 8,750 feet above sea level when you’re choosing trails.
If you’re in town at lunchtime, head to Floradora’s Saloon for a burger or salad. If you’re taking lunch with you, pick up a sandwich at the Brown Bag.
Riding in the San Juan Mountains offers some of the most breathtaking views and scenery you may ever see in your life. Our last riding experience in the Telluride area was at the Circle K Guest Ranch, approximately 30 miles from Telluride. Circle K offers riding for all levels and it’s an operation we’re comfortable recommending. It offers an opportunity to get into the back country and see areas that most would not attempt to visit on foot. If you can handle a three-hour ride, ask about the Lizard Pass Area. Rides with Rowdy is another operation.
Combine a mountain sunset with dinner
One of Telluride’s best views is from a table at Allred’s, at the top of the gondola, and one of the best restaurants in Telluride. Window seating is first come, first served. Potato croutons appetizers are wonderful, and the elk steak and Colorado rack of lamb are exceptional.
Watch the twinkling lights as you glide back down into town on the gondola. The music goes on for hours at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon.
The website for Telluride Ski Resort.
The website for Visit Telluride.