Telluride may be most famous for its world-class ski resort, but the small western Colorado town has made a summer name for itself thanks to internationally- known festivals and recreational opportunities amid rugged peaks visitors must see to believe.
Set in the San Juan Mountains, Telluride attracts foodies to its restaurants, film aficionados and Hollywood A-listers to its film festivals and thousands of music fans to popular events such as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
But that’s just in town. The area surrounding Telluride is postcard perfect, luring outdoor enthusiasts interested in everything from photography to off-roading.
“The best way to experience summer in Telluride is to visit one of our world-class festivals and add a few days to your trip to explore our hiking and biking trails, take a 4x4 tour to the Tomboy mine and enjoy one of the many cultural events that the destination offers,” said Kiera Skinner, Telluride Tourism Board director of marketing and public relations. “The options are endless.”
Although present-day Telluride prides itself on amenities that attract tourists from all over the world, the town’s beginnings weren’t quite so glamorous.
Like other Colorado mountain towns, Telluride credits its origins to mines. John Fallon made the first claim in 1875, finding zinc, lead, copper, iron, silver and gold in the Sheridan Mine, according to a history article on telluride.com.
Telluride was booming by the late 1800s with banks, schools, churches and a seedy underbelly of saloons, bars and prostitution. In fact, the tax collected from the red light district helped fund infrastructure and city improvements through the 1800s, according to telluride.com.
Remnants of Telluride’s mining past are visible on select hiking, mountain biking or off-roading adventures offered during a summer visit to present-day Telluride.
Up and over: One of the area’s most popular attractions is the gondola with a free 13-minute ride that connects Telluride to the Mountain Village and a 365-degree view at 10,500 feet.
It runs from 7 a.m. to midnight daily during the peak summer season.
There are handicap-accessible cabins, as well as cabins for pets on leashes.
Tempt your taste buds: Telluride Food Tours run on afternoons from June 1 to Oct. 1, taking guests on a tour to sample some of Telluride’s best speciality food shops, ethnic eateries, wine bars and other restaurants. The tour lasts nearly three hours and costs $75. Tours sell out so advanced tickets are required. (telluridefoodtours.net)
Go off-road: With many areas around Telluride accessible only to 4x4 vehicles, it’s essential to take time to get offroad. If you aren’t an experienced driver with a safe off-road vehicle, take a tour and let a professionals can do the work so you can enjoy the view. Go to visittelluride.com/things-to-do/4x4roading for a list of routes or outfitters able to guide or rent vehicles.
Music to your ears: Telluride’s summer season is full of popular music festivals in a variety of genres. The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is June 18–21.
Although the event often sells out before its lineup is announced, you don’t need tickets to see the free June 17 FirstGrass concert in Mountain Village or attend free workshops in Elks Park.
Other Telluride music festival include: The Ride Festival, July 11–12; Telluride Jazz Festival, July 31–Aug. 2; and Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, Sept. 17–20.
Up and away: Telluride Town Park hosts the Telluride Balloon Festival from June 5–7. Weather permitting, more than a dozen balloons launch at sunrise and bystanders often help with the launch from Town Park and may get a ride.