Telluride – It’s not just for Skiing anymore!
The Town of TellurideTelluride (8,745 ft.) is tucked into a box canyon surrounded by 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks and surrounded by steep valley walls. Above and beyond Telluride are networks of jeep roads and miles upon miles of hiking trails that crisscross the mountains. Many of these hikes start from the valley floor itself and meander through aspen groves and upwards onto mountain mesas and ridges. Visitors flock to Telluride for its natural beauty and the many different kinds of destinations and activities made possible by the diversity of its surroundings.
Bridal Veil Falls, for example, runs at the eastern end of the canyon. At 365 feet, it is the longest free-falling waterfall in Colorado. Running through the town, the San Miguel River originates high in the mountains, drops more than 7,000 feet, converges with the Dolores River and, ultimately, flows into the Colorado River. Originally home of the Ute tribe, the San Miguel river and an abundance of wildlife were their sustaining resources. The first people to recognize the unearthly beauty of the area, they called it the “Valley of Hanging Waterfalls.”
The Spanish making their way north through Mexico and New Mexico in the late 1700s were the next ones to arrive and see the beauty of the Rocky Mountains that they named the San Juan Mountains. Starting as a silver mining camp on the San Miguel River in the late 1800’s, gold mining followed in the mountains above the town.
Telluride (8,745 ft.) is tucked into a box canyon surrounded by 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks and surrounded by steep valley walls. Above and beyond Telluride are networks of jeep roads and miles upon miles of hiking trails that crisscross the mountains. Many of these hikes start from the valley floor itself and meander through aspen groves and upwards onto mountain mesas and ridges. Visitors flock to Telluride for its natural beauty and the many different kinds of destinations and activities made possible by the diversity of its surroundings.
In the 1890s Butch Cassidy’s started his bank robbery career in Telluride and the New Sheridan Hotel was built in 1895, becoming its most famous landmark. Just eight blocks wide and twelve blocks long, the town contains an architectural legacy of Victorian homes popular during the late 1800s. By the mid-1950’s. the gold mining boom had become a bust, mines were shuttered and residents moved on. Because of its significant role in the history of the American West, Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964. Soon afterwards, Telluride discovered that it was surrounded by “white gold” and opened the Telluride ski resort in 1972. In 1975, the Coonskin Lift was constructed, creating access to the ski area directly from Telluride. In 1979, Ron Allred and the Benchmark Corporation of Avon, Colorado, purchased controlling interest in the ski area, spurring development of the town and Mountain Village perched above Telluride at 9500 feet. A regional airport was completed in 1985; the Sunshine Express high-speed quad chairlift was constructed for the 1986-87 ski season; and a luxurious hotel and spa, The Peaks Resort & Spa (formerly the Doral Hotel), was opened along with the Telluride golf course in the Mountain Village in 1992. The town’s colorful Victorian-era homes, clapboard storefronts and historic buildings soon would become part of a unique town setting with boutiques, art galleries, gourmet restaurants and much more.
Mountain Village, with its European-style architecture, modern amenities, ski-in/ski-out hotels and sweeping views of the surrounding peaks, has evolved as the perfect complement to historic Telluride. Telluride and Mountain Village are linked by a spectacular, 13-minute ride on a free gondola. Telluride consistently wins the accolades of magazines like Conde Nast Traveler. Not only is it a top-tier ski town, somehow the town has managed to maintain its marvelous unhurried character, authenticity, charms, and low-key vibe even though it offers everything that travelers are looking for. A December 2018 Conde Nast Traveler article, “Why Telluride Keeps Being Named the Best U.S. Ski Town,” unveils some highlights of why people keep coming back. The author of the article tells us that the mountain is unmarred by crowds and hoopla and the town as a whole manages to “fly under the radar”. Six times over seven years Conde Nast Traveler has listed Telluride as a “top ski destination.” Free of crowds and ostentation, without fanfare Telluride reveals but doesn’t flaunt its qualities. Telluride’s ski resort also has been on Forbes’ “top ski destinations” list for a number of years, most recently among “The Top 10 Ski Resorts In North America For 2019.” In addition to snowfall, terrain, and crowds, Telluride is a winner for the town’s ambience. According to Forbes, Telluride is an “alpha” when it comes to top-tier ski resort towns. “Telluride, for instance, sits at a high elevation and has good amounts of terrain that face north, which helps them preserve snow and stay cold even when the spring sun gains the upper hand from winter”. The author cites how well Telluride’s skiing serves skiers of varying abilities and all visitors for its restaurants, shops, bars and other attractions. And from another perspective, CNN Business named Telluride No. 2 on its “10 great destinations for combining work and play.” It’s easy to understand why Telluride has been continually ranked the #1 Ski Resort in North America by readers of Condé Nast Traveler. While in town or after returning home, skiers rave about uncrowded slopes, no lift lines and the exceptional terrain for all levels and abilities of skiers.
The destination also offers everything else that outdoor enthusiasts could ask for from snowshoeing and Nordic skiing to sleigh rides and bike tours. Telluride also is like few other places in summer months. Families can float down the San Miguel River through town on inner tubes while cyclists and hikers head off in every direction from town. And all visitors can move in and out of downtown Telluride and Mountain Village with beautiful azure skies and peaks framing spectacular views. The variety of outdoor activities near Telluride is mind-boggling. Hikers and nature lovers have choices of an abundance of scenic nature trails, jeep roads, and less-traveled paths. When the snow melts, the San Juan Mountains provide terrain perfect for biking. Challenging trails from the town lead to old mining roads and basins high above box canyon. For longer, moderate trails, mountain bikers can follow and connect with several former railroad tracks throughout the valley and to the west. Road riding is also popular along the San Juan Skyway. For the more adventurous, the jagged peaks and wall faces of the San Juan Mountains provide a variety of climbing and bouldering routes. From classic routes on Ophir Wall to moderate climbs on Pipeline to the Via Ferrata, the climbing is diverse and plentiful. For a warmup, check out Adventure Rock, a manmade climbing boulder in Mountain Village. Telluride’s mining heritage has left a legacy of jeep roads that provide access to some of the area’s highest mountain passes, beautiful vistas, alpine lakes, waterfalls, wildflowers, ghost towns and mining ruins. Visitors return again and again to explore the area’s many off-road routes such as Bridal Veil Falls, Last Dollar Road, Ophir Pass, Alta Lakes or Black Bear Pass. The same terrain and its trails provide routes for ATV tours. Horseback riding from Telluride into the San Juan Mountains is one of the area’s most memorable experiences. Near Telluride anglers will find some of the finest trout streams, lakes and ponds in the Rocky Mountains.