I’m looking forward to traveling to Telluride again this winter. I have visited at least twice a year over the last 4 years. It truly is an excellent place to escape, lose yourself, or to rediscover. With plenty to attract just about any traveler, perhaps I can entice you to add Telluride to your travel plans this coming year.
Telluride is nestled in the southwest corner of Colorado. Some of its appeal is that it is effectively a remote destination, with no freeways within 200 miles, and surrounded by mountain passes, limiting the masses of people descending on this town the way they do on other towns like Jackson Hole WY, Aspen CO, and Durango CO. While state highways come through the area from Moab, UT, Cortez, Co and Grand Junction, CO, its a long, albeit breathtaking drive.
Telluride also operates the highest commercial airport in North America, yet all flights in are private or charter, and many get diverted to Montrose, CO anyway, which is serviced by United and American Airlines. Flights to Montrose cost about $650 roundtrip from most points in the West and Midwest. Still, you’ll need to shuttle the 65 miles to Telluride at an additional cost.
To get a glimpse of what travel to Telluride may be like from Phoenix, AZ, through Cortez, CO, over Lizardhead Pass, view this video:
However challenging it may seem to get to Telluride, once you are there. its hard to leave. There is so much to do, see, and experience, that its easy to spend a week every year for many years just doing new and different things offered over the four seasons.
Now that I’ve pointed out the only downside I can think of visiting Telluride, its time to tell you all about the great things that Telluride has to offer.
Originally started in 1880 as a mining camp named Columbia, the US Postal Service disallowed u
sing a name for a town post office that was already taken, so the alternate – Telluride – was chosen. There are theories as to what that actually means, but I’ll let you take that up with the locals – its more fun that way! Telluride mining expanded throughout the valley. An investor working with Westinghouse brought alternating power from a dam powerplant up to the mines and then to Telluride, cementing the town’s place in history as the first in the nation with alternating current.
This was a boon not only for mining, but for the mining barracks, saloons, and the seedy red light district. Telluride was an interesting, lively place in those days. That boon began to end when the silver crash of 1893 dropped prices, making mining a unprofitable business. Those that stayed ended up leaving at the onset of World War I, seeking better jobs, or entering the war. Telluride, like most other mining towns of the same era, became a ghost town.
Telluride and Mountain Village were then connected with the first year round gondola of its type, to serve the needs of the communities. The resort and communities continue the innovation in recreation and leisure opportunities.
Located in the core of the ski resort, on the high plateau over 1000 feet above Telluride, is a newer community with plenty of real estate for rent, condos to purchase, and multi-million dollar homes to impress the most discriminating wealthy buyer. The village was built with the resort guest in mind, with plenty of lodging next to trail offering ski-up access, plenty of short run lifts, and shops that provide the necessities of the resident/guest.
Both communities have interesting shops, world class dining, excellent recreation offerings, and awe inspiring views.
Festivals & Celebrations
A large draw to Telluride are the plethora of special events. Probably half of them were created with no other interest than a local citizen’s passion for a topic, and wanted to put on something special around that theme, for the weekend, and the event took a life of its own over time. Other events were created specifically for the sake of tourism. Either way, There is probably a handful of events that would interest you. Here is a list that occur annually:
Art Walk – Weekly, first Thursday of the month
Fire Festival – A flame induced celebration, inspired by Burning Man – Mid January
Comedy Festival – World Class comedians, and local hacks share the laughs – Mid February
Gay Ski Week – Fun on the slopes and at parties for the LGBTQ community – Last week of February
Tribute Fest – Tribute bands and events paying homage to rock bands of yester-year – Mid March
Literary Arts Fest – Poetry to books, and even a Hike to Reading event – Mid May
Mountainfilm – Celebrating Outdoor recreation and activism through film – End of May
Balloon Festival – Hot air balloons, rides, glows and more – First week of June
Wild West Fest – The West comes alive, along with 500 visiting inner-city youth – Early June
WOW – Work Out Weekend, Health and fitness festival – Early June
Bluegrass Festival – Simply one of the finest Bluegrass Music events in the US – Mid June
Wine Festival – Tastings, and pairings – Mid June
Plein Air Festival – Artists come to paint outdoors – Late June
Rundola – Mountain run of 1800 feet of elevation gain. – July 4
Fireman’s Celebration – Fun activities and celebratory events – July 4
The Ride Festival – Music fest in the town park – Mid July
Art & Architecture Festival – Featuring unique downtown properties and exhibits – Mid July
Yoga Festival – All things yoga at this festival – Mid July
Jazz Festival – Historic Greats and up-and-coming artists – Early August
Chamber Music Festival – Classical Chamber Music performed in the valley – Mid August
Mushroom Festival – Anything and Everything Fungal! – Mid August
Telluride Film Festival – A Prestigious Film festival featuring world class filmmakers – Late August
Blues & Brews Festival – Food, Blues Music, and microbrew to compliment – Mid September
Festival of Cars & Color – A Fall foliage car show of Classic autos – Mid September
Horror Festival – A 3 day horror film festival featuring 18 films and 20 shorts – Mid October
If you are coming to experience a festival, or just to visit, there is plenty to draw you away, into the outdoors. Frankly, this is the bet reason to visit Telluride – anything else is ancillary.
With some of the best terrain in the United States, it would be easy to write about each activity. But here is a list of all you can do in the winter:
Lift Served Alpine Skiing, Heli-skiing, Backcountry trail served skiing, Telemark Skiing, Nordic Skiing, Sleigh rides, Snowmobiling, Hot Spring Stays, Ice Climbing, Sledding, Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Horseback riding, Fly fishing, Fat Tire Bicycling.
Biking, Hiking, Mountain biking, 4×4 trails drives, Ghost Towns, ATV & Motorcycle routes, Court sports galore, Disc Golfing, Fly Fishing, Golf, Horseback riding, Hot Air Ballooning, Camping, Paragliding, Landscape Photography Tour, Mountain running, Skate parks, Paddleboarding, Swimming, spas, Whitewater Rafting.
Neither list is fully inclusive, and I intentionally left out shopping, movies and other more mundane activities you can do anywhere.
The best way to get here is to plan your trip with a Travel Professional. Explain all that you want to do, the time you want to visit, and approximate budget. The only mistake you can make is not having a budget big enough to cover all the exciting things you want to do. Your travel professional will work magic for you in narrowing down options, costs, and can offer alternate solutions or options for your trip.
Secondly you can get on with a group excursion that will be traveling to Telluride. If Skiing is your interest, you can save a lot of money by going with an established tour group. The best person to handle this is Mike Clark of Arizona Fun and Leisure. a 4 day ski trip, with transportation from Phoenix, AZ, lodging and lift tickets can run just under $300! Its a seriously great value, and Mike has been doing this for over 30 years! You can learn more about his Telluride Ski Trips here.
Oh – and if you are interested in meeting me in Telluride, Let me know in the comments, and I’ll share when I’ll be there.