Telluride, Colorado

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Written by Cassidy Barnes posted on Monday, January 18th, 2010

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At the base of the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is a major destination for everyone from artists, to ski pros and ski bums, to celebrities and free spirits. Lots of people from all walks of life have even made this southwest Colorado town their home, if not only temporarily in the world-class Telluride lodging.

The town of Telluride tucked within aspen trees. (Matt Inden/Weaver Multimedia Group/Colorado Tourism Office)

The skiing is excellent in this sculpted, glacial, box canyon, and a free pedestrian gondola runs year-round to its companion town, Mountain Village, Colorado, home to the Telluride Ski Resort. Other Telluride attractions include hiking, mountain biking, fishing and shopping around the town’s restored Victorian main street.

The Telluride Historical Museum is a good place to start for tourism information and a history lesson in the area. This isolated town at 8,750 feet is in the Four Corners region of Colorado where New Mexico, Utah and Arizona meet. It began as a remote silver and gold mining town, evidence of which you can still see in its 1800s architecture and more directly in its abandoned mines.

Take a walking tour around downtown with a map from the visitor’s center, relax people watching and get a bite to eat at one of the area’s many acclaimed restaurants. When you’re ready for an adventure, take a four-wheel tour of Imogene Pass to Ouray. Along the way you’ll see the old Tomboy mine and fort at 13,114 feet. Mountain biking is also an option, but less popular because of the area’s rugged and steep terrain.

Everyone should take the hike out of town to Bridal Veil Falls. This gorgeous cascade is Colorado’s longest free-falling waterfall and a definite must-see. It is located at the head of the canyon in which Telluride sits.

Stream fish along the Dolores or San Miguel River or attend of the of the frequent summer festivals, such as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June or its famous international film festival. In fact, almost any summer weekend that you’re there, you’ll be able to see why Telluride has earned the title “The City of Festivals.”

Only one road reaches Telluride year round, but there are also two off-road routes that are forgeable by 4×4: Imogene Pass and Black Bear Pass, the latter of which is known to be the most dangerous pass in the state. Incredibly, it is only passable in one direction because of a treacherous stair step section.

The town is serviced by Telluride Regional Airport, the highest commercial airport in the United States. Just like the tricky passes, the airport is considered challenging by pilots because of its frequent storms, high altitude and rugged mountain terrain boxing the airport in on all sides.

All this isolation and rocky terrain does have a benefit, however, and it comes in the form of excellent skiing.

Telluride’s slopes and lifts remain uncrowded throughout the season and offer great long routes for every experience level. From refined groomed runs to challenging moguls and steeps, Telluride has it all. Beginners and intermediate skiers and snowboarders even get a chance to go the highest peaks because they have been developed to provide easy routes down for those that want them. With its drastic natural environment, 300 annual days of sunshine and 300+ inches of snow yearly, it is no wonder it has been called “the most beautiful place you’ll ever ski.”

  • That sounds like a wonderful place to go sightseeing. A helicopter flight would be a great way to see it!

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