Just over 360 miles southwest of Denver, lies the historic mining community of Telluride, Colo. Often hailed as one of the top ski resort towns in North America, Telluride offers a variety of summer activities as well. With no stoplights or commercial franchises, this small mountain town provides the perfect escape for a long summer weekend. Come to Telluride for one of its many festivals and stay for a weekend of mountain fun.
Non-stop flights arrive daily at Telluride Regional Airport and Montrose Regional Airport from many international airports including Denver and Albuquerque. Telluride Regional Airport is located atop Deer Creek Mesa, approximately fifteen minutes from Telluride with three flights arriving daily. Montrose Regional Airport is approximately 65 miles from Telluride and has seven flights arriving daily. Mountain Limo provides a shuttle service from both airports for those who don’t want to rent a car.
When you hit town, stretch your legs and explore the main street formally known as Colorado Avenue where you can still see much of Telluride’s past mining spirit.
For lunch, enjoy southern style barbeque at Oak…The New Fat Alley, located at the base of the gondola in Telluride and a favorite après spot for locals. Be sure to try the Carolina smoked pulled pork sandwich or the hickory smoked brisket sandwich.
Photo by: Ryan Bonneau
After lunch, it’s time to head into the mountains. The free gondola connects the town of Telluride to Mountain Village at the base of the ski resort via a 13-minute ride. From here, you have access to three miles of mountain biking trails at Mountain Village Bike Park, which runs from the St. Sophia mid-way station and ends at the Mountain Village center. It‘s free, but requires that you sign a waiver.
Additional hiking and biking is accessible throughout the resort. Bring your own bike or rent one from Paragon Outdoors located on Colorado Ave. in downtown Telluride. Paragon has a full fleet of road and mountain bikes and offers guided tours of local trails.
Also located in Mountain Village is the Telluride Golf Course, a par 70, 18-hole course that sits at an elevation of 9,500 feet. Ask about private instruction and clinics from PGA professional from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Pro Shop.
After a round, grab a Colorado microbrew and a enjoy some grub under the giant yellow umbrella at the Tomboy Tavern located in Mountain Village. You can’t go wrong ordering anything with “BBQ” here. Try the Local Root Beer BBQ Baby Back Ribs and ask for extra napkins. Snag a seat on their outdoor patio. After all, you didn’t travel this far to sit indoors.
After carbo-loading, hike to one of the many waterfalls near town. Bear Creek Trail begins at the end of South Pine Street. It’s a two-and–a-half-mile climb that ends at Bear Creek Falls and connects to the Wasatch Trail and Bridal Veil Falls.
Photo by: Ryan Bonneau
Located at the end of the box canyon Bridal Veil Falls is easily accessed via hiking, biking or 4x4 vehicles. The hike is just over a mile from the bottom of County Road to the falls, which are one of the largest in Colorado.
Dinner: La Cocina Del Luz is sure to hit the spot after a day of hiking. The menu features Mexican cuisine made from organic, locally sourced ingredients, and it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Locals recommend the fish tacos.
If you have any fuel left in the tank, stop by the Last Dollar Saloon, a Telluride institution known as “The Buck,” for a nightcap but bring your cash—no credit cards here. Do your best to blend in with the townies and find out where to find the best powder come ski season.
Sleep: Spend the night at The Peaks Resort in Mountain Village. The Peaks features a 42,000- sq. ft. spa, indoor climbing wall and fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools with waterslide, and an on site kids camp program.
Vacation is the perfect excuse to indulge in a not-so-balanced breakfast like homemade donuts and other starchy goods from Baked in Telluride. If calories don’t scare you, try their apple fritters or a traditional glazed cake donut.
Because you’re on vacation, you might as well sit back and let someone else do the driving. Telluride Offroad Adventures offers a variety of backcountry tours in their fleet of Swiss Army Pinzgauers. Spend a few hours, a half-day or a full day exploring the mountain passes, mining routes and local ghost towns surrounding Telluride. If you’re a die-hard skier looking to shred in the off-season, ask about custom tours through mountain passes where snow lingers late into the summer.
Courtesy of Telluride Offroad Adventures
To fully understand why so many people trade the city life for a fairly remote town like Telluride you’ll have to cast a line in one of its pristine rivers. The San Miguel and Dolores rivers are home to several types of trout - rainbow, brown, brook and cutthroat making them popular fly-fishing destinations. A guide service such as Telluride Fly Fishers and Rafting Expeditions can show you the local hot spots, offer techniques such as how to choose the right fly and help you reel in your new mantelpiece décor.
If you’re seeking a thrill consider one of Telluride Fly Fishers and Rafting Expeditions’ class II-III rafting trips. Trips range anywhere from half a day to three days depending on your experience and willingness to get wet.
After stripping off your waders or life jacket, freshen up for a night on the town and visit La Marmotte. Located in what used to be an icehouse and one of the oldest buildings in Telluride, La Marmotte’s menu changes every night in accordance with whatever produce is in season. An in-house sommelier is on hand to provide wine pairing suggestions. At $49 a person for the full three-course meal, this French inspired cuisine is an indulgence to be savored. A la Carte meals are also available on request.
A visit to Telluride wouldn’t be complete without venturing beyond the town limits to explore the thousands of acres of wild lands and state forests. Spend half a day taking in these sights along the Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic byway-a 133-mile stretch between Grand Junction and Telluride. About 40 minutes before you hit Grand Junction, check out the remains of the Hanging Flume - an open water chute that used to deliver water to mining facilities along the Dolores River-and keep an eye out for fossils in the canyon walls. Expect a minimum of three hours to complete the drive.
Known for being Colorado’s wine country, Grand Junction makes a good pit stop to refuel before heading back to Telluride, or on to your next destination. Stretch your legs and explore the outdoor art exhibit, “Art on the Corner” located on mainstreet or grab a bite to eat at Rockslide Restaurant and Brewery featuring eight beers on tap, pub fare and all you can eat fish and chips from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Thursday.
Spend your last few hours relaxing at the Telluride Town Park. Horseshoes, tennis courts, volleyball and a skate park are available as well as a kids fishing pond. If you plan your trip well in advance, you can catch one of the many summers concerts or festivals at the park. Check the events calendar to see what’s coming up.
Photo by: Ryan Bonneau
On your drive back to Denver, stop and visit the Wagner Custom Ski factory in Placerville, Colo. 15 miles northwest of Telluride on CO-145. Skiers are welcome to come in for a tour anytime to talk gear, custom skis and when the next storm will roll in.