11 May, 2022
10 unmissable winter experiences
15 December, 2022
30 December, 2022
Tucked away in the southern Rocky Mountains is one of Colorado’s jewels and possibly the most famous mountain destination in the USA. Whether you’re a winter sports lover or a summer alpine trekker, there are a thousand and one things to do in Telluride. Your days can be filled with hiking trails and tours of the old silver mines that kick-started this Colorado mountain village. Or take on some of the most challenging backcountry skiing in the country. Summer brings music festivals and gourmet food fairs to the town, while the gondolas transport visitors up and down the mountains all year round.
One of the most charming things about Telluride is its friendly, relaxed personality. From the family restaurants in downtown Telluride to bluegrass music and horseback riding, this is a destination that embraces life and lives it to the fullest. If you’ve never visited this delightful mountain town before, here is our guide to the best things to do in Telluride.
Today, the mines have closed, but the mountains are well and truly open, thanks to the gondolas that transport visitors to the high alpine passes. And we are talking seriously ‘high alpine’ here – Telluride is surrounded by 14,000ft peaks and some of the steepest ski runs in the country.
Top of the list of winter things to do in Telluride is exploring the legendary Bear Creek Trail. Easily accessed from the south end of Pine Street, it’s a 2.5-mile hike up to Bear Creek Falls and a hugely popular ski and snowboarding spot during the winter. The snow is soft powder but runs faster than you might expect, especially on the steeper Prospect Bowl runs.
Another gorgeous winter must-see is the breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls. This 65-foot waterfall is the longest free-falling waterfall in Colorado. During the winter, it freezes solid, creating one of the most dramatic Instagram moments you can think of. You can get a glimpse of it from the end of Box Canyon. Follow Main Street east out of town for around two miles.
If you love skiing but want something more challenging to push you out of your comfort zone, ice climbing may be one of the things to add to your list of things to do in Telluride. The place to try this super-challenging sport is Ames, five miles west on highway 145 from the town. Ames Ice House is the ultimate winter ice climb, and its character changes from one day to the next.
If skiing is at the top of your list of things to do in Telluride in the winter, you have 148 runs to choose from. The ski resort covers over 2,000 acres of terrain in the San Juan Mountains, with all levels catered to, from beginners to pro-skiers. You also have some incredible alpine restaurants to stop off at in between trips on the gondola, including Altezza At The Peaks, Alpino Vino, and Bon Vivant.
Once the snows melt, Telluride takes on a totally different personality. The summer is full of festivals, outdoor adventures, and family fun. During June, July, August and September, there’s hardly a weekend that goes by without some kind of festival.
The ever-popular Blues & Brews three-day event in September combines live music and some potent, locally-brewed craft ales. Over the years, this hugely popular music event has attracted big names, including Lou Reed, Robert Plant, and blues legend BB King. Younger guests don't miss out either, as the festival has plenty of child-friendly activities to keep little ones happy.
In June, it's time to uncork the bottles and load up your plates for the Telluride Wine & Food Festival. This gourmet extravaganza over four days serves up a smorgasbord of gastronomic delights from some of the USA's best chefs and winemakers. It's a not-for-profit event that introduces guests to some of the best restaurants in Telluride and supports local farmers and hospitality businesses to emphasise food sustainability.
Although smaller than the Sundance Festival in Park City, Telluride’s Film Festival is an institution in the town and is celebrated every Labor Day Weekend. It’s a sell-out every year, with more than 50 programs of independent films shown throughout various venues. If your Telluride to-do list includes watching some of the best new cinema releases in intimate surroundings, the Telluride Film Festival is for you.
This chilled-out town has a great sense of humour, and, exhausted by the endless round of summer festivals, the locals created the Nothing Festival. It's a weekend where everyone relaxes for a couple of days and enjoys being part of Telluride. There's a Nothing Parade on Sunday evening and Nothing BBQs all over town. Don't expect any itineraries – the whole point of the Nothing Festival is to throw out the usual rule book and have some fun.
If you’ve wandered around the Balloon Festival, stomped your feet at the Jazz Festival or rebalanced your inner zen at the Yoga Festival, it may be time to explore beyond Telluride Main Street and into the Great Outdoors.
We could create a whole separate blog on hiking and trekking in Telluride - there's so much to see in this truly amazing part of the Rockies. From the magnificent Ajax Peak to the Alta Lakes, the spectacular Arches National Park and the staggering beauty of the Black Bear Pass, this is a landscape that encourages you to lace up your hiking boots, grab a backpack and a bottle of water and discover the true beauty of the Great Outdoors.
For an easy-to-moderate hike of between four to eight miles, Deep Creek is a gentle alpine hike that takes you from Telluride Main Street and out into the valley, where the scent of wild thyme fills the air.
During the summer, the lakes of Colorado are the place to be for anglers. If you’re prepared to drive for an hour and a half, northeast of Telluride is Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park. Flowing through it is the incredible Gunnison River, which has been designated as Gold Medal standard waters and is home to an exceptionally healthy trout population. (Top Tip: Gunnison River is only open to artificial lures and flies, you can’t use bait on this river to preserve its delicate ecology).
An hour from Telluride is the hidden gem that is Uncompahgre River. The best spot for exceptionally good brown trout fishing is the stretch between Ridgway Reservoir and the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground.
Cycling and mountain biking are hugely popular summer activities. With so many different cycling trails to choose from, there is plenty for younger family members to enjoy. River Trail is one of the best and includes a glimpse of the towering Bridal Veil Falls. A paved bike path makes the return trip easier on tired legs. For something more adrenaline-pumping, hop onto the free gondola up to Mountain Village and do a circuit of the Jurassic Trail. Or hit the Boulevard Trail, a dirt track that mini-mountain bikers will adore.
After a soak in a hot spring, it’s back to Main Street to seek out some of the best restaurants in Telluride.
Contemporary American fare is available at the exclusive Allred’s, located midway between gondola stations and guaranteeing you a spectacular mountain sunset view to accompany sublime dishes such as juniper-bourbon marinated elk loin.
Back down in town is Cosmopolitan, where you’ll find the best Colorado rack of lamb this side of the Rockies.
Finish off the evening with a visit to the Telluride Brewing Company’s brewpub in Mountain Village for some potent craft ales and their delicious nacho nibbles. Or stroll down to the New Sheridan Hotel, home to Telluride’s oldest bar that dates back to the 19th century, for one of their signature Passion Star martinis. What a perfect way to end the day.
Finding the finest, most refined places to stay in Telluride is easy with onefinestay. Our selection of luxury chalets and cabins in Telluride put you within easy reach of every amenity, from the gondolas to the heart of Main Street, the mountain passes and National Parks to the restaurants and boutiques of Downtown. If you're planning a Telluride vacation, summer or winter, our team of expert concierge are here to help.
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