Telluride is a historic town surrounded by a spectacular year-round mountain playground. Even with its modest population of about 2400 residents, it is the most populated town in Colorado’s San Miguel County. Like many of the towns located in in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Colorado, Telluride started out as a mining town in the late 1800s. It was founded in 1878 under the name Columbia. In 1887 and it was renamed Telluride after the telluride gold found in other parts of Colorado. Ironically, telluride gold was never found or mined in the town that was named after it.
To say the least, the scenery in and around Telluride is nothing less than spectacular. The surrounding mountains provide year-round activities from skiing to hiking, mountain biking, hang-gliding, rock climbing and more.
Today, Telluride is particularly well known for its https://www.tellurideskiresort.com/ ski resort which is ranked as one of the top ski resorts in North America by numerous publications. In 2017, Conde Nast Reader’s choice awards rated it as the number one ski resort in both Canada and the USA.
One thing you will not want to miss during your visit is enjoying a ride on the free gondola, the only free public transportation of its kind in North America. This 8 mile, 13 minute ride links Telluride with Mountain Village located at the base of the ski area. Although it is considered public transit, it is also one of the areas main attractions.
If you are only visiting Telluride for one day, we recommend driving straight to Mountain Village and parking in the Gondola Parking Garage next to the gondola. Parking is free unless you plan to leave your vehicle overnight. You can then ride the free gondola over the ridge and down the steep descent into the town of Telluride.
This alleviates the difficulty associated with finding parking in Telluride, which can be scarce, and it offers unparalleled views of the entire valley throughout the ride.
Each gondola is equipped with a bike rack – perfect for mountain bike enthusiasts and they also have pet friendly gondolas that you can bring your dog on.
When riding the gondola from Mountain Village, you will pass through two intermediate stations. At the first station you need to get off at and switch to another gondola. At the second station (San Sophia Station) you can carry on through unless you wish to stop there too.
The Telluride Gondola reaches a peak altitude of 10,540 feet above sea level at San Sophia Station which is 1,790 feet above the town.
Once you arrive in the town itself you will enjoy exploring a variety of unique shops and art galleries and you can choose from a wide range of unique dining experiences. This is not a town where you will find franchise stores and restaurants. Each business is one-of-a-kind.
The town has an old west feel and those who enjoy older buildings and architecture will not be disappointed. There’s much history that has been preserved. Mining was Telluride’s primary industry until 1972 when the first ski lift was installed. From that point forward there was a fairly rapid transition from mining to a tourism-based economy. This was aided by the introduction of music and film festivals, popular events that continue to this day. Meanwhile, the ski area continued to expand and offer some of the most challenging inbound ski runs anywhere.
Be sure to check out the Galloping Goose while you’re walking along Colorado Avenue. This is a unique hybrid vehicle, half train and half truck that were operated by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad from the early 1930s until 1951. Only seven were ever built in the city of Ridgeway Colorado. Five of them are located in various museums around southwestern Colorado and one is on display and operated at Knott’s Berry Farm in California.
Telluride has a general aviation airport which is situated on a mesa about about a 7 minute drive from the ski area. Charter flights including scenic flights and heli-skiing are available but no commercial airlines service the airport. The nearest commercial airport is in Montrose Colorado and charter flights are available between the two airports.
Whatever your reason is for visiting Telluride you are sure to take home lasting and impressionable memories of this amazing place.
While you are in this spectacular part of Colorado, you may also want to take a drive around the mountains into Ouray, another mountain gem that began life as a mining settlement. It is less than a one hour scenic drive from Telluride.