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Telluride, CO, USA | Elevation: 8,750ft | Population: 1,985
Telluride is located in Southwestern Colorado in the San Juan Mountain Range. Telluride is a quaint, yet adventure filled town. Established as a gold mining town in the 1870’s. Telluride sits in a beautiful canyon that has 360 Degree views of the San Juan mountains. Just a short gondola ride will connect you to Mountain Village, Telluride’s companion town just over the mountain. In great thanks to its beauty, Telluride quickly became and ski town destination for not only those in Colorado but those all over the country. As the saying goes, come for the winter, and stay for the summer – Telluride is also a fantastic summer trip destination.
The best way to get to Telluride is either by flying into Denver International Airport, renting a car, and driving 6 hours to the town. Another option is to fly into Montrose Airport which is roughly an hour north of Telluride, but the airport offers frequent free shuttle services to the heart of town and ski resort. If you’re traveling to Telluride in the winter and arriving by car, you’ll need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to ensure you don’t run into any issues on the snowy mountain roads. If you’re arriving from Montrose, you won’t need to worry about a rental car because once you’re in town everything is accessible by walking or the free gondola.
Once you’ve arrived in Telluride, you’ll have plenty of adventures, beautiful scenery, and delicious food to enjoy. We have curated an adventure guide to help you plan your trip!
Local Adventure Vibe:
Telluride welcomes the mountain lifestyle, from activities, to cuisine, architecture, and people. You won’t need to worry about dressing up in your fanciest mountain apparel in Telluride as would be expected in Aspen or Vail. This mountain town defines cozy, rugged, and welcoming. Telluride has activities, cuisine, luxurious lodging all nestled in the valley of the San Juan Mountains range. While Telluride is primarily known as a ski destination, there are plenty of non-skiing activities to enjoy and create amazing memories.
Telluride is an extremely walkable town, Colorado Avenue – the main street through Telluride is less than a mile long and roughly half a mile wide. The heart of town is steps of the ski mountain. Mountain Village is the companion town to Telluride and also has a friendly village area to explore. Rather than driving around the mountains, there is a free gondola connecting the two towns, this is one of the only towns in the United States that uses a gondola as part of their public transit options.
Telluride was established as a mining town and is thought to be named after a type of gold, however, there was no gold ever found in the valley. During the peak mining years, the population of Telluride reached more than 5,000 – now it’s significantly quieter with just under 2,000 full time residents and it’s the quiet humble vibe that make tourists make the trek out to Telluride all year round. Telluride is known for its mountain views, in fact, Telluride has the highest concentration of 13- and 14-thousand-foot peaks in Colorado – be sure to soak in all the beauty!
Food & Drink:
Telluride is a small mountain town but it’s restaurant and bar scene pack a big punch and offer incredible menus and a wide variety of cuisine to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite spots in Telluride and on the mountain of Telluride Ski Resort.
If you’re enjoying a ski day, be sure to check out Gorrono Ranch – is famously known as the “Snow Beach”. Accessible by skiing under the Village Express Lift 4, this on mountain restaurant sells burgers, chili, BBQ, and other lunch bites in a rustic ski lodge with outdoor seating also available. Two other favorites for on mountain dining options are Bon Vivant and Alpino Vino. Both are only open during the winter season as they can only be accessed by skiing! After a big ski morning, you can take a lunch break at Bon Vivant. Bon Vivant is at the top of the Polar Queen Express lift. You’ll dine on a large deck to soak up the sun rays and sweeping mountain views. The menu is not your typical lodge eats but will spoil your appetite with classic country French cuisine, top wines, and other sophisticated bites. Take your dining experience in Telluride to the next level – literally! Alpino Vino is the highest-elevation restaurant in North America at 11,966ft. This quaint yet refined restaurant at the top of the ski mountain will impress you with its views and menu. Featuring authentic Italian comfort food, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to the European Alps with the views, restaurant décor, and the menu. This is restaurant and experience you do not want to miss!
As you start your morning and need to fuel up for whatever adventure you have planned for the day, you’ll want to check out one of the best breakfast spots in Telluride – The Butcher and the Baker Café. Located right on Colorado Avenue you can swing by and get some fresh, homemade pastries, breads, or sandwiches before you start on your fun filled day! Another favorite in Telluride is Baked In Telluride – their fresh pastries, are ready starting at 7:30 AM every morning and you can even swing by in the evening for their famous pizza.
For your dinner plans, if you’re staying in Telluride there are countless restaurants that will satisfy whatever craving you’ve worked up after your adventure. Some of the best spots include 221 South Oak, Siam, and Brown Dog Pizza. With a range of cuisine’s available in Telluride, 221 South Oak offers upscale contemporary American Food in a refurbished house. This intimate restaurant setting will make you feel right at home and Chef Eliza will make your stomach happy with her incredibly curated menu. Chef Eliza was featured on TV Show Top Chef and is considered one of the top chef’s and restauranters in Colorado. 221 South Oak also offers wine pairing classes on Thursdays in the Winter. This is absolutely a do not miss restaurant – not just in Telluride but in Colorado. If you’re looking for upscale comfort food after a cold winter adventure day, Siam is your spot! A traditional Thai menu featuring some fusion options in a mountain aesthetic decorated restaurant space. Siam has earned their famed reputation in Telluride as they have been the stand-out Thai spot in town since 2006. Pizza is always a winning option for dinner, and if you’re desiring pizza on your trip then your best spot to try is Brown Dog Pizza! Adoringly awarding themselves the World’s Best Pizza after winning the first-place prize at the World Pizza Championships in Italy in 2015, Brown Dog Pizza should not be missed. Named after the owner’s dog and founded in 2001 the pizza shop has created a strong reputation for themselves and their delicious pizza options back it up. Their menu features Classic American, Detroit Square, Brooklyn Sicilian, burgers, wraps, pastas and more.
Places to Stay:
Telluride and Mountain Village both have a great mix of rental vacation homes or hotel options depending on your preference. If your desire is to stay in the town of Telluride your best choice will be to stay in a hotel right in the heart of town. New Sheridan Hotel and The Hotel Telluride are two reputable options. The New Sheridan Hotel is a historic luxury hotel right at the base of the gondola and at the heart of Colorado Avenue. The original Sheridan Hotel was built in 1891 – making it one of the oldest hotels in Telluride, a fire sadly destroyed the original hotel in 1894, but the New Sheridan Hotel embraces the ambiance of rich history and tradition. With just 26 guest rooms, this hotel will make you feel right at home. Hotel Telluride coins themselves the basecamp for your adventure. One update to this description would be calling it a luxurious basecamp – this hotel features an upscale mountain aesthetic paired with cozy décor. Offering guest adventure packages, the hotel staff works hard to ensure that you are able to take full advantage of your stay in Telluride.
Mountain Village also features a number of luxurious hotel options. Some of the nicest and top rated include – The Inn at Lost Creek and The Madeline Hotel & Residences. The Inn at Lost Creek has been awarded countless awards from Trip Advisor, US News, Forbes, Hotels.Com, and Conde Nast – all awards being well deserved. This boutique hotel has 32 suites, some of the Telluride area’s best restaurants, and access to year-round activity options. The Madeline Hotel & Residences is part of the 5-Star Auberge Hotel group. Recently renovated to give their guests the best mountain experience in Mountain Village the décor and concierge services will spoil any guest.
Cabin and Vacation Rental Home Options
If you’re in search of a secluded winter getaway then Mountain Village has many cabin and vacation rental home options. Some rustic and cozy options include:
This condo is a great option for families or friend ski trips! Featuring three bedrooms with 5 beds the condo will comfortably sleep 8 people. From the deck you’ll have epic views of the San Juan Mountains and you’re within 130 steps to the free gondola to get you on the ski hill or into Telluride quickly! This condo includes access to heated ski lockers, a fitness room, and hot tub. Reasonably priced and outfitted with luxury finishing’s, this condo defines mountain chic lodging.
This 4-bedroom cabin can comfortably sleep 8 and will make everyone feel cozy with its rustic mountain charm décor. This stand-alone cabin in Mountain Village has ski-in-ski-out access, Dial A Ride free shuttle services, a private outdoor hot tub, and three gas fireplaces to keep you warm after your winter adventure day! Be careful staying in this beautiful cabin too long might make you not want to leave!
There are almost limitless lodging options in Telluride and Mountain Village – both towns promising to provide comfort, luxury, and convenience to fun adventures!
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Telluride is most well-known as a winter ski destination, however, if you’re not a skier, Telluride has just about every and any winter activity you could dream of! You’ll find adventure on the ski mountain, snowmobiling, ice skating, dog sledding, and more.
Ski at Telluride Ski Resort – Telluride Ski Resort opened in 1972 with five ski lifts, today, you can enjoy 19 lifts and over 2,000 skiable acres. Telluride Ski Resort has one of the top ten largest vertical drops of any ski resort in North America at 4,425 – you’ll definitely feel the burn in your legs after a big ski day. With a perfect range of beginner, intermediate, and expert ski trails anyone will be able enjoy this epic ski resort! Telluride Ski Resort also offers Heliskiing for those who are adrenaline junkies!
If you don’t ski but still would like to explore Telluride in the winter, there are countless other adventure options to check out! Take a snowmobile tour and see the scenic Alta Lakes. This guided snowmobile trip will take you through the ghost town of Alta and Alta Lake. Telluride Outfitters offers two-hour long trips to Alta Lakes and Dunton Hot Springs.
Make your childhood dreams come true with a dog sledding adventure! Wintermoon Sled Dog Adventures will promise to give you a unique and fun filled spin on exploring the beautiful scenery of Telluride. You’ll mush a dog sled with Alaskan huskies in the San Juan and Uncompahgre Forests. Take adventure of this special adventure opportunity!
If you’ve never been to a natural hot spring, then visiting Denton Hot Springs should be at the top of your Telluride itinerary! Dunton Hot Springs is a scenic 1800’s ghost town with boiling natural hot springs to soak in and relax! Fat tire biking is an awesome way to check out bike trails that are snow covered in the winter! Fat tire biking is a great option to get some exercise, explore the scenic views of the San Juan’s, and is easy for anyone at any skill level! You can rent fat tire bikes at San Juan Outdoor Adventures. They will outfit you for your trip and offer guided trips if that’s your preference! For a more relaxed or romantic winter activity that’s convenient to town, you can consider ice skating. With public rinks in both Telluride and Mountain Village you’ll be able to ice skate before heading to dinner.
Telluride Ski Resort isn’t the only famed ski area in the Telluride region – featuring 6 Nordic ski areas, there is no shortage of skiable acres to conquer! The expansive trail systems include Priest Lake, Trout Lake, the Telluride golf course, TopAten and more. All of these trail networks offer varying levels of difficulties, groomed trails, and epic views!
Telluride has made quite the name for itself over the last hundred years. From sleepy mining town to a picturesque mountain town that provides adventure, luxury, and memories for everyone!