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A license-plate covered wall in Telluride

First-Timer’s Guide: Telluride

From hiking and festivals to eating and drinking, here are even more reasons to love Colorado’s unofficial favorite destination. 

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This statement is not based on scientific research, but Telluride just might be Colorado’s favorite getaway town. I say this because every time I play the “if you could take one trip in Colorado this year, where would it be?” game, Telluride always wins the popularity contest. Given that, you might think that this mountain town would be overrun wtih tourists. Quite the contrary: Telluride, an old mining town nestled in a box canyon, rarely seems overcrowded. That’s in impressive feat given the near-constant stream of summer festivals (Telluride Bluegrass, Telluride Film Festival, and Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, to name a few). It should be no surprise then, that Telluride made our list of the best winter-hotspots-turned-summer-destinations in this month’s “Colorado’s Other High Season.” We couldn’t fit all of our favorite places in the print issue, so here’s more to love about Colorado’s unofficial favorite destination, especially for first-time visitors.


The Odometer: 328 miles, one-way

Get Outside: Telluride’s primo location in the San Juan Mountains ensures that the outdoors obsessed (isn’t that everyone?) can easily get overscheduled. Of course, there are photography tours, jeep excursions, and only-here climbing. To start, though, lace up your shoes and head out for a hike. The trek to Bridal Veil Falls (you can see this 365-foot waterfall from town) is a classic choice. Use the Idarado Legacy Trail to reach the Pandora Mill and hook up with a trail that leads to the waterfall. Need a quicker trek? Hop on the Bear Creak Trail (you’ll still get waterfall views at the end).

(Need summer plans? Check out these high-country options.)

Eat: You’ll be on-the-go during much of your stay, so pay homage to the sandwich and order takeout from Aemono Fine Foods & Catering or the Butcher & the Baker Cafe. If it’s date night, order Colorado lamb chops at the Chop House Restaurant in the New Sheridan Hotel. The next morning, grab a big-as-a-plate apple fritter from Baked in Telluride.

Sip: The innovative cocktail menu at There… is ideal for après hike celebrating. And it wouldn’t be Colorado without some brewpubs: Smugglers Brewpub is conveniently located in town, but Telluride Brewing Co’s Bridal Veil Rye Pale Ale is worth the four-mile trek from town. If caffeination is your goal, pick up a latte from The Coffee Cowboy.

Stay: The Inn at Lost Creek is a posh sure-bet, but I’m particularly fond of the decadent (albeit) small pool area at Madeline Hotel and Residences, which features massive glass doors that open to a balcony area, meaning that you can sunbathe and soak in semi-privacy.

If You Do One Thing…: 5280 is always on the search for new or little-known spots for you. Here, though, I have to go with a classic, which also made our Colorado Bucket List: Take the Telluride Gondola. This free ride shuttles people between the historic town and the mountain area all year long. The view is iconic. The price is unbeatable. Ride it during sunset and you’ll start dreaming of retiring early in Telluride. Trust us.

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