Very much a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, the tiny town of Telluride is set in a scenic spot amidst the soaring San Juan Mountains. Originally founded as a mining town in the 1870s, it is now widely recognized as a year-round resort. Fun things to do in Telluride include some great hiking in the summer months and skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
Located in the southwest corner of Colorado, Telluride lies in a beautiful box canyon with majestic mountains, verdant forests and sparkling waterfalls all around it. While most people come for its incredible scenery and wealth of outdoor activities, the town itself has a charming feel to it with the whole of its center being preserved as a National Historic Landmark District.
7. Bear Creek Falls
Set just to the south of town is the breathtaking Bear Creek Falls which is hidden away in a rugged and narrow canyon of the same name. Due to its scenic splendor and the wonderful wilderness all around, the falls are a very popular place to visit and photograph.
From South Pine Street in Telluride, it takes around an hour to hike to the cascades which lie along the North Fork Skykomish River. On the way, you can enjoy some magnificent mountain scenery and pass through pretty groves of pines and aspens with the round-trip stretching just over eight kilometers in length.
Once you arrive, you can bask in beautiful views of the eight meter-high waterfall coursing its way down the craggy cliff face with lush vegetation, forests and mountains lying all around. While it can get crowded, the picturesque path and falls are popular for a reason with cyclists and horseback riders also using the trail.
6. Mountain Village
Originally developed as a world-class ski resort, Mountain Village is now a town in its own right with countless shops and restaurants lying alongside cosy cabins and hotels. Well worth visiting for its scenic setting and superb snowsports, it is tucked away in the soaring San Juan Mountains, just a fifteen-minute drive to the southwest of Telluride.
Founded in 1987, the quaint European-style town has a lovely laidback atmosphere and lies nestled in a vast valley with verdant forests and mountains all around. As such, it makes for a fantastic base from which to go hiking in summer or enjoy some skiing and snowboarding in the winter months.
A wonderful way to reach Mountain Village is to take a free gondola ride over the lofty San Sophia Ridge from the center of Telluride. Besides being a quick and easy way to get around, the gondola offers up spectacular views over both the towns and the majestic mountains around them.
5. Telluride Historical Museum
Located in what was once a miner’s hospital is the terrific Telluride Historical Museum which lies just a short stroll from Main Street. Full of interesting artifacts and informative displays, the small museum offers up a fascinating look into the history, culture and heritage of the town and region.
Since being founded in 1966, its collection has expanded considerably and now includes everything from artworks and archaeological findings to historic images and instruments. While some exhibits look at Telluride’s mining past, others instead focus on the Ute Native Peoples who have inhabited the surrounding mountains and valleys for millennia. One of its main sights is the wonderfully well-preserved Telluride Blanket which was weaved centuries ago by Ancestral Puebloan peoples.
As well as learning all about the area’s gold-mining days and its development into a world-class ski resort, visitors can also try their hand at prospecting for gold and gems out back.
4. Bridal Veil Falls
Another of the region’s most stunning sights is Bridal Veil Falls which courses its way dramatically over the side of a steep cliff. The tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, it lies just fifteen minutes’ drive to the east of Telluride at the end of a big box canyon.
In total, the two-pronged waterfall towers a staggering 111 meters in height with its white jets of water standing out delightfully against the dark rock and lush trees poking above the top of the cliff. Perched precariously near its precipitous edge, you can also spy an historic power plant which only adds to the picture-perfect scene.
Besides taking fabulous photos of the falls, visitors can hike, cycle and even four-wheel drive their way to the top of the cliff which offers up phenomenal views over its surroundings. In winter, hardy adventurers often attempt to climb the falls when they have frozen over, and the ice reaches right to the top of the canyon.
3. Main Street
Despite its small size, Telluride really is a treat to explore with the whole town center having been designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1961. Centered on its Main Street are a colorful collection of Victorian-era houses and buildings with countless boutiques and restaurants also lining the route.
As well as ambling along the street and taking in all its well-preserved late boom-town architecture, visitors can also stop off at its cosy cafes or booming local businesses. What were once saloons and gambling parlours back in the days when the town was a mining camp are now instead home to art galleries and gourmet restaurants.
Only adding to the charm of the small-town mountain community are the majestic peaks themselves that rise up on all sides of Telluride and make it such a picturesque place to visit. The heart of life in town, Main Street really is the main place to head if you want to shop, dine or take in the ambience.
2. Go Hiking
As the town is surrounded by so much stupendous scenery and nature, Telluride is a great place to go hiking with lots of tantalizing trails to be found nearby. While the winter months are dedicated to skiing and snowboarding, in summer both locals and tourists alike head off to explore the region’s vast valleys and marvelous mountains on foot.
In total, Telluride has more than thirty trails for visitors to enjoy which range from quick, easy and accessible to multi-day hiking trips. While some are quite strenuous and steep and are situated a bit further away, others such as the trail to Bear Creek Falls start right in the center of town.
Among its most popular trails are those of Bridal Veil Falls and Jud Wiebe with almost all its pretty paths taking you past wildflowers and waterfalls, lakes and mountains. Telluride’s hiking season runs from May to October with the rest of the year being spent on skiing.
1. Go Skiing
While mining was the town’s only industry for close to a hundred years, since its first ski lift opened in the ‘70s, Telluride has become almost synonymous with skiing. This is because it now boasts a ski resort up in the San Juan Mountains that has almost 150 snow-coated slopes for you to shoot down.
Since opening in 1972, the Telluride Ski Resort has expanded considerably and now spans several mountains with nineteen lifts servicing its plethora of powdery pistes. These cater to beginners and experts alike with its runs having a total vertical drop of 1,349 meters. In addition, the ski resort now has numerous terrain parks and bowls for guests to try out which are dotted with lots of fun features and challenging jumps, rails and boxes.
While Telluride is renowned for having some of the steepest and toughest terrain to ski anywhere in the world, it also has a ski school where beginners can start learning how to ski.