The town of Telluride, Colorado, is home to the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Ralph Lauren. Many know this location as one of the top skiing destinations in America, thanks to the Rocky Mountains that surround it. However, there’s a lot more to this charming town tucked away in the mountains than meets the eye.
A Brief History
Telluride was originally a mining town during the days of the Gold Rush by the name of Columbia. Due to postal confusion with a town by the same name in California, its name was changed and chosen after a valuable mineral called tellurium. Isolated by mountain ranges, it took a long time before settlers started moving in.
Before the town would ever grow into what we know it as today, is made headlines across the country with several disputes between miners and mine owners. Several standoffs took place between workers and the national guard over unfair treatment and dangerous working conditions. History books still hold pages on these tough times, known as the Colorado Labor Wars.
Things took a turn for the better near the turn of the century when entrepreneur L.L. Nunn and George Westinghouse developed the Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant, the first of its kind. With power now able to be carried throughout the town, it was a more promising and accommodating location for interested settlers.
With a town forming and mining business booming, Telluride was able to turn itself into a thriving community up into the 1960’s. When the 70’s rolled around, the mining industry’s presence in the town was ended, and snowy Telluride weather allowed skiing to become its new cash cow. With an influx of funds from tourism as well as new music and film festivals, what was once a small mining town turned into a prosperous resort-style community.
Cold Drinks and Hot Meals
As a resort town, there is no shortage of amazing dining spots and watering holes. Here are few favorites to visit during your stay.
Tacos Del Gnar
This spot is relatively new, but has quickly garnered attention thanks to their mouthwatering tacos. Their menu sports unique taco creations you won’t find anywhere else, like the tempura-fried avocado taco. This is an excellent place to grab a quick meal after shredding up the mountainside, or before your flight home.
New Sheridan Historic Bar
New Sheridan dates all the way back to 1895 and features a fantastic cocktail bar for relaxing after a long day of skiing. One of the local hangouts, it offers a lively atmosphere complete with pool tables. You can also grab a few specialty items from their kitchen, like elk chili and their renowned French dip sandwiches.
Friends With Bennys Food Cart
There’s no better breakfast in town than Bennys’ eggs Benedict sandwiches. They also have several vegetarian and meat lover’s options, each of which is absolutely amazing. Since everything is in sandwich form, you can even take it on the go as you head up the mountain.
Pro travel tip: Call or text your order to Bennys and they’ll deliver it right to your door.
The Grilled Cheese Cart
When the cold winds of Telluride finally get to you, there’s no better way to warm up than with a grilled cheese sandwich. This rolling cart offers the traditional cheeses but has plenty in store for the more adventurous. Try the Brie and apricot sandwich, if you dare.
Between the Covers Book Store
On the other hand, coffee makes for an excellent warmer as well. Head into Between the Covers for a locally roasted, freshly brewed cup of Tomboy Coffee Roasters beans, then cozy up with a good book and you’ll forget all about the cold weather.
This European-style chalet features five-course Italian dishes. The 11,966-foot building is only accessible via a gondola ride in the evening, followed by a 20-minute snowcat ride up the mountain. To catch a glimpse during the day simply take the Gold Hill Express ski lift, then ride down the mountain following the See Forever path and you’ll see it.
Top dishes from Chef Nico Peccedi, who comes all the way from the Italian Alps, cooks up favorite dishes from braised duck ravioli to his signature tiramisu. You can pair your dinner with a bottle of wine or choose from their pairing menu.
There Bar is the Cheers of Telluride, Colorado. This local hangout offers ski-themed drinks and Asian inspired tapas. With an enormous selection of inventive cocktails, including drinks made with real jam, and several delicious options that feature vegan alternatives as well, this is a great after-ski spot to stop by.
Sights and Activites
While there are plenty of things to do in Telluride, there are a few points of interest that you won’t want to miss.
This canyon is surrounded by rugged cliffs and features a variety of trails perfect for hiking, bikers, and horseback riders. As you travel along the wide trails, you’ll be taken through beautiful forests and rolling meadows until you reach the famous Bear Creek waterfall. It’s a sight to see and deserves a place on any visitor’s itinerary.
The Mountain Village
In the center of the basin between mountain ranges, you’ll find Mountain Village, a lovely European-style village founded all the way back in 1987. This is the main town, but it’s worth exploring during your stay, especially if you’re planning a trip in fall. Once the leaves start to change, this is one of the most beautiful places in America.
Preserving the geological history of Telluride, this museum features a vast collection of Ute Native American artifacts and offers the chance to learn about their history and heritage. It also covers the town’s mining history from the gold rush all the way to the final few days of Gold Hill.
Taking their tour, they’ll give you an idea of how early settlers lived here in the mountains. How? With awesome 3D displays and rotating galleries that bring the museum to life.
Music and Art
The Telluride Film festival is still going strong 40 years after its inception. This is an amazing chance to catch famous actors from your favorite movies and hit series in person as they discuss films. The event’s showings are always a complete mystery, adding to the fun, and also features a plethora of indie filmmakers who have propelled this medium forward.
Pro Travel Tip: This event only happens during Labor Day so plan your trip accordingly if you want to take part in the festivities.
You may also want to check out the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. 2018 will mark the 45th year this event has taken place up in the mountains, and there hasn’t been a single disappointing year in the meantime. Musicians famous to this genre travel from all over to put on one night of music and entertainment for the masses.
This event takes place every year on the weekend closest to the Summer Solstice. For 2018, you can expect to hear the sounds of:
- Sam Bush Band
- Sturgill Simpson
- Emmylou Harris
- The Telluride House Band
- The Del McCoury Band
- and over a dozen others.
Fun Facts About Telluride
- Since this was a gold mining town, it became the first target for the notorious bank robber Butch Cassidy long before he would ever ride with The Wild Bunch gang. Taking $24,580, the equivalent of half a million today, he started his famous crime spree off with one of the richest payloads in history.
- L.L. Nunn’s house can still be found at the corner of Aspen and Columbia.
- The Telluride Regional Airport is the highest commercial airport in the world.
- Bridal Veil Falls is the tallest free-falling waterfall in the entire state of Colorado, reaching over 360 feet in height.
- This was the first town in America to run an AC power currents.
- Home to the Gondola Ride, this is the only free gondola form of transportation in North America.
- Their oldest bus, part of the Galloping Goose Line, runs on non-toxic, biodegradable vegetable oil based fuel.
- You won’t find a single chain restaurant or shop in Telluride, Colorado. Every storefront and diner is a self-owned small business.
Where to Stay
You have lots of options to choose from here, but book a room at Tempter House. Its situated at 12,200 feet up and adjacent to Gold Hill, offering instant access to the slopes whenever you’d like. Designed by Anne Eckley, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the mountains, turn-down service, and a hot tub.
Booking a stay also gives you credit for a two-person dinner at Allred’s or Alpino Vino complete with a private chef table (the table is extra). The cost is steep but worth every penny. Imagine continental breakfasts, robes and slippers, and the ability to ski right into the complex.
Alternatively, there are plenty of budget-friendly option found further down in town.
Pro travel tip: This hotel is often booked up to six months in advance. So, plan ahead when making reservations.