There is no doubt if you live in Colorado or the surrounding area, you’ve heard of Telluride. Known for it’s ski resort and world-class music and film schedule, Telluride sits in a picturesque box canyon in the western San Miguel Mountains. Surrounded by steep forested mountains and cliffs, this historic former mining town settled along the San Miguel River. For us, Telluride is the quintessential ‘Colorado Mountain Town.’ It’s an all-season outdoor mecca. It’s a resort town that doesn’t feel like a resort town. It’s everything we wanted it to be.
Historic Telluride has no shortage of great eats. If you are going to adventure all day, you will need some good fuel to start your morning off right. The Butcher and the Baker, located right on the main drag, is a great spot to grab a coffee, an incredible breakfast burrito — and maybe a mimosa. After blowing out a tire in the van and a good walk before breakfast, we opted for the morning bubbly. We sat outside next to a puppy-filled courtyard, happily filled our bellies, and tried to forget about our rough morning. The Phoenix Bean is another great cafe that offers food all day and was a great place to work. We transitioned from inside to outside, and coffee to beer, as our work day lasted a little longer than expected.
Once you finish a day of exploring, Brown Dog Pizza needs to be your go-to lunch/dinner location. We’re not kidding or ashamed when we say this, but we ate here three times while we were in town. We were in town for exactly three days. Brown Dog will get you your post-adventure pizza and beer fix and send you home with leftovers. This deep dish Detroit style pizza is a serious favorite of ours. If you prefer to cook yourself, stop by the Telluride Farmers Market and grab some veggies and organic grass-fed beef from local farmers. We highly recommend getting an ice cold ginger limeade to quench your thirst.
There’s only one campground in the town of Telluride. It’s called Town Park Campground and it’s extremely difficult to snag a spot there in peak season. We weren’t lucky enough (or patient enough) to get one ourselves. Town Park Campground is first come, first served, and people take that to heart. Good friends of ours and fellow road-lifers The Reckless Choice, who won the lottery and got a spot, informed us that people were waiting at the gate as early as 7 am and asking campers if they were packing up. The hype is real. This campground is in PRIME location to explore the town on foot. It’s right on a river and just outside of town. It’s worth trying to get a spot here for at least a night. Being the frugal humans that we are, we opted for free forest-service camping. If you drive out of town, go left at the round-about and head down highway 145, there’s a plethora of incredible, free, dispersed camping along the winding forest service roads. We chose a new spot every night. There are also a few established forest service campgrounds, some free and some pay, that you can check out here.
For fellow dirty road-lifers, be sure to grab a shower in the coin operated showers by the pool in Town Park. If camping isn’t your thing, Telluride has plenty of hotels and AirBnb options. While we can’t speak to winter prices, the summer prices for a night in town for two adults is not cheap. Most hotel and Airbnb options ranged from $175-$200 a night. If you do decide to stay in a hotel, rest assure that you’ll be put up in a beautiful, unique, and historic buildings like the New Sheridan Hotel or Hotel Telluride.
This is where things get spicy. Telluride and the surrounding the San Juan Mountains are a literal playground. The real reason we decided to stop in Telluride in the first place was to check off an item from our bucket list. We wanted to traverse the Via Ferrata. A via ferrata (or road of iron) is a protected climbing route that involves clipping into a steel cable and using metal rungs to keep you safe while climbing 1000 feet above the canyon floor. If you have solid climbing experience, are okay with exposure, and have the right gear, the Via Ferrata can be climbed without a guide. If you are a thrill seeker but are unsure of your skills, we highly recommend hiring a local climbing guide to take you out. We decided to do the climb without a guide, but San Juan Mountain Guides have been in the business a long time and have a great reputation for safety. (Disclaimer: Because we are confident in our ability, we chose to traverse the Via Feratta using our own personal climbing gear. It should be noted that this is NOT recommended. Local outfitters in Telluride sell “Via Ferrata kits” which are preferred because they absorb shock like a climbing rope. Using a standard personal anchor can be dangerous because they are static and can break if you shock load them. Also because they are static, if you fall from a great enough distance that shock can literally break your back.)Since we’re on the topic of climbing, just under the Via Feratta you can find some great sport climbing. Pipeline wall and the Falls Wall offer great single and multi-pitch routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.11+. For those who would prefer to keep their feet on the ground there is plenty of hiking straight from town. For a short hike with a waterfall hike up Black Bear Creek. For a longer day hike check out the Wasatch Trail which can also be accessed from the same trailhead. For a decent hike with an iconic view, hike to the top of Bridal Veil Falls. The trailhead is only a mile or so out of town.
Telluride also offers free gondola rides for you, your mountain bike, and your pup! Operating since 1996, the Telluride Gondola offers a one of a kind experience. The solar powered gondola connects Historic Telluride, to the resort town of Mountain Village with a stop at the top of the mountain. This transportation is free to all and offers mountain top access to a great system of hiking and biking trails. There is even a free downhill mountain biking park. On our final day in town we took the gondola to the top of the mountain with our bikes and made a fantastic six mile loop down the back side of the mountain, and through the valley back in to town. Once you’re finished with your adventure but not quite ready to call it a day, cool off with a relaxing float or SUP down the San Miguel River.
If you like the gear we’re reppin’, or what we’re wearing, check out some of the sponsors that make this tour possible: La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.