Snow. Winter. Skiing. These are some of the best reasons to live in Colorado. But summer in the Colorado Rockies is even more magical. We have those few short weeks when we can don our shorts, savor the warm summer sun on our shoulders and play in the mountains to our hearts’ content.
And one our favorite places to pass those long summer days is in Telluride, Colorado. Tucked away high in the San Juan Mountains, this town of 2,500 is in a world of its own – and a beautiful world it is. Situated at 9,078 feet above sea level, Telluride is surrounded on three sides by 14,000-foot peaks.
This quirky region is actually two towns: Mountain Village, perched high on the mountain and home to the Telluride Ski Resort and the new development surrounding it, and Telluride, the tiny, historic mining town that still looks like it did “back in the day.”
The area has the only free gondola public transportation system of its kind in the country and it’s 65 miles from Montrose, the nearest city of any decent size. Telluride’s isolation makes for a vibrant, independent-minded community. It also means that it is located in one huge mountain playground – some 160,000 acres of wilderness, from high-alpine lakes to majestic peaks.
So what are you waiting for? There are only so many summer days to savor. Here are our top five ways to play in Telluride.
Once the snowpack melts, it’s all about the streams, rivers and lakes. Fishing in Telluride offers something for everyone, from great beginner lakes to challenging waterways for the experts, including the San Miguel, Dolores and Gunnison Rivers.
Telluride’s Rocky Mountain streams are naturally stocked with trout, and the town also offers stocked locations at Alta, Trout and Woods lakes, as well as the Miramonte and Ridgway reservoirs. There’s even fishing holes for kids, located in Telluride Town Park and Elk Pond in Mountain Village.
Local outfitters can provide all the necessary gear and local insight you need. For walking/wading guided fly fishing tours, go with San Miguel Anglers. Their knowledgeable guides can teach you the basics of fly fishing (if you’ve never tried it) or lead you to the best waters on the San Miguel or Dolores rivers, where the rainbow, browns, cutthroat and brook trout like to hang out. Visit sanmiguelanglers.com for more information.
To prepare for a fishing trip and learn fishing etiquette, go to Telluride’s fishing page: visittelluride.com/things-to-do/fishing
2. 4X4 Off-Road Excursions
Telluride’s mountainous terrain makes for a fun adventure on four wheels. A network of jeep trails created out of the area’s mining past show off mountain peaks, mining ruins and the natural beauty of Telluride. Trails range from moderate rides to extreme challenges. If you’re not a 4X4 owner, never fear – 4X4 vehicles are available to rent, too. Tours are also available, guiding you and your adventurous pals to must-see spots.
Call the Telluride Sports Adventure Desk at 970-728-4477 or visit telluridesports.com for more information or to set up a guided tour.
3. Telluride Summer Festivals and Events
Telluride’s summer events are one of the main attractions, with festivals such as the Telluride Film Festival, Jazz Celebration and Bluegrass Festival that attract some of the world’s best artists. Other happenings include the Adventure Rock Bouldering Competition Series, Mushroom Festival and the Blues and Brews event.
Telluride summers always offer a full lineup of events. For a calendar of what’s happening during your visit, go to visittelluride.com/festivals-events.
4. Hiking in the San Juan Mountains
No mountain town would be complete without its hiking trails. You have a lot of options when exploring Telluride’s San Juan Mountains, from climbing fourteeners (the peaks that soar to more than 14,000 feet) and discovering Telluride’s lakes, to pleasant nature walks. With over 90 trails, there’s a trail for every hiking ability and interest.
While in town, grab the Telluride Hiking Guide by longtime resident Susan Kees to gain historical insight into the areas you’re visiting, view maps and trail information, and read about what makes each hiking trail unique. An online version of the guide is also available at telluridehikingguide.com.
5. Historic Downtown Walking Tour
For history buffs, downtown offers a peek into Telluride’s history and a little bit of exercise. Saunter down Main Street and the surrounding blocks that are part of this National Historic Landmark District. Preserved Victorian homes, mining shacks, native gardens and a colorful story behind each interesting place will invite you to a more intimate look at Telluride’s past.
The Telluride Historical Museum starts self-guided tours off right, setting the tone with 10 themed rooms featuring historical items, a rotating exhibit gallery and interactive displays. The late-1800s miners’-hospital-turned-museum focuses on Ute culture, mining history and Telluride’s skiing and transportation development over the years.
Summer hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
If You Go
Go to visittelluride.com for more information on the activities above or for other fun things to do while visiting Telluride.