Telluride, the gem at the end of the trail

Telluride Colorado, nestled 8750 feet above sea level, is literally at the end of the trail. The quaint mountain town, designated a National Historic Landmark District, ends in a box-canyon at the base of Ajax Mountain. There’s only one road in or out of Telluride. If you want to be technical, you can add the two seasonal routes over the mountain from Ouray and the Gondola that ascends Telluride Peak to trendy Mountain Village.


The Pandora Mill house sits above Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride, photo/Steve Collins

Telluride’s origins lie in the discovery of silver in the 1870s. Miners came in droves. The town prospered until the silver market crashed in the 1890s. This boom-town of thousands became a sleepy village of hundreds almost overnight. That all changed when skiing arrived in 1972.

This quaint town offers way more than skiing. There are some really special events in town and things book up. It’s not too early to start planning next summer’s visit.

Telluride Bluegrass

Old Crow Medicine Show performing at Telluride Bluegrass Photo/Benko Photographics

The popular Telluride Bluegrass, a four-day music festival, arrived the following year. The annual event presented by Planet Bluegrass always attracts big name performers. The festival focuses more on musicians’ virtuosity with an emphasis on acoustic instruments, rather than on being strictly bluegrass. Promoters call it “bluegrass Telluride-style”. Performers such as Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor have appeared at the festival.

Always held the weekend closest to the Summer Solstice, the festival runs Thursday through Sunday. The small town swells during the event. Festival capacity is 10,000 people a day. Bluegrass (and music) lovers from around the country come to the mountains each year to listen to music and make their own. The event, held in the Telluride Town Park, often sells out and the limited camping spaces always do. It’s a good idea to secure your tickets and lodging in advance. Tickets with camping go on sale early November each year and general tickets are available in early December.

The Telluride Jazz Celebration began life in 1977 as the Telluride Jazz Festival. Each August, the Telluride Society for Jazz brings in a mix featuring both top names in the genre and relatively unknown artists. The small event is limited to 3,000 attendees. Daytime concerts are outdoors; evening performances are held in the town’s clubs and historic concert venues.

Painted lady in Telluride

One of of Telluride's Victorian painted ladies, photo/Steve Collins

1974 brought the Telluride Film Festival to town. Starting out small (several hundred people the first year) it has grown to over 5,000 attendees. The event, always held over Labor Day Weekend, has a certain cachet and attracted Hollywood names from the beginning. Even though the schedule isn’t announced in advance, people come. They know it’s going to be good. The Festival has been called “the unofficial launching pad for Oscar winners”. They certainly have chosen well. Juno, Brokeback Mountain, Slumdog Millionaire and other award winners premiered here. The festival’s mission is to show really good films whether they are old or new. And if that face you see walking down the street looks familiar, it may be. Lots of Hollywood A-list folks show up at this event.

Telluride Blues and Brews

Front Stage at the Telluride Blues and Brews, photo/Barry Brecheisen

September also brings the Blues and Brews Festival. This popular event brings about 9.000 people to town each day to listen to music and taste the brews. The festival attracts a wide range of ages by offering music that appeals to various age groups. The concept works well. Older attendees are exposed to groups new to the scene and younger ones are exposed to legends. The Festival won the 2009 KBA (Keeping the Blues Alive) Award from the prestigious Blues Foundation. Over 50 micro-breweries from Colorado and around the west set up shop and offer over 160 varieties of brew.

Skiing Telluride

Skiing in Telluride, photo/Ryan Bonneau

Year-round, Telluride is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. In winter there is skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and more to keep visitors busy. Once the snow is melted, the area offers hiking, rafting, rock-climbing, fly-fishing, mountain-biking and more. No matter when you visit, you’ll find something to do and if you aren’t an outdoor type, look up, the views will take your breath away.

*Due to the size of the town, the number of lodging facilities and the limited number of tickets sold for the town’s big events, advanced purchase and reservations are strongly advised. Telluride Central Reservations can help you with lodging arrangements whether you want a hotel, B & B, condo, condotel or house for your stay. They also offer complete concierge and trip planning services for your Telluride visit.



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2 Responses to “Telluride, the gem at the end of the trail”

  1. Traveling Ted
    November 3, 2019 at 10:55 am #

    I went to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival once and it was great. One day I had some time to kill and walked around town. I turned on one street and after block the road ended at a trail head. I took the trail up, up, and up and the mountains just above Telluride are simply amazing to hike in.

    • Billie Frank
      November 3, 2019 at 11:08 am #

      It’s a beautiful place. We loved it there. Glad you got to go.

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