Whether you’re a snow bunny, back-country adventurer, or you just love the mountains, you’ve probably heard of Telluride, Colorado. This ski town features unbeatable views and a more laid-back vibe than Aspen or Vail, making for an Instagrammable destination year-round. I’ve lived in Telluride for the past three years, and compiled this guide to the ski town using all of my local secrets. Don’t say I never did anything nice for you, OK?
How To Get To Telluride
Sometimes a hard-earned reward is sweeter than instant gratification, and I keep that in mind when thinking about how to reach Telluride from pretty much anywhere else. The nearest large airport is in Denver, where you can rent a car if you’re up for around seven hours of windy, narrow highways and mountain passes. There’s also the option to fly directly into Telluride, although that involves a harrowing ride in an eight-seater plane, plus there is no transportation from the airport to town. If you want to get to Telluride like the locals do, fly to Montrose, Colorado. From there you can either rent a car and drive just one and a half hours through the San Juans to town, or pay for the Telluride Express shuttle to do it for you.
An important thing to know about Telluride is that it’s separate from yet connected to Mountain Village, which lies 800 feet above town at the base of the ski slopes. The town of Telluride is older and has a more authentic feel, while Mountain Village features newer resorts, shops, and a few restaurants. To travel between the two you can either drive fifteen minutes or take the free gondola—the best option for sightseeing… but definitely not a good idea for those with a fear of heights.
Best Views In Telluride
What’s the point of visiting one of the most scenic towns in the US if you’re not there to soak up the views and make all your friends jealous on Instagram?
Last Dollar Road
If you have a 4×4 vehicle and good car insurance, take Last Dollar, a rugged road that starts by Dallas Divide outside of Ridgway, Colorado and winds through the hills to the Telluride airport. Not ready to brave a mountain pass? Instead, head from Telluride past the airport and you’ll eventually reach a viewpoint right where the roughest part of Last Dollar begins. From there you see nothing but mountains beyond mountains and hillsides dotted with elk. Feels like a movie, TBH.
See Forever is a blue ski run in the winter, and in the summer offers one of the best hikes in town. Access it by getting off at the San Sophia gondola station and following signs for the trail. Just keep in mind that the hike starts at over 10,000 feet, so unless you’re an endurance athlete or live at high altitude, take it slow and drink lots of water. Like, a lot of water.
Did you even visit Telluride if you didn’t take a picture by a waterfall? There are three waterfall hikes in town: Bear Creek Falls (five miles out and back, not super steep), Bridal Veil Falls (just over a mile and pretty steep), and Cornet Creek Falls (¼ mile and very steep and slippery). Cornet is the least popular of the three, so head there to avoid the crowds.
Happy Hour At Altezza
Inside The Peaks Resort and Spa you’ll find Altezza, a casual fine dining restaurant with the very best sunset views around. Stop by for happy hour or a meal and sit on the porch to watch Wilson Peak (the mountain that graces Coors Light bottles) lit up with pinks and reds.
Where To Eat And Drink In Telluride
This Japanese restaurant and Omakase bar boasts a Master sushi chef straight from Japan, so you know their sushi is legit. Excellent, fresh fish and savory dishes (the clam miso soup is my favorite!) are next-level when paired with a drink from the extensive wine and sake list. When craving sushi in the landlocked state of Colorado, this is a must-try.
221 South Oak
If you’re looking for a funky American eatery, head to the old Victorian home on South Oak, which houses 221 South Oak Bistro. Here you’ll find unusual but mind-blowing flavor combinations and even a full vegetarian menu, with numerous vegan options like housemade vegan cheese.
The Butcher and The Baker
One of town’s most popular restaurants is The Butcher and The Baker, where you can get specialty coffee drinks and pastries, order pre-made items from the deli case, or get a quick meal for dine-in or take-out. Butcher also offers Sunday brunch, craft cocktails, and beer and wine by the glass or bottle.
The New Sheridan Bar
After steak or brunch next door at the Chop House, visit the New Sheridan Bar. Bank robber Butch Cassidy left town before this bar opened, but sitting inside the Sheridan you can clearly imagine the town’s Wild West past.
Last Dollar Saloon
Hang out by the fire at the bar locals call “The Buck.” Here you can get local beer or cocktails at almost non-Telluride prices (!), and in the summer, sip margs on the rooftop.
Best Places to Stay
The New Sheridan
It may be called the “new” Sheridan, but this is still one of the oldest buildings in town and has all of that Wild West charm you could hope for on a Colorado trip.
This hotel in Mountain Village has a pool and hot tub where you can soak while checking out drop-dead gorgeous views. They have their own restaurant and even host a fun drag brunch some Sundays.
The Victorian Inn is as close as Telluride gets to a motel, with simple rooms at town’s lowest prices. The rooms are still nicer than most chain hotels and the location is ideal, leaving just half a block’s walk to reach downtown.
Anyone on a budget will either want to camp or stay at Bivvi hostel a 20-minute drive from Telluride. The place offers both private rooms and bunks and has a shuttle to bring guests to town.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.