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Your Ultimate Guide to Telluride

So you want to plan a trip to Telluride, Colorado? Telluride is an absolutely beautiful town with a wonderful mining history, but it takes a lot of planning! So before we get into the itinerary, here are things you need to know!

From Denver, Telluride is approximately 6 hours one way. On the quickest route you will drive through Grand Junction and Montrose. You can add a stop in Palisade and pick up some peaches if they are in season (be ready for a hefty pricetag), or stop at a local winery!

*If you want to add a national park to your list, this is a great way to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park! It will take you about 40 minutes out of the way each way, but it is incredible and well worth a stop. Most of this national park is just driving and short walks to overlooks, so you don’t need a ton of time to see its beauty.

Telluride is nestled deep in the San Juans, with one road in and out. Be prepared for long drives to some of the more intense and popular hikes in the area! That was something I didn’t account for, and it surprised me just how far away Telluride is from everything. But with that isolation comes an incredible mountain getaway experience.

Things to Do in Telluride:

Explore downtown: There are tons of adorable shops and restaurants here. You definitely have to get a picture standing in the middle of downtown with the mountain backdrop.

Take the gondola: The best activity in Telluride, and free? Take the gondola to the top of the mountain for gorgeous views of the surrounding peaks. We went up for sunset and it was amazing! This also takes you to the mountain village with additional shops and restaurants to check out.

Catch A festival: The famous annual Jazz Festival draws in big crowds to Telluride, but if you love outdoor summer live music vibes, this is definitely a must! It happens every year late summer, for 2023 the official dates are August 11-13. Click here for more information.

Where to Eat: We loved Brown Dog Pizza followed by drinks on the rooftop at Last Dollar Saloon. The views from the rooftop bar are amazing, but this place often has a waiting list, so get there early and put your name in to get up to the roof.

Where to Hike in Telluride

This is obviously the part I was most excited about! This is just a list; there are so many hikes in this area, and you truly cannot go wrong!

Blue Lakes: Okay, this is an absolute must hike. You will drive about 45 minutes from Telluride to the trailhead, and the last few miles the road gets very rough. My standard clearance SUV made it, but I recommend high clearance or mountain driving experience for this road.

This hike is also challenging! 8.7 miles out and back to Upper Blue Lake with a 2,500 ft elevation gain. From here, you can camp and continue to summit Sneffles if you choose.

Via Ferrata: For the more adventurous climber, you can check out the Via Ferrata! Picture small platforms and clip in points that take you alongside the mountain’s edge. You can do this with a tour, or you can go on your own if you have the proper equipment and experience. I would not recommend doing something like this without a tour if you have never climbed before!

Bridal Veil Falls:

You can either take a small OHV road directly to the falls, or you can hike the short 2 miles out and back trail. We chose to hike, and it was a quick hike where you pass several other waterfalls! We hiked to the base of the falls, but you can also hike/drive to the very top as well. This is the highest waterfall in Colorado, so definitely worth a stop.

Bear Creek Falls: This 5.1 mile out and back trail touts 1,100 feet of elevation gain to a beautiful waterfall. It is shorter and less dramatic than Bridal Veil Falls, but in the autumn this trail has so many aspens if you are looking for that golden color!

Mount Sneffels: This is one of the most scenic peaks in Colorado, but once again, know your skill level! This is a Class 3 14er, requiring mild elements of technical climbing with head protective gear recommended. I only summit Class 1s and 2s due to my lack of climbing skills, so be prepared and only summit at your own risk!

Off Roading:

Off roading is a big deal in Telluride! There are a ton of OHV routes to choose from, but if you decide to attempt driving these yourself, please be realistic about your skill levels, especially on Black Bear Pass. I have heard of several people flipping over there and causing crazy back ups which puts everyone at risk.

A nice beginner OHV route in this area is the Last Dollar Highway! We drove it in my Hyundai Santa Fe (only scraped the bottom once oops), and it was a gorgeous route. I would go very early though, because this would be infinitely more challenging with two-way traffic. And a bonus: this ends with a view of the peak on the Coors Can! Can you name it?

If you aren’t confident enough to go yourself, there are tons of guides in the area! We used Dave’s Mountain Tours to drive us up Imogene Pass. The views were incredible, we got to see the old Tomboy mine and learn about the history of the area, and the route itself was a lot of fun!

Other popular routes near here include Ophir Pass and the infamous Black Bear Pass. Do your research, check road conditions, and get ready for an adventure.

This is just a touch on everything Telluride has to offer. There is so much here to explore, but I hope this encourages you to make a trip out to the San Juans soon. As always, drop any questions in the comments below, and subscribe to the blog to keep up to date on all the latest. Happy adventures, fam!

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