The Top Things to Do in Telluride
Ski, raft and cycle: welcome to Telluride.
It's now known for snow, but Telluride still has various vestiges and ruins that point to the gold rush that developed and named this town. Telluride is a type of gold mineral found in these parts of Colorado, and the place was named after it when its old epithet of Columbia was found to have already been chosen for a town in California.
Today, you’re unlikely to go delving into those mines, but the gondola and ski resorts will take you to the mountain summits, providing exquisite views of the town’s canyon. In summer, its nature trails through the forested mountains make for a picturesque setting, while the Telluride Bluegrass Festival steals the show. All sorts of activities keep the town popular year-round, from hiking and river rafting to mountain biking and skiing. So, we at the Plum Guide are going to break down the best things to do in Telluride.
Go mountain biking
Rent a bicycle from one of the rental spots in the town centre, before embarking on a trip into the San Juan Mountains. One of the most exhilarating things to do in Telluride, explore the old mining roads and spot the crumbling remains of the mines, imagining the place as it was more than a century ago. Climb high above the box canyon that contains Telluride, and appreciate the lovely views, taking care not to topple off a cliff and into the abyss; you’d probably have to pay for the bike, after all. Cycle between the former railroad tracks and curve your way up and down the hills, before shimmying between the trees of an Aspen grove or into the spacious realm of green meadows. Stop at a scenic peak to enjoy the view with a picnic (we forgot to say, bring a picnic).
Many of the best trails are part of the Telluride Ski Resort, when the snow melts. Cycle through its Telluride Bike Park and attach your bike to the designated rails fitted to the side of the gondola cabins. At road level, cycle alongside the San Juan Skyway. Embark on the Bridal Veil trail and also make sure to see such natural highlights as the Bear Creek Falls and the Black Bear Pass. Basically, anything with a bear in it.
Get your ski on
We can’t avoid the fact that the main draw of Telluride is its ski resort. Skiing is of course on every Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary, and Telluride has 148 slopes of all colours (well, they’re all white, but they vary in difficulty). The so-called Galloping Goose is the longest run at 4.6 miles (7.4 kilometres). Ride the free gondola up to the mountain peak and enjoy the views of the white summits and valleys around you. Get lessons from the ski school and take on some of the beginner trails. The experts among you will enjoy the almost-vertical drops, where you can try out your death-defying acrobatics and then get your casts on your broken limbs signed back at the lodge. The complex has all manner of restaurants, shopping options and wellness spas to rest those weary skied-out legs. Oh, also, you could go snowboarding if you’re cool enough.
Get on a raft and put it on the river
This is also known as river rafting. Book with companies such as Telluride Rafting, Telluride Outside or 4 Corners Whitewater and smash down the San Miguel River or the Dolores River at break-neck speeds (without the broken necks), admiring the scenery between each set of rapids. Skirting the banks of the river are green pine forests and red rock walls. Meander through the canyon and learn to work as a team, paddling like crazy every time you reach a cascade. Plunge from the tips of the San Juan Mountains down into the canyons of San Miguel and Norwood. Dry off back at your lovely Plum Guide home, such as Forest Green or The Eagle's View.
Visit the town centre
After you’re all worn out from all the frenetic outdoor activities, maybe take a minute to learn about the history of this gold mining town. The Telluride Historical Museum is one of the highlights of the town centre, and offers historical walking tours of Telluride twice weekly. Inside the museum, you’ll find exhibits on the geological history of the region, as well as the story of the mysterious Telluride Blanket, which dates back around a millennium. Find out about the Nuchu/Ute native peoples and see how the place turned from a mining camp into the town it is today. Visit the nearby Telluride Gallery of Fine Art and watch a performance at the elegant Michael D. Palm Theatre. When all’s said and done, enjoy a nice meal at the Cosmopolitan, the 321 South Oak or the Chop.
Now you know the best things to do in Telluride, it's time to think about accommodation. Plum Guide has dozens of gorgeous rental homes in this mountain town from Figure Eight to Snowman, all professionally vetted by our fastidious home critics. Check out our guide to where to stay in Telluride and book yourself a great night's sleep.