I’m a Colorado local and in this guide, I break down the best things to do in Telluride, regardless of the season. Get info on popular attractions like the annual bluegrass festival, free gondola, and Telluride Ski Resort.
But also discover a few hidden gems, like off-the-beaten-path hot springs and one of my favorite breweries. Plus, you’ll learn what a Krogerata is — and why the locals love it.
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Best Things to Do in Telluride, Colorado
Bridal Veil Falls
Marvel at the tallest waterfall in Colorado
Of all the hiking trails in the San Juan Mountains, few rival the popularity of Bridal Veil Falls. On this forested trail, you’ll witness spectacular mountain views and pass two additional waterfalls. Though just 2 miles in length, this challenging hike gains more than 800 feet in elevation.
If some in your party aren’t suited for a strenuous hike, I would recommend taking a vehicle to Bridal Veil Falls instead. You can reach this iconic Telluride attraction by driving a quarter of the way up the Black Bear Pass Switchbacks.
🚗 How to Get There: From downtown Telluride, take the E. Highway 145 Spur to the Black Bear Pass Switchbacks. Note this route is closed from October – May, and should only be attempted by experienced drivers in high clearance, 4×4 vehicles. If you’re up for the ride, book your Jeep on Discover Cars.
Mountain Village Gondola
Take a scenic ride between two charming mountain towns
Connecting Telluride to Mountain Village, this free gondola ride is one of the best things to do in Telluride year-round. It’s the only free public transportation of its kind in the world, established to minimize road traffic between the two ski areas.
Passengers reach Mountain Village in just 12 minutes. Along the way, beautiful mountain scenery and box canyon views amaze. Cabins carry mountain biking and winter sports equipment and are accessible to wheelchairs and pets, too.
Telluride Ski Resort
Plunge into deep powder at a world-class ski resort
Come ski season, Telluride booms with tourists looking to experience one of the best ski resorts in Colorado. Home to 2000+ skiable acres, Telluride Ski Resort is largely dominated by intermediate and advanced runs.
If you’re a beginner, check out Telluride Ski School located on-site. They offer private and group lessons for all ages, helping you feel safe and confident before hitting the slopes.
San Juan Skyway
Drive through one of the most beautiful parts of the Rocky Mountains
The San Juan Skyway is one of the most incredible road trips in Colorado, connecting several of the state’s best mountain towns. Highlights on the 236-mile Scenic Byway include Colorado hot springs, views of 14er peaks, and the Million Dollar Highway.
The Million Dollar Highway is a 25-mile segment of the byway, connecting Silverton and Ouray. Winding along switchbacks in the San Juan Mountains, you’ll enjoy spectacular views. Autumn is an especially ideal time to visit, as the aspen forests turn vibrant shades of gold.
Alta Ghost Town and Alta Lakes
Discover history and outdoor recreation on this quick day trip
Alta Ghost Town and Alta Lakes make for a great day trip or afternoon excursion from Telluride, CO. From town, you’ll head south on Highway 145, then begin the bumpy ride down Alta Lakes Road. The backcountry route is closed during winter and is only accessible to high clearance, 4×4 vehicles.
If you’re nervous about the drive, consider a guided tour with Telluride Outside or hike up the road. Starting from the highway, it’s 10 miles out and back. Once there, visitors can view the exteriors of what remains of the abandoned mining town. Nearby, Alta Lakes provides plenty of outdoor recreation.
Bear Creek Falls
Hike alongside locals to this cascading waterfall
Bear Creek Trail is another famed hike in Telluride, Colorado. Easily accessible, the trailhead is located on South Pine Street just two blocks from the free gondola ride. The moderate, 5-mile trek follows a wide trail through an aspen and pine forest.
As you approach Bear Creek Falls, multiple trails lead to incredible viewpoints. Given its popularity, you’ll surely meet a local or tourist willing to snap your photo!
👉 Pro Tip: In Telluride, it’s very common to see pups off-leash, especially on this trail. If you’re hiking with a reactive dog or one that’s in training, consider a less trafficked hike.
Explore boutiques, bars, eateries, and more on this Western strip
Colorado Avenue is the heart of this historic mining town. It’s full of après-ski fun and entertainment for every season. Explore stellar downtown hotels, restaurants and bars, boutiques, galleries, and more.
Though interiors are modern, many of these buildings still hold their Wild West charm. Admire the Victorian architecture and surrounding mountains while hanging out on a patio with the locals.
Telluride Via Ferrata
Test your skills and courage on the challenging “iron way”
The Telluride Via Ferrata is fondly called the Krogerata by locals, a tribute to the previous resident, Chuck Kroger. The climber first experienced via ferratas, translating to “iron way,” when exploring the Alps. Drilled into mountainsides, these iron rungs initially served as military transportation in WWI. Now, via ferratas are a growing recreational activity, drawing daredevils that love an adrenaline rush.
Kroger passed in 2007, but many continue to honor his legacy, approaching the route with an adventuresome spirit. For an unforgettable experience, book a tour with a local guide.
Black Bear Pass
Bump along backcountry roads surrounded by mountain views
Located on the third switchback, a drive to Bridal Veil Falls gives you a taste of Black Bear Pass. But that’s only the start of this stunning (and nerve-wracking!) adventure.
Nine tight switchbacks follow, then an ascent into Ingram Basin and Mineral Basin. The drive terminates at Red Mountain Pass, a portion of the Million Dollar Highway, where even more incredible views await.
Telluride Brewing Company
Sip a cold one and chill after a day of exploring
Few things mark a Colorado local more than morning outdoor adventures, followed by an afternoon beer. The laid-back taproom at Telluride Brewing Co. is the perfect spot to unwind. Grab a burger from the brewpub and one of their tasty craft beers. Face Down Brown, a World Beer Cup winner, is a personal favorite.
🍺 Love Craft Beer? Don’t miss my guide to the best breweries in Denver!
Things to Do in Telluride in Winter
Take a fun tour through the snowy San Juans
If visiting Telluride, CO in the winter, check out snowmobiling tours with Telluride Outfitters. No experience is required, and even children are permitted on the 2-hour Alta Ghost Town tour.
If you’re seeking a more challenging experience, consider the Dunton Hot Springs or Full Day Backcountry packages. Both allow you to soak in natural hot springs, a perfect complement to a day playing in the powder.
Cross-country ski to a frozen alpine lake
Alpine skiing at Telluride Ski Resort may take the spotlight, but cross-country skiing is another must in this mountain town. There are several popular trails to explore, including those at Telluride Town Park and Valley Floor. Priest Lake, Trout Lake, and Mountain Village also offer groomed terrain with spectacular views.
Horseback Riding and Sleigh Rides
Clop your way through the snowy scenery
Horseback riders can explore the San Juan Mountains any time of year. But in the winter, when the pines are heavy with snow, it’s an especially magical experience. Telluride Horseback Adventures and Telluride Wranglers offer trail rides of varying lengths. Alternatively, bundle up the family for a sleigh ride, a charming way to celebrate the holidays.
Skate on polished rinks in Telluride and Mountain Village
Glide across the ice at multiple rinks in Telluride, Colorado. Decorated with twinkling lights, Telluride Town Park has both an indoor and outdoor rink. In Mountain Village, you’ll find another outdoor rink at the luxurious Madeline Hotel. Bring your skates or take advantage of on-site rental services.
The Coffee Cowboy
Warm up with fresh coffee and creamy cocoa
Warm up with a visit to The Coffee Cowboy, located in the gondola plaza. The sweet, little shack serves up all kinds of tasty beverages. When visiting, my husband and I loved our order: a “cinnabliss” latte and spicy chai. Even if you’re not one to frequent coffee shops, who can turn down a creamy hot chocolate on a chilly day?
📚 Related Reading: My recent guide spills the beans on the best Denver coffee shops!
Hike to natural springs or soak in a luxurious resort
During your winter getaway, discover several of the best Colorado hot springs near Telluride, CO. Take a day trip to enjoy Ouray Hot Springs or Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway. If you prefer a hike-in experience, check out Penny Hot Springs in Carbondale. Or for both adventure and luxury, snowmobile to Dunton Hot Springs and stay in a gorgeous private cabin.
Trek your way into a winter wonderland
Even in winter, the hiking trails in Telluride stay populated — but don’t go post-holing waist-deep into the snow. Invest in a pair of snowshoes to explore areas like Bear Creek Falls, Hope Lake, and the Lizard Head Wilderness. If you’d prefer a guided experience, contact TopATen in Mountain Village.
Telluride Historical Museum
Discover the town’s notorious Wild West past
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 728-3344 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Monday – Saturday, Closed Sunday | Entrance: $7 general admission, $5 students (6-17) and seniors (65+) | 👉 Browse Telluride Tours on Viator
Though such a tiny town, Telluride, Colorado has a fascinating past. Set in what was once a hospital, the Telluride Historical Museum preserves and presents its Wild West days. Dance hall girls and gun slingin’ cowboys are discussed in displays and videos. Gold mining, train transportation, and the early electrical industry make up other exhibits.
Michael D. Palm Theatre
Catch a live performance in a cozy local venue
The spacious and comfortable Michael D. Palm Theatre serves as Telluride’s key performing arts venue. Cultural events range from live music to lectures, theater acts, and movie screenings. Though open year-round, the warm, welcoming setting is especially ideal for winter entertainment.
Things to Do in Telluride in Summer
Cycle your way through courses for all skill levels
Mountain biking is highly popular in Telluride, CO, especially in the summertime. Located at the Telluride Ski Resort, Telluride Bike Park is one of the town’s best destinations. Access the area via the free Mountain Village gondola, and enjoy routes for all skill levels. The intermediate Gentleman’s Loop is a local favorite, offering stunning views of the San Juan Mountains.
San Miguel River Trail
Explore an easily accessible, family-friendly trail
If you’re in search of easy, family-friendly hiking trails, look no further than the San Miguel River. The mellow 6.6-mile route is a great way to go about exploring Telluride. Hikers pass through the historic town, taking in the charming residences and venturing out to the Pandora Mill, a retired mining site. Aspen forest and box canyon views add to the scenery.
🥾 Love Hiking? Check out my guide to the best 15 hikes in Colorado!
Splash down rapids in the San Miguel River
Though its trail may be leisurely, the San Miguel River offers excitement for adventurers, too. Mild to Wild, a reputable guide company based in nearby Durango, hosts half-day rafting tours on the waterway. Splash through thrilling Class II-III rapids while admiring the surrounding mountain peaks. No experience is required, and children 10+ are sure to love the experience.
Jud Wiebe Trail
See box canyon views on this hike that overlooks Telluride
Easily accessed from downtown’s North Aspen Street, Jud Wiebe Trail is a popular 3.1-mile loop. It takes hikers through aspen forests and to stunning viewpoints overlooking Telluride, Colorado. Though ranked as moderate, the first mile ascends more than 800 feet in elevation. Plan for the challenge and pack plenty of water!
👉 Pro Tip: Don’t forget important gear with this Hiking Essentials Checklist!
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Dance at the 50th annual event happening in June 2023
All genres of music are celebrated at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. 2023 is an especially exciting year to attend, as it’s the festival’s 50th anniversary. Come June 15-18, thousands will gather for performers, free workshops, and more.
Tickets sell out fast, and lodging is limited. Look into Telluride hotels or plan to pitch a tent under the stars at Town Park Campground.
Experience fine dining with an unbeatable view
Serving fine wines and New American cuisine, Allred’s Restaurant offers an upscale dining experience. While the prix fixe menu and rustic ambiance are spectacular, the establishment’s location may be its greatest quality. Set at the gondola’s San Sophia Station, the mountain views from 10,551 feet above sea level are unparalleled.
Cast your line into some of the best trout streams in Colorado
From lakes and ponds to streams and alpine creeks, fishing destinations are abundant in Telluride, CO. The San Miguel and Gunnison Rivers, plus waterways in the Uncompahgre National Forest, boast large trophy trout. Stunning scenery and seclusion are additional bonuses.
However, if you’re new to the sport, you may find possession limits, bait restrictions, and other rules a bit overwhelming. Consider gear rentals and guided tours from Telluride Outfitters or Telluride Outside.
Blue Lakes Trail
Be amazed by the color of these glacial lakes set high in the mountains
This famed trail in nearby Ridgway passes three alpine lakes, and while the views are breathtaking, so is the strenuous hike. More than 2,500 feet of elevation is gained across 8.7-miles. Fortunately, there are several striking sights along the way, perfect for water breaks and quick rests.
The first picturesque lake is the largest, found 3 miles into the trail. As you ascend to the second and third lakes, panoramic views amaze. For those brave and experienced, the summit of Mt. Sneffels, one of Colorado’s 14ers, is just up ahead.
FAQs What to Do in Telluride, Colorado
What is Telluride, Colorado known for?
Telluride, Colorado is known for its outdoor recreation. This includes hiking, mountain biking, and winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. It’s also famed for its Wild West past and mining industry, which visitors can learn about at the Telluride Historical Museum.
Is Telluride, Colorado worth visiting?
Telluride, Colorado is worth visiting. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy endless opportunities to explore. History-lovers will find the well-preserved town to be fascinating. Families have plenty of options to entertain children of all ages. Even those looking for a relaxing getaway will appreciate Telluride for its nearby hot springs and charming downtown.
What is the best month to visit Telluride?
The best month to visit Telluride is July, in my opinion. Given its 8,750-foot elevation, snow in Telluride may last even into the early summer. But by July, accessing Telluride isn’t as difficult, making for one of the best Colorado road trips. Downtown festivities occur, trails are dry, and whitewater rafting tours are better suited for all skill levels.
However, if you’re visiting for winter sports, March is the best month to visit Telluride. In fact, March is one of the best times to visit Colorado as a whole, as snow conditions are stellar throughout the state.
Have fun exploring all the fun things to do in Telluride! Before you go, be sure to bookmark our Ultimate Colorado Travel Guide to discover more must-see destinations.
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