Best ways to experience Telluride in the summer and fall

Folks who arrive in Telluride have worked hard to get here, and that’s part of the magic. Nestled in a box canyon and surrounded by stunning peaks, this quaint mountain town boasts impossibly blue skies and a charming Main Street where the dogs seem to outnumber humans, and everyone acts like they’re already friends. 

Enjoy old architecture and one-of-a-kind shops along Main Street — Photo courtesy of Visit Telluride

In this special Colorado oasis, located 40 minutes from the nearest stoplight, you’ll awake to an army of chirping birds and fall asleep under an intricate tapestry of constellations. During your stay you’ll probably pass at least one elk convention in a nearby field, and you may never stop raving about the vibrancy of the aspens towering in every direction. 

Interest piqued? Just wait…there’s more.

Flying via Denver

At this Denver hotel’s elevated oasis, savor modern Asian bites from the roaming dim sum carts — Photo courtesy of Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek

Since flying directly into the convenient Montrose-Telluride Regional Airport can be an expensive endeavor in certain seasons, using airports in Grand Junction and Denver prove appealing alternatives. The scenic drive from Denver can take up to seven hours, so you may want to break up the journey with a hike along the way. And you’ll definitely want a good night’s sleep before shifting the road trip into gear.

Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek markets itself as “the ultimate non-hotel,” and it doesn’t take long to fall in love with the Denver venue’s unassuming vibe and understated touches of luxury. Guests check in at the Kitchen Counter (rather than a front desk), where every morning you’ll find espresso, cappuccino and latte choices alongside fresh fruit and baked treats. Every evening, there’s a selection of house wines and New Belgium beer.

Other highlights include a dreamy rooftop pool, impressive collection of art, in-room record players and a brilliant Gear Garage that grants access to seasonal outdoor apparatuses and photography equipment. 


A festival for everyone

Performers at the Telluride Jazz Festival and other concerts frequently comment on the venue’s jaw-dropping beauty — Photo courtesy of Telluride Jazz Festival

Many flock to Telluride for the small town’s surprising wealth of culture, music and art. 2018’s festival season kicked off with the 40th iteration of Mountainfilm, which explored the pertinent theme of “migration.”

This inspiring gathering features brilliant movies (long-form and short, screened inside and out), talks (at bars, cafes and other venues), plus performances of dance, music and other expressions of creativity. 

As prolific travel writer and 2018 festival speaker Pico Iyer explained, “This is a festival by and for people who want to make the world a better place.”

When discussing Mountainfilm’s evolution over the years, meaning it no longer focuses solely on adventure and adrenaline, director, screenwriter, producer and author Tom Shadyac, said, “This festival that’s meant to rock, has settled into beautiful things.”  

In early August, Telluride Jazz Festival welcomes artists like Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Irma Thomas and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Nestled in the majestic San Juan mountain range, this event melds the rich tradition, modern styles and cutting-edge progression of the popular American genre.

When B.B. King first performed here in 2004, he looked out at the mountains from the stage and commented, “Out of the 90 different countries I’ve been to, I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than what you have here.”

In mid-September, the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival once again wows audiences and performers during a three-day celebration of blues, funk, jam bands, indie, rock, gospel and soul. The vibrant to-do also welcomes some of the best microbreweries in the country, a wide variety of food and craft vendors, children’s activities and late-night shows set under the stars.

Navigating town

The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival takes over Town Park — Photo courtesy of Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

The historic mining town, situated 8,750 feet above sea level, of Telluride is located very close to resort-oriented Mountain Village.  The two towns are connected by a free 15-minute gondola ride, and a free shuttle – known by locals as “The Goose” – also loops through town.

While staying in Telluride’s town has its perks, those seeking elevated luxury might consider heading up the mountain to Lumière Hotel. This small boutique venue offers genuine, personable service, otherworldly views, a grotto-like pool and a penthouse patio hot tub that will tempt you to stay forever. 

Nature at its best

Species of wildlife that live in and around Telluride include beaver, black bear, mountain lions, lynx and skunks, to name a few — Photo courtesy of Visit Telluride

Adventure enthusiasts can’t get enough of the region’s hiking bounty, with options including the two-mile climb up to Bear Creek Falls, the 2.7-mile round-trip Jud Wiebe loop and the journey up to stunning Bridal Veil Falls.

While summer of 2018 doesn’t look promising for whitewater rafters, stand-up paddleboaders find fun as do fly fishermen, rock climbers and equestrians, too. Cyclists cruise along trails that range from easy (River Trail) to moderate (Jurassic) –all complemented by the most spectacular views. 

Adventure fuel

Watch the world go by from the outdoor tables at The Butcher & Baker, or meet friendly locals while sitting at the counter inside — Photo courtesy of The Butcher & The Baker

Breakfast at The Butcher & Baker means farm-fresh scrambles and chilaquiles with juice and kombucha, served by some of the kindest folks around. Brunch on the Main Street patio at the New Sheridan Chop House comes with its famous espresso martinis (AKA “flatliners”). 

La Cocina de Luz is a great spot for a quick, casual lunch of locally-sourced, organic Mexican food, plus a free chips and salsa bar. Dinner gems include Brown Dog Pizza (known for its Detroit-style pies) and Siam, a delightful Thai outpost where locals pack the house to order the Drunken Noodles, pad thai, tom kha soup, Roti-Kanai appetizer and lobster hand rolls. 

Beer lovers celebrate the spirit of Telluride at one of the highest microbreweries in the world — Photo courtesy of Telluride Brewing Co.

Celebrate your newfound connection to Telluride by raising a glass at the New Sheridan Bar, a bustling watering hole since 1895, or score happy hour deals (half-priced sushi and cosmos) at Cosmopolitan between 5 and 6 pm. After a day out on the trails, treat yourself to a pint at Telluride Brewing Co., a joyful, laid-back spot where you can hang with friends old and new.

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