Telluride, Colorado has been on my radar for quite sometime. Although I’ve called Colorado’s Front Range home for nearly eighteen years, between work and children there never seemed to be enough time to explore Colorado’s Western Slope until now.
Al and I review the atlas and peruse all the info we picked up at the Ridgway State Park Visitor center. From Ridgway State Park to the mountain ski town of Telluride should be about an hours drive if we stick to the main roads. Hmm, we have all day. What’s the hurry?
This southwest part of the state of Colorado was a buzz of mining activity in the 1800’s. Even Telluride’s logo is that of a miner’s pick. This mining activity created a multitude of back roads throughout the picturesque San Juan Mountains. Today these back roads are available for jeeps and OHV (off highway vehicles).
Some of these back roads are assessable by regular automobiles, but most require high clearance, and others demand 4 wheel drive capabilities. The roads might be gravel, dirt, rock or any combination of the three.
My little red 4 wheel drive Toyota Tacoma should be able to handle most of the roads we researched. However, Al and I err on the side of caution and pick a couple of “easy” roads to explore this week. One of which is called the “Last Dollar Road”. As far as mileage goes, this should be a shorter traveling distance to Telluride than taking the main roads. However, time wise…..double. Obviously, I won’t be taking this puppy at 60 miles per hour.
For the most part, it was an easy drive even though we veered to the left at a fork in the road. The publication informed us a left at the fork would be a little more challenging. Some of the ruts, mud, and water would definitely present a problem for a vehicle without a high clearance. For us, it wasn’t a problem and the drive presented some amazing scenery complete with wildflowers.
It’s the end of July and the wildflowers are starting to wane, but I’m still thrilled with the tuffs of color here and there. All the more reason for us to return to this area next July during the peak of wildflower season.
The drive from Ridgway State Park to Telluride took us about two hours and that included all the stops for photo ops. Not bad, and it sure was pretty.
Once in Telluride, we stop at the visitor center. Al always likes to ask locals where they enjoy eating. We find ourselves at a kind of sports bar housed in an old house off a side street. It appears to be a favorite among locals. Lunch was delish!
After lunch we head over to the Gondola station for a free Gondola ride up and over the summit to Mountain Village. On our walk to the Gondola, we encountered a farmer’s market and quickly took notes as to some potential purchases on our return to the vehicle. No sense in carrying stuff for the next hour.
The Gondola operates year round free of charge and is a common form of transportation for workers, school children, mountain bikers, and hikers….and then of course there’s folks like Al and me – tourists. Oh, and it’s pooch friendly as well.
The Telluride side of the mountain is pretty darn steep. The Mountain Village side appears to be more moderate. That’s where these two young boys are headed. They’ll disembark at the summit and ride their bikes back down toward the town of Mountain Village. We also saw quite a few hikers doing this as well. We saw very few heading down on the Telluride side of the mountain.
With our ‘tourist’ day coming to an end, we pick up some goodies at the farmer’s market and promise each other a return trip to this beautiful mountain town. We take the highway back to Ridgway State Park and arrive in about an hour. I’ll admit, even the scenery via the highway was lovely……not quite as beautiful as the Last Dollar Road but lovely just the same. It’ll be tough to top this awesome day!