Telluride | Everyone’s Favorite

Telluride | Everyone’s Favorite

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like Telluride, Colorado.  If I had to recommend one Colorado mountain town to visit, it would definitely be Telluride.  There’s a little something for everyone to enjoy. Besides, how could anyone resist a place where there’s usually a herd of elk in a meadow on the edge of town welcoming visitors to the area?

We’ve had the pleasure of visiting this charming mountain town a few times over the past several years, and we were never disappointed. First off, Telluride is beautiful. It sits in a canyon surrounded by steep forested mountains and cliffs with the impressive Bridal Veil Falls seen at the far end of the canyon.

Telluride was founded in 1878 as a mining settlement. By the 1970s, the extensive mining in the area was replaced by ski tourism, and by the mid-1990s, Colorado’s best-kept secret was discovered by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, and Oliver Stone.

Although Telluride is well-known for outstanding ski slopes, the summer months have become even more popular with tourists as the town hosts a variety of festivals all summer long, including film festivals and endurance events.

Telluride, Colorado
Looking down Colorado Ave (main street) in Telluride, CO

Continuing with our Top 5 Favorite Colorado Mountain Towns

In no particular order, these are my top 5 favorite picks for must-see Colorado Mountain Towns … towns that I have returned to time and again because they are just too much fun not to.

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride’s festival season kicks off at the end of May and is host to a variety of festivals held each weekend. The diversity of festivals range from Music to Brews to Wine, Yoga, Film, Sports, and more.

There’s also no shortage of summer activities available for individuals and families alike. One of my favorite things to do is hike to Bridal Veil Falls. There’s a hiking trail that takes hikers from town all the way out toward the falls. The trail allows me to admire the beautiful architecture along the way, which is a unique blend of old and new.

The colorful Victorian-era homes that I pass always captivate my attention. These Victorian-era homes help preserve Telluride’s historically significant architecture. The town of Telluride is just eight blocks wide and twelve blocks long and is designated a National Historic Landmark District due to its role in the history of the American West.

Tidbit:  The famous bank robber, Butch Cassidy, committed his first recorded major crime in Telluride by robbing the San Miguel Valley Bank in 1889 and exiting the bank with over $24,000.

One of our favorite places to grab a bite to eat is at the Smuggler’s Brew Pub.  Al particularly enjoys their brew called Debauchery. I think the name speaks for itself and considering its high alcohol content combined with Telluride’s high elevation, one drink is usually enough … that is, if your goal is to be able to still walk straight. Picking up a bite to eat at the Friday morning farmers market is also a fun option, and of course, we never head home without picking up a few fresh items. And I never miss the opportunity to take the gondola ride up and over to Mountain Village … a bonus not to be missed.

Mountain Village

Mountain Village, Colorado
Mountain Village

The Town of Mountain Village is a European-style village that was founded in 1987 and sits at an elevation of 9,500 feet.

The architecture and feel between the two towns of Telluride and Mountain Village are vastly different. Where Telluride offers that old town historical western feel, Mountain Village offers a feel of polish and elegance that reeks of money – in a good way. I absolutely love the architecture around here.

The two towns are connected by a 13-minute gondola ride that is the only free public transportation system of its kind in the U.S. This popular scenic attraction provides access to hiking and biking trails during the summer and the ski slopes during the winter.

But Telluride isn’t the only mountain town worth visiting in this part of Colorado.  Nestled in the San Juan Mountains are three more quaint and scenic towns, each with its own vibe and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them as a must-visit.

Other must-visit mountain towns near Telluride; Ouray, Silverton, and Ridgway

No visit to this part of Colorado and the San Juan Mountain range would be complete without visiting the beautiful little mountain towns of Ouray, Silverton, and Ridgway. As the crow flies, Ouray and Telluride are less than twenty miles apart, but taking the shortcut would require a four-wheel drive vehicle and a few hours to spare. The regular car route between Telluride and Ouray is around 50 miles and will take about an hour.

horses near Ridgway, Colorado

Ouray, Colorado

Not only is Ouray known as the Switzerland of America, but it’s also considered the Jeeping Capitol of the World with over 500 miles of accessible high country 4WD trails.

Tidbits: Ouray is pronounced ‘your-ray’ … hurrah for Ouray! I don’t recommend using a GPS in this part of Colorado. First, these three mountain towns are located along Highway 550 and as long as you stay on the paved road, you won’t need a map let alone a GPS to find your way around. Second, with miles and miles of former mining roads, some GPS view these roads as accessible, leading many a visitor astray. Don’t be fooled and turn off that GPS!

So, with all these former mining roads to explore, renting a 4×4 vehicle in Ouray won’t be a problem, but you’ll need to wait until the month of July before these roads are somewhat clear of snow. I highly recommend stopping in at the visitor center in Ouray and picking up a map of the backcountry roads and checking up to date road conditions.

During previous visits, Al and I have taken the Toyota Tacoma on a couple of the “easy” 4×4 roads.  The map info is very helpful in rating these roads and we wanted to start easy and work our way up.  We’ve taken Last Dollar Road to Telluride and Owl Creek Pass to Silver Jack Reservoir.  Both drives were enjoyable and neither road took us above tree line. During our explorations, with the exception of a couple of rutted areas, a Subaru or CRV could handle these two 4×4 roads. BUT please check recent road conditions before attempting. Weather can and will affect road conditions drastically.

This map might be a little fuzzy. You can Click here for a clearer image and more road information.

If hiking is more to your liking, Ouray has no shortage of trails to choose from. The most popular is the Perimeter Trail. It’s a five-mile well-marked trail that circles the town of Ouray. Al and I have hiked portions of this trail and look forward to returning to hike the total perimeter. May and June you’ll need to keep snowmelt in mind as all creeks and streams run dangerously fast and furious and trails can be muddy. July into August is stunning as the meadows are dotted with wildflowers. Then there’s September when gold can be seen … yellow Aspen leaves.

Box Canyon Falls
Box Canyon….the bottom of the falls can be seen in the lower part of the photo

One section of the Perimeter Trail that we loved is the hike to Box Canyon Falls. Box Canyon Falls is known as Ouray’s own wonder of the world.  The waterfall is created from the combination of Canyon Creek narrowing into a rock canyon and then plummeting 285 feet, spilling thousands of gallons of water per minute.  The word ‘dramatic’ sums it up nicely. As you hike further into the canyon, the roar of rushing water becomes more deafening and the dirt trail quickly turns into a slatted iron bridge complete with rails.  The temperature drops, the humidity rises, and the sun is hidden. Al and I both agree this is a unique find and experience not to be missed.

Silverton, Colorado – Is it worth the drive?

Hold on, as the only road to get to Silverton, Colorado from Ouray is not for the faint of heart. This stretch of Highway 550 is known as the Million Dollar Highway. The road twists, turns, bends, goes up, goes down, and meanders through the San Juan Mountain Range. It’ll help if you have some mountain driving experience and aren’t afraid of heights. There’s a notable lack of guardrails and you’ll want to plan on taking around 45 minutes to drive the twenty-five-mile distance between Ouray and Silverton.

Silverton, Colorado
Highway 550 aka the Million Dollar Highway

If driving mountain roads isn’t your thing and you happen to be near the town of Durango, consider taking the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  The rail route is even more scenic than the highway and the train pulls right into the town of Silverton.

Durango & Silverton Train

SilvertonOnce in Silverton, you’ll find the town has a natural beauty that’s steeped in Victorian charm and mining history.  Gold was discovered here in the 1860s.  The town was platted in 1874 and by the late 1800s, the main business section was built.

On the “other side of town”, is notorious Blair Street.  At one point, Blair Street was home to 40 saloons and brothels.  Many of the original buildings are still standing today and have been turned into quaint gift shops and restaurants.

Tidbit: During the mining boom, Silverton boasted a population surpassing 2,000. Today the year-round population is less than 700. Although tourism has replaced mining as the current economic engine, conjecture is someday mining will return.

Silverton is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the National Historic Landmark District.

Silverton, Colorado

With mining heavily ingrained in the area’s history, the backcountry is dotted with remnants of abandoned mines and ghost towns.  If you have a high clearance vehicle (or rent one), the old mining roads are great fun to explore.

Ridgway, Colorado

If you’re a John Wayne fan like my husband, then a stop in the little town of Ridgway is a must. During one of our day excursions from Ridgway State Park to Telluride, we took the Last Dollar Road. This gravel/dirt road takes travelers past the Ross Ranch, one of several film locations that took place in Ouray County from the movie True Grit. The road is accessed about 10 miles outside of Ridgway. Last Dollar Road is rated as an easy 4WD road. At the top of Dallas Divide, the road offers majestic views of the backcountry without traversing any extreme switchbacks or sheer drop-offs that are commonly found driving some of the more difficult backcountry roads.

historical western buildings in Ridgway Colorado

Camping and lodging

Camping:  Whenever we’ve visited Telluride, we love camping at Ridgway State Park, which is about a one-hour drive away.  The park offers sites accommodating tents and large RVs alike.  Ridgway State Park is one of our favorite campgrounds in Colorado.

camping at Ridgway State Park

For those interested in full hook-ups, the Centennial RV Park near Montrose is a consideration. When we weren’t able to find an available site at Ridgway State Park, we’ve stayed at the Montrose Elk’s Lodge (members only). There are also private campgrounds with full hook-ups in the town of Ouray, but they like to pack’em in tight … a little too close for our taste.

Tee PeeMuch closer to Telluride is a delightful National Forest Campground;  Sunshine Campground.  We would love to stay here due to its stunning views and near proximity to Telluride, but unfortunately, we might only fit into a couple of sites and the turning radius to navigate into and around this campground is tighter than what we think we could navigate. The campground is super close to Mountain Village where one can park and catch the free gondola taking you up and over the mountain into Telluride.

Further down the road is the Matterhorn Campground, also a National Forest Campground and this place has several sites that can accommodate just about anyone … that is IF you can snag an open site.

For those traveling with tents, vans, or small RV’s, the perfect place to camp and really immerse yourself into the Telluride lifestyle is the Telluride Town Park Campground.  Nestled in a grove of pine trees along a creek, it’s within walking distance to festival venues, restaurants, and shops.  Obviously, where there are trees, there are low branches and tight turning radius’.  Thus, we feel it’s not an option for us.  Once again, small RV’s have the advantage.  Note; during festivals, this campground is jam-packed making it difficult for even a Honda Civic to navigate.

And when it comes to other types of lodging, Telluride has it all.  Click here for more info and enjoy your own Rocky Mountain getaway. I promise you won’t be disappointed 🙂

four-wheeling
The view along Last Dollar Road

Western Colorado is definitely one of my favorite places to visit. You’ll take in some jaw-dropping beauty as you pass mountains, lakes, and streams.  And when the wildflowers are blooming in July and August or the Aspen tree leaves turn golden in September … oh … my … gosh!!!  Let’s just say, it’s a sight to behold and photographs rarely capture the enormity of such a spectacular and stunning sight.

Between the majestic San Juan Mountains and the small-town mountain lifestyle, it’s no wonder this area of Colorado is a favorite with many.

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Catching up

First off, allow me to extend a heart-felt thank you to all of you who commented on my last post.  I appreciate your warm thoughts beyond words and hope Rhonda and family have found some comfort in them as well.  Rhonda wrote a final post sharing Wayne’s last days and a selfless act.  That post can be viewed here for anyone interested.  Thank you again for your care, concern, and friendship.

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With Moab in the rear view mirror, it wasn’t long before we pulled into site #3 at the James M. Robb State Park Campground near Grand Junction, Colorado.  We really enjoy staying here and since we pass through Grand Junction regularly this has become our go to stop for spending a few days while in the area.

Colorado State Parks
Colorado National Monument

Colorado State ParksThe stunning Colorado National Monument acts as a beautiful backdrop to the James M. Robb State Park…. a sight that never gets old.

During our ten-day stay, we had a couple of things to tend to, but most importantly a lot of catching up to do.  You see, my brother and his wife live in Grand Junction, and a year had passed since our last visit.

Fruita Colorado
James M. Robb State Park, Fruita, Colorado

First on the agenda was dinner with brother and sis-in-law, which became a recurring event during our stay.  Yum, is all I have to say as sis-in-law is a great cook.  Unfortunately, due to the combination of my brother’s work schedule and the ever fickle weather, we weren’t able to take any memorable hikes together during this visit.  You can click here to read about one of our epic hikes a couple of years ago.  The thought of that hike still makes me laugh.Colorado National Monument

It’s impossible not to explore the “Monument” and for any first time visitor I would highly recommend the 23 mile Rim Rock Road scenic drive.  The road takes you to the top of the mesa with numerous scenic overlooks giving a visitor a bird’s eye view of some spectacular scenery.

After taking in the scenery from the car, next up is hitting the trails.  One of my all time favorite hikes was one I did with my sister-in-law almost 2 years ago and ever since then, I’ve wanted to share that trail with hubby.hiking in Colorado

So on our first rain free day, Al and I set out around nine in the morning to tackle the Lower Monument Canyon Trail.Colorado National Monument

After a 2 1/2 mile trek, we found ourselves at the base of the stunning 450 foot tall monolith named Independence Monument; our destination.  The post from the hike with my sister-in-law offers a little more info.  If interested, you can click here.

Colorado National Weather
We were down in that canyon at the base of the Independence Monument – rock monolith
Colorado National Monument
Al on the trail ahead of me returning to the trailhead

Colorado National MonumentAfter spending a little time taking in the sight of the beautiful canyon, we retraced our tracks back to the trailhead making for a great 5 mile hike.

Colorado breweryToward the end of our stay, we met Mike and Linda for lunch at the Edgewater Brewery and on our last evening we met Pam and John for a quick bite at Suds Brother’s Brewery.

Let’s see….. we took care of a couple of scheduled appointments, took in the fantastic scenery, got in some exercise, visited with family AND visited a couple of brew pubs with fellow bloggers.

All in all, it was a great visit to western Colorado.  Now it’s time to move on.  I have a feeling there could be a little more social gatherings in our near future.  You never know who we’ll bump into in Denver this summer!Colorado National Monument

Grand Junction Hiking Guide (The Pruett Series)

I recently started a food blog called “Dally in the Galley”
Feel free to stop byclick here

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Our trek continued deeper into Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  This park is located about 16 miles northwest of the town of Golden and less than an hours drive from downtown Denver, yet feels miles and miles away from anything.Golden Gate Canyon State Park

While driving Mountain Base Road, we had stopped at several of the picnic – trailhead pull-outs to take in our surroundings.  Hubby was loving the pine scented air while I was ogling the mountain wildflowers.

Colorado State Parks
95% of the park has paved roads. This is the road to Aspen Meadow Campground

Next stop; the campgrounds.  We drove through the Reverend’s Ridge Campground checking out the sites.  Since it’s located in a pine forest there aren’t any mountain views from the campsites, but the large paved sites make up for any lack of view.  This campground is laid out beautifully offering sites with electric geared toward RV’s and none electric sites exclusive to tents.  The tent sites have nice level pads.

Colorado State Parks
A drive thru site in loop E

Camping fees are $22.00 a night with electric and $18.00 a night for non-electric.  Since this is a Colorado State Park there’s an additional vehicle fee; either $7.00 a day or the yearly pass for $70.00.  Al and I always get the yearly pass for both trucks, which allows us unlimited access to all Colorado State Parks.  The pass is vehicle specific and is applied to the windshield.  The second vehicle is charged a reduced rate and there’s a discount for those of a certain age.  Yep, hubby qualifies for the ‘Aspen Leaf’ which also saves us $2.00 a night on camping fees.  Ah, an upside to being old… LOL.  Shhh, don’t tell him I said that 😉

Colorado State Parks
another site in loop E

I’d say the RV sites are long enough for any size RV.  My only concern would be the width in regards to all the trees and RV slides, mostly those RV’s with opposing slides. But with a little strategic maneuvering, I’m sure she’ll fit.

That said, this is a campground Al and I would really enjoy staying at, but be warned….. there is no cell phone or internet coverage…. nada, zilch, nil.  Consider this time to walk away from the ‘devices’ and enjoy all this gorgeous scenery.Golden Gate

This little girl proudly carries a caught fish over to her dad
This little girl proudly carries a caught fish over to her dad

There’s nearly 35 miles of hiking trails within the State Park.  Some of the trails are for hikers only and others are multiple use: hiking, biking, horseback riding.  Fishing is allowed in any stream or pond within the park, but does require a Colorado fishing license.

I was particularly interested in the park’s brochure: Discovering Historic Places.  This part of Colorado is rich in mining history dating back to the 1800’s.  The Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers hiking trails to the remains of some former homesteads.

On our hike to Dude's Fishing Hole we pass the remains of The Belcher Barn on the left
Al and I opt for a quick hike to Dude’s Fishing Hole and along the way we pass the remains of The Belcher Barn.  This hay barn was built in the 1890’s.

Another trail we hope to hike would take us past The Bootlegger’s Cabin. There are no records of when the cabin was built or by whom.  The fact that barrel hoops and coiled copper tubing were found nearby leads one to believe that this was probably a shelter for bootleggers making illegal whiskey during the 1920’s.Bootlegger

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is definitely a great place to camp with a lot to see and do not only within the park but within an hours drive in any direction from the park.  Downtown Denver is easily accessed via vehicle or for those anti city drivers, the Light Rail can be taken from the station in Golden.  Golden offers its own array of fun stuff which I’ve blogged about in the past. You can read about it here and here.

The town of Boulder isn’t far from Golden Gate Canyon State Park via Highway 72. Rocky Mountain National Park is a scenic one hour plus drive to the north and Mt. Evans is a one hour drive to the south.

Fishing in Colorado
Dude’s Fishing Hole

Just remember, this is Colorado and that means the roads go up, down, and sideways….. miles are irrelevant, it’s all about how much time it takes to get from point A to point B and whether one needs Dramamine or has a fear of heights.

Welcome to my little slice of paradise!Colorado State Parks
Coleman Deck Chair With Table

Over too fast!

Our time near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, was over before we knew it and unfortunately obligations had us moving on.  We could have easily stayed another week or two….. or even three and been quite content.  My view every evening……ahhhh!sunset in Colorado

Alas, we needed to return to Grand Junction for some appointments.  Let’s check out our new antenna flying proud as we mosey on down the road.  Although we don’t need to raise and lower this new antenna, it is a good idea to have the pointy end of the boomerang design pointed forward for aerodynamic reasons.RV travel in Colorado

With all the fixes on the RV complete, we scheduled some normal maintenance in Grand Junction for the F-250, the Tacoma, and hubby.  In early April when Al initially contacted the VA for his yearly physical, he was told they couldn’t get him in until September and then low and behold an end of May opening became available.  I’m sure this whole VA investigation stuff had something to do with the timely opening.

Regardless, Al is in tip top shape.  The trucks are in tip top shape.  The RV is hopefully in tip top shape and we’re antsy to embrace our summer travels.  Fingers crossed all the mishaps are behind us because I’d like to go back to feeling excited on moving day instead of feeling fear or dread….. “Will Murphy get us today?”RV cartoonThat said and appointments behind us, we find ourselves back in one of our favorite spots; Ridgway State Park.  The San Juan Mountains are still covered in a deep layer of snow making for a beautiful sight.Ridgway State ParkWe have some hiking planned and social get togethers scheduled.  Should be a fun week….Ridgway State Park