20 Things To Do In Telluride

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A popular wintertime destination among the rich and famous, Telluride in western Colorado was an upstart mining town before it became an upmarket Colorado resort town with world-class ski slopes. The city is nestled in a steep canyon within the San Juan Mountains. It is renowned for its idyllic, European-esque buildings, cosy cafes, trendy designer boutiques and spectacular mountain vistas stretching far as the eye can see.

Despite its small permanent population, Telluride has a mid-sized airport, so there’s no need to drive treacherous roads during winter to reach this mountainous skiing paradise. Telluride is an absolute haven for all sorts of wintertime fun, however, the city is also immensely historic and features plenty of exciting indoor and outdoor attractions to keep you occupied and richly entertained during your visit without venturing to the town’s overcrowded ski slopes. Here are the things to do in Telluride. 

Telluride, Colorado

20 Things To Do In Telluride

1- Hit The Slopes At The Telluride Ski Resort

Gondolas rises in the mountains, ski resort, snow covered Christmas trees, winter landscape
Going skiing or snowboarding is one of the fun things to do in Telluride in winter.

Nestled on the slopes of the San Juan Mountains just southwest of downtown Telluride, the 2,000-acre (809 ha) Telluride Ski Resort is the star attraction in the town and the region’s go-to skiing destination.

The mountainside resort’s home to over 148 unique skiing trails to traverse and receives more than 300 inches (7.6 m) of snowfall annually, making it one of the most popular ski resorts in the United States.

Whilst the world-class slopes are the resort’s biggest attraction, its top-tier restaurants, accommodation options, and summertime hiking and whitewater rafting opportunities attract visitors to stay around much longer than initially planned to lap up the best Telluride has to offer.

The Telluride Ski Resort is at 565 Mountain Village Blvd, Telluride, CO 81435.

2- Explore The Cobblestone Streets Of Mountain Village

Telluride village shops with mountains in the background
Wandering around the mountain village is one of the most delightful things to do in Telluride any time of the year.

Purposefully designed and stylized to resemble a traditional Swiss ski town, Telluride’s Mountain Village is perhaps the town’s most photographed attraction, with endless cobblestone roads, cosy cafes and charming storefronts. 

Mountain Village is within the sprawling Telluride Ski Resort at the bottom of the resort’s ski trail, serving as a resting spot for tired resort goers after a long day skiing and snowboarding.

Thanks to its convenient location at the bottom of the San Juan Mountains, the village treats visitors to panoramic vistas of Colorado’s most picturesque outdoor areas in all directions, making it a local favourite. 

Mountain Village is at 455 Mountain Village Blvd, Mountain Village, CO 81435.

3- See The Spectacular Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado
Hiking to Bridal Veil Falls is one of the top things to do in Telluride in summer.

Thundering down the steep cliffs of the stunning San Juan Mountains, the popular Bridal Veil Falls is the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado and among Telluride’s most popular non-ski-related outdoor attractions.

The falls are made up of a set of two-pronged waterfalls that both measure more than 365 feet (111 m) in height.

Thanks to their fame and notoriety throughout Colorado, the falls have been turned into a fully-fledged tourist attraction, with hike, bike, and 4×4-friendly pathways leading right up to the falls’ location, which makes visiting this Colorado wonder a breeze.

Not only are the falls free to enjoy, but their magical appearance and year-round accessibility, weather permitting, of course, make it among Telluride’s finest landmarks to see and a must when visiting Telluride.

4- Hike Up To The Beautiful Bear Creek Falls

Telluride’s Bear Creek Falls, nestled in the rugged Bear Creek Canyon just south of downtown, is as dramatic and scenic as the more popular Bridal Veil Falls without the large crowds to deal with.

The 80-foot high (24 m) falls are tucked away between thick groves of aspen and pine trees, accessible thanks to a 4.6-mile long (7.4 km) round-trip nature trail that leads right to the edge of the falls.

Unlike Bridal Veil, which tumbles straight down the cliffside, Bear Creek thunders over cliffs and large rocks, creating a scenic cascading effect that makes it unique from Bridal Veil.

5- Tour The Telluride Historic District

Mountain Town Of Telluride Near Fall Tucked Into Open Valley Of Mountains
The mountain town of Telluride has things to do all year round.

The Telluride Historic District comprises the beating heart of downtown Telluride and serves as the town’s hub for shopping and sightseeing.

Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961, most of Telluride’s downtown area falls within the NHL-designated area, making it among the most historic areas in the entire region.

Several notable Telluride attractions are inside the Telluride Historic District and the city’s best boutiques and preserved historic buildings.

Designated initially to preserve Telluride’s rich mining past, modern-day downtown offers travellers a wide range of trendy and one-of-a-kind destinations to explore and uncover, making it a must-see Telluride landmark.

6- Catch A Live Performance At The Sheridan Opera House

The centrepiece in Telluride’s budding arts scene, the Sheridan Opera House is as historic a venue as you’re likely to come across in Telluride.

Built in 1913 by the Telluride Miners, the opera house initially operated as a vaudeville theatre before being converted into a multi-purpose entertainment space that has attracted some of the biggest names in music.

Several notable figures have passed through the doors of the opera house throughout its existence, including Jimmy Buffet and Mumford & Sons.

Capable of seating up to 230 people, the opera house is the go-to place in Telluride for high-quality music and theatrical performances and features a star-studded lineup of exciting shows and events to catch throughout the year.

The Sheridan Opera House is at 110 N Oak St, Telluride, CO 81435.

7- Reconnect With Nature At The Uncompahgre National Forest

Fall colours in Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado
Exploring Uncompahgre National Forest is one of the best things to do in the Telluride area in the fall.

Covering more than 955,229 acres (386,567 ha) of prime Colorado land just outside downtown Telluride, the Uncompahgre National Forest was established in 1905 and is home to several of western Colorado’s most impressive natural features.

The Uncompahgre National Forest is sandwiched between the Gunnison and Grand Mesa National Forests, which has a combined area of roughly 3,161,912 acres (1,279,580 ha).

Uncompahgre features 133 named mountain peaks within its borders and treats visitors to endless amounts of nature trails, forests and wildlife to discover throughout the San Juan Mountains surrounding Telluride.

For limitless outdoor fun right on the doorstep of Telluride’s upmarket stores and attractions, there’s simply no other outdoor landmark quite like Uncompahgre.

8- Get Historic At The Telluride Historical Museum

The fascinating Telluride Historical Museum is home to countless artefacts and exhibits detailing Telluride’s journey from a humble mining frontier to its rapid emergence as a wintertime holiday destination during the late 20th century.

Opened in 1966, the museum is located within a former hospital and includes artefacts related to Ancestral Puebloan peoples and Ute Native Americans among its extensive collection of historic items.

From the centuries-old ‘Telluride Blanket’ weaved by the Puebloans to exhibits celebrating Otto Mears, the man known as ‘The Pathfinder’ who founded Telluride during the late 19th century, there’s so much to learn about at the Telluride Historical Museum.

The Telluride Historical Museum is at 201 W Gregory Ave, Telluride, CO 81435.

9- Drive Along The Gorgeous San Juan Skyway

Jagged Peaks And Fall Colors Of The San Juan Mountains
Gazing at the beauty of the San Juan Mountains is one of the things to do in Telluride winter, autumn, summer or spring.

Regarded as one of Telluride’s best free attractions, the scenic San Juan Skyway is an immensely historic stretch of road that connects Telluride and 10 other Colorado towns, slicing through two national forests and the picturesque San Juan Mountains.

The skyway stretches for over 233 miles (375 km) and is recognised by the Department of Transportation as an All-American Road.

Nicknamed the “road to the sky”, the skyway is among the best ways of discovering Telluride and western Colorado’s stunning beauty without leaving your vehicle’s comforts in the process.

10- Stroll Through Picturesque Town Park

The 36-acre (15 ha) Town Park is downtown Telluride’s premier outdoor gathering space that hosts everything from community gatherings to festivals and sporting events throughout the year.

Providing picturesque vantage points of the distant San Juan Mountains, the park’s one of Telluride’s liveliest spots when the weather’s good, thanks to its unbeatable scenic beauty and location adjacent to one of downtown’s busiest thoroughfares.

Complete with a swimming pool, a volleyball court, football fields and a Nordic skiing track accessible during winter.

The park is a fantastic place to escape if you’re tired from hitting Telluride’s ski slopes all day.

Town Park is at 500 E Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435.

11- Hike The San Miguel River Trail

A navigable pathway along the shores of the San Miguel River, the San Miguel River Trail is a popular Telluride attraction among locals.

It passes by some of the town’s most picturesque and historic surroundings.

The trail covers the river’s length as it runs through downtown Telluride and can be accessed via several side streets throughout the town.

Connected to both the Valley Floor Trail and the Idarado Legacy Trail, it’s possible to hike Telluride’s trail network from downtown to the famous Bridal Veil Falls, making exploring Telluride on foot a breeze.

12- Explore The Untamed Mount Sneffels Wilderness

Mount Sneffels Range, Colorado, with snow-capped mountains and green trees
Exploring the Mount Sneffels Range is one of the top things to do in telluride in the summer.

Situated roughly halfway between Telluride and the nearby town of Ouray, the Mount Sneffels Wilderness has long been a popular attraction among experienced mountaineers and avid hikers alike, with thousands of acres of unspoilt Colorado nature to explore.

The biggest attraction within the 16,566-acre (6,704 ha) wilderness is undoubtedly the park’s namesake, Mount Sneffels, a soaring San Juan peak that’s more than 14,000 feet tall (4,267 m).

A daunting ascent even for the most experienced climbers, you don’t need to be atop Mount Sneffels to enjoy the more than 15 miles (24 km) of nature trails or scenic lakes that the wilderness has in store for visitors.

13- Brave The Challenging Black Bear Pass

Both incredibly scenic and extremely treacherous, the Black Bear Pass near downtown Telluride is among the most spectacular stretches of road you can drive in Colorado.

Famously marked by a sign that reads “You don’t have to be crazy to drive this road – but it helps” at the pass’ starting point, the Black Bear Pass rewards successful ascenders with unbeatable vistas of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

The pass is roughly 10 miles long (16 km) and can be completed within two to three hours, depending on your vehicle and skill level.

It climbs to just over 11,000 feet (3,353 m) to the summit of Red Mountain.

It features multiple switchback curves, making it a challenging but truly epic trek that any seasoned offroader can attempt near downtown Telluride.

Black Bear Pass is at Forest Rd 823, Telluride, CO 81435.

14- Summit Telluride’s Ajax Peak

Ajax Peak is a majestic 12,785-foot tall (3,897 m) mountaintop in the San Juan Mountains a few miles east of downtown Telluride.

The peak is among the most popular spots near Telluride for avid climbers and mountaineers to attempt to ascend, guaranteeing mesmerizing views across the Rocky Mountains and the Telluride Canyon from its snow-capped summit.

The peak is accessible thanks to a 2.8-mile-long (4.5 km) hiking trail, which takes climbers from the famous Bridal Veil Falls to the summit of Ajax Peak.

Even if you don’t end up summiting this iconic Telluride landmark, the trail offers some of the best vantage points in the entire valley.

It is rife with excellent spots to take memorable photographs to remember your visit to Telluride.

15- Enjoy A Broadway Production At The Palm Theatre

The Palm Theatre in downtown Telluride is a state-of-the-art performance venue that opened its doors to the eager public in 2004.

The 30,000 square feet (2,787 m2) facility is a hub for Telluride’s local arts scene, hosting everything from movie screenings to Broadway productions under one roof.

Capable of seating up to 667 people on any given night, the venue is topped off with a Harlequin dance floor and a Steinway grand piano to make dance, theatre and live music performances that much more special.

The theatre’s fully-booked calendar and esteemed reputation throughout western Colorado make it one of the best places to indulge your artistic side in Telluride, no matter when you decide to stop by.

The Palm Theatre is at 721 W Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435.

16- Spend An Afternoon At Alta Lakes

Situated roughly 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown Telluride, Alta Lakes is a scenic and historic slice of western Colorado that treats travellers to shimmering blue lakes and the nearby ghost town of Alta.

The Alta Lakes are easy to access yet remain far enough from the town’s ski slopes to discourage large swaths of crowds, making it the ideal destination to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

There are plenty of hiking, kayaking, fishing and camping opportunities at Alta Lakes, which, combined with the adjacent ghost town that travellers can explore, creates a unique getaway destination just a stone’s throw away from Telluride’s famous ski slopes.

17- Enjoy A Cosy Mountainside Dinner At Alpino Vino

Alpino Vino is a rustic and inviting restaurant that stands 11,966 feet (3,647 m) above sea level, making it the second-highest restaurant in North America.

This unique dining destination sits adjacent to the ski slopes of the Telluride Ski Resort and provides hungry skiers with an authentic epicurean European ski lunch experience.

Alpino Vino’s menu incorporates flavourful northern Italian specialities and splendid views of Telluride’s freshly powdered slopes and snowy mountaintops.

Stylized to mimic an inviting European hütte, a dinner for two at Alpino Vino is among the best experiences Telluride can dish out and a fantastic way to cap off your trip to this western Colorado resort town in style.

Alpino Vino is at 12100 Camels’ Garden Rd, Colorado 81320.

18- Get Creative At Ah Haa School for the Arts

A Telluride hub for art classes and innovative workshops for more than 30 years, the Ah Haa School for the Arts is a true Telluride staple in the local arts community.

The school specializes in educating visitors about the intricacies of different art mediums, such as ceramics, bookbinding, visual arts and jewellery, with tailor-made classes led by knowledgeable educators that help guide visitors of all ages along their artistic journeys.

Hosting fun and fully interactive classes all year round, Mondays through Fridays, the Ah Haa School for the Arts is an excellent addition to any Telluride itinerary perfect for discovering or reinvigorating your artistic side.

Ah Haa School for the Arts is at 155 W Pacific Ave, Telluride, CO 81435.

19- Wine And Dine At The Upscale Allred’s Restaurant

View of Telluride in summer from the top of the mountain
Looking for things to do in Telluride, Colorado? You’ll find plenty of activities all year round.

Top-tier hospitality, excellent food and an award-winning wine list are synonymous with Allred’s Restaurant, arguably Telluride’s most extravagant dining experience.

The restaurant provides patrons with a unique rustic atmosphere perched 10,551 feet (3,216 m) above sea level in the majestic San Juan Mountains, serving some of Telluride’s best mountainside vistas in the process.

Allred’s is situated near the Telluride Ski Resort’s Mountain Village area and is easily accessible thanks to a free gondola service from the village right to Allred’s front door.

If you’re looking for an upscale contemporary American dining experience like no other, look no further than this one-of-a-kind Colorado venue.

Allred’s Restaurant is at 565 Mountain Village Blvd, Gondola Station St. Sophia, Telluride, CO 81435.

20- Tour The Historic San Miguel County Courthouse

Telluride houses with fall foliage
Telluride is lovely in the fall.

Built between 1885 and 1886 before being razed by a fire in 1887, the San Miguel County Courthouse in downtown Telluride tells the tale of the former mining town’s storied past better than any other venue in the region.

The current two-story courthouse was erected following the first courthouse’s destruction and was built with salvaged bricks from the original building.

Complete with a three-story clock tower that’s become a notable landmark throughout Telluride, the fully-operational Italianate-style courthouse is among the town’s most photographed buildings and is open to the public for tours.

The San Miguel County Courthouse is at 305 W Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435.

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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.