Is it something in the mountain air? Nature lovers, film fanatics, alpine ski enthusiasts, spiritual seekers, and culinary aficionados alike congregate in Telluride, Colorado, all attracted by what some would only describe as an energy vortex. To the uninitiated, that means it’s a specific location with more earthly energy than others (believed to exist along “ley” or natural energy lines that make up the planet’s electromagnetic field) where people feel more at ease and connected to themselves and something greater. This mystical understanding of the universe posits that the Telluride area’s relationship to the Orion constellation makes it a sacred refuge for initiation and healing.
Whether it’s truly such a power spot or it’s simply the unparalleled beauty of the town, nestled at the end of a lush canyon and surrounded by some of the most rugged peaks of the San Juan mountains, there’s no denying something magical happens here. The former mining town—which some say was named for the chemical element tellurium which can form gold—was once home to the most millionaires per capita in the world and also played a key role in starting the technological revolution. Nikola Tesla helped invent the first commercial alternating current electricity in Telluride, and soon after, the world’s first AC power plant which powered the Gold King Mine there in 1891.
Telluride today is world-famous for the prestige of its annual film festival almost as much as it is for its mountain slopes, gorgeous natural scenery, elevated cuisine, and laid-back way of life. It’s where nature lovers come to immerse themselves in the great outdoors, and visitors who want a taste of that distinct spirit can easily drop in for a quick fix of its special energy. Either way, to experience Telluride is to tune-up your well-being in an atmosphere defined by its thriving local community and remote mountain environment.
Travel right to Telluride
Part of what makes this tiny town special is its valley location, high in the San Juan mountains. And there’s never been a better time to plan a trip here with more direct flights that will take you to Montrose (MTJ) or Telluride (TEX) airports, where shuttles are available to the town center and Mountain Village, Telluride’s neighboring town. The options for air travel are plentiful from major hubs (check schedules to confirm): Southwest offers daily flights from Denver (DEN) to Montrose year-round, and Saturday and Sunday flights from Dallas Love-Field (DAL). United flies multiple times daily from Denver, and daily from Houston (IAH) and Chicago (ORD), to Montrose. American provides daily flights from Phoenix (PHX) and year-round service from Dallas (DFW) multiple times daily. Denver Air Connection, bookable through United, flies Denver to Telluride daily, year-round on a 30-seat jet.
Best of all, for the sustainable traveler, there’s no need to rent a car while you’re there. The free gondola is the only transportation of its kind in North America, taking passengers from Telluride to Mountain Village in under 15 minutes. And both areas are pedestrian friendly, with delightful streets full of charming restaurants and shops to browse, and free shuttle services as well.
Another way visitors can help protect this small destination with big appeal is by taking the “Tell-U-Right” pledge when they come. By committing to traveling responsibly, respecting nature, and seeking eco-conscious ways to traverse its mountain terrain, you can help ensure the spectacular natural habitat remains pristine for generations to come—and channel the local “Planet T” ethos of a deeper connection to the land and caring “more about ourselves than a selfie.” (Learn about how Telluride is protecting the safety of its guests and community here.)
A literal and cultural feast
Stroll through Telluride and Mountain Village, taking in the good vibes, and you’ll find a variety of places to dine alfresco on sidewalks and “parklettes,” all the better to closer to the mountain environment that defines this place. Additional picnic benches throughout town offer more places to eat outdoors, and Mountain Village has also installed private gondola cabins and additional outdoor dining areas to provide more options for savoring your meal en plein aire.
And there’s plenty to savor with so many top chefs and others taking a mindful approach to cuisine. Notable new restaurants to try this summer include Lunch Money, providing organic takeaway in the Town of Telluride; Wok of Joy, the Thai food cart which moved to a new brick and mortar space to keep up with demand for its authentic dishes; Stronghouse Brewery, housed in a historic 1892 building, offers cocktail service on its patio; and the gourmet eatery Littlehouse has the feel of a high-end European food market.
While you’re indulging, feast your eyes and ears on the vibrant arts scene in Telluride and Mountain Village as the areas come alive with street musicians and open-air performances during the warmer months. Bonus this season: the Telluride AIDS Benefit, normally held in winter, will take place this summer at the end of June. Don’t miss its wildly creative Gala Fashion Show, which is being staged on the runway at the Telluride Airport—that’s some catwalk.
Great adventures in the great outdoors
Beyond the big-city-caliber culture that set it apart and world-class hiking trails its known for, there’s a new adventure in town this summer: Canopy Adventure Tours will bring guests on a thrilling course of ziplines, aerial bridges, and rappels, spanning various terrain on the Telluride Ski Resort. Reaching a maximum height of 140 feet above the forest floor, with zipline spans as long as 1,800 feet, the fully guided, three-hour tour is suitable for most people of average physical ability. Or adventurous types will want to take a lift to the Bike Park where you can mountain bike the interconnected trails on your own or with a guide, and take a clinic.
This fall, the 24-hour Spartan Ultra World Championship takes place from October 9-10, bringing some of the top endurance athletes in the world to Telluride Ski Resort in Mountain Village, where they’ll face more than 4,000 feet of vertical elevation per loop, technical terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions. It will be a thrill to witness.
But you certainly don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy the fabulous fall foliage (and get your heart pumping) in the great outdoors here this fall: Hike, bike, take a gondola ride, or hit the high country during a jeep tour up to historic Tomboy mine. there are countless ways to take in the area’s special beauty in Autumn.
And if you can’t get here until later in the year, it’ll soon be ski season, which brings its own thrills for skiers and outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. Once the snow starts to fly, Telluride’s backyard of adventure transforms into a winter wonderland with not just world-class skiing, but no shortage of off-slope thrills too, from snowmobiling to snow shoeing and Nordic skiing. Any time of year is the right time to visit Telluride and engage your senses, rekindle your own spirit, and take home some of the area’s special energy with you.