Alta Lakes Road
Just five miles from downtown Telluride and accessible by high-clearance 4x4, Alta Lakes is a sonnet-worthy area of crystal-clear alpine lakes, studded on all sides by snow-capped peaks. Camping is primitive—don’t expect running water, much less a hot shower—but it’s precisely this lack of frivolities that keeps the surrounds so pure. Area residents love Alta for its hiking and mountain biking trails, and the fact that it’s an Instagram post come to life. When you’re done exploring in nature, be sure to stop by the hamlet of Alta itself, a former mining boomtown that looks like a spaghetti western set.
Bear Creek Falls Trail, Colorado 81426, USA
For a simple day hike suitable for the whole family, head to the end of South Pine Street in Telluride and jump onto the Bear Creek Trail, a 2.5-mile path that leads to a jaw-dropping waterfall. The popular trail is as easygoing as the Telluride locals (read: it’s wide and well-marked), and gains about 1,000 feet of elevation, offering views of town along the way. Those keen to go farther won’t regret continuing on to where the path connects with the Wasatch Trail and Bridal Veil Basin.
About an hour’s drive from Telluride, Box Canyon Falls Park is totally worth the schlep, especially for its 285-foot Canyon Creek waterfall that plunges down a limestone slot canyon. That the waterfall is accessible by a hair-raising suspension bridge hovering over a gorge only makes the trip more deserving. Colorado scientists note that the waterfall gushes thousands of gallons per minute, so BYO poncho if you don’t want to leave soaked.
Misty waterfalls are like unicorns in the landlocked, high-and-dry state of Colorado. This particular one is a dead-ringer for its namesake, as it cascades over and down sheer vertical cliffs, looking as delicate as nuptial lace. At 365 feet high, it also happens to be the largest waterfall in Colorado. For a prime view, say “I do!” to the 1.8-mile hike to the top, where a historic power plant overlooks the evergreen-studded landscape, or rent a bike to explore the car-free trails in Bridal Veil basin.
123 South Oak Street
If shredding the gnar on the slopes isn’t enough for your kids, they can shred the gnar in town at The Drop Boardshop, a subterranean board shop and print lab with its own “sick ramp.” Sign them up for the shop’s single-day skate camps, book private beginner lessons, or simply peruse the Telluride-ready merchandise, which runs the gamut from 3D-embroidered baseball hats to Technicolor-like skateboard decks from brands like Hoopla and Anti Hero.
Coonskin Ridge Lane
At the summer-only St. Sophia Nature Center, you can deep-dive into the backstories of local flora and fauna from the top of Coonskin Ridge. Families flock here to pet animal pelts, identify wildflowers on alpine hikes, and even attend mini-camps on geocaching and gold panning—this is Colorado, after all.
220 E Colorado Ave #217, Telluride, CO 81435, USA
Horse-drawn sleighs are typically the stuff of Hallmark movies but, in Telluride, they’re as real as the mountains out your window. Set on a 1920s ranch owned by a Spanish family, Telluride Sleighs & Wagons offers sleigh rides through the snow in winter and sunset wagon rides to a tented dinner of Basque lamb stew and pan-fried trout in summer. Did we mention that Bravo’s Top Chef filmed here? Seriously, it’s that cinematic.