The Best Things to Do in Telluride
In this high-mountain Colorado hamlet, skiing is just the beginning. Home to a fascinating museum, quirky shops, and a movie theater in a 19th-century former bank building, Telluride offers much to do when you’re not on the slopes. Come summer, visitors can also explore hiking trails, waterfalls, alpine lakes, and more.
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.
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.
52068 W Fork Rd #38, Dolores, CO 81323, USA
Among the most lauded hotel openings in recent years, Dunton Hot Springs is a glitterati mainstay, with its batch of former mining community cabins that look straight out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue. You don’t have to book a pricey stay at this Relais & Chateaux property to be part of the experience, however—the spa is open to the public. Make an appointment for the indulgent, only-in-Colorado Dolores hot-stone massage, which uses heated stones culled from the Dolores River to work out your kinks. Then, take a soak in the on-site sulfuric hot springs, which were once a restorative playground for the Ute Indians.
Dolores, CO 81323, USA
Despite its unusual moniker, Lizard Head Wilderness is a crown jewel of Colorado, with 41,496 acres of San Juan mountains and 37 miles of trails ripe for exploration. Among Telluride’s profusion of outdoorsy thrills, it’s an especially beloved destination for area hikers—and just ten minutes from town. Insiders ascend 13,290-foot-tall Dolores Peak to enjoy prime views of Utah’s red rock canyons.
W San Juan Ave, Telluride, CO 81435, USA
If you’re heading to Telluride to ski, chances are you’ll actually be bouncing back and forth between the town of Telluride and the town of Mountain Village, where the ski resort is located. Delightfully, the main method of transportation between the two areas is a free pedestrian gondola that takes passengers on a 13-minute ride—and offers some of the best views around. Even better, the gondola runs from 6:30 a.m. until midnight so, if you’re out late enjoying the nightlife, you’ll still be able to make it back to your hotel room.
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.