For centuries Indians tribes made their summer home in a small, isolated box canyon where waterfalls cascade down sheer cliffs and wildlife grazed on thick valley grass along the cool waters of the San Miguel River. Protected by the presence of the once almost impassable San Juan Mountains to every side this canyon in what is now southwestern Colorado was a perfect haven to escape the heat of long summer days.
This idyllic summer home begin to change after Spanish explorers discovered the area when coming out of New Mexico through the Old Spanish Trail. The Spaniards named the mountains the San Juan Mountains and for a while only trappers and traders disturbed the Indians way of life. By the mid 1800’s the gold and silver mania drew fortune seekers back into the mountains of the Colorado territory and the peaceful canyon was discovered. A tent camp called Columbia took over the once perfect summer home.
In 1878 the wild and rough camp became a town and chose a new name -Telluride. From the beginning Telluride seemed to be a town of fortune. Immigrants from many nations moved in to claim a piece of this fortune until the town had a population of over 5,000. But even Telluride was not immune to the disasters of the world outside its own little box or even those within. In 1893 when silver prices crashed the town began to lose some momentum. World War I continued the town’s decline until nothing but a skeleton population remained. Labor disputes in the mines turned the town into a blood bath with the Colorado National Guard attempting to bring order while losing lives on both sides. Unions were formed, violence escalated then abated, and the world’s first commercial hydro -powered generation plant was built near Telluride.
Telluride did not become merely another broken down rubble where nothing but ghosts remained as did so many of the mining boom towns throughout the west. The town continued to change and persevere, discovered by nature lovers in the 1960’s and transformed into a pop icon by the 1970’s when the power of the perfect winter powder was discovered and tapped to turn Telluride into a mega of top notch skiing, extensive music festivals, and the home of the now famous Telluride Festival of the Arts.
Home to free spirits of every kind, Telluride grabs your imagination with the vision of a well preserved historical town twinkling with modern lights, nestled at the bottom of snow packed ski slopes and filled with every form of material delight. But this little mountain town captures your heart with the breath stealing beauty surrounding the town that gives you more than a glimpse of the San Juan’s original uncluttered tranquility that once was home to those who lived as one with the land in simpler times.
A true four season destination Telluride offers vacationers the best in Colorado outdoor activities, from rock climbing on twelve perfect 14er’s (peaks that soar to fourteen thousand feet), fly fishing and rafting on the San Miguel River, horseback riding and extreme four wheeling, golf, and of course skiing the powder covered slopes.
Jazz festivals fill up the summer days and the famous Telluride Film Festival brings award winning films to local theaters. Performing arts draw students and professionals throughout the year. Getting to Telluride is an experience in itself as you fly into Telluride Regional Airport, the world’s second highest airport at 9,078 feet above sea level. Travelers can also fly into Montrose or Cortez, Colorado. Driving by car you can take a detour to the Colorado National Monument.
Once in town the free Gondola provides public transportation between Telluride and Mountain Village and free shuttle buses run in town and to Mountain Village and the town of Norwood. The towns all encourage walking within town to lower the use of vehicles.
For a true Colorado mountain vacation, put Telluride on your destination wish list any time of the year. Telluride is truly a wild west treasure buried in a secluded box canyon where the spirit of American perseverance thrives.
Telluride Festival of the Arts