Summer in Telluride. It’s the soaring majesty of the San Juan Mountains. It’s wildflowers blooming in alpine meadows. It’s glassy, crystal-blue lakes that beckon. It’s a vast network of trails waiting to be explored.
Summer in Telluride is whatever you want it to be. Take to one of the numerous trails in, around and above the town and hike or bike to a nearby waterfall or viewpoint. Take an outdoor history lesson among Telluride’s mining trails and ghost towns, all waiting to be found by hikers, bikers and jeepers, or on horseback. Or take to the sky in a glider or paraglider for an aerial view of the astonishing landscape below. Just as scenic, and a little more down-to-earth, is the free Gondola – in seconds you can be whisked away for a bird’s eye view of it all. And if you get hungry, pack a picnic to enjoy amid the wildflowers and under the bluebird skies for which Colorado is famous. Choose your adventure – and create memories of your truly spectacular Telluride summer, memories that will last a lifetime.
As the snow melts, area streams and free-flowing rivers become playgrounds for river rafting and kayaking. The solitude and natural beauty of the canyons can only be explored by floating their streams. The region offers an array of river sports with vistas that are second to none. Local outfitters take paddlers on half-day or full-day excursions through class II to III+ rapids. There is also kayaking and SUPing (stand-up paddle boarding) on the rivers and alpine lakes, all great ways to soak up the sun while getting a workout. If that sounds like too much hard work, grab an inner tube and meander down the San Miguel River from Town Park.
Fly fishing in the greater Telluride region can challenge experts and entertain beginning enthusiasts. Telluride is an angler’s paradise in every season, offering a different experience for fishing the rivers and lakes in the area. Many locals will tell you that their favorite time to cast is at dusk when the sunset over the river creates a rainbow glow. From the Dolores River to the easily accessible San Miguel River, there is a fishing adventure for everyone. Local guides know the ins and outs of the area’s rivers and streams, offering guided tours and invaluable advice about flies and water complexities.
Horseback / Wagon Rides
Have an Old West experience by riding through the San Juans’ aspen groves and alpine meadows on horseback. Outfitters offer guided daytime outings, half-day trail rides and overnight trips. Or try a wagon ride followed by a gourmet dinner served outdoors. Altogether an unforgettable experience.
Adventure Quest Comes to Telluride
Seeking a summer adventure worthy of bragging rights at your local watering hole, book club or workplace water cooler? Gather a team of adventurous pals, gear up and download the Adventure Quest app in time for the Colorado Quest July 14-16. Participants will get a list of over 500 outdoor challenges encompassing a range of outdoor sports including hiking, cycling, climbing, rafting and running, as well as the very appealing categories of hot springs and breweries (yes, really). Teams can start and finish anywhere in the Centennial State. Each challenge task will be assigned a point value for completion based on skill level and accessibility of the activity. Competing teams will spend two days before the quest deciding where they want to head, what tasks they want to accomplish and who has what gear to do it. Then, they go to work, logging all their completed tasks in the Adventure Quest app and racking up points throughout the weekend. Competitors can use the app to keep track of how other teams in the state are doing with the in-app live scoreboard. Adventure Quest winners get gear from a range of sponsors, plus a great story to tell friends. Learn more at OutdoorAdventureQuest.com/Events/Colorado.
Hiking / Running
Trails weaving throughout the mountains afford hikers a quick jaunt to waterfalls or an opportunity to spend the day traversing high-alpine-terrain, uncovering old mining ruins and viewing wildflowers. The trail system in the region has an extensive list of short strolls, day hikes or overnight backpacking adventures into the high country. Both the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village have trails that lead out of town in all directions, where hikers can experience the cool mountain air and unrivaled scenery.
Bear Creek > Telluride’s most popular acclimatization hike – about 4.5 miles roundtrip – is analogous to skiing a green run. Nonetheless, don’t be fooled; starting at South Pine St., the beautiful double track takes you into Bear Creek Canyon, gaining about 1,050 feet in elevation on its way to a cascading waterfall at the base of the Wasatch Basin – a gateway to longer hikes.
Jud Wiebe > Starting at the Cornet Creek Bridge on North Aspen Street, the Wiebe is a 3-mile-long loop that vigorously climbs about 1,200 feet to a summit ridge with panoramic views that encompass not just Telluride far below, but also Bridal Veil Falls and the Telluride Ski Resort. Because it begins and ends in town, the trail acts as the town’s treadmill with locals often using it on lunch breaks and after work.
Lake Hope > This family favorite is about 5.5 miles roundtrip and begins in a forest broken by streams and meadows of wildflowers. Eventually the trail, whose total elevation gain is 1,200 feet, ascends via a series of steep switchbacks for about 40 minutes. Continue through rolling alpine tundra until you arrive at Lake Hope. Access the trailhead by traveling south on Hwy. 145, turning left at Trout Lake. After about a mile, turn left on Forest Road 627.
Sneffels Highline > At 13 miles long and with a hefty elevation gain of 2,274 feet, the Highline is best accessed by getting on the Wiebe at North Aspen, taking the left at the top of the third switchback to Mill Creek and heading north at the sign for Sneffels Highline. The trail ascends through aspens and steeply crisscrosses a scree field before topping out at a 12,000-foot ridge and descending through a valley lush with wildflowers.
Before any hike, consult complete trail descriptions and a map, check the weather and be prepared. Local Susan Kees’ Telluride Hiking Guide is a useful companion.
Routes and boulders for all abilities in the greater Telluride region include jagged peaks and extensive wall faces that provide a variety of climbing and bouldering opportunities. From classic routes on Ophir Wall to moderate climbs on Pipeline and the ladder/cable system of Telluride’s own Via Ferrata, the ascents are diverse and plentiful. For those learning the sport or seeking instruction, a number of guide services are available and local maps, information and gear can be found at many sport shops. The Telluride Mountain Club reminds climbers of all abilities that many climbs, in particular the Via Ferrata, require technical climbing abilities and appropriate gear.
4X4 Off Road
Telluride’s mining days carved a string of roads into the San Juan Mountains over 100 years ago. Today, those same routes offer unparalleled access to the high country and its world-famous mining towns. Experienced guides lead tours over mountain passes through ghost towns filled with wildflowers and wildlife. Explore the rugged beauty of the area on one of the many 4x4 tours over Imogene Pass to the old mining camp of Tomboy, up over Ophir Pass to the town of Silverton, or traverse Black Bear Pass, one of the more difficult and notorious routes.
Telluride Town Park
A hub of activity year-round, the park is home to family fun in the heart of Telluride. In the summer, you’ll find softball fields, tennis courts, a disc golf course, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, kid’s fishing pond, a skate park, the Imagination Station and a new 25-yard, six-lane pool. The hike to Bear Creek Falls can be accessed from the park, and a short walk through the woods behind the softball fields takes nature lovers to Lower Bear Creek Falls. The park is also the venue for the town’s many festivals and is host to a campground that offers sites along the San Miguel River.
The Telluride region provides a striking backdrop for road and mountain bikers with a variety of terrain for all abilities. Mountain bikers will find challenging trails that explore old mining roads and basins high above the box canyon, moderate trails that link several former railroad tracks throughout the valley, and a biking playground at the Telluride Ski Resort. Road riding is also popular along the scenic San Juan Skyway. The region offers technical and challenging routes for skilled road riders featuring many mountain passes and substantial elevation gains.
Playing golf at the Telluride Golf Club is a magnificent experience. The 71-par, 18-hole course meanders along high-altitude terrain with spectacular views of the mountain ranges that make up the highest concentration of 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks in the United States. The course has a putting green, practice facilities and four sets of tees for different skill levels, as well as a well-equipped pro shop with knowledgeable staff. According to science, golf balls fly further at elevation, although the magnificent views and resident wildlife make keeping your eye on the ball not an easy task.