Telluride in Summer
Telluride, CO is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s absolutely stunning, set in a box canyon, surrounded by the towering and dramatic San Juan mountain range, and the town picture-perfect with its main street leading into those mountain tops, Victorian homes dotting the streets, and an overall western mountain vibe reminiscent of the movies. It’s one of those places that you need to be there to understand, there’s no other place like it.
Many people think of Telluride as a ski town, which it is an amazing one at that, but not everyone knows just how incredible of a place it is during the summer. Telluride in summer is magical. I know, because I spent a summer there years ago, and have re-visited it since. In fact, I recently visited this past summer to show my kids the town, and what a special place it is. We had a blast. There is so much to do in Telluride in summer, with all of its outdoor activity, fun restaurants and shops, and adventurous way about it. And all of it is so accessible too – we parked our car at our Airbnb and never used it once the entire 3 days we were there!
Below is a list of all the things to do in Tellruide in summer, and why it makes for such a fantastic place to visit during the warmer months.
Telluride in Summer
Go for a Hike
The hiking in Telluride is awesome. What makes it so great is that there are some really beautiful trails accessible right in town, so you can enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors without ever having to drive afar to get to the trail heads. Two must-do hikes are:
Bear Creek Trail
The Bear Creek Trail is probably Telluride’s most popular trail, and for good reason. It’s gorgeous, with a waterfall as the main destination point, and a river, meadows and some of the most stunning views of Telluride around on your ascent up. It’s also very easy to get to, as the trail head is located at S. Pine Street, right in town. It’s a 4.6 miles moderate trail, 2.3 miles up and back. We saw all sorts of people hiking this trail, from families to older couples to groups of friends. It can be steep in parts and narrow as you get to the top, so be careful with young kids. It’s also used by bikers and horseback riders, so a very varied mix of people to be seen.
Jud Wiebe Trail
The Jud Wiebe Trail is a beloved local favorite trail, a 3 mile loop that can be accessed from the northern end of Aspen Street or the northern end of Oak Street, both a block apart. Note, it is very steep in sections. My kids definitely found this trail to be more difficult than the Bear Creek trail, but it’s totally doable. Switch-backs take you up the mountain, where you traverse a meadow and come upon panoramic views of Telluride and its ski mountain.
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Explore the San Miguel River
Telluride is one of those towns that has a picturesque river running through it, the San Miguel River. Here you can find swimming holes, go fly fishing, walk along the river’s edge, have a picnic, and find some of the best views of Telluride’s canyon. The San Miguel River Trail runs along it for about 4.5 miles and can be accessed from many of the side streets in town. It’s perfect for walking, jogging (this is where I took my morning run) or simply resting with a picnic or good book. My kids splashed in the water, while another kid was fly fishing, while another was taking his dog to bask in the water, while some toddlers were throwing stones. All with the backdrop of stunning Telluride! This is one of my favorite places in town and it is not to be missed.
Check out Town Park
I’ve included Telluride’s Town Park on the list because it’s one of the prettiest and best laid-out town parks in the country. Located on the east end of the town’s box canyon, the mountains loom in the back-drop of the park, and I can only imagine every resident must feel so lucky to have this as their communal gathering spot. This is where the Telluride Bluegrass and Blues festivals take place, among many other concerts and shows, with its stage tucked under the San Juan peaks.
You can walk to it via the San Miguel River path mentioned above, and combine it with a walk along the path. There are playgrounds, a kids’ fishing pond, a skate board park, playing fields, volley ball courts, and tennis courts and a swimming pool (of which I’m sure you must have some sort of pass). One feature of the park that I absolutely love is that it has a camping ground for those visiting town. A very picturesque and popular camp ground, check here to learn more, as well as availability.
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Spend time in Town
Telluride has a great feel to it. Not only is it so beautifully set among the mountains, it has a vibe to it all its own – friendly people, offbeat characters, outdoor enthusiasts, free spirits, restauranteurs and families all take to the streets of Telluride. The architecture is full of little gems including many Victorian homes, old western mining era buildings, and the more modern and fresh looking ones. Walking down Main Street (W. Colorado Avenue) is a Telluride pastime. The town and scenery are stunning. Especially at sunset, with the pinks and oranges and reds set against the peaks, the whole town lights up.
There are many good restaurants and shops to stroll along. Telluride has some excellent food. Try the local’s favorite The Butcher & Baker Café, a simple place but with delicious fare. It’s especially popular for breakfast, though we had lunch there. Smugglers Bew Pub is a fun spot with a bunch of beers on tap and amazing burgers. It makes for a great spot to hit after a long hike, which is what we did after the Bear Creek Trail hike – the restaurant is right near the trailhead.
For Mexican, the taco joint The Gnar is awesome! Highly recommend it, though more of a quick stop and eat spot. We had a good meal at La Esperanza, located downstairs and with delicious margaritas. Though people say to go to La Cocina de Luz, with an organic, healthy slant to it. For pizza, people rave about Brown Dog Pizza, but there was always a long line to get into it. So we went to High Point Pizza, which was great! Perfect for families, there are picnic-style tables, darts and video games for the kids, and fun cocktails for the adults. For upscale dining try La Marmotte, 221 South Oak and The New Sheridan. And no article on Telluride’s food scene can be written without mentioning Baked in Telluride – a town classic. We stopped here for breakfast almost every morning, as the baked goods are delish and perfect for the kids.
As for the stores we mainly window-shopped, but for t-shirts, sweatshirts and the like definitely head to the Togglery. It’s a Telluride staple.
Take the FREE Gondola up to Mountain Village
One of the really fantastic things about Telluride is its Gondola, which takes you up to Telluride’s cousin village, Mountain Village, and is free! It covers 8 miles and is 13 minutes long and gives you some of the most beautiful surrounding scenery of the town. It makes for a really fun activity to do at any time of the day, as it runs from 6:30 a.m. to midnight. We decided to go at sunset, so we could grab sunset drinks at Allred’s, the restaurant with a view at the summit at the San Sophia station. Allred’s is legendary, but very expensive if you go for dinner. Try drinks and their appetizer menu, which is what we did, and much more reasonable.
The gondola then continues on, downward, to Mountain Village. This is a fun spot to take the kids as there is a ropes course, bunjie jumping and an obstacle course. There is a big green in the center of the village, with a giant chess table, games and space to run around. Dylan’s Candy is right there too. There are bars and restaurants for the adults, and we grabbed beers and sat by an outdoor table on the green while the kids played. It’s a great set-up.
There is so much to do in Telluride including biking, fishing and many other unique activities. To read more about all you can do see this website. I can’t say enough about this town – it’s my favorite town in the West.
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