Trails are all over Telluride, but for a thrill, try the Via Ferrata. The route takes adventurers across 600 horizontal feet of rock façade, using steel cables and iron rungs. Anyone who is reasonably fit can do the hike, but the real challenge is mental: looking beneath your feet and seeing a 300-plus foot drop can be a nerve-rattling proposition. Still, the spectacular views of Bridal Veil Falls in the distance—the highest free-falling waterfall in Colorado—and the sense of accomplishment are rewarding. Mountain Trip, Telluride’s only American Mountain Guide Association-accredited guide service, has excellent guides ($169 per person); in addition to international trips, the outfit also leads rock climbing trips and peak ascents of mountains in its backyard, including Mt. Wilson and El Diente.
Catch a Festival
Telluride in the summer could be summed up as one festival after another, many of worldwide caliber. Here are some upcoming festivals:
Aug. 6–12: Telluride Chamber Music Festival
Aug. 16–19: Telluride Mushroom Festival
Aug. 31–Sept. 3: Telluride Film Festival
Sept. 14–16: Telluride Blues & Brews Festival
Sept. 27–30: Telluride Festival of Cars and Colors
Historical Walking Tour
Telluride, all of 12 blocks long and 8 blocks wide, with its Victorian homes and clapboard storefronts, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Ashley Boling is the perfect story-teller to lead an interpretive tour, bringing history to life, from Butch Cassidy’s first robbery to the Galloping Goose’s exciting rides through the surrounding mining communities (970-728-6639 or AshleyBoling@gmail.com, $20 per person). History buffs can also visit the Telluride Historical Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate.
Sheridan Opera House
The historic Sheridan Opera House, built in 1913, is itself worth a visit. But you’ll best appreciate its intimate size (240 seats) and details (like the restored stenciling) while catching a show. Jackson Browne likened playing there to “playing in my living room.”
Try a gripping ride up to the ghost mining town of Tomboy, just outside Telluride, and on to Imogene Pass, elevation 13,114 feet. Fearless drivers can rent a Jeep, but for visitors not used to mountain driving, the two-way road, which seems precariously narrow (with the cliff’s edge to one side), is best negotiated via a tour and guide/driver. Telluride Outside offers half-day tours for $95 and a full day tour for $165, delving into the history and nature of this high-country region.
Ride the Gondola
You’ll feel a pop-pop in your ear as you take in epic views during the free gondola ride up to Mountain Village and San Sophia Station (altitude: 10,540 feet). Other mountain towns charge an arm and a leg for this kind of transportation, but since it has opened in 1996, the gondola, which covers an 8-mile, 13-minute round trip, has been a crucial transportation link for visitors and locals alike. An outside rack permits for bikes to be carried in the summer; skis and snowboards in the winter. Electricity to operate the gondola comes from solar and wind power.