Mountain Madness Vacation – Telluride

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Telluride was the second stop on our Mountain Madness Vacation. As you drive into town, you have Ajax Peak (12,785′) and Telluride Peak (13,509′) directly in view making for a pretty grand welcome into town. The downtown has a lot of shops and restaurants and looked to be a few times as long as the downtown in Crested Butte. We stayed in the Hotel Telluride on one end of town but it was still convenient to walk anywhere we wanted to go. The hotel also offered a free shuttle that would take us there or pick us up which was super convenient.

On the way to Telluride

The town up ahead

Hotel Telluride


 That first evening we rode the free Gondola up to the first station (Station St Sophia at 10,535′) and had a drink and appetizer at Allred’s. We are such a fan of the free Gondola. Nowhere else did we find a Gondola ride for less than $20 a person. There were amazing views of the town and the mountains from Allred’s. Even if you’re not at a table by the many windows I think you’d have a view. The bar area, especially for après-ski, seems to get crowded but that’s where the most reasonable deals are to be had.

We went back down into the town for dinner, where the prices were more our speed. On our walk back to the hotel that night there was a wind storm with strong gusts that blew dirt and dust through town. We hid out in store doorways along the way but finally made it home. I guess that would have been a good time to call the shuttle! But after seeing that storm, it explained the pinkish hue and somewhat dirty appearance of the snow on some of the slopes; apparently dust comes in all the way from Moab!

The main event of our Telluride visit was our ice climbing class the next day which you can read about here. Again, it was such a blast and we’d definitely do it again.

After relaxing at the hotel a bit that afternoon, we had a quick bite to eat at a deli and then discovered we were getting pretty tired. So onward to a cafe it was so that we could stay awake for the big event of the evening at the historic Sheridan Opera House, namely a presentation by Hilaree O’Neill entitled “Everest and Lhotse, the First Female Connect of Two 8,000 Meter Peaks in a Day.” Now, we’ve both seen several presentations from world class mountaineers at the National Geographic Auditorium in D.C., but Hilaree’s presentation had such a different vibe than we’d experienced there. Not to say that her presentation wasn’t as good as those we’d seen in the big city, no – in fact we think her presentation was even better. Her accomplishments and her presentation were just as impressive, but what we especially liked about it was that it had that more personable edge. She was in her hometown, speaking to her friends and fellow adventurers, to folks that had accomplished much in their own regard, and it was just fun, and real.

More info on our hotel and the restaurants we tried:
Hotel Telluride – Very pretty stone building with a warm and inviting lodge like lobby. Our room was very nice and had its own balcony. There is a lobby restaurant where we ate breakfast. There is a room deal where you can have that rolled in, and they provide a complimentary drink on the evening you arrive. And don’t forget the free shuttle to and from town, though parking our vehicle in their parking structure did cost extra.
Allred’s – We were there for the view and as mentioned above was it spectacular. Be prepared for the bar to be packed at the end of a ski day. Seats at the window are the best of course. The menu options looked good but we only had wine and a cheese and meat plate.
Smugglers Brewpub – This was a fun hangout. The food we selected was ok, but although I can’t remember the details, I remember being happy to hear about where they sourced their food, and specifically their meat. The beer selection was the real gem of the house. A large and tasty selection provide ample choices and we took advantage of that to have various tasters before selecting a pint.
Aemono Deli – Bright little deli on the corner of a side street. We thought we were just going to settle for anything quick as we were really late on lunch and didn’t want to ruin our dinner, but we were both very surprised at how good the sandwich we split was (the turkey, havarti & pesto). This place makes good food.

The Steaming Bean – Typical local coffee shop and it also had a bar. Good place to get a coffee and relax for a bit.
Crazy Elk Pizza – Over in the Mountain Village (instead of getting off at the Gondola station for Allred’s, continue on to the next stop). Going over to the Mountain Village let us check it out and say we’d been there, but the pizza was only passable. It was pretty much a ghost town over there so you’d likely have a better vibe and more options during the day or closer to peak season.

The Basics

Who: Anyone looking for a fun getaway whether you’re into shopping, good dining, going to festivals, or outdoor activities. Though those looking for the latter are in for an especially good time.

What: Telluride is also one of those towns that started as a mining camp. It was originally called Columbia before changing its name and became a National Historic Landmark District because of its importance in the history of the American West. As far as the skiing, we noticed that the ski slopes on the Telluride side looked pretty challenging, and truthfully – scary. But from our view in the Gondola there looked to be tons of stuff on the Mountain Village side that was of a larger variety.
Where: Just over 6 hours southwest from Denver, highway travel. But coming from Crested Butte as we did it is only a 3 hour drive.
When: Any time of year depending on what activities you plan to do or if you want to arrive in time for a certain event. The Telluride Film Festival of course is one of the events the town is known for and takes place near the end of summer (this year, the 41st festival takes place August 29 – September 1).
Why: Like we’ve said before, if you live in Colorado like us, we feel like it’s worth exploring and checking out its many different areas and towns. Though Telluride is one of the furthest, it is worth it.
How: Fly to and/or drive from Denver, or look into the local airports (Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) or Telluride/Montrose (MTJ)). You can ride the free Gondola between Telluride and the Mountain Village.
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