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Why Go To Telluride

The origin of this Colorado village's very unique name is unknown, but there are two dominant theories. The first is that Telluride comes from the word "tellurium," the nonmetallic element (often signifying the presence of gold deposits) that prompted so many pioneers to make their way to the region. But many locals will tell you the name is just an easier way of saying "to hell you ride" – a creative explanation that highlights the killer ski slopes that lure many a winter vacationer each year. Powder hounds will find 2,000-plus skiable acres ideal for novices, experts and everyone in between. "To hell you ride" also refers to the region's rowdy atmosphere. Residents and visitors alike regularly gather in Town Park or Telluride's bars for a foot-stamping good time. In the end, it doesn't matter where the name comes from – all that really counts is the great experience you're bound to have here.

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The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Best of Telluride

Telluride Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best times to visit Telluride are from mid-June to August and from mid-November to early April. Though these summer and winter seasons offer thicker crowds and higher room rates, they're prime times to take advantage of Telluride's popular festivals and world-renowned skiing. To save some coin when visiting during these months, plan on booking your flights and hotel at least two months in advance. Additional savings are available if you opt to vacation between April and early June or between September and early November, the town's spring and fall shoulder seasons. Keep in mind, though, that these months are when many shops and restaurants close for maintenance and the free gondola stops operating.

Weather in Telluride

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
35
2
37
7
42
14
50
22
60
29
71
35
76
41
73
41
66
34
56
24
43
13
35
4
Jan
Feb
Mar
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May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
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Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
1.48
1.66
1.97
1.92
1.83
1.13
2.48
2.9
2.67
1.92
1.8
1.6
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
See details for When to Visit Telluride

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • There are two villages here Telluride is home to two separate villages: the original town of Telluride, founded in 1878, and Mountain Village, which was developed for tourism. 
  • It's a small town Only 2,500 people live in Telluride year-round.
  • Towering peaks are everywhere Not only does this mountain town boast the highest concentration of 13,000- to 14,000-foot peaks in the U.S., but it is also where you'll find Alpino Vino, the highest elevation fine dining restaurant in North America.

How to Save Money in Telluride

  • Avoid the holidays Telluride's ski season is in full swing come December and January. You'll find less crowded slopes and lower room rates if you book your trip in early November or late March.
  • Plan ahead for party time If you're taking part in one of the town's annual celebrations, you'll save some coin if you book your trip at least two months in advance.
  • Skip the car rental You can save on gas and parking by relying on Telluride's complimentary shuttle and gondola services to get around.

Culture & Customs

The valley that is now Telluride has a unique cultural heritage dating back to the Ute Native Americans who used the land as their summer camp until Spanish explorers discovered the region in the late 1700s. About 50 years later, the discovery of gold changed the area forever and led to the establishment of Telluride in 1878 and the coming of the railroad not long after. After the mining boom collapsed 20 years later, the town's population dwindled and its future was uncertain.

Fast forward to the 1970s when Telluride resuscitated itself as a world-class ski destination. People flocked to the secluded slopes for their breathtaking views, fresh powder and vast number of hiking trails. A variety of annual festivals in the warmer months are also weaved into the fabric of Telluride's culture – bluegrass, independent film, hot air balloon, wine, playwrights, yoga – the list goes on.

Even with large events that draw thousands of people year-round, Telluride remains a small village in the mountain valley with a laid-back vibe. Only about 2,500 residents live here permanently, which adds to its appeal with visitors looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of larger resort towns.

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What to Eat

In recent years Telluride has emerged as an up-and-coming culinary hot spot. Classically trained chefs have flocked here, bringing a variety of influences and flavor profiles with them.

The laid-back vibe and appreciation for Mother Nature is apparent on most Telluride restaurant menus. In fact, many local restaurants strictly adhere to the farm-to-table philosophy of exclusively using regional ingredients and organically sourced proteins.

Gastronomic influences are abundent here, so every taste bud can be satisfied by hearty meals and innovative mixology. Grab a slice of Detroit-style pizza at Brown Dog Pizza or make a stop by "Top Chef" alum Eliza Gavin's 221 South Oak for homemade sausages and game meats (think: elk, boar and bison). If you're looking for something that's not as adventurous, check out Baked in Telluride for homemade donuts, soups and sandwiches. The eatery also offers a few internationally influenced items like fresh pastas, potato knishes and burritos.

Another popular element of the culinary scene: dive bars. The small gathering places serve some of Telluride's best local microbrews on tap. Locals and visitors alike frequent spots like Smuggler's Brew Pub and Tomboy Tavern to knock a few back and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

The best part about Telluride's eateries, according to locals and visitors? The prices. You won't have to break the bank to fill up on gourmet grub, but if you are in the mood to splurge, the more pricey options are found close to the slopes. Try the European-inspired Alpino Vino for lunch at 11,966 feet or the American-focused Allred's Restaurant for dinner. Be advised that some resort restaurants are closed or have limited hours outside the winter season.

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Getting Around Telluride

The best way to get around Telluride is on foot. Because the town is literally one large ski resort, anything you could possibly need – shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels – is just a short walk away, but if the chilly winter weather makes walking less-than-pleasant, the town does offer free shuttle service and gondola rides to and from the slopes. If you're interested in exploring the outdoors in the offseason, you may want to rent a car (preferably one with four-wheel drive) or use a ride-hailing service to get to spots outside of town. Gondola service, however, is available during the summer months.

To reach Telluride, you can either fly into Denver Internatioanal Airport (DEN) or Colorado Springs Airport (COS) and drive the 300-some miles to Telluride, or you can fly into the Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) and hop on the Telluride Express to get into town.

Photos

Telluride
Telluride
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The center of activity in this small town, Main Street is home to various shops and restaurants. 

Photography by Deb Snelson/Getty Images

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