ROOTLESS ADVENTURE COmpany

crystal lake telluride colorado

Weekend Guide To Telluride

Telluride is one of my favorite towns in Colorado! It is a former mining town nestled in a box canyon in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. It is most well-known for its ski resort and hot springs in the winter, and its hiking and adventure sports in the summer.

Telluride is approximately a 6 hour drive from Denver. There are a few different routes to take but the most common is to take Highway 70 westbound all the way to Grand Junction, and then US-50 south from there.

Located about 30 minutes down the Million Dollar Highway is the town of Ouray, which boasts the nickname “The Switzerland of America”. After going to both the Swiss Alps and the San Juans, I can definitely attest that the nickname is accurate!

Telluride is truly a mountain paradise. It is by far the most charming and most majestic area of Colorado in my opinion, and the locals are some of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever met.

There is an endless amount of activities to do in Telluride. There are some incredible hiking trails and off-roading trails, skiing and mountain biking trails, mine and ghost towns to explore, some incredible beer to try, and more. This post will wrap up all of the best things to do if you only have a weekend to visit.

In This Post, You Will Find:
  • The best places to stay and tips for planning your trip
  • Hiking trails and off-roading trails that you will IMMEDIATELY add to your bucket list!
  • Where to find views that will take your breath away!
  • Local businesses that you should be supporting

Weekend Guide to telluride colorado

WHERE TO STAY In Telluride

Best Hotels in Telluride

If you’re looking to stay in a hotel, I’d highly recommend you get that small town Colorado charm and stay in a lodge. I highly recommend Ridgway Lodge and Star Saloon

The town of Ridgway is located just north of Ouray, about a 10 minute drive north, so it’s super conveniently located to town. The lodge also allows pets for only $25 per night, and was very accessible for both my dog and I.

We spent our nights hanging out at the bar in the hotel lobby talking to the owner, Adam, and another worker Gail, who gave us the best suggestions on things to do in the area, and told us some incredible stories about how her and her husband ran jeep tours in the area for 60 years.

We were a little nervous about offroading because an “easy” trail in Telluride is certainly not the same as an “easy” trail in Boulder, but she gave us the best suggestions on which trails to do and tips on how to accomplish them.

Camp

When it’s not storming and you can stay outside, Telluride has some of the most gorgeous campsites in the state. My friends and I usually camp along off-roading trails, and we’ve found some of the best campsites at Imogene Creek and at the start of the Alpine Loop. If you do not have a 4×4 vehicle, there are also tons of campsites near the Blue Lakes trails and Mount Sneffels.

You can find more free dispersed campsites at freecampsites.net. This site also includes photos, reviews, and addresses so you can make an informed decision on which campsite suits your needs.

DAY 1 (EVENING)

Summary of the day:
  • Drive the Million Dollar Highway and where to pull off for sunset
  • A sunset hike option

Ridgway is about a 5 hour drive from Denver, so you’ll likely be arriving in the evening. This particular weekend my friends and I left Boulder on Friday morning, but we stopped along the way for tastings at a couple of local breweries. If you arrive earlier in the day, I’d recommend a sunset hike. If you arrive later, I’d recommend a sunset drive.

A great option for a sunset hike would be any of the number of trails that begin at Bridal Veil Falls. Telluride has a lot of long trails, but you can park at the top of the falls and reach a number of beautiful lakes within two hours or less. I’d recommend using the AllTrails App to find a hike. My personal favorites are Silver Lake and Blue Lake (NOT the same as the Blue Lakes we will be hiking tomorrow).

Tip: If you do choose to do a sunset hike here I’d recommend leaving before it gets too dark as the switchbacks going back into town are sharp and steep. If you have a dog, there are signs posted that it is NOT recommended they go past the falls due to swift currents. I’d recommend planning accordingly.

Since my friends and I get out of the car so much along the way (no regrets) we don’t make it in time for a sunset hike, so we opt for a drive through the mountains instead. Driving the Million Dollar Highway is something that MUST be on your bucket list!

The “Million Dollar Highway” is the section of Highway 50 that goes from Silverton to Ouray. It passes through the Red Mountains, and a ton of old mining towns that you can stop and explore. I recommend pulling off onto Crystal Lake to watch the sun set behind the mountains and have a beer. 

crystal lake telluride colorado

DAY 2

Summary of the day:
  • A long, active day
  • A hike with views you’ll never forget! (A moderate, difficult, and 14er option included)
  • One of the best local breweries in Colorado, located in Ouray.

BLUE LAKES HIKE (includes both lakes)

lower blue lake telluride colorado

Length: 7.9 miles 

Elevation Gain: 2519 ft

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 5-6 hours

Dogs Allowed: Yes

I’m going to keep this pretty short and sweet because I have a whole blog post detailing our hike to the Blue Lakes. I will say that this hike is probably the most beautiful hike I’ve done in the world, and a must do item when you’re visiting Telluride.

It features rivers, views of snowy mountain tops, luscious forests, and stunning alpine lakes. For the best views I recommend doing this hike between July and October.

The hike ranges from moderate to hard in terms of difficulty depending on how far you go. I recommend reading my blog post on it to prepare, and checking out the hike next time you visit!

OURAY

three beers downtown ouray colorado

Ouray is Telluride’s highly underrated neighbor in my opinion. The mountains are so unique and beautiful and all of the shops and restaurants exude that small town Colorado charm. Stop into town for the evening, take a walk, and pop into all of the shops.

I recommend stopping for a beer at a little hole in the wall spot called Grumpy Pants Brewery. It is full of cute and funny decorations and the room where the beer is brewed is located 27 feet from where you order it.

We asked the owner what the names of the beers were called as all it said on the wall was “golden ale” or “pilsner” and he explained to us that he doesn’t name them because he never brews the same beer in the same way twice. That’s quite unfortunate for Aleks, because even though she was raised in Berlin she said the golden ale was the best beer she’s ever tasted. I hope the memory of it serves her well. 

TELLURIDE

After stopping in Ouray for an afternoon beer and walk, head to Telluride for dinner and to watch the sunset.

After a long hike, a beer and a burger are a must. Since we checked off the beer in Ouray and we were pretty hungry at this point, my friends and I got dinner to go from Steamies Burger Bar, which is very similar to Shake Shack or In-N-Out. Here you can get my absolute favorite stout of all time, the Ski In Ski Stout from Telluride Brewing Co, or be like me and opt for a boozy milkshake. I ordered this after learning that Peppermint Schnapps is also made in Telluride.

BRIDAL VEIL FALLS

After a quick dinner and a walk around town, on this night I’d recommend heading up to Bridal Veil Falls to watch the sunset. It only takes about 10 minutes to reach from downtown and offers stunning views of the town and canyon from the top.

The drive up is only about a mile long but it is decently technical because there are about 14 switchbacks on the way up with sharp turns and little room for two way traffic. It’s also steep, so driver experience is highly recommended. However if you just go slow, you’ll make it up just fine and the view is well worth it.

social tunnel imogene pass telluride colorado

DAY 3

Summary of the day:

  • The best coffee shop in Colorado
  • A “badge of honor” off-roading trail that will take your breath away!
  • Another unique adventure activity to try, or more relaxing options.

On the morning of our final full day in Telluride, my friends and I stopped at a coffee shop in downtown Ridgway that we’ve actually gone out of our way to visit on so many trips since because it’s so good. The coffee shop is called Cimarron Coffee Roasters. It is an adorable little bookstore/coffee shop with the friendliest workers and the best latte and breakfast burrito I’ve ever had. Make sure to stop by on your next visit!

There are tons of great off-roading trails in Telluride and it’s so fun to make a weekend out of checking them all out. I plan to make a separate guide on all of the best trails, but if you can only do one, Imogene Pass is a trail that stands out above all the rest.

After an early breakfast, it’s time to head to Telluride to conquer Imogene Pass, which is a 17.5 mile moderate off-roading trail, and the second highest drivable pass in Colorado. It’s also the most beautiful off-roading trail I’ve ever done.

Imogene Pass doesn’t open until it is plowed in the summer, usually in late July. It closes again once snow begins to fall, usually before November. You can check the status of the trail conditions at the Forest Service website here.

This trail also is definitely on the more difficult side of moderate as it has some narrow, steep edges and technical obstacles that will keep you on the edge of your seat. 4 wheel drive, high clearance, and driver experience is a must.

If you’re looking for an easier off-roading trail to do, check out Yankee Boy Basin. It offers similar views, but is much easier to accomplish.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie:

Another fun activity you can try if you are an adventure junkie but don’t have an off-roading vehicle, is the new Via Ferrata in Telluride! A via ferrata is a difficult climbing route and not for the faint of heart, so make sure to do your research ahead of time if it’s something you’d be interested in.

You can visit their website to learn how to book a guide and prepare for your experience.

If you’d rather hike:

If you’re not quite feeling like risking your life today, I definitely understand. Some other options of activities in the area are to explore some mining towns, or visit the Red Mountain area. Here you’ll find some less strenuous hikes, historic ruins, and gorgeous views.

You can also take a trip to nearby Black Canyon of the Gunnison for a change of scenery. It’s about 45 minutes away, but I’d recommend this if you’re looking for an easier, quicker hike on your way back to Denver.

If you’d rather relax:

If you literally just want to lay and relax, visit the Orvis Hot Springs! You can buy a pass and view up to date information on their website.

governors basin

I hope you found this guide to be helpful! You can click here to be directed to more posts about outdoor adventure or click here for travel tips and travel guides to specific cities. Be sure to follow us on Instagram to be a part of our incredible community of badass travelers, and subscribe to my newsletter to be the first to know when a new blog post goes up, get exclusive tips and content by email, and learn about new products and promotions.

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