Telluride Travel Guide

your guide to planning a trip to telluride, colorado

Why you should trust me

Hey! I’m Jen Dz and i know a thing or two about traveling in colorado!

In my job as an adventure and destination elopement photographer, helping my couples plan epic trips to beautiful places is a big part of my job – and Telluride is one of the areas I work in most (hey, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it!)

I’m an avid traveler, part-time van lifer, and elopement photograpaher and planner who is fall on obsessed with planning epic and off the beaten path trips in beautiful little corners of the world.

In other words, this kind of thing is my jam. Here’s what you should know about traveling in Telluride!

What is the best way to get to telluride?

Part of Telluride’s charm is the fact that is just. so. remote. This keeps the crowds down and makes it feel really removed from the real world. The downside of that remoteness? It takes a while (approximately a 7 hour drive from Denver) to get there. Fortunately you have some options!

Closest Airports to Telluride:

  • Telluride Regional Airport (0 hours)
  • Montrose Regional Airport (1.5 hours)
  • Durango LaPlata County Airport (2.5 hours)
  • Grand Junction Regional Airport (2.5 hours)
  • Denver International Airport (6.5 hours)

Driving from Denver to telluride

Most people coming from out of state will fly into Denver International Airport and then drive to Telluride. There are a few different ways to get there, all of them scenic. As someone who does this drive a LOT I can tell you that I think the most scenic way to go is to take Highway 285 to Gunnison, Highway 50 to Ridgway, and then the San Juan Skyway around to Telluride. The fastest option is probably taking I-70 from Denver all the way to Grand Junction and then south on Highway 50 to Ridgway and the San Juan Skyway. If you are flying in and out of Denver I highly recommend doing one drive out and the other back so you get a change of scenery!

A quick note about GPS’s and driving in Telluride

This area has a lot of technical, high-clearance mountain roads (think Jeeps). Mapping apps have gotten a lot smarter in recent years but every year you hear of someone whose phone told them to go a certain way (or they saw a road on a map and just went for it) and they got stuck or worse. Please keep your wits about you while you’re driving around out here! If a road starts to seem super gnarly, it may be best to backtrack. Getting stuck on a mountain road isn’t just dangerous … it’s also super embarrassing!

THings to do in telluride

It probably comes as no surprise that Telluride is FULL of things to do! Most of these activities will obviously center around the beautiful outdoors but don’t worry, there is something here for everyone!

Hiking – Telluride has tons and tons of hiking nearby ranging from easy strolls through the wood all the way to the top of mountains! You could spend your entire trip doing nothing but hiking and still not be bored!

Via Ferrata – Traverse the cliffs above Telluride in (relative) safety on Telluride’s famous Via Ferrata! Bring your sense of adventure and some nerves of steel and get the best view of Telluride from the side of the mountain. Having done this, I can confirm it is a BLAST! No rock climbing skills required. Be sure to book a guide for this one.

Whitewater Rafting on the San Miguel River – Spend 7 glorious hours on the river! Half day options are also available.

Ride the (free!) Gondola – During the summer and fall months, Telluride’s gondola system is entirely free (and dog-friendly)! Ride the gondola up from either Mountain Village or the Historic District and take in the view of town from the top of the mountain.

Check out Bridal Veil Falls – Bridal Veil Falls is right at the end of town (you can’t miss it!) and is the tallest freestanding waterfall in Colorado. You can get to it’s magical, misty base either by hiking from the trailhead or driving up the road (4WD required).

Downhill Mountain Biking – Remember that free gondola we talked about? In the summer it also serves as lift access for the downhill mountain bike trails from the top of Telluride mountain. Bring your own bike or rent one in town – there are trails for all skill levels!

Guided Fly Fishing – Catch yourself a trout on a fly in one of San Miguel county’s beautiful rivers. Guided trips and instruction are available at numerous outfitters in town

Wander through Town – Telluride is one of Colorado’s fancier mountain towns and the Historic District is full of shops, restaurants, and cafes! You could spend an entire day just roaming around.

Take a Day Trip! – Telluride serves as the perfect jumping off point to explore other parts of the San Juan Mountains (and Colorado and Utah!).

Best day trips from Telluride

Telluride is in a perfect position to serve as a jumping off point to other beautiful spots around the region. While each of these could be done as a day trip to give you a little taste of the place, they also serve as perfect stops for a night or two if you’re looking to go a little deeper.


(1 Hour Drive)


(1 hour, 45 Minute Drive)

Moab, UT

(2 hours, 30 minutes drive)

Mesa verde national park

(1 hour, 30 minute drive)

Best places to stay in Telluride

Telluride is a busy town with tons of lodging options, especially for those looking for something a little fancy or big beautiful ranches just outside of town. I sorted through all the noise of Telluride lodging options and came up with a list of some of the best places to stay in Telluride.

Just a little note: Lodging in Telluride doesn’t come cheap. If the prices on some of these places make you gasp and clutch your wallet tighter, I highly recommend check out lodging options in Ouray, Silverton, and Ridgway. They’re all beautiful but a little less bougie and will still serve as a perfect jumping off point for your southwestern Colorado vacation!

Best rental Houses in Telluride

Like any good resort town, Telluride has tons and tons of rental houses available. There are so many, in fact, that it can be hard to narrow it down – so I did some of that work for you! If you are looking for a beautiful AirBnB or VRBO type place to stay, here are some of my favorites! This list is a good mix of houses right in town, houses in Mountain Village (attached to the Town of Telluride by gondola), and more remote properties int he mountains.

serene mountain property 12 minute from town

Beautiful home with views of 14,000 foot Wilson Peak. Close to town but a world away from the hustle and bustle!

large luxury home in mountain village

Beautiful home with easy access to skiing and the gondola to town.

alpenglow ranch

12 acre property with stunning mountain views just 30 minutes from Telluride. This property is SO gorgeou!

Elegant mountain home on private wooded lot

Beautiful home along the stream close to skiing and all that Telluride has to offer!

Mountain retreat on trout pond

Beautiful cabin with loads of wildlife and a fishing pond just 25 minute from Telluride

condo in town with beautiful views

A perfect jumping off point for all your Telluride Adventures

Best hotels in Telluride

Being a bougie ski town, Telluride has LOTS of options for fancy hotels. Many of these hotels are located in Mountain Village, just a short gondola ride away from the town of Telluride itself (and lots of world class skiing!)

Hotel COlumbia

Ski in/ski out hotel near Telluride’s historic district

Madeline Hotel

Luxury hotel and spa in Mountain Village

Rico mineshaft Inn

Small hotel 35 minutes from town

Mountain Lodge Telluride

Upscale ski in/ski out resort

New Sheridan Hotel

Cute hotel in Telluride’s Historic District

The Peaks resort + Spa

Luxury resort and spa near Telluride ski area

When is the best time of year to visit telluride?

Visiting Telluride in the summer

As with everywhere in the mountains of Colorado, Telluride in the summer is gorgeous! Long warm days give way to cool nights and all the mountain adventures you could possibly want! If you are planning to do a lot of high-altitude things, remember that it takes a while for the snow to melt off the high peaks (so plan your trip for later in the summer). Summer in Telluride runs from June-ish to August.

Visiting telluride in the fall

Fall in Telluride is PERFECTION. In the fall the temperatures cool down a bit and the aspens turn bright yellow (typically middle to the end of September). The weather is mild and most of the tourists are gone. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this place in the fall! Fall in Telluride typically runs from September through November, although by the time you get to November you very likely have had some (or a lot of!) snow and you’re transitioning into witner.

Visiting telluride in Winter

You probably already know this but skiing in Telluride is kiiiiiiiiind of a big deal! Telluride resort typically opens for skiing in early December and closes in early April. Not into skiing? There is still plenty to do! Telluride is a winter wonderland! Winter in Telluride typically runs from December through April (yes, April!).

visiting telluride in spring

If I’m being completely honest, spring is probably my least favorite time of year in the Colorado mountains. It could be warm and sunny or cold and snowy (fun fact: we typically get snow all the way through May in the mountains!). Some trails will start melting out in spring … and become very muddy. I won’t tell you not to come here in Spring but I WILL say that it’s a perfect time to head to Great Sand Dunes National Park or Moab!