25 things to do in Telluride [2022-2023 guide]

Published Date: May 24, 2023

views of telluride from town
Tucked away high in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, Telluride is an adventurer’s playground for its nearly 2,600 year-round residents and a multitude of visitors. Whether you’re in for adrenaline-pumping adventure sports, to be surrounded by nature, or to take in a bit of historic charm, you can do it all in Telluride. Here are 25 things to do in Telluride, including recommended time commitments for each so you can plan your trip and make the most of it.  

1. Hit the slopes

A group of skiers experiences one of the best things to do in Telluride at the Telluride Ski Resort.
Time commitment: Four hours minimumIf you’re lucky enough to be in Telluride in the winter, you’ll find yourself in a powder paradise. Telluride Ski Resort spans multiple peaks, with 19 lifts serving an incredible 120 runs and over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. While it’s known as a winter wonderland for black diamond-level skiers, 23% of their runs are ranked beginner and 36% are ranked intermediate. And compared to some of Colorado’s other famous ski resorts, you’re less likely to find long lift lines and crowded amenities in this low-key town. Looking to take a day off your skis but don’t want to miss out on those awesome mountain views? Plenty more Telluride attractions await.

2. Go on a hike

Hiking in the mountains is one of the best things to do in Telluride, offering chance sightings of grazing deer.
Time commitment: Two hours minimumTelluride isn’t just a winter destination. In fact, Telluride and its surrounding landscapes are just as impressive in the warm-weather months. Endless hiking options abound, beginning with the must-see Bridal Veil Falls, a 365-foot-high waterfall that’s simply breathtaking to witness. It’s the tallest free-falling cascade in Colorado, surrounded by peaks as high as 14,000 feet. It’s an easy trip to fit into your weekend in Telluride since you can reach the base of the falls in just 1.8 miles. Or venture to the top in about 3 miles. Other popular hikes include Bear Creek Falls and Jud Wiebe Trail, both of which offer abundant wildflowers if you time it right. Remember to factor in Telluride’s altitude (8,750 feet) when planning your hikes.

3. Ride the gondola

Riding the free gondola is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: 30 minutes round tripThe only free transportation of its kind in the United States, the Telluride and Mountain Village Gondola has shuttled an incredible 2.8 million skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, hikers and sightseers since it opened in 1996. This 13-minute route connects historic Telluride with the resort hub of Mountain Village, letting you avoid the 20-minute drive to the ski resort. But most riders aren’t there to avoid the commute when they visit Telluride — they’re riding to take in the incredible views of the 10,500-foot Coonskin Ridge. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the La Sal Mountains in Utah.

4. Visit Mountain Village

a town within the snowy mountains in Telluride
Time commitment: Three hoursMountain Village is the end stop for the gondola, making it a convenient destination to add to your itinerary. It started as a European-style ski resort and has evolved into a bustling town with shops and restaurants well worth the visit.

5. Go fly fishing 

Fly fishing in mountain streams is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: Four to eight hoursTelluride has some of the country’s finest alpine streams for trout fishing. Buy a fishing license at a local sporting goods shop and you're good to hit the waterways for a day of solitude. Local guides are available for hire, helping novices learn the ropes and experienced anglers find the best spots. If you plan to visit during the winter, bring your fishing pole — fishing maintains its status as one of the top things to do in Telluride year-round because the environmental conditions for trout are even better at that time of year.

6. Take a walking tour of downtown

Taking a walking tour of the downtown area is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One to three hoursWhen you’re at a loss for what to do in Telluride, a walking tour is well worth the time. With an Old West vibe that feels like something out of a movie, downtown Telluride started as a silver mining camp and is nothing if not charmingly historic. It’s just eight blocks wide and 12 blocks long, and the entire downtown seems to be miraculously pinned inside a narrow canyon. An afternoon is well spent wandering the quaint shops and restaurants of downtown Telluride.

7. Raft down the San Miguel River

Rafting down the rapids of the San Miguel River is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: Four hours to three daysThe rivers around Telluride are good for more than just trout fishing. Hop on a raft for a trip down the San Miguel River. Trips range from 9 ½-mile half-day trips to multi-day adventures, with family-friendly trips on the easier end up to intermediate class 3-rated adventures. Other popular rafting expeditions include the Dolores River and Colorado River.

8. Experience tandem paragliding

Paragliding in the Rocky Mountains is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: 20 minutes in the airGet a thrilling view of Telluride and the Rocky Mountains from the harness of a paraglider. Passengers must have the ability to run on takeoff and landing, making this activity accessible to people 5 and older. Some instructors even offer the option to pilot the glider yourself after teaching you the basic controls. Paragliding flights are highly dependent on safe weather conditions, so have a backup plan if rain or fog sets in.

9. Visit the arts district

Art pieces adorn the streets of Telluride's arts district.
Time commitment: One hour minimumEstablished in 1971, the Telluride Arts District showcases the work of local artists and performers in traditional and contemporary styles. Art pieces adorn the streets with live performances providing spontaneous entertainment. The historic Transfer Warehouse hosts art exhibitions in an open-air environment for an intimate cultural experience.

10. Rock climb at Via Ferrata

Rock Climbing at Via Ferrata is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: Four to eight hoursSkiing isn’t the only thing Telluride’s mountains are good for. Check out climbing at Via Ferrata. Routes on the surrounding mountains are accessible to novice climbers or challenging enough for the most experienced mountaineers. Equipment is available to rent with qualified guides to show you the ropes (literally). Climbing can be done year-round, with ice climbing up a frozen waterfall providing a unique winter experience.

11. Drive Black Bear Pass

Driving Black Bear Pass is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: Three hoursThis 8½-mile scenic drive will take you to elevations of nearly 13,000 feet. This famous road is recommended for experienced drivers in 4x4 vehicles with high clearance. Those willing to brave the hazards will get a view of the highest waterfall in Colorado at Bridal Veil Falls and have the thrill of steep switchbacks on their descent. Black Bear Pass is also accessible to hikers and bikers.

12. Ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Riding the Durango and Silverton Railroad is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: Five and a half hours to nine and a half hoursThis railroad is a national landmark, and provides an authentic 1882 train experience through the mountains. The free museum shares the history of railroading and mining in the area with optional guided tours. Special events are offered year-round, with a Polar Express-themed ride in winter. 

13. Bike the Galloping Goose Trail

Biking the Galloping Goose Trail is one of the best things visitors can do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One hour minimumThe Galloping Goose Trail offers 20 miles of dirt and gravel paths taking you through the forest and along rocky overlooks. Other options to experience the trail include horseback riding and cross-country skiing. Starting at Lizard Head Pass and heading south provides an easy downhill ride. For a more challenging excursion, start near Telluride and head north.

14. Go on an off-road tour

Taking an off-road tour in the mountains is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: Two to six hoursThanks to Telluride’s roots as a mining town, the area has off-road trails to remote ghost towns and alpine lakes. You can choose to rent a Jeep for a self-guided trip, or contract a guide to experience the more difficult terrain. Favorite destinations include the Smuggler-Union Mine and the Tomboy ghost town.

15. Explore the historical museum

Exploring the historical museum is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One and a half hoursThe Telluride Historical Museum preserves the history of the region by showcasing exhibits and offering educational programs. Learn about what life was like in the area during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the miners who dug into the San Juan Mountains and more. Artifacts fill the building and a photo archive documents the town’s history.

16. Camp in the San Juan Mountains

Camping in the San Juan Mountains is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One day minimum If a hike is not enough to satisfy your outdoor appetite, camping surely will. There are multiple campgrounds in the region that offer a range of amenities. The Priest Lake Campground is free to use, allowing visitors to stay for up to seven days. The Town Park Campground has 28 vehicle sites for visitors to glamp in luxury and even hosts festivals throughout the summer for added entertainment.

17. Snowshoe Hope Lake Trail

Going on a snowshoe hike is one of the best things to do in Telluride in the winter.
Time commitment: Three hoursAdd an extra challenge to your hike by strapping snowshoes to your feet and trekking through the fresh Telluride snow. Hope Lake Trail is a 6-mile out-and-back trek that offers a moderate challenge to people looking to explore the Colorado wilderness. It’s also popular for birders and hikers.

18. Tour the Old Hundred Gold Mine

Touring the Old hundred Gold Mine is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: 45 minutesWhile visiting Telluride, head over to nearby Silverton to tour the Old Hundred Gold Mine from late spring through mid autumn. The guided tour goes ⅓ mile into Galena Mountain, giving visitors a sense of what it was like for miners over 100 years ago. Real mining equipment is still stored in the tunnels, with demonstrations of how they operated. Visitors can pan for precious metals for free with the price of their ticket and are allowed to keep what they find.

19. Go on a guided horseback ride

Going for a horseback ride in the mountains is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One hour minimumRiding a horse through the mountains and meadows of the Rockies is one of the best things to do in Telluride and makes unforgettable memories. Experienced guides lead groups along winding trails to gain a unique view of the local wildlife and stunning scenery. Family-friendly tours are available so no one gets left out, and more advanced options ensure experienced riders aren’t bored.

20. Ice skate at the Madeline Hotel

 Ice skating at the Madeline Hotel is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One hour or moreThis full-service ice rink located in the plaza of Mountain Village provides one of the more affordable Telluride activities the whole family can enjoy. There is a free skate hour when the rink is in operation, with options to purchase single admissions, multi-visit punch cards and season passes. Skates are included with the price of admission. 

21. Take a dip in the hot springs

Visiting the hot springs is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One and a half hoursWhen it’s time to take a break from the more physically demanding activities in Telluride, soak in one of the nearby hot springs. While this can be done at any time of year, it’s an especially memorable experience in the winter, when a chance snowfall can turn a relaxing dip into something magical. Certain locations also offer spa services like massages, facials and body treatments.

22. Visit Canyons of the Ancients

Visiting Canyons of the Ancients is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One dayFormerly called the Anasazi Heritage Center, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is a museum dedicated to the prehistoric cultures in the Four Corners region. Apart from housing almost 2 million artifacts, the center holds interactive exhibits to gain a hands-on understanding of native cultures. Visitors can grind cornmeal, weave on a loom and touch some of the authentic artifacts.

23. Enjoy spa time at The Peaks Resort

Visiting a spa in the area is one of the best things to do in Telluride.
Time commitment: One hour minimumThe Peaks is the largest spa in Colorado, offering luxury services to rejuvenate bodies and minds. The spa has on-site stylists and offers pedicures and Roman tubs, to name just a few of their services. Guests also have the option to meet with a dietitian to create a personal wellness plan and keep the benefits of their visit going long after they leave.

24. Grab a drink at Telluride Distilling Company

Time commitment: One hour or moreThis small distillery crafts a range of spirits, winning awards for its schnapps and vodka. The tasting room provides a cozy atmosphere to enjoy your cocktail, with a pool table and darts for added entertainment. Patrons can also treat themselves to a dish from Telluride Distilling Company’s rotating menu specializing in wild game.

25. Play golf at Telluride Ski and Golf Club

Time commitment: Two to four hoursThis 18-hole golf course is among the highest in the world, at an elevation of 9,500 feet. Even if you don’t have time to play a full round, visiting the practice area can be satisfying, thanks to its impressive views of the area. Don’t be surprised to find your drives feel like they go farther than normal — at this elevation, the air has less resistance on the ball.

Make Telluride your second home

For a small town, Telluride has plenty of things to do. If you find yourself returning year after year for the activities you didn’t get to last time, it just might be time to make it your second home
An image identifies different things to do in Telluride, organized by season.

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Jen Lyons

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