Legend says the town was named for the famous send-off given to fortune seekers headed to the southern San Juan Mountains – “To-hell-you-ride”! And it’s a hell of a drive, even today, can’t imagine what that journey was on horseback 100 years ago… There is another theory as to how the town came to be known as Telluride – the name was derived from the mineral tellurium, an element often associated with deposits of gold. Ironically tellurium is not found in this valley so I choose to believe the local legend 😉
Fun fact # 2 – Telluride is in the middle of a box canyon, which means there is only one way in and out, good luck if the road is closed due to snow storm or rock slide 😲. The almost vertical walls of the box canyon make for “stupid pretty” (working on my CO slang here) scenery and photo opps. And while the south facing wall of the canyon is warm, dry, full of aspens, and with its red rock formations and eroded cliffs looks more like Arizona or New Mexico, the north face is all jagged grey frozen rock with snow as early as beginning of October and evergreens barely holding onto cliffs for dear life.
Telluride is full of history and stories, so bear with me for a paragraph or 3…
The discovery of gold in the Rockies in 1858 officially put Colorado on the map. With the coming of the railroad in the 1890s the population of Telluride soared to around 5,000 residents. Many immigrants made the arduous journey in search of their mining fortune. Work conditions were treacherous at best, often deadly, some of the mines were at 12,000ft elevation. Sure, nowadays we ski and ride at 12,000ft, try hammering into a rock though and carrying heavy weight on your back…
The town had all of the amenities miners needed, including plenty of opportunity to spend their hard earned money – saloons, gambling, and brothels. Local folks say the Scandinavian miners dug secret tunnels with stairs from the mines to the brothels as whoever came down first got the most beautiful girls (read: tall and blond) 👱 Miners got their priorities right 🤗. #notthebankthebrothel Telluride was also the first place where Butch Cassidy and Terrence Hill robbed a bank. The bank is still standing on Main Street with a plaque, the secret tunnels and stairs have long been closed and filled up 😔.
In the late 19th / early 20th centuries the crash of gold/silver prices and World War I ended Telluride’s mining boom. By 1960 Telluride was barely more than a ghost town and the population had dwindled to less than 600 residents. Telluride was resurrected in the 1970s by another kind of gold: white gold, or snow. Today Telluride is a world renowned ski resort in winter and a festival town in summer, boasting 3rd most difficult terrain in the US, after Jackson Hole, WY and Big Sky, MT #beentheredonethat Population is about 2,000, the art/coffee/food/bar scene is thriving and it is the most adorable and authentic ski town in CO, hands down! 😀 Nuf history, onto our own experiences next!
First things first – apres-arrival in Telluride was “there”. And that’s where we met the locals and learned about the history and all the folk tales.
“Where you going tonight?” – “there.” “No, I mean where?” – “I’ll meet you “there”.”
Clearly my favorite local joke…and also our fav watering hole! #drinksfirst #bestbartenders #andthechefohthechef
Apres-“there” eventually all roads led to the Last Dollar Saloon where we met a couple of buck hunters from Minnesota, who had just shot a >700pds elk in the San Juan Mountains of Utah and had stopped in Telluride for a night on their way back home. Here is the place to add my Mom’s wit who prior my visit to CO, in proper Mediterranean fashion, was very worried that I will be hungry on my cross country road trip. I assured her I’ll find myself a trapper to hunt and provide meat where she said with increasing concern: “Oh Sweetie, game is so difficult to skin and cook” LOL Clearly I had missed a few steps of the “hunt-eat” process 😍 To my delight and to Mom’s eventual surprise when she reads this post, the buck hunters had skinned the elk on the spot, harvested the antlers and hide, and were storing the meat in the freezers of the 4* New Sheridan hotel in town…🍖#speechless #storyofmylife #suchthingsdonthappentonormalpeople
Day 2 started with a 7am wake up call to go hiking, followed by breakfast at The Butcher and The Baker – “I’ll have a whiskey smash with local peaches and a side of bacon, please.” – making sure we got all our food groups in 😋 before hiking not one but two waterfalls 😆 #neveradullmoment #whenincolorado
(I don’t know what Mother Nature was thinking when she made these rock formations…she must have been high…or on acid as J said – acid -> erosion)
Bridal Veil Falls was first, Cornet Creek Falls was second! #ihaveawaterfallproblem
Both falls are gorgeous and close enough to town so you can squeeze 2 hikes in 1 day. #dontlosethetrail I recommend leaving your car at the end of the paved road, even if it’s a rental, BE gentle 😊 and walking to the falls and beyond. The path above Bridal Veil Falls leads to a beautiful evergreen forest and glacier fed cold mountain creeks. SO tranquil!
Oh the mine… It must have been the influence of my Dad’s love for western movies when I was young or my friend D’s request to find her some ore with gold streaks that made me pass the treacherous wooden bridge (more like upside down wooden pallet) and go stick my head in the mine tunnel…it may have said “Do Not Tresspass” 🙄.
One day my curiosity to duck ropes and jump fences will kill me…Initially, we were enchanted by the unusually pretty blue color of the water, which had even turned the rocks slightly bluish. As it often happens in nature, bright blue appeared to be VERY dangerous (pretty nevertheless 😲). The mines continue leaking and the water is contaminated with mercury and arsenic and highly poisonous – don’t fill your water bottle, don’t dip your feet in the blue pools, and definitely don’t eat the fish from the river…
Last but MOST definitely NOT least of our experiences in Telluride was the alchemy/apothecary store that we stumbled upon while dilly-dallying from bar to bar. “Medicine Ranch” is locally owned by a western-trained doctor who chose to use eastern and native methods to heal people. He may have had aphrodisiacs and sex, stress, and sports tonics, I may have taken a sip… #nottomiss #shoplocal
As the saying goes… #whathappensintelluridestaysintelluride Hope you enjoyed the overview!