A Two-Day Road Trip to Telluride

You may or may not have heard of Telluride. I only came to know about it last year when I was looking for places in Colorado that have a splendid display of Fall colors. A premier skiing destination, Telluride is a former Victorian mining town that attracts tourists and wealthy second-home owners alike. Tom Cruise already has a house close to Telluride and Oprah Winfrey bought 60 acres of land in Telluride a couple of years back!

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On the Way to Telluride

Ever since I saw pictures of Telluride and its beauty, I have been wanting to visit. Since my friends and I didn’t have any plans to check out Fall colors this year, I thought Telluride would be the perfect destination! And that’s how the planning began.

How Did I Travel?

Nested in the San Juan National Forest, Telluride is about 7 hours southwest of Denver by road. To put it into perspective, if you drove two and a half hours more in the same direction, you will reach the Four Corners Monument; the spot where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet! There is an airport at Telluride, but my friends and I drove all the way to make it a road-trip.

Where Did I Stay?

We booked a wonderful AirBnB house at Ridgeway, which is about 50 minutes north of Telluride, but because of some communication issues between AirBnB and VRBO, it got double-booked and we had to find another place to stay. Guess what? We got this news only 5 days before our trip! Fortunately, we got a suite at the Mountain Lodge at a similar price, and it was even closer to Telluride.

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View from our Room

Where Did I Eat?

Apart from the Thai restaurant in Montrose, we didn’t really pre-decide on places we wanted to eat at. We got a few recommendations from locals as well. The Mouse’s Chocolates & Coffee in Ouray was something that the hotel recommended, and all the ice cream and truffles were worth the calories! 😉

  • Chang Thai Montrose Cuisine (1015 S Townsend Ave, Montrose, CO 81401)
  • Brown Dog Pizza (110 E Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435)
  • Mouse’s Chocolates & Coffee (520 Main St, Ouray, CO 81427)
  • Esperanza’s Tequila Restaurant (226 W Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO 81435)
  • Telluride Truffle Inc (101 N Fir St, Telluride, CO 81435)

What Did I See?

The main intention of this road-trip was to stop at multiple places on the way along with exploring some places around Telluride to enjoy Fall. Although I had noted down a few places around Telluride that we needed to go to, all the pit-stops on the way were purely because of how lovely the whole journey was! Here are some stops we made on the way that weren’t pre-planned:

Kenosha Campground
About an hour and a half southwest of Denver on US 285, we stopped at the Kenosha Campground when we saw that it was surrounded by these beautiful yellow and orange Aspen trees. It was quite cold outside (and of course I decided to wear a skirt on this day) but it was too pretty to not step outside and take a walk!

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Kenosha Campground

We took a pit-stop at Salida to grab some coffee and breakfast. As we were exiting out of the town, there was a patch that was surrounded by colorful trees. We stopped here for a bit and simply walked around; basking in the sun and the cheerful fall colors.

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Right Outside Salida

Curecanti National Recreation Area
Once you get onto U.S. Route 50 and cross a small town named Gunnison, there are many recreational areas along the Gunnison River. We stopped at one spot to get some sun and good pictures of the pristine blue water.

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Curecanti National Recreation Area

Before I forget, beware of red ants in this area! We didn’t notice the little sign at the spot that advised people to stay away from certain areas because those red ants could be dangerous. A kind man informed us about it and the next minute we were back on the highway!

Ridgway State Park
When we were on U.S. Route 550 after having a good lunch in Montrose, we noticed the Ridgway Reservoir because of its unique turquoise colored water and decided to stop there for a bit. You can take your car all the way to the Park and close to the water.

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Ridgway Reservoir

The camera could not capture the actual color of the reservoir, but it was alluring to look at!

Mountain Village
Finally, after 9 hours (including all the pit-stops), we made it to our hotel in Mountain Village! The hotel was located at a prime spot – the Gondola, a Starbucks, and Telluride were quite close by; along with an amazing view of the mountains. I’m not going to try to put my thoughts into words about how pleasant the view was, but I hope this picture speaks for itself!

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View from Mountain Lodge

Downtown Telluride
As you enter the town of Telluride, don’t forget to look to your right. There’s an open space before you get into the town and it’s splendid to look at, especially with the Fall colors. We even stopped close to the open space to take pictures of the road that was lined with colorful trees!

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Open Space Outside Telluride

Downtown Telluride has a lot of restaurants, boutiques, and bakeries. We thoroughly enjoyed just walking around the town, soaking in all the sun and colors.

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Downtown Telluride

We took the Gondola from Telluride to Mountain Village and back, to check out some views from high up there. It’s the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the U.S. Yes, you read it right, it’s free! It’s a 13-minute one-way ride that offers incredible views of the San Juan Mountains.

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Gondola Ride

Million Dollar Highway
The Million Dollar Highway is one of the most spectacular but dangerous highways in the world. I’m not kidding, Google it. The Million Dollar Highway was listed as one of the 12 most dangerous roads in the world!

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Million Dollar Highway

The roads get narrow and it can get difficult to drive during unforeseen weather conditions like snow or the rains. All of us didn’t go much onto the highway for this exact reason.

Elk Lake
The Elk Lake or the Elk Pond is in Mountain Village and was only a 5-minute drive from our hotel. It’s the only designated fishing pond in Mountain Village where you can fish but also just relax by the dock or the gazebo. The backdrop of the mountains behind the lake was a sight to look at!

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Elk Lake

Alta Lakes
A very kind lady had recommended driving up to Alta Lakes and we decided to go for it. The road to Alta Lakes is narrow and it’s an off-road with several blind curves.

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View on the way to Alta Lakes

The road to the Lakes passes through the remains of the Alta Lakes Ghost Town which is interesting to know before you start wondering about those broken houses on the way. Once you reach the top, there are three lakes for you to stroll around and the backdrop of mountains makes it for an astonishing view!

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Alta Lakes

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • If you decide to drive, remember that it’s a long drive so pack your snacks and fill up your water bottles accordingly! The road to Telluride from Denver is very smooth so don’t worry about driving on narrow roads at any point.
  • As I mentioned before, the Million Dollar Highway can be tricky to drive so drive slowly if needed.
  • The off-road that leads to Alta Lakes is very narrow at some spots and passing is not possible at those portions of the road. Vehicles with a high clearance are preferable as there are many rocks on the road which could damage your vehicle. Backing up might be required at some portions of the road so be prepared for that as well.
  • Parking in Downtown Telluride is free on Sundays!
  • The Gondola is closed if it snows a lot so make sure you check out their website in advance: https://www.telluride.com/activities/gondola

9 Comments on “A Two-Day Road Trip to Telluride

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