Earlier this summer, I visited Telluride, Colorado, to speak at the Telluride Wine Festival. Having never traveled to Telluride before, and having my itinerary set for me by others, I was in for a real treat (and INSANE ADVENTURE) as I descended into this former mining town.
Get ready! Telluride is a gorgeous mountain destination, but one you need to know a few things about BEFORE you start planning your trip. I’ve got everything you need to know.
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Ultimate Telluride Travel Guide
Getting to Telluride
My trip to from Dallas to Telluride was by air, with a quick stop in Denver. From Denver, I found myself quite nervous as I boarded a small single-engine plane to fly over the mountains.
I knew in the days leading up to the flight that the aircraft had 8-passenger seats with two additional seats up front, for the pilot and co-pilot. There would be no flight attendants. There would be no restrooms.
When it was time to board, all passengers walked out onto the runway for a bit, then climbed the short staircase. I quickly noticed a few things – I couldn’t stand up inside and there wasn’t a door separating you from the crew. Beverage service? The co-pilot showed us where there was a drawer of small bottles of chilled water.
Two of the seats were facing backwards and towards the rest of the passengers. I was so grateful for a traveling buddy who sat facing me, Nancy from The Mama Maven Blog. I was also grateful that I had brought along Bonine chewable tablets for motion sickness (chewable, so you didn’t need water), and willingly shared them with Nancy. I’d heard that small planes going over the Colorado mountains can be prone to more turbulence, so I wanted to be prepared.
Thankfully, the flight wasn’t as turbulent as expected, and one could not beat the views of snowy mountaintops, even in the summer.
Once we landed, a friend on Facebook mentioned the airport and a certain cliff. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Then I googled it. The Telluride airport.
Telluride boasts of having the highest elevation for a commercial airport in North America, as it’s located on a mountain plateau. The end of the runway? Well, you’ll find a cliff with a drop of over 1,000 feet.
I’m thankful I didn’t know about that cliff before landing. But no worries. Really! Over a decade ago, the airport was renovated to install among other things, an engineered materials arrestor system, which works to decelerate an airplane at the end of a runway if need be.
Is there an alternative?
Yes! The Telluride airport is obviously one of the quickest way to get into town, but there are only a few flights per day. Most travel to Telluride by flying into Montrose, Colorado. It’s there where you’ll find most airlines you know, instead of smaller boutique airlines that fly onto the mountain plateau.
Montrose is about 1.5 hours away. It’s also where you’ll find chain stores, like Target, where you’ll want to stock up before heading into town. The city of Telluride has restrictions on chain stores setting up shop, so grocery shopping is limited to a couple small places in town. .
TIP: Fly into Montrose and rent a car for a short drive into Telluride. You’ll be able to do a bit of shopping that you’ll appreciate while you are there.
Preparing for Altitude Sickness
I’ve visited Colorado before, many times. I’ve been skiing throughout Colorado and New Mexico. High altitudes were nothing new to me. Or so I thought.
As a refresher before my trip, I did read up on altitude sickness just a bit. It turned out that the little bit of information I read would be helpful.
I unexpectedly dealt with altitude sickness in Telluride. The first night in my hotel room (after just a couple of hours spent at dinner), I found myself breathing deeper. Though headaches are something I deal with quite often, I had a headache that my normal over-the-counter medicine couldn’t quite stop. Those first couple of days were a bit rough and nights were worse than days. My time in Mountain Village was more challenging than down in Telluride (due to the altitude difference between the two).
After a couple of days, things started to get easier on my lungs, and for that I was grateful. But you should know what the symptoms of altitude sickness are so that if you start noticing symptoms, you can make some changes. Do not push yourself physically, drink less alcohol and more water, and limit going to any higher elevation areas. Additionally, as I always recommend when traveling to a new place, if you experience incontinence, be sure to pack Depend® Fit-Flex® Underwear. Especially when you don’t know how your body will react to new environmental conditions, it will give you peace of mind knowing you are protected and comfortable with an ultra soft fabric.
While early stages of altitude sickness are quite common at elevations of over 8,000 feet, it can progress into a dangerous and life-threatening situation, so be educated.
- Telluride is at an elevation of 8,750 ft.
- Mountain Village is at an elevation of 9,547 ft.
Interestingly enough, I discovered that my hotel room had cans of oxygen for purchase ($19 at my hotel).
TIP: If you or any member of your traveling party suffers from asthma or other lung issues, you might want to choose a hotel down in the town of Telluride, instead of one of the resorts up at the ski-in/ski-out area of Mountain Village.
Where to Eat in Telluride
I’ve mentioned that Telluride is a town with no chain stores, and that includes restaurants. For me, that was a welcome surprise. The town is small, but there are quite a few hidden gems.
The Village Table – This Mountain Village restaurant and bar is nestled between resorts and serves Mediterranean cuisine. Their specialties – tapas (an entire page full) and different varieties of paella. Try the Salmon Napoleon!
SideWork Speakeasy Lounge – Located in the heart of Telluride, this unique dining venue is a cozy spot featuring shared boards, delicious entrees, and great cocktails from different eras in history. Try a 1910 Singapore Sling or the 1888 Bourbon Smash.
Baked in Telluride – When I asked regular visitors to Telluride where they eat, I kept hearing “Baked in Telluride.” Though I didn’t have time to dine there myself, I discovered it by chance on the way to a meeting. Grab specialty donuts and coffee for breakfast, but be sure to visit again for lunch and dinner. Pasta, pizza, and even Thanksgiving dinner (on Thursdays) await you.
Ghost Town – Two words. Avocado toast.
High Pie Pizzeria & Tap Room – Whether you want a traditional pizza pie or something with a little flair, High Pie is the place. Get creative with a pie called the “Figalicious” or “Yard Sale!”
Steamies Burger Bar – For those of you who love fresh, all-natural, and local foods whenever possible, this is the place for you. This is the kind of place where you have to ask for a straw, and which doesn’t offer typical soda, but rather Maine Root Fair Trade Certified, All Natural Organic Sugar Cane Sodas.
Telluride Coffee Company – Located high up in Mountain Village, just steps away from my resort, this was where I could quickly order a delicious breakfast on-the-go.
Black Iron Kitchen + Bar – Attached to Mountain Village’s Madeline hotel, this was a beautiful upscale restaurant. Do yourself a favor – request outdoor seating and order a steak with a side of bearnaise sauce.
Rooftop Bars – For the best views, consider visiting the Last Dollar Saloon or the top of the Sheridan hotel, the only rooftop bars in town.
There are no Uber/Lyft services in this small town, nor are there taxis. So what do you do if you don’t have a rental car or car service to pick you up? You walk!
Telluride is a small town and easily walk-able. In addition, it’s easy to get from Telluride to Mountain Village via the free Gondola. This practically eliminates your need for other transportation if staying in one of the Mountain Village resorts. The “green” gondola was intentionally created so that it eliminates the need for over two million people per year to drive the few short miles between the two towns. Brilliant! I certainly took advantage, as I didn’t have a car.
Where to Stay in Telluride
Mountain Village, high up in the mountains, is where you’ll want to stay for incredible views and especially in winter, the ski-in/ski-out amenities. The Fairmont Heritage Place or the Madeline Hotel is where you’ll enjoy luxury amidst nature. I personally stayed at the Madeline Hotel and it could not have impressed me more.
The Madeline Hotel offered luxury accommodations with a gorgeous lobby, oversized bathroom, room service, spa services, and more. It was steps away from the local Starbucks for your morning coffee fix, as well as a Dylan’s Candy Bar for the kids. As mentioned before, a quick walk to the Gondola takes you down into Telluride, so there is no real need for a car.
An ice skating pond just outside in winter, turns into a play area (and movies too) during summer. I spotted kids playing games like over-sized Connect Four or lounging on the most comfortable chairs. It’s the ideal spot for families.
My favorite spot at the Madeline? The rooftop pool, overlooking the breathtaking mountains. It’s this spot where you’ll capture the most stunning sunset photos.
Don’t forget to visit the spa, where you’ll discover themed spa services, like the Gemstone body treatment or the High Altitude Revival.
What to Do in Telluride
Stroll through the Farmers Market
Spy the Butch Cassidy Robbery Site – Visit the site where Butch Cassidy and his gang robbed a bank (reportedly his first). Now known as the Mahr building, formerly it was the San Miguel Valley Bank, located around the corner of Pine and Main (also known as Colorado) streets. The off-white building is marked by a small plaque on an off-white painted door.
Shop along Colorado Ave – I highly recommend HOOK, a unique home decor and hardware shop that had the best inventory of unique finds I’d seen in all of Telluride.
Enjoy a Salt Cave and Oxygen Lounge – Right there on Colorado Ave., you’ll spy the PURE Beauty and Wellness Spa, where you can enjoy time in a salt cave.
Ride the FREE Gondola – Even if it’s summer and you are staying down in Telluride, take the 13-minute tram ride up to Mountain Village.
Spend Time in Nature – Whether it’s hiking, fishing, or something quite a bit more adventurous like the Via Ferrata (EEEK!)
Visit the Telluride Colorado Wine Festival or one of the many festivals that Telluride is known for.
I’m so grateful for the time spent in Telluride, Colorado, thanks to Depend® brand, and the opportunity to share with others how I don’t let incontinence get in the way of my life. I recently joined a private Facebook group – The Incontinence Community – and it’s incredible to see how others are managing their incontinence while traveling. For more resources, advice, and even funny stories, head here to join the community.
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