The Magic of Telluride Colorado

Morning Glory


Fall is a common time for Americans to travel, whether they’re gearing up for spending the holidays with family and friends, or they simply want to take some time to get out of the house. If you’re thinking about traveling during Autumn to beat the heat and take in the views of the changing leaves, you’re not alone. Plenty of people have the same idea and during their time planning a trip, they often look for popular, but not crowded places to see.

If that sounds ideal, you might want to set your destination to Telluride, Colorado. There’s quite a long list of things that make this place one-of-a-kind, and we’ll cover a few of them here.

Read on to learn more about Telluride to determine whether it’s the right place for you to take your next vacation.

Morning Glory

The first light of day kisses the snow covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains outside Telluride, Colorado on a cool autumn morning. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

History of Telluride, Colorado

Telluride, Colorado was not always a quaint spot for visitors looking to take advantage of unique fall landscapes. It used to be frequented both by the Ute Native American tribe and prospectors looking for silver and gold back in the 1700s. In fact, it wasn’t always called Telluride. Back when the location was a summer camp, it was called Columbia, but upon becoming a town in 1878, the name changed to Telluride.

The town continued to flourish once the railroad came about in the late 1800s, but after silver prices crashed and WWI started, the town’s focus on mining deteriorated. It was down to only a couple hundred residents until the 1970s, when Telluride attempted to draw visitors in by promoting other attractions, like the ski resort that opened in 1972. In time, Telluride became a rich tourist destination due to its festivals, shows, skiing opportunities, and natural beauty.

Now, Telluride citizens strive to preserve the aesthetics and historical significance of their hometown, and to add to it, the little mountain town was designated as a National Historic Landmark District. Much of the old mining look and feel still exists in Telluride, so if you’re interested in immersing yourself in a piece of US history, this is a fantastic place to visit.

Because of its significant role in the history of the American West, Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964. Colorful Victorian-era homes, clapboard storefronts and historic buildings now mix with boutiques, art galleries, gourmet restaurants and Telluride’s luxury hotels.

Crimson Heights

Towering Aspen and Silver Birch trees intertwine to create a wall of autumn splendor on Last Dollar Road between Telluride and Ridgway in Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Telluride Colorado Geology

Telluride is located on the Western flank of the San Juan Mountains at an elevation of 8,750 feet. San Juan Mountains, segment of the southern Rockies, extending southeastward for 150 mi (240 km) from Ouray, in southwestern Colorado, U.S., along the course of the Rio Grande to the Chama River, in northern New Mexico. Many peaks in the northern section exceed 14,000 ft (4,300 m), including Mts. Eolus, Sneffels, Handies, Sunshine, Wetterhorn, Redcloud, San Luis, and Windom, with Uncompahgre Peak (14,309 ft) being the highest.

Much of the appeal of Telluride comes from its rich mining history, even today. Plenty of visitors stop by to explore nearby landmarks which include the San Juan Mountains, take in beautiful landscapes, and perhaps, try to locate remnants of the gold and silver that put Telluride on the map so long ago.

In addition, for geology fans, the area around Telluride is composed of sedimentary rock, igneous rock, and volcanic rock. As such, there’s always something to look at and so many interesting contrasts between the naturally-occurring rock types in the area.

Lonely Afternoons

Like a ghost ship floating on a sea of gold, an empty rowboat drifts across a pond near Telluride, Colorado at the peak of autumn. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Autumn In Colorado

If Autumn isn’t your favorite season of the year then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Ok, ok, I guess sunshine is nice and I know a lot of you enjoy skiing and everything but nothing beats the visual splendor that is Autumn.

Scores of people visit the Telluride area to take advantage of the scenery that takes on unique changes during the Autumn season. Like other highly-frequented Autumn locations, Telluride offers some breathtaking visuals once the area’s trees begin to change from green leaves to palettes of red, orange, and yellow shades.

On top of exploring the small town itself, there are several natural attractions in the area that present one-of-a-kind scenes that take flight as soon as the plant life starts resembling a non-destructive fire.

If you’re one of the traveling types who hope to make the most out of the views you’ll have when you visit a new area, Autumn in Telluride certainly won’t disappoint.

Twisted Sisters

A stand of quaking aspens bend and twist towards the sky, transforming the clonal grove into an array of alien tendrils. The scar of past avalanches, the trees’ strange stature is testament to the harshness of the alpine climate. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Peak Fall Color in Telluride

Travelers like to plan their visits to the Telluride area based on the changing of the leaves on the surrounding trees. Part of taking in the scenery includes taking advantage of the best fall colors so it’s easy to understand why one of the most common questions from potential visitors has to do with when the leaves are going to become their most vibrant fall colors.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy answer to provide. Telluride usually starts seeing their local leaves change color around the middle of September, but the timeline can vary somewhat from year to year.

The peak time to take in the fall scenery is usually right around the last week of September, and the colors fade away as the days roll into October.

Of course, nobody wants to be too early or too late for the main attraction they’re visiting for. To provide a little more help when it comes to scheduling your visit as accurately as possible, check-in and read Telluride’s official blog or take a look at their landscape webcams to get a better idea of the timeline you should plan for.

The Rise

Fall aspens, like Grecian columns, reach towards transient puffs of cloud in a brilliant blue sky. When the days grow chill, groves of clonal aspen turn hillsides like this one near Aspen, Colorado into cascades of rippling gold. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Telluride Colorado Art Galleries

Telluride, Colo., isn’t all that different from Aspen. It’s a high-end resort town that attracts ski bums, wealthy business executives and celebrities. Where there is tourism combined with cold hard cash there will be art galleries and Telluride is no exception. Some of the art galleries that can be found here include the Elinoff Gallery, Gold Mountain Gallery and the Tony Newlin Gallery among many others. Spend a day wondering the town and taking in the arts!

The Mountains Call

There is no question why they call it colorful Colorado as dappled light and dreamy clouds drift over the top of the San Juan Mountains outside Ridgway, Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Things To Do and Places To See In Telluride

Whether you enjoy taking photos or you just want to take in fascinating landscapes for your own benefit, there are several ways to view unique scenes throughout the Telluride area during the Autumn season.

Hiking up and down some of Telluride’s popular trails is a great place to start. You might choose to visit the Bear Creek Trail, Bridal Trail Falls, or the Lizard Head Wilderness. Each of these sites offers unique perspectives, varying challenge levels, and vantage points that make for some amazing image captures.

Further, if hiking isn’t your favorite, there are a couple of other ways to view the Telluride scenery. You might opt for one of the 4×4 tours that plenty of visitors find enjoyable, or ride the gondola that takes you above the horizon for a 13-minute trip around the mountain area.

While you’re in the Telluride area, don’t miss out on the other sites that this historic location has to offer.

Sweet Dreams

Golden light from the early morning sun illuminates a forest of beautiful aspen trees at the peak of autumn in Telluride, Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Last Dollar Road Telluride

The Last Dollar Road is somewhat of a hidden gem in the Telluride area. Instead of taking the highway to get from Telluride to Ridgeway, take a trip into the unbeaten path and travel down the same bumpy dirt road that so many others did in the past.

The road stretches through one of Colorado’s many valley areas, and throughout the trip, the scenery changes significantly. During one section, you’ll see soft, nearly flat terrain. In another section, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful trees lining the path, and finally, you’ll proceed through grassy fields with the San Juan Mountain views off in the distance.

On top of the changing landscapes, this trail offers fantastic views of Wilson Peak, one of Colorado’s treasured mountain areas.

Autumn Heights

Dappled light kisses the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and illuminates the autumn leaves of an Aspen grove like matchsticks in the wind near Ridgway, Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Telluride Ski Resort

As the name suggests, the Telluride Ski Resort is primarily a place that allows visitors to enjoy skiing through the nearby mountains. However, there’s more to the location than skiing alone. Telluride’s ski resort plays host to events, fine dining, and other ways to let guests form long-lasting memories.

If skiing isn’t something you want to take part in, visit the resort for the fine dining experience, or stay for a couple of days to relax in luxurious accommodations.

Telluride Weather

Like many of the mountain towns of Colorado, Telluride’s weather can be quite cold in the winter, with mild summer and spring temperatures. The town itself is typically warmer than the sites to see in higher elevations, but between early fall and early spring, you can expect relatively low temperatures.

In mid-November, the forecast shows temperatures in the high 20s to middle 30s for the high and anywhere from the low 20s to single-digit numbers for the low.

If you’re planning to visit Telluride during the cooler months, pay close attention to the weather forecast and embark on your trip prepared (bring warm clothing and any equipment you might need in order to ensure your safety and convenience).

Visit Telluride

Hopefully, you’re as excited about the idea of visiting Telluride as the area deserves. Words hardly do the scenery justice when you arrive at just the right time to see all of the incredible fall colors that nature presents for such a short time. There are plenty of places across the country with breathtaking Autumn views, but there’s only one Telluride. If you haven’t seen it in person, you’re in for a real treat.

Autumn Branches

Branches like arteries stretch in every direction providing the nutrients of life to the leaves of this Aspen tree in Ridgway, Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.