I have been spending extra time on this post, since Telluride has been one of our favorite destinations since we first traveled there in 1999. We started planning our first trip there, when we were still just friends. We have visited at least 10 more times, since then. We almost bought a condo there (which would now be worth 10 times what it cost then). Dave’s wedding ring has the mountains around Telluride engraved in it, a testament to its importance in our lives.
Matterhorn Campground is a US Forest Service campground, located about 10 miles south of the Telluride Ski area. We planned our trip around this location, making sure we would have power for heat and would return to lower elevations before it snowed. At 8500′, it is our highest altitude campsite. It is one of very few campgrounds without an accurate map or overhead view on Google Maps, to enable selecting the best campsite. We were surprised to find that the campsite spacing was very irregular and that our site was exteremely close to our neighbor’s. While it is in a beautiful setting, and near Telluride, it was not our favorite campground.
The town of Telluride is at an altitude of 8750′. It’s an historic mining town, which was still somewhat sleepy and quirky when we first visited. Since then, it has grown significantly and real estate is now for the wealthy, only. Surprisingly, it still does not feel too crowded (at least in the fall) and has not lost it’s original appeal to us. The gondola, the first and only free public transportation of its kind in the United States, runs year-round and provides a quick, free, scenic trip between town and Telluride Mountain Village, the ski area above town.
Our favorite activity there is hiking. There are many hikes that start right in town. This was the first time I could be well-acclimatized before hiking (or even walking around town), which made it a lot more fun for me. Unlike Dave, I definitely feel the affects of altitude. We were happy to hike our old favorites, as well as some new trails.
We were there during the Telluride Film Festival, which I imagine is one of the more low-key or laid-back film festivals. It didn’t really affect our visit too much. That is likely because “filmies” don’t seem to be into hiking. We had no trouble getting a table at our favorite restaurant, Esperanza’s (best Mexican food anywhere!) or a seat at the Last Dollar Saloon. The Historic New Sheridan Bar (est. 1885) is a bit more upscale, so we went there after the “filmies” left town.
We had a great time and hated to leave, but had many more fun destinations on our itinerary. Next stop, Ouray!
View of the campground from Galloping Goose trail