Going Places: Tales from the road: Telluriding

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
The inside scoop on Telluride

Main Street in the heart of town

When to go
With town at 8,750 feet, the riding season starts late and ends early--usually mid-June through late October. The best time to ride is generally in September and early October, when rain is rare and the aspen trees are changing color.

How to get there
Telluride lies a beautiful 350-mile drive southwest of Denver and 140 spectacular miles southeast of Moab. The best way to get to Telluride from Denver is on back roads--Highways 285, 24, 50, and 550--which add just 30 minutes and much beauty to the sterile I-70 route.

A great way to break up the trip is to leave early, go to Gunnison and find the Tune-Up bike shop, two blocks off the highway toward Crested Butte. Get directions to the Rage in the Sage, a 25-mile singletrack loop, or any of another half-dozen great rides. Go for a spin and then continue on to Telluride. The drive from Moab is equally spectacular, crossing a group of towns once known as the "Uranium Belt" for its old industry and is now gaining even wider repute as the "Titanium Belt."

Watch the road; much of the route is across open range and there's a little-known law we discovered the hard way: If you kill a rancher's cow with your car, you have to buy it.

Mountain biking basics
Telluride Mountain Bike Festival and Colorado Off-Road Points Series Race: June 20-26. Contact FreeWheelin Bike & Board at 970-728-4734

San Juan Hut System: 970-728-6935

Tours: Downhill Bike Tours (970-728-4477) or FreeWheelin' (see above)

Bike rentals: FreeWheelin has Yeti rentals. Paragon Sports (970-728-4525) and Telluride Sports (970-728-4477) are also excellent shops for rentals, sales, and service.

Where to eat and drink
Après-bike beers: The Swede-Finn Hall deck is a restored social hall from the 1800s. Locals congregate every afternoon on the deck for the best margaritas ever and ten micro-brewery beers on tap, including the regionally famous Fat Tire Ale.

Breakfast: The Cosmopolitan is an upscale joint with big picture windows and a patio with killer morning sun and views of the peaks. Maggie's is known for its potato and black bean "Budget Taco."

Java: Between the Covers Bookstore & Coffee House, located in the back of the bookstore, serves free refills and real iced coffee.

Bakery: Baked in Telluride is legendary among the granola set, who flock to its porch every morning, noon, and night for bagels and pizza by the slice.

Pizza & Pasta: Eddie's. Same as Eddie McStiff's in Moab, but with full-strength micro-brewery beer and a deck with stunning views of the end of the canyon.

Mexican: If you can motivate, head to Ridgway (a beautiful 45-mile drive), soak at the Orvis Hot Springs and then chow burritos at the Adobe Inn. In town, the Border House Salsa Cafe has large plates of healthy Southwestern fare.

Where to stay
Camping: The best camping is in Illium Valley, just six miles from town and located at the trailhead to many of the area's best rides.

Lodging: An inexpensive two-bedroom condo in summer will run you about $115 to $150 per night. The best lodging deals are the Victorian Inn, $69 a night with hot tub, located one block off Main Street or the Oak Street Inn, $45 a night with a shared bathroom, located half a block off Main Street.

For more info call Telluride Central Reservations at 1-800-525-3455.

Other attractions
Telluride is known as the "Festival Capital of the Rockies" and there's something going on virtually every weekend of the summer, from the famous bluegrass and film festivals to the lesser-known Mushroom Festival and the Mountain Film Festival. Call Telluride Visitor's Information at 1-800-525-3455 for a calendar of summer events.

If you're not afraid of flying or heights, book a glider ride, definitely one of the most intense hours you'll ever spend. Half-hour flight are $75, a full hour is $125. Call Telluride Soaring at 970-728-5424.

With all the high peaks and designated wilderness areas, Telluride boasts plenty of good hiking, mountaineering, and climbing. The Telluride Mountaineer (970-728-6736) is the best resource for info, guides, and maps on the area.

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

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