Five Reasons to Linger Longer This Fall
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By Jesse James Mctigue
Telluride’s spectacular summers are no secret. Visitors escape to this small mountain hamlet to hike its rugged trails, bike its meandering single track, fish its pristine rivers, and party at its world-class music festivals. All summer the town explodes, just like its epic fourth of July fireworks.
But as summer comes to a close, the deep greens in the mountains change to the bright yellows of fall, the summer visitors disperse and the town quiets. If summer in Telluride is the funnest date you’ve ever had, then fall is a long quiet romantic dinner that you hope never ends. It’s the same box canyon and quaint Main Street lined by independent shops, restaurants, cafes and yoga studios –yet it seems different—sleepier, slower, more intimate. Ironically, the shorter days of fall offer Telluride’s visitors, and residents alike, more time to linger.
Here’s five reasons to you’ll want to linger longer in Telluride this fall:
Same small town, different pace
The structure of fall’s weekdays, permit unstructured weekends. In Telluride, there’s time to stroll Main Street, get a coffee at the hipster coffee shop, Ghost Town or the refined, sustainably sourced café, the Butcher and the Baker. Dawdle on Main Street taking in the surrounding beauty as you peruse end of season sales at the upscale Two Skirts and Sublime, fall boots at the bohemian-inspired Down to Earth, or the versatile sensible styles at the Toggery.
At night, enjoy the casual pace and off-season gourmet Italian specials at Rustico; happy hour deals and a glass of Bourdeaux at the French bistro, La Marmotte; or a lychee martini and plate of pad Thai on the deck of the eclectic, Siam. Or, literally go above it all, enjoying a hand-mixed Mezcal cocktail, steak and fries at the historic Sheridan Hotel’s rooftop bar. This time of year, there is no need for dinner reservations or intricate plans – just come and the rest will fall into place.
The Same Mountains—but to yourself
This fall, find yourself alone on even the area’s most popular trails. Hike the Jud Wiebe, a 3-mile loop (vertical gain 1,300 feet) that begins and ends from town, or Bear Creek, a 4-mile out and back that awards hikers with a wide waterfall cascading over its rocky face. Become mesmerized by the changing patterns of yellow Aspen leaves and intricate browns scattered across the mountainsides. And be prepared for the occasional high country snow shower that will leave the surrounding peaks speckled in white.
The same Gondola; different reason to ride
Telluride’s free Gondola runs from the eclectic town to the Alps-inspired Mountain Village all year round. In the winter, skiers exit at the top to sail down the slopes. In the fall, bring your mountain bike or dog – both will ride for free with you. Get off at the top and run, hike or ride down to a cold beer at the Tomboy Tavern or Black Iron Grill in the Village. Or if you are in the mood to simply relax, ride the gondola over to the Mountain Village and check out the spectacular views of the mountainsides lit up with the colors of fall.
The same Town Park Stage; different scene
Telluride’s legendary summer festivals have become as characteristic of the town as the scenery—and the two no doubt complement each other. But, the fun doesn’t stop once the dog days of summer end. Fall festivals including Blues and Brews, Festival of Cars & Colors, live music at the Sheridan Opera House, and the Telluride Horrow Show keeps people entertained almost until the snow falls.
Breathtaking mountain running and cycling events
It’s impossible to visit Telluride and not to be inspired by the surrounding San Juan Mountains and it’s equally unthinkable not to get into them. And Telluride’s fall races will literally take your breath away as you test you physical stamina in one of the town’s three competitive September events -- The Imogene Pass Run (a 17-mile trail run from Ouray to Telluride that summits 13,114 feet) The Mountains to Desert Bike Race ( a 135-mile road bike race that starts in the high mountains of Telluride, travels through the high desert of Naturita and Gateway, then climbs again into Unaweep Canyon) or the low-key Deep Creek ½ marathon (a race so low key they don’t post the vertical gain—but just know it starts at 9,000 feet, quickly climbs to above 10,000 and stays there for a few miles before slowly descending to the Town of Telluride at 8750). Test yourself—try all three.
After all, what’s your hurry? It’s fall. The days may be shorter, but you can make the time last, if you let yourself linger for a just a little longer in Telluride.