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Gaining Perspective in Telluride


The German poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe reportedly once said, “The heights charm us, but the steps do not; with the mountain in our view, we love to walk the plains.” Goethe died in 1832, but I wonder: Would his perspective been different had he lived to ride Telluride’s gondola

The town of Telluride sits at 8,750 feet and Mountain Village resides at 9,545. Walking the “plains” in either of these communities is certainly rewarding—beautiful peaks surround them—but gaining altitude for a better view doesn’t require as many steps as Goethe feared. With the free gondola, hikers and bikers can reach 10,500 feet in mere minutes and without effort. Yesterday, I took a stroll from the top of the gondola and soon found myself looking down at Mountain Village (in the lower left of the photo above; the midway gondola station is seen higher and to the right) and level with many mountaintops.

Telluride’s gondola is the only transportation system of its kind in North America, and it connects the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village. The ride is free to pedestrians and mountain bikers, and, regardless of age, the sensation of being suspended and carried safely up and down a mountain is worth experiencing.

By disembarking midway between the towns, at Station St. Sophia, short explorations in any direction offer the opportunity to look across the valleys and mesas and see panoramic views. If you’re willing to walk farther than Goethe, many excellent hikes (and bike rides) begin from Station St. Sophia. There’s no other American resort that launches a simple summer adventure to 10,500 feet for free.

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