Summer Ski Towns: Telluride, Colorado


The bad news: Summer is no longer Telluride's best-kept secret. The good news: You won't care. This jewel-toned, Victorian town in southwestern Colorado has less than 2,000 year-round residents and is surrounded by a jagged bulwark of 13,000-foot peaks. Summer here is a sensory picnic of crisp air, lapis lazuli skies and raucous wildflowers. Despite its remote location, 127 miles from Grand Junction and seven hours from Denver, Telluride has a stimulating cultural scene. Its jam-packed festival schedule includes the renowned Telluride Film Festival, plus celebrations of bluegrass, chamber music, jazz and ballet.

Rise and shine at Sofio's on Colorado Avenue (Telluride's main drag). Fuel up with a heaping helping of huevos and hit the miles of hiking and biking trails in Telluride's backyard. A cautionary note: Telluride is marked by vertical terrain. At 8,750 feet, lowlanders might feel a little wonky on their first day. If so, drink a lot of water and take it easy. Start out with a hike through Bear Creek Canyon, a locals' favorite. From the end of South Pine Street, follow Bear Creek about 2 miles through a dramatic valley to a cascading waterfall. Once acclimated, try the Sneffels Highline Trail, a 13-mile hiking loop that starts from the Jud Wiebe trailhead at the top of North Aspen Street.

Tooling around town in the afternoon, you'll find just about everything-from antiques to ice cream-except chain stores. Don't forget to take in the historic sites, among them the Pacific Street Cribs. These gaily colored Victorians were houses of ill repute during Telluride's rowdy mining period. History buffs can opt for an in-depth tour via Historic Tours of Telluride. Slake your thirst on the deck at Leimgruber's Bier Stube, also known as Mindlubers. You'll feel willkommen at this boisterous German-style pub, where you might catch an oompah-pah band. Be careful in this corner of town, known to locals as the Bar-muda Triangle.

Come evening, choose from Asian to haute cuisine. For such a wee town, Telluride has a dizzying array of dinnertime options. Make a reservation at La Marmotte for provincial French cuisine in a cozy, historic building. If you're in a casual mood, hit Baked in Telluride for a microbrew and special of the day, anything from calzones to Navajo tacos. After dinner, plan the next day's schedule from your oval office-a hot tub under the stars. By now you'll have come to understand why Telluride is called "the town without a bellyache."

Check out the Telluride Almanac.