Tuesday, September 21, 2021

XC Colorado Road Trip - Part 3 - Telluride

My wife Kris and I took a 19 day road trip this summer to Colorado and back. This 4 part post series and the photos (and a couple videos) are from our journey. 

Part 1 - NC to Colorado Springs

Part 2 - Crested Butte

Part 4 - Salida to NC

Part 3 is our time in Telluride, CO. 

Read on for more commentary amongst the photos...

McIntyre and Dom continued east to get home from their extended road trip and begin their new jobs. Kris, the boys, and I left Crested Butte to head to Telluride. Highway 50 had a major road construction closure, so we did a slight detour that led us to the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. McIntyre and I had visited the south rim last year on our summer 2020 road trip so it was interesting to see it from the less visited north rim. 

That is Painted Wall behind William, Kris, & Jake.

You could fit the Chicago Sears Tower (now called Willis Tower) inside this canyon and still have room left over.

We then arrived in Telluride and checked into our little AirBnB house. That evening, we walked around town and took the free gondola ride up Telluride Mountain and over to Mountain Village and back. This is the view from atop Telluride Mountain looking down at the town of Telluride.

If Crested Butte is a "mountain surf town", then Telluride is the more upscale version with fancier stores, restaurants, etc but still has a laid back vibe. An old west former silver mining town at 8,750 ft elevation at the end of a box canyon, with Colorado's largest free falling waterfall on one end overlooking downtown Main Street (Colorado Avenue), the San Miguel River running along the entire length and edge of the town with a nice walking/biking path alongside, and with a giant never ending ski mountain and free Gondola off to the side, and mild summer temperatures, Telluride offers many outdoor fun attractions.

They are also known for holding many different art, music, and film festivals throughout the year. Fun Fact: Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank here and that building still stands today along Colorado Avenue. 

The next day, we did an afternoon hike right out of the downtown area and a short walk from our AirBnb house - the Jud Wiebe Loop, a 4.5+ mile hike (from/to our AirBnB, actual trail loop is shorter) with 1,300 ft elevation gain. It had great views of Telluride plus tons of beautiful aspen trees. 

The view of Telluride from the Jud Wiebe Loop Trail

This was a house on the street near our AirBnB - nice barrel sauna.

Another view from the Jud Wiebe Trail - you can see both waterfalls at the end of the box canyon - Bridal Veil Falls on the right (largest free standing waterfall in Colorado), and Ingram Falls on the left.

An old Telluride classic cabin near downtown.

The flowers here are big!

That morning before our hike, I mountain biked the "Gentleman's Loop", which begins by taking the free Gondola to the top of Telluride Mountain with my mountain bike in tow, then climbing another 1,300 ft elevation gain from there on the bike and on single track trails, then bombing downhill 2,700 ft back into town. Its a great loop up and all around Telluride Mountain, Mountain Village, the Valley Floor and more....a great mix of XC and downhill. It was a total of 17.6 miles.

The next day, we drove to Ouray to do a 4x4 excursion on a rented RZR 4 seater with Ride-N Adventures. We drove from town up through Yankee Boy Basin and Government Basin. It was a great experience and the views were spectacular. The roads were pretty sketchy with steep narrow passes and big loose rock but the RZR was fun to drive in those conditions. 

After a nice lunch at The Outlaw Restaurant, we drove south along the Million Dollar Highway and up and over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. It's called the Million Dollar Highway because it apparently cost a million dollars for every mile to build it back in the early 1900s. And many people say "you couldn't pay me a million dollars to drive that road". It requires a lot of concentration. I would never drive it slick conditions. There are many avalanche passes along that stretch of road too. 

After a quick ride through Silverton, I decided it was time to give Ophir Pass another shot, this time in my own vehicle, the Toyota 4Runner. For a little background on my Ophir Pass experience last summer, click here...and scroll down through that long post to "Friday July 17th". The 4Runner handled it like a champ but it was definitely sketchy, but nice to drive it in the day light and be able see the drop-offs and rocky conditions. We drove it in reverse from last year back over to Ophir (then on to Telluride) from the Silverton side. I still can't believe we drove it last year in McIntyre's Ford Escape and in the dark...and somehow made it unscathed.

avalanche destruction

the little town of Ophir

Colorado Avenue, Telluride

Biking along the San Miguel River in Telluride

the Valley Floor Trail, nice beginner mountain bike trail for everyone.

a wild looking quad bike I spotted in town

We drove to the end of Colorado Avenue and kept going up where 4x4 is required, through several switchbacks, to get to Bridal Veil Falls.

biking the Valley Floor Trail along the San Miguel River 

a cool kids skate park in town

William wanted to do some downhill mountain biking, so after a discussion about safety and taking it slow, we ventured out to the lift assisted trails on Telluride Mountain and stuck to the main green trail, "TommyKnocker", which still provided for a very rippable 5+ mile downhill trail...it took us 20 minutes to descend it. We rode it 5x = 26 miles. William did great and was tired after that, so I got two more runs in before the bike park closed, on two of the blue downhill trails. Fun jumps and big berms. No peddling. 32 miles ridden, all downhill that day. 

The last 6.5-7 minutes of the video above are highlights from the Telluride Mountain Bike Park riding.

Telluride vehicles

a dip in nearby Trout Lake

Our last day in Telluride, the skies got hazy from California wildfire smoke that had blown into the area.

a couple more photos of Bridal Veil Falls

Elk along the Valley Floor Trail

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