Gorgeous views are everywhere when you’re in Telluride! This historic city sits in a box canyon, with towering snow-capped mountains all around, and anywhere you look the view will be amazing. But there are some spots that are worth a mention. Whether you’re visiting Telluride for the first or 50th time, these should be on you must-do list every time. Here are five of our favorite, Telluride sightseeing spots for those Instagram-worthy views.
Just a quick ride from Telluride (about 6 miles south of the city), are the Alta Lakes. This series of mountain lakes are a part of the beautiful Uncompahgre National Forest. Like a pretty picture postcard, the lakes’ mirrored surfaces reflect the bright blue sky, puffy white clouds and the encircling snow-capped mountains.
There are several well-traveled trails that meander around the lakes, over a dam, through the surrounding forests and meadows, and into the abandoned, ghost town of Alta. There’s not too much left of Alta, which started out as a mining town when gold was discovered nearby in Gold King Basin in 1877. But since the town sits at an elevation of about 11,800 feet, as you can imagine, the view is pretty wonderful.
While enjoying the trails, hikers will be treated with many Telluride sightseeing options, including the views of Bald Mountain, Silver Mountain and Telluride Ski Resort. You can hike and bike the trails while enjoying the beautiful scenery, maybe have a picnic by the lake, or spend the day out on the lake canoeing and kayaking on the cool, dark water. You can easily fish for trout from the bank or from your canoe or kayak.
Bridal Veil Falls
You don’t have to go far to see the falls in Telluride. In fact, you can see them from various spots around town. This gorgeous waterfall is at the end of the box canyon, and overlooks historic Telluride. The private power plant perched on the top of the waterfall was originally built to provide power to the Smuggler-Union Mine, but now powers a portion of Telluride.
The falls are beautiful year-round, especially when they ice over in winter, and without much effort do resemble a bride’s long, lacey bridal veil. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Bridal Veil Falls is the tallest free-falling waterfall in the state and one of the most photographed. Continue your hike past the falls, wandering through meadows, along wooded trails, beside cool mountain lakes, and you’ll be rewarded with more amazing views as you hike.
Bear Creek Falls
So many great hikes start right in Telluride, and this popular hike is no exception. The Bear Creek Preserve Trailhead is just at the end of South Pine Street in Telluride, and has a wide dirt track perfect for hikers, bikers and horseback riders. The trail winds through lovely Aspen trees and grassy meadows, and you can see the falls as you walk through a large grassy meadow.
The hike to the falls is about 2-1/2 miles, and you’ll gain over 1,000-feet in elevation on this moderate climb. But the view of the falls and of Telluride far below are definitely worth the hike. Bear Creek Falls are in the Bear Creek Preserve, (a popular place for hiking, biking and enjoying the outdoors), in Bear Creek Canyon. You can continue on past the falls on the Wasatch Trail for more hiking and great views.
Jud Wiebe Trail
Located near an old gold mining town, the Jud Wiebe Trail is one of the first trails in the area to get clear of snow in the spring. It’s a climb of about 1,300 feet, but don’t worry, there are benches along the way and at the top where you can rest while taking in the panoramic views of Ajax Peak and Bear Creek, as well as Telluride. As you hike the trail’s switchbacks, wander through grassy meadows, through aspen and spruce forests, along a few gurgling mountain streams (perfect for cooling off a bit), and over the upper Cornet Creek footbridge, there are plenty of spots to stop and admire the view.
The trail is named after Jud Wiebe, a Forest Service recreation manager, who planned the trail but passed away prior to its completion. You can find the trailheads to this 3-mile loop hike at either Aspen Street or Tomboy Road. One of the most picturesque hikes in town, it’s a local favorite, and one that every visitor to Telluride should hike.
Sightseeing in Telluride & Mountain Village Gondola
The Telluride Mountain Village Gondola isn’t just a gondola ride with amazing, panoramic views, it’s actually part of the area’s public transportation system. The “G” connects historic Telluride with the nearby Town of Mountain Village, and is used by locals and visitors alike. And not only is it pet-friendly, it’s fully accessible and it’s free!
This enjoyable sightseeing in Telluride takes a little over ten minutes, during which riders are treated to an incredible panoramic view of the western snowcapped San Juan Mountain Range, dense forests, waterfalls, and aerial views of both towns. Visitors can ride the gondola from May through October, and again from November through April, and the “G” has equipment racks for all your skis, bikes and snowboards. And, as you can imagine, the ride in the fall when the trees are turning is stunning.