Listed below are some of our favorite day trips from Telluride. You can choose to make two trips in a day: for example, trips to Montrose and Ouray, or a single trip to the four corners, Moab or Mesa Verde. All are within three hours driving distance from Telluride.
Mesa Verde National Park, located between Durango and Cortez and only 2.5 hours from Telluride, is rich in history with spectacular views stretching over one hundred miles. The National Park was established to preserve archaeological sites built by the Ancestral Puebloans dating back to 550 A.D. These inhabitants lived in the Four Corners region of Colorado for over 700 years. Spend hours looking at more than 4,700 archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings, pueblos, masonry towers, farming structures, and much more. Take a peek into the past through the lens of one of the best preserved and most notable National Parks of its kind in the United States. But that's not all: Mesa Verde National Park has numerous hiking trails, beautiful camping grounds, heritage foods and cuisine, Native American handcrafts and shopping, and more.
Million Dollar Highway
U.S. Route 550 runs from Bernalillo, New Mexico to Montrose, Colorado. Boasting one of the most beautiful, jaw-dropping drives in the entire nation, this stretch of road is frequently called the Million Dollar Highway. The Highway is known for its mountain passes, high elevation, amazing scenery, steep cliffs, and other various adventures: this drive is not for the fainthearted, but it's worth every mile! The stretch between Silverton and Ouray offers you the best opportunity to experience the amazing scenic highway and stop over in nearby Telluride. Enjoy sites of the Uncompahgre Gorge, Idarado Mine, Animas River, San Juan National Forest, Haviland Lake, Elektra Lake, Twilight Peak, Red Mountain Pass, and many more "million dollar" views that epitomize the American West.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
This is one of the most fun-filled activities in Colorado -- perfect for the entire family. The historic train through the San Juan Mountains has been in operation since 1881, for over 120 years. Steam locomotives were used to carry silver and gold from the San Juan Mountains during the booming mining days. Embark on an unforgettable 45 mile (one way) journey from Durango to Silverton along the Animas River with amazing views of Colorado's canyon scenery. You will pass by old mining camps, 14,000 foot peaks, and much more beautiful Southwest Colorado terrain.
San Juan Skyway
The San Juan Skyway covers 236 miles of terrain across the beautiful Southwest corner of Colorado. Beginning in Durango, the skyway travels in a loop passing through Cortez, Delores, Rico, Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray, and Silverton. Travel over high mountain passes, through historic mining towns, and through the heart of 5 million acres of both the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests. Absolutely breathtaking views and outdoor activities will accompany you along the entire journey.
For a detailed map of the San Juan Skyway, click here.
The historic city of Ouray is located just a short hour's drive (50 miles) from Telluride. Ouray claims itself as the "Little Switzerland of America" and is set in a box canyon similar to Telluride's. Visitors will enjoy the thermal activity at the local Ouray Hot Springs swimming pool (open all year) and Vapor Caves. Take a beautiful, historic drive or four-wheel adventure over to Telluride along Yankee Boy Basin and the Imogene Pass. The original True Grit was filmed in this area in 1968 and included scenes in the city of Ouray and most notably, the interior of the Ouray County Court House. Visit our mountain neighbors in Ouray for the perfect day trip from Telluride.
Montrose, Colorado is located just a short hour and 15 minute drive (66 miles) from Telluride. Montrose serves as the major hub and most used airport (MTJ) to access Telluride with daily flights and shuttles rides to/from Telluride and Mountain Village. It's also the gateway to the famous and beautiful Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, known for its supreme rafting, fishing, and hiking terrain.
Nestled in the Animas River Valley surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, Durango is another nearby city with the same western spirit. Durango was originally founded as stop along the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and has grown to be a much larger town than Telluride. The Animas River runs straight through downtown of this beautiful mountain town and provides great waters for fly fishing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canoeing. Durango is known for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the heritage railway connecting Durango to Silverton and for its proximity to Mesa Verde National Park (just 35 miles east). Durango is also another transportation hub (DRO) during the winter and summer seasons with daily flights and shuttle rides to Telluride and Mountain Village.
Our friendly ski town neighbor, Silverton, is a 2 hour drive (74 miles) away from Telluride, weather depending. Silverton is a former silver mining camp which takes advantage of the secluded location, steep terrain, and enormous amounts of snowfall in the winters. Silverton Ski Mountain offers guided tours during the ski season and consistently boasts some of the deepest snow in the nation. The ski resort was the setting for some of Shaun White's 2010 Olympic training which allowed the snowboarder to perfect his gold medal routine without the media and crowds. Silverton is also linked to the nearby town of Durango via the Narrow Gauge Railroad. This is a great day trip from Telluride in the winters to experience steep terrain, heli-skiing, and waist deep turns.
Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of southwest Colorado, northwest New Mexico, northeast Arizona and southeast Utah. With Telluride's strategic location in the Four Corners area, you can easily make day trips to the other 3 areas. Top attractions around the Four Corners include: Mesa Verde National Park, Moab, Arches National Park, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Canyonlands, Lake Powell, and more.
Moab, Utah is located a short drive from Telluride (134 miles) and is one of the best day drips in the Telluride region. As you leave Telluride's 13,000 foot peaks, in just under 3 hours you end up in the desert town of Moab. The drive takes you through a beautiful canyon and Paradox Valley where climbers flock from all over to experience this superb rock. Moab hosts visitors to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Mountain biking, camping, 4-wheeling, and much more adventures await you in this awesome town.