126 miles N. of Durango, 127 miles S. of Grand Junction
This was one seriously rowdy town a century ago -- in fact, this is where Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank, in 1889. Incorporated with the boring name of Columbia in 1878, the mining town assumed its present name the following decade. Some say the name came from tellurium, a gold-bearing ore, while others insist the name really means "to hell you ride," referring to the town's boisterous nature.
Telluride became a National Historic District in 1964, and in 1968 entrepreneur Joe Zoline set to work on a "winter recreation area second to none." The Telluride Ski Company opened its first runs in 1972, and Telluride was a boomtown again. Telluride's first summer festivals (bluegrass in June, film in Sept) were celebrated the following year. Today the resort, at 8,745 feet elevation, is a year-round destination for mountain bikers, skiers, anglers, and hikers. Funky has mostly given way to chic these days, but the surrounding natural beauty remains unforgettable.