The best way to see the Telluride National Historic District, examine its hundreds of historic buildings, and get a feel for the West of the late 1800s is to take to the streets. Either follow the walking tour described in the Telluride Visitor's Guide, available at the Telluride Visitor Information Center, or rent a mini disk player with a disk and accompanying map at the Telluride Historical Museum for one of the recorded audio walking tours of Telluride. Cost of the audio tour rental is $10, and there are five tours available, each concentrating on a different part of the community.
Among the buildings you'll see are the San Miguel County Courthouse, Colorado Avenue at Oak Street, built in 1887 and still in use today. A block north and west, at Columbia Avenue and Aspen Street, is the L. L. Nunn House, home of the late-19th-century mining engineer who created the first high-voltage alternating-current power plant in the world. Two blocks east of Fir Street, on Galena Avenue at Spruce Street, is St. Patrick's Catholic Church, built in 1895, whose wooden Stations of the Cross figures were carved in Austria's Tyrol region. Perhaps Telluride's most famous landmark is the New Sheridan Hotel and the Sheridan Opera House, opposite the county courthouse at Colorado and Oak. The hotel, built in 1895, rivaled Denver's famed Brown Palace Hotel in service and cuisine in its early days. The exquisite opera house, added in 1914, boasts a Venetian scene painted on its roll curtain.
Colorado's highest waterfall (365 ft.) can be seen from the east end of Colorado Avenue. Bridal Veil Falls freezes in winter, then slowly melts in early spring, creating a dramatic effect. Perched at the top edge of the falls is a National Historic Landmark, a hydroelectric power plant that served area mines in the late 1800s. Recently restored and once again supplying power to the community, it's accessible by hiking or driving a switchback, four-wheel-drive road.
The Festival Scene
Telluride must be the most festival-happy town in America, and visitors come from around the world to see the finest new films, hear the best musicians, and even pick the most exotic mushrooms. In addition to the phone numbers listed, you can get additional details and often tickets from the Telluride Tourism Board.
The Telluride Film Festival (tel. 510/665-9494; www.telluridefilmfestival.org), an influential festival within the film industry that takes place over Labor Day weekend, has premiered some of the finest films produced in recent years (Brokeback Mountain and Juno are just a couple examples). What truly sets it apart, however, is the casual interaction between stars and attendees. Open-air films and seminars are free to all.
Mountainfilm (tel. 970/728-4123; www.mountainfilm.org), which takes place every Memorial Day weekend, brings together filmmakers, writers, and outdoor enthusiasts to celebrate mountains, adventure, and the environment. Four days are filled with films, seminars, and presentations.
The Telluride Bluegrass Festival (tel. 800/624-2422; www.bluegrass.com/telluride) is one of the most intense and renowned bluegrass, folk, and country jam sessions in the United States. Held over 4 days during mid- to late June in conjunction with the Bluegrass Academy, recent lineups have featured Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bela Fleck, Ani DiFranco, and Ryan Adams.
The Telluride Jazz Celebration (tel. 970/728-7009; www.telluridejazz.org), a 3-day event in early June, is marked by day concerts in Town Park and evening happenings in downtown saloons. Recent performers have included Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, Stanley Jordan, and Bettye LeVette.
Nothing Fest (www.telluridenothingfestival.com), a non-event begun in the early 1990s, is just that -- nothing special happens, and it doesn't happen all over town. It's usually scheduled in mid-July. When founder Dennis Wrestler was asked how long the festival would continue, he responded, "How can you cancel something that doesn't happen?" Admission is free, and you can get all the noninformation you need from the Telluride Tourism Board.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.