Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Telluride, CO (6/5/2016)

If I had unlimited funds, I would own one of the mountains overlooking Telluride, CO, with a large home, a Jeep for summer driving, a helicopter for the winter and a Gulfstream jet for "vacations".  It is one of my favorite places on earth, but I'm moving to Montrose instead because I don't have unlimited funds.  When I drove out of Montrose last Sunday, the price of unleaded gas had risen to $2.46.  In Ridgway, 25 miles south, it was $2.59.  In Telluride, it was $2.99.  That tells a lot about the cost of living in paradise.

Telluride is located in a box canyon nestled among the San Miguel Mountains, one of the most beautiful areas in the country.  The town is also one of the coolest places you'll see, with all Victorian style buildings in the town, but modern mansions high on the surrounding mountains.  Founded as a gold mining camp in 1875, the town has a population of fewer than 2500 people.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid began their life of crime here by robbing the San Miguel Valley Bank in 1889.  One scene for the 1969 movie about their escapades was filmed in the New Sheridan Hotel bar.  Telluride and its sister community, Mountain Village, are now known primarily as a tourist destination and ski resort.  Many celebrities live here, at least part of the time. 

 Even before entering town, you are struck by the beauty of the mountains forming the box canyon, with its waterfalls and snow-covered peaks.

From the flowering trees, it's clear that Spring has just arrived in the high country.

Assisted by many streams of snowmelt, Ingram's Creek and Black Bear Creek join to form the beginning of the San Miguel River.

Just outside of town, the still-active Pandora Mine marks the beginning of the road up to Black Bear Pass, but we can only drive as far as Bridal Veil Falls and the famous "Power House".  Black Bear Pass is still closed by snow, and is one-way (down) above the waterfall when it is open.

because the road is narrow, steep and rocky, lots of people park below and hike up to the waterfall.  In this view, you can clearly see the zig-zag of switchbacks as the road descends the mountain.  That road is rated the most difficult and dangerous of all the mountain passes in Colorado.

These settlement ponds are part of the remediation project being conducted by Idarado Mine, cleaning up all the mine tailings from their long-closed mine.
 Black Bear Creek runs beside the building, but part of it is diverted through the basement and powers a turbine to generate electricity, originally used to power mine equipment.  The main body of the creek goes over the side to form bridal Veil Falls, at 365 feet it's the tallest waterfall in the state.  The building was restored for use as a residence some years ago, and the owner used the cable in the picture for a tram to come and go when the road was snowed in.  I don't know if the building is currently used.

Did I say the road is rocky?  These small boulders cause a driver to weave their way, sometimes out near the edge.
Where this stream crosses the road, I stopped to take photos.  Two young women had parked there and planned to hike to the falls, but couldn't cross the stream without getting wet shoes.  I offered to give them a lift because I know what a tough hike it is.  They were happy to go with me, and we had a good time seeing the various sights.  Amy, a teacher, and Caroline, an office manager, live and work in Boulder.

Ingram's Falls and Creek come streaming down the mountain.
I believe the jagged peaks belong to San Sophia Ridge, the other side of which I saw in 2014 when I drove to Governor Basin.

Here's a close-up view of Bridal Veil Falls.  We didn't stay here very long because we were getting drenched by the spray.

Someone put a "bridge" across Ingram's Creek so climbers can cross to the climb area.  They also have to cross a ledge only a foot wide, but there is a cable there to give them something to hang onto.

Looking down at the creek, there is a good view of the canyon and town.

There is also another look at the house and waterfall above us.

After dropping the ladies at their car and having my lunch at the town park, I drove south on Highway 145 to drive up Ophir Pass.  That will be the subject of the next travelogue.


  1. Thank you Stan,you always save me a lot of gas! We tried to get to Telluride a few weeks ago when we were driving to Paonia from Cortez. When we were to turn right off 145 into the canyon the road was backed up as far as we could see so we turned left and proceeded to Paonia. Great shots as usual.

    1. Happy to help, ED. It can be like that at times. I would have passed by, too.