Best Things To Do in Telluride in Summer (It’s Not Just a Ski Town)

The box canyon of downtown Telluride illuminated in the golden glow of sunset in summer

About Summer in Telluride, Colorado

Couple standing behind purple flowers in front of sweeping views of the San Juan Mountains from Last Dollar Road in Telluride during summer

Although a bustling ski resort area in winter, there is no lack of things to do in Telluride in summer!

Venturing into Telluride Colorado in those summer months is like walking into a mountain town straight out of a Hollywood movie scene. Set among thick forests and snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, this Victorian mining town has evolved into a popular ski and golf destination

Driving into the box canyon where downtown is nestled, you are treated to breathtaking views of green trees, gushing waterfalls, and rocky peaks. Telluride is beautifully maintained and in the summer, filled with beautiful wildflowers and a lively, free-spirited atmosphere. Shops and restaurants line the streets and friendly faces and dogs basking in the clean mountain air can be found on every corner.

Looking for the best things to do in Telluride Colorado in summer? This guide will help you find great opportunities to explore this great town, connect with nature, and make the most of your mountain getaway! We visited Telluride Colorado for the first time in June and it quickly became one of our favorite destinations.

What to do in Telluride (Summer Edition!)

Park for free and explore Telluride’s Town Park

Lush green vegetation surrounding Telluride's Town Park in summer

Located just past the heart of downtown is the Town Park. This is also the location of the Town Park Campground, which is open for camping typically from May through October.

Town Park has ample facilities including a skate park, fishing pond, pool, playground, volleyball and basketball courts, a stage, and athletic fields. With lush grass, well-maintained paths, flowing streams, and amazing mountain views, this is a great place to enjoy an evening stroll or picnic while listening to the sounds of mountain streams and enjoying a cool summer breeze in this elevated oasis.

While there is metered parking in the business district of downtown Telluride, these spots can be limited. You can park for free at the Town Park parking lot. There is a 4-hour limit that is enforced until 6 pm, which is perfect for a late afternoon or evening spent in town. Spots can be a bit tight, but we were able to find parking for our long bed dually on a Friday afternoon. While parking here requires a 0.5-mile walk through downtown to the gondola station, this is a great opportunity to stretch your legs, explore the local park, and enjoy a slow meander through downtown.

Do some window shopping along the streets of downtown Telluride

Flower box in downtown Telluride Colorado with mountain views at the head of the box canyon

Telluride in summer is the perfect opportunity to meet a few friendly pups or catch some of a local softball game in the Town Park. After making it across the park, you will pass a bridge over the San Miguel River and find yourself on East Pacific Avenue in downtown Telluride

Window shopping and exploring downtown Telluride is a great opportunity to explore more of what this area has to offer. See the iconic view from West Colorado Avenue, peering out into the box canyon at Bridal Veil Falls. Support a small local business, view amazing artwork or photography at a local gallery, or stop into a brewery or restaurant.

In addition to taking in the view or shopping, another great thing to do in Telluride is to connect with some of the locals. We love talking to residents of places we visit to learn more about what life is like for them. This is a great way to go deeper than the average tourist and really connect on a human level.

From the Telluride locals, we learned about the friendly nature of the community, the deep love for outdoor adventure and nature, as well as some of the challenges concerning affordable housing options in the area. You can learn a lot when you strike up a conversation with one of the friendly faces around!

Take the FREE gondola to Telluride’s Mountain Village

Couple enjoying a Telluride Gondola ride. One of the best things to do in Telluride in summer!

One thing you can’t miss when visiting Telluride in summer is the opportunity to ride the most unique public transportation in America

Located at the intersection of Oak Street and West San Juan Avenue is Telluride Station. This is one of three stations where the free gondola operates as part of a wonderful green initiative. Traveling at 11mph, the gondola links Telluride up and over Coonskin Ridge to the resort area of Mountain Village. The journey is a 13-minute breathtaking glide through the treetops. 

Immersed in nature and the pristine sounds of wind, streams, and birds, you are treated to views of downtown Telluride and a 360-degree display of this area’s mountain beauty.

The gondola runs daily from 6:30 am to 12 am during summer and winter (with some nights in the summer operated later). It also offers accessible and pet-friendly cabins, as well as places to bring along your skis or bikes depending on the season. The gondola does experience some closures in fall and spring for routine maintenance.

After getting into a cabin at Telluride Station, ride up 1,750 feet from Telluride Station to Saint Sophia station and then back down 960 feet to Station Mountain Village.

View into the Box Canyon where Telluride Colorado sits while taking the gondola to Mountain Village in summer

Free Bouldering practice at Adventure Rock in Mountain Village

Male climber practicing bouldering at Telluride's Mountain Village Adventure rock during summer

After exiting the gondola at Mountain Village, a fun first stop to build your appetite is to get in some free bouldering practice at Adventure Rock. Situated next to the Telluride Conference center, this man-made rock offers routes for beginner climbers to the more seasoned experts. Test your strength and have some fun exploring and challenging your skills. 

As with any rock climbing or bouldering, always use caution and know your limits. Bouldering is another great activity that requires presence and being fully immersed in what you are doing from moment to moment.

Beers + Burgers to go from Telluride Brewing Co Brew Pub

After working up an appetite from exploring downtown Telluride and bouldering at Adventure rock, there are several dining options to choose from in Mountain Village. We love surveying local breweries throughout our travels! We decided to get drinks and burgers from Telluride Brewing Company’s Brew Pub in Heritage Plaza. Ordering to go gives you the option to dine outside at a shaded table, or even in a gondola cabin! We were lucky enough to be visiting during the summer concert series and got our food and drinks and headed to Reflection Plaza.

From the juicy grass-fed burgers that made your mouth water to the perfectly crisp and lightly salted hammer fries, the meal from Telluride Brewing was fresh and bursting with flavor. They also have vegetarian options as well. We enjoyed the beer and cider we tried and felt this meal was the perfect summer concert accompaniment.

Heritage Plaza's courtyard and outside dining options in Telluride's Mountain Village in summer
Heritage Plaza in Telluride’s Mountain Village has ample dining options

Find a spot to enjoy Mountain Village’s free summer concert series

Music on the Green is Mountain Village’s free summer music series that is held in Reflection Plaza. While Reflection Plaza is an ice rink in winter, in summer it is replaced with green turf with ample seating to enjoy live music. 

Taking place Friday evenings from early June to early September from 5 pm-7 pm, this event is a great way to enjoy music while dining alfresco. We saw the Devon Worley Band and had a great time!

Devon Worley Band playing at Music on The Green in Telluride's Mountain Village Reflection Plaza during summer

Telluride Summer Concert Series Know before you go:

  • The turf area starts in the sun. Know there might be minimal shade at first, but as the sun goes down the entire area is very pleasant.
  • There is limited seating on the perimeter and some reserved seating in the center. Sitting on the turf was fairly comfortable, but bring a chair or blanket if you would prefer.
  • You can order food or drinks from any local restaurant and enjoy it while listening to the music. There is also a small stand serving drinks on site in Reflection Plaza as well.
  • If you get a buzzer from a local restaurant, just know it may not work all the way in Reflection Plaza. Ours from Telluride Brewpub did not go off while we were in Reflection Plaza, so you might need to stay close until your order is ready.

Stop off at Saint Sophia Station

Couple standing with lush green view of downtown Telluride in Summer from the Saint Sophia Station gondola stop

After enjoying an evening of delicious food, drinks, and entertainment, head back to the Mountain Village Gondola Station. This time, exit at Sophia Station. Located up at 10,540 feet this is a great pit stop on the way back to downtown Telluride. Here you can look into the canyon below and watch as the sun sets over the layers of blue and gray mountains in the distance. 

This is a popular destination for hiking and biking in summer and is also a wonderful spot for a quiet moment to soak in this area’s beauty and appreciate the mesmerizing end to another day.

When you are ready, return back to the station for the final descent down to Telluride Station. Want to take your gondola ride to the next level? Perhaps take a few moments to close your eyes and enjoy the breeze through the small vented windows and listen to the echoing soundscape of a summer night in this well-cared-for environment.

The lush green of Telluride's ski slopes in summer
Lush green Telluride ski slopes have turned into mountain biking and hiking trails for the summer

Stroll back to Telluride’s Town Park Along the San Miguel River

After getting off the gondola ride, taking the path along the San Miguel River back to your vehicle at Town Park is a peaceful way to cap off the evening. Head down West San Juan Ave past Smuggler Union Brewery and Restaurant and take a right at the intersection with South Pine Street. Right before the bridge, you can take a left onto a packed dirt path that meanders alongside the San Miguel River.

With the sun getting lower, watch as it flickers with the water dancing over various rocks and stones in the river bed. Listen as the insects and birds come alive in song, creating the perfect harmony for the crisp rushing water. Sauntering along this path will lead you on an immersive journey back to the bridge that will connect you to Town Park. Taking this route back will really allow you to embrace both the infrastructure of the town and the wonderful array of nature that envelops it. A balance that puts the interconnectedness of people and nature at the forefront.

The San Miguel River gently flowing through downtown Telluride Colorado in Summer in front of a dramatic mountain backdrop

Telluride Summer Festivals

Looking for more to do in this thriving community? Telluride is also home to great events and festivals each year! Here are some of the popular festivals, held each summer and into early fall:

Summer Hiking in Telluride

Wildflowers adorning the vibrant blue Hope Lake near Telluride Colorado in summer
Hope Lake was our first-ever alpine lake hike!

Some of our favorite waterfall hikes are the ones we completed when staying in Telluride Colorado. The weather in summer is perfect for hiking, the wildflowers are in bloom, and the mountain views and lush forests are the perfect escape from the day-to-day stressors. Here are some of our favorite hikes you might like to consider during your summer visit to Telluride Colorado:

Female hiker sitting on a rock ledge above a turquoise blue lake on Blue Lakes trail in Colorado
The Blue Lakes trail is popular and for a good reason!

Cost of Visiting Telluride Colorado in Summer

This guide lists 8 amazing things you can do in Telluride during summer that are pretty budget-friendly. To be fully transparent, Telluride can be quite expensive depending on how you travel here.

It is a small remote town that is not really near many major airports. For camping, Town Park is the only campground with hook-ups in the area and fills up fast. We were lucky enough to camp for free with amazing million-dollar views at the Last Dollar Road Dispersed Camping area. This is certainly a gem and a great way to make this area more cost-effective to visit.

You can find out more about campground options and other accommodations from the trip planning resources at the bottom of this guide!

Fulfilling Travel Tips

Just like the hikes in the Telluride area, exploring the town of Telluride or Mountain Village also offers great opportunities to make this a really meaningful travel experience.

Spend some time getting to know the history of the town and how it has grown and changed. Tal Connect with the locals and learn about what it is like to live as a resident here, and the challenges and triumphs. Or perhaps, have a few mindful moments in nature. Take a few moments to put down the phone or camera and really embrace the beautiful landscape that encompasses this area or notice how much nature infiltrates the surroundings.

Embrace the opportunities to protect the local environment by walking or riding your bike to explore or taking the gondola rather than driving to Mountain Village. Take the “long way” back to secure a few quiet moments to really soak in this place and reflect on what you hope to gain from this travel experience. Be curious, express gratitude, and be conscious of the impact of your actions.

How can you create an experience that benefits you and also is good for the world around you?

Things to do in Telluride in Summer Overall

Orange sunset glow over the mountains of Telluride Colorado in summer

To us, summer in Telluride is as good as it gets. There is no shortage of outdoor things to do in Telluride during summer, the weather is mild, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are chirping. Telluride exudes a feeling of peace and happiness. 

This charming town and outdoor enthusiast’s dream quickly jumped to the top of our list of favorite places we have had the honor of visiting. With its ample hiking opportunities, great free camping, charming downtown, and unique green transportation system, it is the perfect place for an outdoor, nature-focused, mindful travel adventure. Slow down, unplug, and immerse yourself in all that this town has to offer!

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO TELLURIDE COLORADO

Getting to Telluride:

Telluride is a remote mountain town that has a small airport serviced through Denver, but is not easily accessible from any major airports.

  • Distance from Denver: 6.5 hours
  • Distance from Montrose (which is the closest regional airport: 70 miles
  • Distance from Phoenix: 8 Hours
  • Distance from Salt Lake City: 7 hours

The good news is that if you opt for a road trip, any route you choose will be stunning! If you are in an RV you can drive/tow from Silverton/Durango via the Million Dollar Highway, but it is certainly not for the faint of heart!

Always check your routes before embarking on your journey. We use Google Maps satellite and RV Life GPS to double-check before heading to any new destination.

Accommodations:

Telluride only has a few camping options including Last Dollar Road and The Town Park Campground. You can check surrounding areas as well for additional options! In addition to the camping locations we mentioned in this article, you might also consider a stay in nearby Ridgway Colorado. Ridgway State Park has extensive camping options.

Our favorite resources for finding great campgrounds and campsites include Campendium, RV Life, and iOverlander.

You can also check out HipCamp and TheDyrt for more unique camping experiences and accommodations.

If you are looking to get closer to nature but don’t have an RV, consider renting one through RV Share. We used both of these services when renting out our Casita and found them to be high quality and easy to use!

Another great option is glamping or nature-centric stays. Here are some great options for summer near Telluride Colorado:

You can explore all Telluride area accommodations and compare prices on Booking.com, which is a great resource for unique stays at the best rates.

Looking for other Telluride Colorado Resources?

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