Heading out of Grand Junction Monday morning - we had planned to spend the day in Montrose. However, since it was a holiday with the Visitor Center and many of the downtown stores closed - including the brewery we had planned to visit that night, we continued on.
Since this is our first time down the west side of Colorado we are just moving along as we find things. We planned our main route along the 550 - our sights set on Ouray, Silverton and Durango - with the Million Dollar Highway as the main draw.
Since we aren't in a hurry with this amazing weather, we decided to make a detour up to Telluride.
You know - to see if we run into Tom Cruise - ha!
I'll apologize now for all the pictures - to know me is to know that I don't really edit my photo selections well - I love so many of them and want to share - my posts tend to get a bit excessive - this one is no exception.
To be fair - it does cover a 24 hour period - the road to Telluride - Telluride - and down again. The scenery was amazing - again! Boy, we sure are doing well with all this fall colour.
So, get comfortable…...
First, we drove the 25 miles from Montrose to Ridgway. Then it was a right turn to make the 37 miles to Telluride. A nice ride to Ridgway - neat how the yellow of the aspens circles the hill - right?! Like a necklace.
As we rolled through Ridgway we noticed a large park with a playground. Since it was mid afternoon with only 37 miles to go to Telluride, we decided to pull over for a while to let Cas play. We were really taken with Ridgway following a quick stroll around downtown - we planned to return on our way back down. I have more photos of Ridgway from our return trip (and we are still here now) which I'll show you in the next post.
Now on the 62 heading west up to the Dallas Summit.
We sure are spending a lot of time climbing around these mountains!
This is a picture of a county park about 12 miles west of Telluride - we stopped for a bit so Cassia could play on the playground. We stopped there again on our way out so I'll save the rest of the photos for later in the post.
Getting closer to Telluride red rock shows up.
Coming into Telluride - there is a traffic circle first that takes you up to Mountain Village via the 145 or if you continue straight you pass all this open area prior to the town. A steady stream of traffic.
We drove into Telluride - did a quick tour - were a bit unnerved by all the congestion and parking rules. We decided to come back in the morning - maybe it will be quieter - and headed back to the first traffic circle area out of town, where Telluride Brewery Co. is located.
Although it is tucked into a type of strip mall - we eventually found Telluride Brewing Co. Sadly, with all the 'no overnight parking' signs even way out here out of town, we knew we were in trouble to find an overnight parking place.
Telluride Brewing doesn't serve food, so after a dinner of burgers in the van, we headed in for some samples. We really enjoyed their craft beer - and it is award winning. Sadly though, we were really frustrated by their lack of a place to sit. There is a bar that you can stand at but really - how long can you do that for. While visiting with our new friend Juju the three of us ended up sitting on the floor!!!! Crazy - why there are no stools we can't figure out. We have been in so many craft breweries….this is the first that had an area to hang out but nothing to sit on.
I'm thinking that Telluride Brewing is out of the town of Telluride because of the real estate prices but it really would have been nice for it to be situated in the town with a nice sitting area.
A picture taken by Cassia from only a perspective that she could have closer to the floor.
And here is Juju, whom we met at the Brewery and spent a few hours talking to. One of the best conversations we have had with one of the most fascinating people we have met. Juju is originally from France - after many years of working and traveling around the world he settled in Telluride 15 years ago - enamoured with the town and surrounding amazingly beautiful area.
Juju was very humble about his travels and work - so we were amazed when we later read an article about him in the Telluride Daily Planet. WoW! Just look what type of work he does in Telluride! Here is a link to the article -- For Juju Jullien, A life on the Edge
Thanks again for the beer Juju - great to meet you - keep in touch!
Meeting Juju serves to remind us why we love traveling so much - sure, we see some amazing country - but really in the end - it's the people that we meet that makes it so interesting and hard to let go of.
Between the server at the Brewery and Juju - it was determined that we should try spending the night at the free parking lot on the edge of town. So - that's where we headed when the brewery closed at 7:00pm bidding a goodbye to Juju.
Once parked we took the river trail about five blocks to the gondola station. One of the reasons we came to Telluride was reading that there gondola up to Mountain Village was free. Since it runs until 11:00pm we decided to ride it at night and then in the day again. I mean - just how many chances do you get to ride a gondola free and at night?!
Sadly, I couldn't take any pictures of the lights of Telluride down below because of the flash on the gondola car windows. Since it was my first ride in a gondola in the dark it was a bit eery and I can't say it was all that enjoyable - at this point I wasn't sure that I would be able to ride it in the day. Derek and Cassia however were loving the experience.
Mountain Village sits at the top of the mountain. It was very quiet at around 8:30pm and everything was closed. We spent a half hour or so looking around.
Nice that there are several public propane fire pits spread around the 'downtown' of Mountain Village.
We all had to dress pretty warm for this adventure.
Following our short tour of Mountain Village we took the gondola back to Telluride and headed back to the van arriving home at around 9:30pm. Another late night for Cassia but really, how often will we get this kind of experience?!
Tuesday morning - parked between to RVs for sale. Just after this picture was taken we had a knock at the door - a hard knock with a deep voice saying he was from the Marshall's office. Darn!
Derek went out and as he does - is friendly enough to diffuse the situation. After all we are respectful and are only here for a short time. Turns out the fellow was actually the dog catcher and was not sure that Rufus was on a leash ?????????? (even though it doesn't appear that Telluride has a leash law but anyway), the fellow went on to tell us that we can't park overnight there. Darn again - we were just talking about staying another night to really get a good tour of Telluride in. In our defence, there were no 'no overnight' parking signs and our new friends at the brewery said that we shouldn't have too much of a problem during the off season - which makes sense. Particularly since the Telluride Campground is closed.
Anyway, following this 'visit' we decided to just spend the next few hours looking around and then leaving. Telluride is just too much of a challenge to spend anytime visiting.
The view on our way back down the river trail to the gondola.
Telluride's River Trail.
Of course, even though it meant I had to be really brave - I couldn't forgo the ride by day. The view as we ascend the very steep mountain.
Amazing - right?! And our timing is perfect is seems for the colours.
Once you reach the top of the mountain the gondola continues on down into Mountain Village.
Who knew there were this many ski runs up here?!
So - our daytime walk around Mountain Village.
Telluride Mountain Ute.
How the other half - or one quarter live…..
As we were walking we all looked down amazed at the colours of the leaves.
As with the night before - we didn't stay in Mountain Village long - plus it was early and again - nothing was open. It's nice but definitely a ritzy place. I imagine it is bustling during the ski season.
Back to the gondola.
Good to read that the gondola has been safely transporting 26 million people, surely it won't go down while I'm on it - right?!
A stellar picture taken by Derek out his side of the cabin.
A view of the houses of Telluride.
Then we made our way to Main Street for a quick tour.
Telluride has quite the history and offers a historic walking tour. We took in a few of the buildings along our way. The New Sheridan is from 1895.
The Galloping Goose - a combo of auto and train.
Upon returning to the van we drove straight through town along the main road that eventually leads to a parking lot. If you have the right vehicle you can continue to climb up this hill behind the van to the Bridal Veil Falls.
It's difficult to see because of the sun but I was trying to take a picture of the house on the cliff. If you click on the link above for the falls you can see a great picture of it - wow - just wow!
The old Pandora Mill on the right.
With that we left Telluride. We saw this need building along 145 one our way up - I was able to get a shot of it on the way down.
Our return to Down Valley Park. Since there is such limited parking for large rigs in Telluride - our idea would be to pull in here for the day and take your tow vehicle the rest of the way - of course - make it back before it's too late because of course, you can't overnight here.
The park offers a nice walking trail around the lake.
We stayed at the park for a few hours - a chance again for Cassia to use the playground and a chance for us to get caught up on our house cleaning and dishes.
Back down the 62.
Entering back into Ridgway.
So, that was Telluride.
What did we really think of Telluride?
Well, it is situated in an amazingly beautiful place - particularly at this time of year with the fall colours but I have a feeling it is beautiful at anytime of year. The free gondola is very special especially for travellers like us - generally these types of rides are $20 or so per person - just not something that fits in our budget.
From Juju's perspective it is a nice community to live in - and we believe him - as a resident it would offer that unique balance of a quaint village, artistic and musical events in a dramatic location.
But for the visitor?
Well, we weren't impressed. At all.
We were plagued with congestion and mixed messages about parking. When we first arrived we attempted to visit the Visitor Center - you know - to get all this parking information sorted out. Sadly, the visitor center parking lot is teeny tiny and we - even with a van - couldn't fit. With no parking near by we had to wing it. Not good. We were so frustrated with our first drive it - we drove right out. Are we the first? I'm horrified to think what a big rig would do upon entering Telluride.
When we were at the Down Valley Park on the way in, a local resident told us about the 'no parking' rules (which she actually said to - not worry about - but then suggested the town campground - perfect we thought - we'll go there). And we did - this first drive in - only to find that it was closed for the season.
By the way - yes I am in the middle of a rant.
Because here is the thing - we have been to several tourist mountain towns - Breckenridge comes to mind. A place that did not stifle the visitor with parking rules - we spent two nights parked there - on a side street - without any trouble - and do you know what we do in a town like that - we spend money.
The officials in Telluride could learn a thing or two from a town like Breckenridge or Idaho Springs about how to treat it's visitors. It turns out we are not alone - while reading the Telluride Daily Planet there was a letter to the editor from a group of motorcyclists who all received parking tickets even though just as they arrived a police officer drove by them and nodded - not letting them know that they could not park where they were - you can read about it here if you are interested. After receiving their tickets - they left.
Since a rant should be constructive, here are our suggestions --
+ the visitor center should be pulled out to the large grass area before Telluride with a huge parking lot for cars and RVs - the Galloping Goose bus could then bring visitors to the downtown.
+ a 24 hour parking pass given to visitors to overnight in the parking lot (Idaho Springs has a 24 hour parking lot - we stay one night and visit many of the businesses while we are there - doing what - yes - spending our money at the businesses).
+ allow overnight parking in the town campground even after the season closes - we would have been happy to pay $5 or $10 to just have a place to park for the night - we are self contained.
+ take away the parking signs from the side streets - the town is so fall of parking signs it is hard to focus on anything else.
There's probably more, but that's all I can recall right now from our conversation all the way down to Ridgway.
Will we return to Telluride? Nope.
But did I mention how beautifully situated it was?