Another Box Canyon
~Tuesday, May 3, 2022~
Never had either of us been to the ski town of Telluride, CO before. Our curiosity made our decision that it was worth the hour-long drive. This former Victorian mining town reminded us a bit of Ouray in the fact it too is set in a box canyon with forested peaks all around. Elevation: 8,750 (about 1,000 feet higher than Ouray). We thought the best thing to do was to drive through the entire town first to the end of the canyon to get our bearings. What we saw was a feast for the eyes….a few waterfalls frozen in time and the gorgeous running Bridal Veil Falls.
This 365-foot beauty and Colorado’s tallest plunge waterfall, also serves a purpose with its hydroelectric power station perched above the brink of the Falls. In winter, ice climbers come from all over seeking the thrill and challenge of climbing its frozen shape. As of 2020, there is a 1-½ mile hiking trail to the base of the falls but with our big hike yesterday, and the 1,000 foot higher elevation, we decided to admire it from afar. There is also an option of taking a 4WD road to get a closer look. In the parking lot are 3 aqua marine
colored pools (the color reminded me of Emerald Lake in British Columbia). These are settling ponds for the Idarado Mining Company.
Higher up and to the left of the falls, you can’t help but notice a snow covered snake of a road that looks impassable. It’s called Black Bear Pass, one of the most dangerous drives in Colorado. This 4WD 10-mile road starts at 11,018 feet before climbing to a peak height of 12,840 feet. Evidently it was originally cut by miners and is only for the most experienced off-road drivers with a very slim margin of error with wrecks often being fatal. Much of the road is unlevel, often slanting toward the drop off. Cars are only allowed one direction and that is down, with the one exception of Jeep Jamboree week, in which traffic flows the opposite direction. I don’t think we’ll be adding this one to our bucket list. If you’re interested in an unbelievable video capturing a crash on this wild road, you can view it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R5cLghSWGQ&t=27s
The driver was severely injured and was not in the car at the time the video was taken.
Heading back into town, we realized how deserted it was, with parking being a non-issue. They are right in between seasons with most everything closed up. Seems like we are about 2 weeks too early. Darn. This also happened to us when we visited Tombstone. Can’t time everything perfectly. But unlike Ouray’s busy season being summer, Telluride’s hoppin’ time is winter because of the ski resort. This world-class ski resort has over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain with 127 runs, consisting mostly of advanced/expert runs. The longest ski run is 4.6 miles long. Lift ticket prices are in line with other popular resorts at about $130/day. During the off-months, the resort also boasts some amazing mountain biking opportunities and gondola rides to its peaks.
Despite the “ghost town” vibe this time of year, we still enjoyed walking around town, window shopping for the most part and getting a glimpse of the many charming homes and historic buildings that line Main Street. Many shop owners were taking advantage of their slow season, working inside and out, prepping for the summer crowds. There’s even a creek, called Cornet Creek which meanders through town ultimately making its way to the San Miguel River. Unfortunately, it has also been the culprit of many historic floods.
As it was time to head back to Ridgway, we couldn’t leave a ski town, or any charming town for that matter, without checking the beer scene. It seemed the best reviews were for the Telluride Brewing Company about 5 miles out of the main downtown area, still within the boundaries of the ski resort. With its small seating area we wondered how they handle the big ski crowds? Aside from its cozy atmosphere, Jeff was super impressed with the beer selection and the quality. He’s happy to be back in good brew land since Moab was quite disappointing.
On our way home, the weather seemed to worsen. Luckily we made it back in time, before our pea-size hail decided to fall. Looks like we’re cooking those hamburgers indoors tonight.