Even by the Rocky Mountain’s lofty standards, Telluride, Colorado, is a peerless spectacle of soaring wonder. In winter, it offers some of the country’s best terrain for powder junkies, including world-class downhill and cross-country skiing. Throughout the warmer months, this quaint town of some 2,300 year-round residents opens itself up to the world with a weekly procession of festivals and celebrations — a cultural epicenter rivaling hubs with 100 times the population. In many ways, Telluride still feels like a Victorian-era mining town, though it’s very much a modern city.
Located against the edge of a steep box canyon, Telluride’s dramatic backdrop also stands as a natural boundary, sheltering it from tourist overload. Its tiny local runway is open only to private aviation, meaning you’ll have to fly into Montrose Regional Airport — a scenic 67-mile drive to the north.
Telluride has some of the best hiking trails in America. A short distance outside town is the Rock of Ages trailhead, where you can take an 11-mile round-trip hike to the top of Wilson Peak and back. Nicknamed “Coors Peak” (it’s the very same crag made famous on cans and bottles of the popular beer), this is one of the more manageable 14ers — mountains with at least 14,000 feet of elevation — in the country. Access is even easier if you come in the summertime and book a stay within the charming confines of the Hotel Telluride. The boutique property at the edge of downtown partners with a local outfitter to provide a packaged deal to the top, including guides, a gourmet lunch and a post-hike massage.