Must-Dos in Telluride: Fall Edition

by Wagner Skis / Sep 08, 2023

Telluride is one of the world’s most beautiful places—a tiny Victorian mining town completely surrounded by San Juan peaks.

The view from Main Street is so jaw-dropping, it doesn’t seem real. It also boasts some of the world’s best skiing and, if we do say so ourselves, the world’s best ski company—Wagner Custom.

Telluride may be known for the winter, but autumn is one of the best times to visit, be it for some leaf-peeping or one of the big fall festivals. Telluride Blues and Brews is just around the corner, with Cars and Colors, Original Thinkers, HorrorFest, and Octoberfest rounding out the season.

Below is our list of must-dos for activities (besides festivals), eating, drinking, and staying, no matter what draws you to the valley. We'll post a winter must-do closer to the season. 


Via Ferrata

Telluride's Via Feratta
This shot on the via ferrata says it all. 

Summer or fall, be sure to book a tour on the via ferrata for the adventure of a lifetime. Located on the far end of the box canyon, the Bridal Veil Falls—Colorado’s longest free-falling waterfall—provide a jaw-dropping backdrop and plumes of cooling mist. The via ferrata began as the labor of love of local Chuck Kroger, an extremely accomplished climber and all-around badass who worked in town as a builder and welder. With no official permit, Kroger installed many of the hand- and footholds by headlamp at night.

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Though he didn’t live to see it completed—he died of cancer in 2007—he would be proud of the 1.5-mile route traversing the flank of Ajax Peak. This route takes around two to four hours to complete. Go on your own with the proper safety equipment or book a guide through Telluride Mountain Guides or Mountain Trip.

Area Hikes

Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride
The new trail to the base of Bridal Veil Falls is a good one. 

There are a TON of hiking trails in Telluride, starting from the easy "go for as long as you want" River Trail to the 8-12 hour commitment of Sneffels Highline. The most classic area hikes include Bear Creek, Lower Bridal Veil, and the Jud Weibe. Stop into the Visitor Center on Main Street and they can recommend something that fits your hiking needs. 


The Butcher & The Baker

Butcher Baker
The fried green tomato sandwich at Butcher Baker is delish.

This adorable counter-service restaurant is locally owned and operated, and its breakfast sandwiches and pastries never disappoint. Everything at The Butcher and The Baker is locally sourced, organic, and house-roasted—and it’s all delicious. Sit inside or outside around the fire pit year-round. Don’t be intimidated by the long line in the morning, either, it moves pretty fast.

The National

The National
The head chef at the National won Telluride's Top Chef three years running.

Exposed brick and copper chandeliers paired with sleek mod furnishings make this place one of the coziest spots in town. The National's cuisine is a constantly rotating creative take on contemporary American food, with influences from around the world. Make a reservation and come thirsty—their cocktails are also amazing. The National is moving this off-season, so check in this winter to find their new location.

New Sheridan Chop House/New Sheridan Bar

Two people at the Sheridan
Dessert drink? Yes, please. Or just order a Flatliner anyway.

Every visitor to Telluride must pop in the New Sheridan, even if it’s just for the bar’s signature drink, the Telluride Flatliner (think espresso martini with an extra kick). Located inside the historic hotel, the Chop House is Telluride’s most iconic restaurant. It’s a traditional steak place, as the name may suggest, with hearty sides and decadent seafood offerings as well. The entrées are not for anyone on a budget, though, so if it’s too rich for your blood, just go next door to the bar for a beer. It’s Telluride’s oldest, dating back to the 19th century, and not much has changed since. 

Oak, The New Fat Alley

Robbie O'Dell
Robbie O'Dell, owner of Oak, the new Fat Alley

Situated in Telluride at the base of the gondola, Oak is a local hot spot for après. Born in 1995 and originally located just up the street, It’s casual, kid-friendly, and has a big patio for soaking up the sunshine. Chances are that owner Robbie O'Dell will be behind the bar, and if you see him order a "Mitch" and be prepared for the consequences. (For the less adventurous, order a Montucky, some BBQ, and fried okra.)

Can't wait for winter?


New Sheridan

The New Sheridan on Main Street in Telluride
Even long-time locals have stayed at the Sheridan for a night. It is that classic.

We know, we’ve already listed this above, but the New Sheridan is truly that special. It’s a historic landmark that was originally built in 1891, two years after Butch Cassidy famously robbed the nearby San Miguel Bank, and rebuilt after a fire in 1895—this time out of brick. Each of its rooms are uniquely appointed by British designer Nina Campbell, boasting modern luxury with carefully refurbished Victorian charm. History abounds here, from the black-and-white photographs that line the walls to the underground passageways, relics of Prohibition, still connect the New Sheridan bar to the old Roma, the Opera House, and Popcorn Alley, which was then the red-light district.

The Madeline

Hotel Madeline in Mountain Village
One of the best pools in Telluride can be found at the Madeline

This Alpine-inspired boutique hotel in the center of Mountain Village has everything from studios to four-bedroom residences, plus all the amenities—outdoor pool, restaurant, bar, ski valet, hot tubs, and concierge desk. The Madeline is like a modern Swiss chateau, replete with blond wood, luxurious furnishings, and impeccable service.

Hotel Columbia

Hotel Columbia Telluride
A true, hidden, overlooked gem: the Hotel Columbia

If maximizing your location to both downtown and the ski hill is your priority, you can’t do better than Hotel Columbia. It’s right in town, walking distance from bars and restaurants, and across the street from the base of the free Village Gondola, which takes you directly to Mountain Village. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and well-appointed without being fussy—and they’re pet-friendly. Happy hour at the hotel’s Cosmopolitan restaurant is one of the most lively spots for après-adventures, too.    

Whenever you choose to visit Telluride, be sure to swing past the Wagner Factory and say hello! We're open M-F from 10am - 4pm now through opening day when we add hours for the season.


Article by Kimberly Beekman

Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the title of “freelancer” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Steamboat, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.

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