|Monday, May 14, 2012 - Telluride
I awoke at 7:45, but it was too cold (47 inside), so I turned on the furnace and went back to bed until it warmed the motor home up. When I got up, it was still only 58 degrees, but the sun was shining completely on the RV, causing it to warm up within an hour.
I studied my maps and discovered that I am still about 35 miles from Telluride, so will drive over and see what there is to see.
Well, after writing and posting my blog, sorting and tweaking all of the photos, uploading them, which took forever, it was 3 PM, so I decided I’d just spend another night here and drive to Telluride tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - Now Telluride
I got up at 8, with every intention of having a quick bite to eat and then taking off, but realized that I had sent everyone the wrong web addresses to view the photo albums, so took time to correct all of that, which again took more time than I thought it would.
We finally left the US Forest camping spot and headed out. The grade up to Telluride is steep and slow, so it took longer than expected, but then most things seem to these days. Instead of looking for overnight parking and then taking the Jeep into town, I decided to drive to the visitor’s center and see if they had any information on where I could park overnight.
The visitor’s center is right after the traffic circle, at the beginning of town, and they have a large parking lot, so I was able to pull in and park without a problem. The kid, probably all of twenty, was very helpful and knew just what maps to give me, in answer to my questions. They had a BLM camping directory, area map and Telluride map. He told me that I might check with the city campground at the other end of town, which I wasn’t even aware of.
He also directed me to the highest waterfall in Colorado; Bridal Veil Falls. It is at the end of the box canyon that Telluride sits in and is 365’ with a powerhouse at the very top. The powerhouse was built by Smuggler-Union Mine in 1904, to provide power to the mine, and ceased operation in 1954. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. From 1991 to 2010, the powerhouse was restored, operated and lived in by Eric Jacobson, providing Telluride with about 25% of its power. It now sits empty, but cared for.
I didn’t hike to the top, as several people I passed did, including one middle aged woman going up on her mountain bike, but drove the Jeep up. The road up is rough, but it wasn’t any different than the roads I drive around my cabin. After reaching the very top, I hiked past a gate to the powerhouse to take additional pictures. The road continues beyond the falls to meadows and a lake, but driving there wasn’t an option. The sign at the gate says that hikers, bikers, and ATV are welcome to pass, but the road at this point wasn’t very wide and still had snow drifts on it.
The drive down was just as slow as the drive up, but the views are definitely worth it. The city campground was at the bottom, so I drove in to look around and then stopped at the office for information. The corners and camping sites are all too tight for my motor home, plus there were no hook ups and the nightly fee was $23.00 a night. I drove back through town, looking at all of the stores and found nothing of interest. I did discover that there is a Historic Society Museum, but didn’t want to take the time to see it. They charge $5.00 and the description was almost identical to the one in Ouray, so I opted to return to the motor home.
Telluride, first named Columba, but changed by the US Postal Service due to confusion with Columba, CA, was founded in 1878, and is like most of the towns around here that I’ve visited, except all of the streets are paved, and almost all of the buildings and residences are new. It was founded after gold was discovered in 1875, and having to change its name, was named for the chemical element tellurium, which forms natural tellurides. The other, more colorful origin of the name is from the miner’s version, “To Hell You Ride.” The population, as of the 2000 census, was 2,221, which grows during the ski season.
When mining died out in Telluride, tourism took over. In the early 70s, the population had dwindled to 400, with only the Idarado Mine still operating. It closed in 1978, but has since reopened due to high gold prices. The only reason that Telluride isn’t a deserted ghost town was due to Joe Zoline, a lawyer from Chicago, discovering it for his new ski resort. By 1972, the cables that had once hauled ore, now hauled skiers up the mountain.
While it was slow to catch on, Zoline used other Colorado ski resorts as a format and started the music festival and now famous film festival. As the popularity of Telluride increased, he developed Mountain Village, a separate town higher up the mountain, and built a free gondola system to ferry tourist and skiers back and forth. Unfortunately, it wasn’t running while I visited, being shut down since the end of the ski season, Easter this year, and not starting again until May 24th.
Telluride now has it’s own airport and boasts glider flights, hang gliding, hot air balloon rides, river rafting, mountain biking, hiking, jeep tours, skiing, ice climbing and of course, sightseeing. It is a colorful town, but too rich for my blood, with Kent, the mine tour operator in Ouray, calling it home of the $50 pizza.
With not much else to see, and being anxious to get back to my cabin, I hooked up the car and drove 18 miles out of town, to a BLM free campground, within spitting distance of the San Miguel River.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - Homeward Bound
I slept peacefully, even though Hwy 145 runs directly next to the campground. I had the sound of the rushing river speaking louder than the occasional car or truck. It wasn’t very cold last night, so I slept with my window open and enjoyed the fresh mountain air and sound of the river.
I spent my morning writing up yesterday’s adventures and planning my route home. I have traveled Interstate 15, from it’s beginning to it’s end, so have decided to take Hwy 550 up to I-70, then head north on I-25, which becomes I-90. I’ll then take US 89 to US 12 and home.
Because my winter trip will be over, I will not be posting regular updates, so if you want to know what I’m up to, you’ll have to email me to find out.
It’s been a fun, sometime tense, trip and I can’t wait to get home and enjoy the beauty of summer at my Island in the Forest.