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Published: October 5th 2009
Well flexibility is always best when traveling. We were to go to Black Canyon National Park today, but because of the changeable weather, we thought it was best to see Telluride and surrounding areas while we could. What a fabulous area of Colorado. I think that this is my favourite of all the places we have seen in this state.
We headed out on Highway 550 from Montrose towards the town of Ridgway, then onto Hwy 62 also known as the San Juan Skyway/Million Dollar Road. From there it was onto a small road that Frank had discovered on a previous trip 4 years ago. It was called the Last Dollar Rd. and what an incredibly scenic route it was. It is unpaved, winding and at times a little rocky. A four wheel drive vehicle helps but Frank drove on this road in his PT cruiser 4 years ago and today we saw another PT cruiser making his way in the opposite direction. The fabulous panoramic views of the mountains and valleys were great. There were a few very small groves of Aspens that still had their leaves but for the most part the leaves had dropped. I'd seen some video
that Frank had taken on the previous trip and could imagine how lovely it would have been if the trees were at their peak today. The skies were mostly overcast and at times quite dark but other than the occasional sprinkle, there was very little rain. We had lunch at a pull off on the roadside with panoramic views of the mountains and the valley.
After lunch we continued on down into Telluride. I can clearly see why this is such a popular place. The Town of Telluride is the most populous town of San Miguel County in the southwestern portion of Colorado. The town is a former silver mining camp on the San Miguel River in the western San Juan Mountains. A Telluride Historic District which includes some or all of Telluride is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and further is one of Colorado's 20 National Historic Landmarks.
Telluride sits in a box canyon surrounded by steep forested mountains and cliffs. Bridal Veil Falls is at the head of the canyon and numerous weathered ruins of old mining operations dot the hillsides. As with many of the towns in Western Colorado, Telluride has an interesting history.
Gold was first discovered in 1858 with the first claim being made in 1875. Early settlement of Telluride followed. The town itself was founded in 1878. Telluride was originally named "Columbia," but due to confusion with Columbia, California, the name was changed by the post office in 1887. The town was named after the chemical element tellurium, which was never actually found in the mountains of Telluride. Telluride's mines were rich in zinc, lead, copper, silver, and gold. Because of its isolated location Telluride developed slowly until 1890 when the railroad reached town. This brought in more mines and brought out more ore.
In June 1889, Butch Cassidy before becoming associated with his gang, "the wild bunch", robbed the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride. This was his first major recorded crime. He exited the bank with $24,580, and later became famous as a bank robber.
Today, the town is best known as a popular ski resort. A free gondola connects the town with its companion town Mountain Village, Colorado at the base of the ski area. We rode the gondola up to the 1750 ft peak and down over the other side into Mountain Village and back again. The
views were incredible.
By late afternoon, the sun had gone completely and it was raining a little so we headed back to Montrose and the hotel. Telluride......... an absolutely gorgeous area of Colorado.
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