Because That’s Where The Money Is

Telluride, Colorado

It is said that at the height of the gold rush there were more millionaires in Telluride, Colorado, than there were in Manhattan. And while most of those fortunes were made mining, lifting ore out of the ground wasn’t the only way to strike it rich. Butch Cassidy also started a productive career here. His first job lightened Telluride’s San Juan Bank of $24,580 during a brazen 1889 robbery. The sum, worth about $600,000 in today’s dollars, was never recovered.

Over 100 years later, millionaires still flock to Telluride. No longer drawn by the prospects of making a fortune, they come to spend one. A more upscale version of its neighboring mountain towns Ouray and Silverton, Telluride is so used to celebrity guests that we witnessed a casual Kelly Ripa walking the sidewalks completely unmolested and largely unnoticed by citizens apparently familiar with seeing such sights.

After the gold boom went bust, Telluride reinvented itself as a premier skiing destination. The first resort opened in 1972 with five lifts and a day lodge. By 1985, developers added the faux-European town of Mountain Village along with its eight miles of Nordic trails. During summer months, an additional three miles of mountain biking trails open allowing for year-round entertainment.

Probably the most interesting thing about the area, though, is its unique public transportation system. Transit between Telluride and Mountain Village is provided by a system of completely free gondolas. Arriving nearly every minute, 275 days per year, the 2.5 mile ride between these two mountain destinations takes a total of about 11 minutes. Vacationers and residents alike take advantage of what Telluride calls the “best commute in America.” We found the splendid alpine views to be well worth the trip, even when our destination was nowhere in particular at all.

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17 Comments on “Because That’s Where The Money Is”

  1. Animalcouriers August 10, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Wow, if we had to commute, that would be our kind!


    • Brian August 10, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      No doubt. We’re urbanites and dig public transportation (I could read the newspaper, or a book, or get some work done while getting into work. Don’t know why anyone prefers the hassles of driving.)


  2. Ingrid August 10, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Telluride is on our to do list. Where did you set up camp? Colorado can sometimes be a challenge finding places for bigger rigs. We’re heading to Steamboat next week 🙂


    • Brian August 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      Hi Ingrid,
      We stayed in Ouray at the 4J+1+1 RV Park (awful name, good place to park, within walking distance of the downtown area.) We day-tripped into Telluride.


  3. the drunken cyclist August 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I need to be someplace where I could bike to work. This sounds like it fits the bill!


  4. BagspackedI'moff August 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    What an excelent way to get to work (or anywhere!) Pity we don’t have mountains or even hills over here in Holland or I would be suggesting this as an addition to the public transport system.


    • Brian August 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      Give it a shot anyways. I think gondolas could be made to work in Holland. They’re obviously not necessary, but they’d be a quirky-cool addition.


  5. Kevin and Ruth August 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    I think it is great that they offer the gondolas for free. So many places take advantage of the tourist and charge a bundle for a gondola ride. Talking of camping how is the area for boondocking?

    Kevin and Ruth


    • Brian August 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      Hi Guys,
      The Telluride gondola is a good deal. They tried to charge us 16 bucks each for a similar ride in Utah. No thanks.

      Don’t know about boondocking in that part of CO, we stayed at a private campground. Beautiful area. Seems like there should be lots of places to park out in the wilderness.


  6. Penny August 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    The things you learn while blogging and reading blogs. 🙂 I like the witty delivery as well.
    Now I’m getting inspired to travel in the US more. Thanks for reading my blog too!


  7. rfljenksy August 13, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    Amazing view.. would love to hit up that gondola.


  8. Far Side Travel August 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Butch Cassedy did strike it rich, been to Colorado, but a big fan of Washington State!


  9. An Asian and His Camera (Mathew) August 15, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Wow, I want to visit Colorado so bad. Look gorgeous and sounds like a neat town.


    • Brian August 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      Colorado is lovely. We actually found the “Western Slope” of the CO Rockies to be even prettier than the “Front Range” on the east.


  10. drishism August 17, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    My wife and I love Colorado. We lived there before I had to move for school, and our honeymoon was in Frisco, Colorado. I hope to get a job teaching in Colorado when I finish grad school


  11. eisemanandassociates August 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Great post. I felt like I had a mini vacation from my work day. Thanks!



  1. Home Sweet Hoboken | Everywhere Once - August 27, 2012

    […] Hoboken is connected to New York’s great metropolis by a system of subways, ferries, and tunnels that make flitting back and forth between the two as easy as getting anywhere in Manhattan. And while the Staten Island Ferry draws tourists eager to take in beautiful skyline views, a trip on Hoboken’s Hudson River ferry is every bit as breathtaking. A summer evening trip across the river, sailing – wind in your face – away from the sunlit jewel of a city twinkling into nighttime magnificence is nothing short of magical. Although not free, the Hoboken ferry easily challenges Telluride’s claim to “the best commute in America.” […]


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