This post is part of a series on The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, our 10-month, 15,000 mile tour of the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states.
In southwestern Colorado, tucked high in the rugged San Juan Mountains, sits the breathtaking village of Telluride. You won’t happen upon this place by accident – it’s off the beaten path, where the road winds deep into a box canyon and can go no further. But intention breeds passion, and visitors who make the effort to get here can’t help but fall in love with the raw beauty of Telluride.
This land was first occupied by the Native American Ute tribe. They called the area the “Valley of Hanging Waterfalls,” and made their summer camps along the San Juan River where deer, fish, mountain sheep, and elk were plentiful. Spanish explorers passed though in the 1700s, but it wasn’t until 1875, when prospector John Fallon registered the Sheridan Mine, that Europeans moved to the valley. The mine turned out to be rich in zinc, lead, copper, iron, silver, and gold, and the town – originally called Columbia – was set up to service the mine and its employees.
More mines followed, along with the railroad, and the population of Telluride quickly soared to around 5,000 residents. The town’s affluence attracted all kinds of characters, and Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch began their infamous bank robbing careers at a bank in downtown Telluride in 1889.
The combination of a crash in silver prices and the start of World War I nearly turned Telluride into a ghost town. But in the 1970s developers began focusing on the area’s potential as a recreation destination. Mountain Village was built 750 feet up the mountain from Telluride as a year-round resort with golf, top-notch accommodations and restaurants, and more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. In 1996, the Gondola – a free transportation system and the first of its kind in North America – linked Telluride with Mountain Village and became one of the town’s most popular attractions.
Leashed pets are welcome in designated cars on the Telluride Gondola, as long as they are leashed or in a carrier. The gondola is free to ride and runs from mid-November to mid-October, shutting down for one month each year to gear up for the winter season.
Pet Rules for the Telluride Gondola
- Pets must be leashed or in a carrier
- Pets are welcome on gondola cars marked with paw prints
Halfway to Mountain Village, the gondola passes through the St. Sophia station. You can depart here and hike back down to Telluride, or just remain in your car and continue on to the final stop.
Depending on the time of year you visit, Mountain Village may either be quiet and laid back, or bustling with skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes. We were there in early October, enjoying the fall colors with a handful of other leaf peepers.
There are several restaurants in Mountain Village with pet friendly outdoor seating areas. In fact, if you’re planning to eat with your pup, it may be easier to find an accommodating restaurant here than down in Telluride.
It’s easy to spend a day in Mountain Village, hiking the trails, widow shopping, or playing a round of disc golf. When you’re done exploring, hop back on the gondola for a spectacular ride back to Telluride.
When you’ve returned to firm ground, pick up the Idarado Trail at Town Park and stroll the mile and a half out to the Pandora Mine, which opened in 1875. Plaques along the way provide interesting insights into Telluride’s colorful history.
At the head of the canyon, Ingram Falls plunges over the cliff into the San Miguel River, which rushes cold and clear, right through downtown. As you continue down the path, Bridal Veil Falls and the power plant at the top come into view. The scenery in the fall is really something to behold, with snow frosting the mountain tops, the aspens flaunting their yellow foliage, and the stoic evergreens anchoring the scene.
Visiting these attractions with Ty and Buster is a dream come true. We’ll be blogging about each one as we go along, so fasten your seatbelt and stay tuned!
The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip wouldn’t be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors: Winnebago, 2 Hounds Design, Alcott, goDog®, PetGuide.com, Red Roof Inns, Sleepypod, The Bark, PetHub, RVPetSafety.com, and The Honest Kitchen. Please be sure to visit their websites and social media pages and thank them for their participation!