Comprehensive trail map - Telluride, CO

Local leading effort to collect all marked routes in one place

  • Special Thanks Justin Criadomap

A draft of the regional trails map Joan May is organizing. (Courtesy image)

When it comes to regional trails, some are harder to find than others. Whether it's a printed map or online, it often requires cross-referencing in order to find a proper route.

Local Joan May has recently spearheaded an effort to create a comprehensive map that showcases all of the region’s marked trails.

The former San Miguel County commissioner presented the idea to the Telluride Open Space Commission during its virtual meeting Monday afternoon.

“Joan has suggested to several people, entities and groups this notion that we would have a regional trails map that would be handed out to tourists and on town websites that shows the designated trails in the area, and does not show the social trails,” Telluride Program Director Lance McDonald said in introducing the work session item. “ … We don’t have many designated trails in our open space, but this is an opportunity to participate in a larger, regional effort to communicate to visitors, primarily, as far as where these trails are. … The (trail) descriptions are pretty general. It talks about system trails. I think that the open space commission can support this type of an effort, and if there are some financial implications, we should look at providing some financial support, if you agree with it, as long as the other partners are contributing as well.”

May added that only trails with specific trailhead markers would be included on the map, which would help people visiting the area better navigate the region’s extensive trail systems.

“Sometimes it takes a really long time to come up with a simple idea, but I think the simple idea is we have one hiking trails map for the whole region. The audience for this would be visitors. The idea would be not to try to get rid of everybody’s maps, but rather that we would have one map for our region that would be for concierges, visitor centers, sporting good stores that all the entities agree these are the trails we’re recommending for visitors,” she explained. “The visitor to Telluride has really changed dramatically over the last year, not so dramatically over the last several years, and sending people off on trails that don’t have markers gets them lost and destroys the landscape. There are enough trails around here to send people to trails with trail markers and not get them lost. That’s my opinion.”

The county, towns of Telluride and Mountain Village, U.S. Forest Service, Sheep Mountain Alliance, and Telluride Mountain Club are all in support of the map, May added.

“I’m excited that there seems to be some support for the idea,” she said. “(The Forest Service) is really dealing with a lot of public land damage. I’m not trying to imply that people shouldn’t go on anything that’s not an official trail. I’m just saying what we’re presenting is a specific map of specific trails.”

Sheep Mountain Alliance Executive Director Lexi Tuddenham called a map of this sort a “necessary step to limiting those impacts and educating our visitors and keeping them safe.”

Calling the map draft she’s been presenting “an OK start,” May added that the next step would be to overlay all current regional trail maps in an effort to have them in one place. Local map designer Tor Anderson would handle the work, she said, at a cost of $1,000.

While the open space commission didn’t consider or vote on a specific amount, members were in support of providing funds for the project, as long as other local entities contributed as well. Commission member Nancy Craft suggested the open space group oversee the writing and editing of the trail descriptions. The scope of the project was also briefly discussed.

“How big should this be? There are clearly hundreds of trails, but how many of them do we want to point out? How do we work together to reach that kind of a decision?” said Todd Brown, the Town Council liaison.

May will continue to pursue funding, as well as submit a formal proposal to the open space commission, moving forward. She envisions the first iteration can be shared online this summer, and changes can be made throughout the year, if necessary. Long-term plans also include a print version of the map.

“I don’t mean that this is the solution to all of our trail issues. There are all kinds of things that can be done, but this is just one little step,” she said.


The Denver-based National Ski Association announced that there were 59 million skier visits recorded in the 2020-21 season. That is the fifth-best season ever. A major element in the numbers was the lack of destination visits, meaning very few international visits as well as few "long-haul" travelers in the U.S., with the majority of skier visits generated by people living close to a ski area. In the Rocky Mountain region, (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado) there were about 22.5 million skier visits. The ten-year average for the region was 21.1 million.

-Special Thanks  Aspen Times

Telluride Bluegrass Festival Sets 2021 Lineup: Greensky Bluegrass, Emmylou Harris, Leftover Salmon and More


Telluride Bluegrass Festival Sets 2021 Lineup: Greensky Bluegrass, Emmylou Harris, Leftover Salmon and More

The festival will take place in Telluride Town Park in Telluride, Colo. Rather than its typical event, Telluride Bluegrass will be held at limited capacity over two weekends in June: June 11-13 and June 17-20.
Planet Bluegrass has announced the lineup for the 47th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which will feature artists such as Greensky Bluegrass, Infamous Stringdusters, Emmylou Harris, Leftover Salmon and many more.

The first weekend will see Greensky Bluegrass, Sam Bush Band, Infamous Stringdusters, Punch Brothers, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Chris Thile, Sarah Jarosz and more take the stage. The following weekend, Emmylou Harris, Leftover Salmon, Del McCoury Band, Yonder Mountain String Band and more will perform.

Tickets go on sale May 7 at 10 a.m. MT. They must be purchased by weekend, and each “corral” of space can fit up to 10 people.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. Check out the full lineup below.

Telluride Bluegrass Lineup:
June 11-13:
Dierks Bentley, Sam Bush Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Infamous Stringdusters, Punch Brothers, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Sarah Jarosz, Tim O’Brien Band, Chris Thile, Hawktail, Shook Twins, and Bowregard.

June 17-20:
Telluride House Band, Sam Bush Band, Emmylou Harris, Leftover Salmon, Del McCoury Band, Watchhouse (formerly Mandolin Orange), Peter Rowan, Jerry Douglas Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, Edgar and George Meyer, Sierra Hull, Crooked Still, and more

This Little-known Colorado Gem Combines Glamping, Art, and Desert Adventures

This Little-known Colorado Gem Combines Glamping, Art, and Desert Adventures

In this oft-overlooked Colorado getaway, tourist numbers are low — and desert adventures run the gamut.


Camp V in Naturita, Colorado


In all the planning for my southwest Colorado getaway, belting ohmmm in an echoing old water tank never made the prospective itinerary. Nor did stumbling upon a half-buried school bus hidden in the cactus-freckled canyons of western Colorado. But here I am, soaking up the magic of Camp V, an upcycled mining town-turned-boutique glamping getaway that officially opened this April.

Camp V in Naturita, Colorado


My guide is Natalie Binder, the brains behind this chic-yet-gritty operation just outside Naturita, a small Colorado town one hour west of ski haven Telluride. Binder bought this massive property, a dilapidated 1940s mining camp for nearby Vanadium Corporation of America, in 2017. At the time, it was a glorified junkyard. But among the strewn buses, abandoned cars, and heaps of trash, Binder saw possibility. She also recognized a way to reconnect with her roots, as her father lived in the mining camp as a child.

"The first time I saw that 'for sale' sign, my wheels started turning because of the history and potential," she told me as we ducked out of the hilltop water tank to catch sunrise over camp, a 120-acre plot of cabins, art, and Airstreams, with the snow-dusted San Juan Mountains in the distance. This isn't Binder's first foray into the travel industry. Her hospitality background spans 20 years, with largely luxury brands and properties as her focus. Despite her history, though, Binder said upcycling a massive forgotten mining camp looked daunting. "When I went to look at this, there was a part of me that was like, 'Wow, I don't know if I can do this,'" she said.

But she did, with much help from the community and support from her spirited business partners, Jodie and Bruce Wright, founders of Telluride's One Architects. And it's obvious the team was on to something. Artists and adventure seekers now flock to this vast open-air playground, where upcycled mining parts are explorable art, and canyons, mountains, and the adjacent San Miguel River pulse with exhilarating possibility.

Aerial view of Camp V


Like the uninhibited grounds, a stay at Camp V is a choose your own adventure. The cabins, a row of surprisingly luxe digs, salvage as much of the original mining-camp structures as possible. Vibrant art and vintage records make guests feel right at home, as do the breakfast boxes awaiting in the fridge, sourced from local organic shops like Wild Gal's Market in the nearby town of Nucla. RV hookups are available just beyond the cabins.

Camping presents another chance to mesh luxury with adventure at Camp V. The campsite, a five-minute downhill walk from the main grounds, is steps from the San Miguel River. Campers can enjoy a refurbished school bus for relaxing and remote work, a stylish lounge area that looks straight out of Marrakesh, and a nearby pond and floating dock with stand-up paddleboards and canoes.

Camp V in Naturita, Colorado


Camp V in Naturita, Colorado


No matter the digs, all guests can enjoy Camp V's various amenities and events. The Prairie Wind Chapel, a camp beacon built by Burning Man artist Robert Hoehn, is open 24 hours for enjoyment and reflection. Campfire events, such as cookouts with Telluride chef and influencer Marla Meridith, bond guests through bites and conversation. And by far the most hair-raising yet meaningful experience is the side-by-side history tour on the Rimrocker Trail, a 160-mile roller coaster of a desert off-road trail that connects Montrose, Colorado, with Moab, Utah. On these adrenaline-filled off-road tours, historians from the local Rimrocker Historical Society help guests understand the past and present across many of these oft-forgotten mining communities.

Camp V in Naturita, Colorado


Alone, each offering could be the cherry on top of a perfect desert getaway, but combined, these facets feed into Binder's larger hospitality goal: redefining luxury. "To me, luxury means connection," said Binder. "It means beauty. It means feeling connected to something bigger — or seeing parallels, and understanding what's going on in rural America right now. To evolve, to learn, to grow, to feel connected. That's really what it means to be rich."

Fantastic Experiences In Telluride: Where To Eat, Play, And Stay


Special Thanks AMY SWARD


Tucked away in southwestern Colorado amid the rugged San Juan Mountains is Telluride. Mining brought this town to life in the late 1800s. Today, Telluride is a mountain mecca for outdoor activities that maintains its quaint charm and rich history.

Telluride itself consists of a main street (Colorado Avenue) with small side streets all lined with local shops, vibrant restaurants, and charming houses. An extension of Telluride is Mountain Village, easily accessible via the town’s free gondola. The 8-mile gondola is the first of its kind and the only free public transportation system in the country.

Things To Do In Telluride

Whatever season you are visiting, there is no shortage of activities in Telluride. In the summer, you can go paddle boarding, mountain biking, road cycling, hiking, paragliding, and fishing (just to name a few)! In the winter, most everyone heads to the ski resort, but there’s also snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, and snowmobiling.

A Jeep tour up Imogene Pass.


Exhilaration Like No Other

Terrifying yet exhilarating may be the best way to describe a Jeep tour up Imogene Pass. The 4×4 Jeep takes you up a rocky and narrow road with no guardrails (so don’t look down)! You’ll learn about the mining activity that helped develop Telluride into the town it is today. And at the top, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful views of the San Juans and beyond. The tour will set you back about $90 a person, but the experience is unparalleled and worth it. Our guide from Telluride Outside was amazing!

Skis at Telluride Ski Resort.


World-Class Skiing

In the winter, Telluride Ski Resort has more than 2,000 skiable acres with a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs. The resort offers lessons for all ages but also has classes unique to the mountain. The Silver Skiers Program is aimed at those 50 and older and runs on Thursdays in January and February. There’s also the Women’s Week clinic that includes skiing, plus apres-ski events like spa treatments, shopping, and fine dining.

Other Snow Activities

If you’d rather stay on level ground during the winter, Telluride Nordic has trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It offers lessons and can also help with rentals. You can go ice skating and sledding here, too.

Ice climbers near Telluride, Colorado.


Ice Climbing

See that ice covering the mountains? Those are some of the best ice climbing routes in the country, and they attract top athletes. There are some easier routes if you want to try it out. And there are even tour companies that will rent you gear and guide you on some pretty spectacular routes.

Mountain biking in Telluride, Colorado.


Year-Round Biking

Biking is a year-round activity in Telluride. In the summer, the Telluride Bike Park is a series of trails within the ski resort accessed via the gondola or the Village Express Chairlift. For $40 a day, the lifts will haul your bikes up and you will ride them down on anything from beginner to expert trails. Elsewhere in town, there are free biking trails that will either take you on a more leisurely ride along the San Miguel River or a hefty climb up to nearly 10,000 feet! In the winter, try out fat biking. It’s literally a mountain bike with fatter tires that are better equipped to grip the snow. Grab a rental in town and hit the free trails nearby.


Elevate your golf game at the Telluride Golf Club. Sitting at around 9,500 feet, this 18-hole, par-70 course is among the highest courses in the world. Beware that with that elevation come some walking challenges. The first tee, for instance, is one of the highest tees in the country, and the number 17 tee is a 92-step climb from the cart path.

Where To Eat

All that outdoor activity will have your stomach rumbling, and there’s no shortage of places to fill it up.

The Butcher and the Baker in Telluride.


Eating In Telluride

Follow your nose to The Butcher and the Baker on the main drag for homemade bread and filling omelets. This shop is owned by a longtime local and also serves lunch and has deli items to go. Pizza lovers, head to Brown Dog Pizza — also on the main street — to choose from Chicago deep dish, Detroit-style, or traditional Italian pizza. Or try out one of their pastas; all the sauces are made in-house.

No trip to Colorado would be complete without trying out that famous Colorado craft beer. And Smuggler Union Restaurant and Brewery is where you’ll find it. They brew their own beer, which wins awards year after year. Try several with their sampler offerings to find your favorite. Then pair a pint with the pub’s specialties, which include locally sourced meat dishes and house-made fried pickles. Feel like a burger? Steamies Burger Bar is a must! This joint along Colorado Avenue steams its locally-sourced burgers instead of frying them, so they’re healthier! Try one of their creations or build your own. And be sure to wash it all down with a handmade milkshake for dessert.

The absolute best tacos can be found at Taco Del Gnar on Oak Street. It dubs itself an “elevated fast food restaurant” that combines good food with a laid-back atmosphere. Tacos filled with Kobe beef, cod, shrimp, and portabella mushrooms or tempura avocado await your tastebuds. And don’t forget the margaritas, but be careful, they are strong!

Eating In Mountain Village

Telluride Coffee Company is a quick stop before hitting the hill for skiing or hiking. Get one of the pastries — you won’t be disappointed. For Colorado-inspired bar food, head to Tomboy Tavern at the base of Lift 4. With ample indoor and outdoor seating including a wrap-around bar, it’s an excellent spot for people watching in the afternoon. It’s a laid back atmosphere with live music most days. Dessert is a must at Black Iron Kitchen and Bar, where you can enjoy your own personal s’mores roasting kit, complete with a chocolate bar from the candy store next door.

Alpino Vnio in Telluride.


Eating On The Mountain

In the winter, you can take a break from the slopes and dine on the mountain. For a quick bite, locals head to Giuseppe’s at the top of the Plunge Lift (#9). It’s known for its black bean saute — a local favorite. And you can’t beat the view. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Utah! Toast to a great day at Alpino Vino, the country’s highest fine-dining restaurant. Situated below the Gold Hill Express Lift (#14), this is the go-to spot for fine wine, cheeses, and appetizers while looking out at the Mount Wilson range. At night, you can take an enclosed snow coach to Alpino Vino for a delicious five-course Italian meal.

Unique gifts at Telluride Naturals in Colorado.


Where To Shop

A stroll down Telluride’s main drag will have you in a shopper’s dream. Pop into Telluride Naturals for local, unique gifts like candles, jewelry, and bath products. Hook is an upscale home decor shop known for its display of various wall hooks (you just have to see it to understand!). And if you need something to hang on those hooks, meander through art shops like Lustre and Gold Mountain Gallery. This shop also sells authentic Navajo rugs. Shirtworks of Telluride or Paradise Resort Wear are good places to find that souvenir t-shirt or hat. Between the Covers has been the town’s cozy bookstore since the mid-70s. It’s the perfect spot to peruse while sipping on coffee from the coffee bar in the back of the shop.

The New Sheridan Hotel in Telluride.


Where To Stay

Staying on Colorado Avenue in Telluride will allow you to ditch your car and walk everywhere during your stay. Experience the town’s history firsthand by staying at the New Sheridan Hotel. This 26-room boutique hotel has pieces dating back to the late 1800s and is home to one of the oldest bars in the West. A room will run you about $250 a night, and they do fill up quickly.

The Victorian Inn is a great value within walking distance of the town’s main street and gondola. All of its cottages or private rooms come with complimentary breakfast every morning, in-room ski racks, and access to the outdoor hot tub.

Staying in Mountain Village allows you to be away from the hustle and bustle but still able to get to the main street using the free gondola. The Inn at Lost Creek advertises itself as a ski- and golf-in and out hotel. The rooms range from studios to multi-room condos with kitchenettes perfect for family gatherings. In the winter, it has a ski valet where you can store your skis and boots overnight; attendants will put your skis out in the snow in the morning so they’re there waiting for you! In the summer, the hotel has direct access to the Telluride Golf Club. And it’s surprisingly affordable, starting at just over $200 a night.

Pro Tip: Some of the best food in town comes on wheels. Just take a walk around town, and you’ll see all kinds of food carts. A personal favorite is the Grilled Cheese Cart. Across the way, you’ll spot Diggity Dogs, which has pork, beef, turkey, and even tofu dogs! See someone biking with a food cart? That’s Biking Burrito, which sells burritos and quesadillas. Other carts include a pretzel stand and Slurp, which dishes out Vietnamese food.

Still considering where to enjoy your time in Colorado? Here’s how to spend a long weekend in Glenwood Springs.

Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection Completes Property-wide Reimagination

Telluride’s Most Luxurious Resort Welcomes Guests and Locals with Redesigned Guestrooms, Refreshed Public Spaces and New One-Of-A-Kind Experiences

News Image


Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection today announces the completion of a property-wide reimagination, bringing a new tier of luxury to Telluride. The resort unveils 83 newly transformed guestrooms and modernized public spaces, including Timber Room, a vibrant new indoor-outdoor bar and lounge that first debuted in January 2021, and Alpine Swim Club, a picturesque outdoor pool and dining terrace. Alongside the physical transformation, Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection debuts new “exclusively Madeline” experiences for Summer, inviting guests to bring home stories of one-of-a-kind luxury adventures in the Rocky Mountains. From foraging the verdant mountainside with the executive chef to taking on Colorado’s backcountry from above on a paragliding tour, adventure abounds at the chic Telluride retreat this season.

“The design and experience evolution at Madeline has been outstanding. From the transformed social spaces with the most exceptional culinary offerings in Telluride to the stunning new guest rooms and ‘Only at Madeline’ active experiences, we can unequivocally say that Madeline is the most luxurious resort in Telluride,” said Bryan Woody, general manager, Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection. “It is a tremendous pleasure for all of us at Madeline to welcome guests to our newly reimagined resort.”

Liubasha Rose of Rose Ink Workshop designed the dramatic guest rooms to be a natural extension of the newly reimagined public spaces with an organic material palette and textural elements. An expert at artfully blending concepts, Rose looked to the region's natural mountainscape and distinct seasons for inspiration when handpicking wood-grained walls, chiseled marble tabletops and sweater stitch carpets. Urban black steel desks, leather hooks from Telluride’s local Crossbow Leather shop and oversized art by Hana Margetson-Rushmore stay true to Telluride’s vernacular in a modern and harmonious way. The spacious accommodations feature private balconies with mountain or village views and spa-like bathrooms with separate showers and deep soaking tubs, featuring a bath ritual designed to help reach ultimate relaxation. Additionally, each room boasts a new “adventure bar,” which offers guests a collection of items and gear for mountain exploration.

“For the design of Madeline, we pulled inspiration from alpine visions of uncovered memories; an illustration of a carved wooden house in the snowy woods in a treasured childhood book of Russian Fables, the train interior in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes and a vintage postcard with ski tracks on fresh snow. Channeling these personal connections brought feeling into every detail,” said Liubasha Rose, creative director, Rose Ink Workshop.

To complement the new interiors, the resort introduces new experiences and events to be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. Throughout the summer season, guests can bike the San Juan Mountains’ winding trails, motorcycle through the 263-mile San Juan Skyway loop, fly fish for trophy trout in the San Miguel River and pursue other adrenaline-seeking expeditions. More serene offerings—sunrise mountain bathing on the San Sofia Platform or horseback riding through wildflower meadows to a private saddlebag brunch—embrace mindfulness in nature. Guests can also uncover hidden gems in Telluride with insider adventures, including a foraging experience with the resort’s Executive Chef Bill Greenwood, curated exclusively for Madeline guests. During this experience, in particular, guests will discover the many wild, edible greens, mushrooms and other delicacies found in Telluride, learn how to utilize these ingredients in delicious dishes and enjoy a private meal prepared with the day’s bounty.

Located at 10,540 feet, Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection debuts a vibrant new summer destination, Alpine Swim Club, a picturesque outdoor pool and a social terrace with sweeping mountain top views. Poised to become the most sought-after gathering place in town, the club offers guests an incredibly scenic option for time spent poolside, featuring a menu of Alpine-inspired shareable healthy bites and refreshing signature cocktails infused with local ingredients. Whether meditating with the sunrise or soaking up afternoon rays, Alpine Swim Club is an elevated atmosphere for relaxing before or after a day of adventure.

To learn more or book a stay, visit

About Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection:
Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection is a stunning alpine resort in the historic town of Telluride, Colorado. The 83-room and 71-residence hotel blends Auberge’s distinctive flair for authentic and elevated experiences with the local flavor of the destination. Surrounded on three sides by the dramatic 14,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains, Madeline features both guest rooms and suites, as well as one- to four-bedroom residential condominiums that offer expansive Mountain Village views. Sophisticated amenities include the best ski-in/ski-out access in town; slope side Ski Valet; the 4,000-square-foot Sky Terrace featuring a heated outdoor swimming pool, hot tubs, fire pits and al fresco lounge; an alpine-inspired spa and salon; The Madeline Ice Rink and a personal training studio. Mountain dining options include signature restaurant Black Iron Kitchen + Bar, Timber Room featuring outdoor fire tables and an indoor/outdoor bar and Columbia Room, a private dining room. In January 2021, Madeline unveiled a dramatic redesign encompassing its public and social spaces.

For more information:

Follow Madeline Hotel & Residences on Facebook and Instagram @MadelineAuberge

About Auberge Resorts Collection:
Auberge Resorts Collection is a portfolio of extraordinary hotels, resorts, residences and private clubs. While each property is unique, all share a crafted approach to luxury and bring the soul of the locale to life through captivating design, exceptional cuisine, innovative spas and gracious yet unobtrusive service. With 19 hotels and resorts across three continents and eight new hotels under development, Auberge invites guests to create unforgettable stories in some of the world’s most desirable destinations.

For more information:

Connect with Auberge Resorts Collection on Facebook Twitter and Instagram @AubergeResorts and #AlwaysAuberge

About The Friedkin Group:
The Friedkin Group is a privately-held consortium of automotive, hospitality, entertainment, sports and adventure companies. These organizations include: Gulf States Toyota, GSFSGroup, US AutoLogistics, Ascent Automotive Group, Auberge Resorts Collection, AS Roma, Imperative Entertainment, 30WEST, NEON, Diamond Creek Golf Club, Congaree and Legendary Expeditions. The Friedkin Group is led by Chairman and CEO Dan Friedkin. For more information, visit

About Rose Ink Workshop:
Rose Ink Workshop is a multidisciplinary firm that specializes in hospitality interiors. Placing extra emphasis on crafting unique branded experiences, RIW creates art directed spaces and tells stories. Led by Liubasha Rose, RIW is a group of creatives from different areas of hospitality design including interiors, branding, graphics, fashion, OS+E and a crew of project by project stylists. Prior to founding Rose Ink Workshop, Liubasha was Vice President of Design at Starwood Capital Group. She was responsible for design direction and the execution of renovation projects for Starwood Capital assets, and was involved in the implementation of new brands launched by the firm. She has contributed to the development of the two-luxury hotel and lifestyle brands, 1 Hotels and Baccarat Hotels & Resorts as well as the Postcard Inn, ST Residential portfolio, and numerous restaurants and hotels around the world. Liubasha won the prestigious Wave of the Future award from Hospitality Design Magazine in 2015 for the 1 Hotel South Beach project. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Jessie Rothschild / Rachel Farnham
Murphy O’Brien Public Relations

4 of Our Favorite Documentaries from Mountainfilm

If you can’t make the in-person showings in Colorado, you can stream these new adventure films from your living room

Mountainfilm has gained a reputation over 32 years for airing some of the best documentaries about the outdoors, and significantly increasing the number of puffy jackets per square mile in Telluride, Colorado for a week every May.

Special Thanks Erin Berger - Outside Magazine

Mountainfilm has gained a reputation over 42 years for airing some of the best documentaries about the outdoors, and significantly increasing the number of puffy jackets per square mile in Telluride, Colorado, for a week every May. This time last year, for obvious reasons, there was nary an out-of-town down feather to be found on Telluride’s streets. But 2021 will see a slight return to normal, with a hybrid festival featuring a limited capacity in-person event from May 28 to 31 and a virtual event from May 31 to June 6. The festival is offering all-inclusive passes for the online screeners for $150 to $250 or passes to individual screeners for $15; in-person attendees can purchase $20 tickets for each showing and will also have the option to see speakers like ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson, filmmaker Renan Ozturk, Arctic explorer Will Steger, and author Justin Farrell. Whichever experience appeals, some of the festival’s biggest draws are exciting new feature-length documentaries. Here are some highlights from the list. 

‘Wall of Shadows’

wall-of-shadows-film_h.jpg (Photo: Courtesy Mountainfilm)

Many films about mountain expeditions exhibit the uneven power dynamics between climbers and guides. But in Wall of Shadows, this is the subject instead of the subtext. Polish director and climber Eliza Kubarska centers the story on a family living in Nepal: professional guide Ngada Sherpa, his wife Jomdoe, and son Dawa. Early on, the family discusses the mountain at the center of the film, Kumbhakarna. “Is Everest easier than Kumbhakarna?” Dawa asks his father, who has climbed Everest, Ama Dablum, and many other major peaks multiple times. “Oh, Everest is much easier,” Ngada says. “Kumbhakarna is a lot more challenging.... Sherpa people won’t climb it because the mountain is sacred. You’re also very likely to die in the process.” Sure enough, it’s not long before we learn that Ngada has been hired to lead a team of Russian and Bosnian clients on Kumbhakarna. Wall of Shadows completely flips around the usual perspective of climbing films by focusing on the family’s doubts as they accompany the team to base camp, and Ngada struggles to decide whether or not he can safely bring the climbers to the peak—if he doesn’t, nobody will get paid. “They only listen to themselves,” Ngada laments of the clients at one point. “That’s not a good thing in the mountains.” Kubarska manages to follow the growing tensions between the pushy climbers and conflicted local guides so closely that the dramatic peaks feel almost beside the point. 


‘Playing with Sharks’

playing-with-sharks-film_h.jpg (Photo: Courtesy Mountainfilm)

Scuba diver Valerie Taylor has a shark’s tooth embedded under her chin, has friends who have survived shark attacks, and helped capture footage for the iconically scary shark film Jaws. Despite that, she refers to the fish as her friends, and approaches shark encounters with nonchalance and even… whimsy? The beginning of the documentary sees her packing for a trip to Fiji to visit a familiar group of bull sharks. “I’m going to be wearing a pink wetsuit,” she says. “I used to in the early days. And then I was told not to because it made me stand out and the bull sharks noticed. Well, I thought that was good, but apparently it’s not.” Playing with Sharks, which will play at Mountainfilm before becoming available for streaming on National Geographic, follows the many twists and turns of Taylor’s career evolution from a champion spearfisher to a scrappy open-water shark diver and filmmaker. She’s spent most of her life as a staunch advocate for understanding sharks, not fearing them. “There are hundreds of species of sharks in the ocean,” she says at one point. “Maybe five or six are potentially dangerous.” The documentary makes a good case that you can take her word for it; there’s almost no one else on earth who’s spent as much time alongside these creatures.


buried-film-inline_h.jpg (Photo: Courtesy Mountainfilm)

In the eighties, Alpine Meadows ski resort in California had one of the most advanced avalanche safety programs in the country, thanks to avalanche forecaster Jim Plehn and plenty of explosives. But by March 31, 1982, a series of spring snowstorms had set up conditions for the worst tragedy in the resort’s history. At 5 P.M. that day, a massive avalanche reached the parking lot, destroyed buildings at the base, and killed seven people. Directors Jared Drake and Steven Siig live in Alpine Meadows, and in Buried (which premieres at Mountainfilm) they revisit the disaster by interviewing locals who were part of the five-day search following the avalanche. Many Alpine Meadows employees already knew the area was high-risk. As Lanny Johnson, a former ski patroller, says, “There’s nowhere in the world where you can work as a ski patrolman related to avalanche hazard that’s any more dangerous than Alpine Meadows.” Larry Heywood, assistant patrol director at the time, explains that every lift, the access road to the resort, the base area, and the parking lot can all be affected by avalanches. Of course, the play-by-play of the avalanche speaks for itself. Those involved are still so affected by what they witnessed that several interviewees freeze up mid-sentence while describing that day. 

‘The River Runner’

the-river-runner-inline_h.jpg (Photo: Courtesy Mountainfilm)

Scott Lindgren has achieved a lot as a professional kayaker: he’s run some of the toughest rivers in the world (and graced an Outside cover or two). But The River Runner, which premieres at Mountainfilm, focuses on the achievements that have remained just out of his grasp. For Lindgren, that means running all four great rivers that originate from Tibet’s Mount Kailash, a task that he pursued for more than 20 years, with one final river, the Indus, remaining just out of reach. But the film is also about Lindgren’s scary 2014 diagnosis with a baseball-sized brain tumor, which challenged his at-all-costs commitment to a high-adrenaline career. In 2017, in the run-up to an attempt on the Indus, his doctor wants to treat the tumor with radiation. Lindgren cancels all his appointments to throw himself into trip planning instead, and breaks up with his girlfriend, Patricia, who felt helpless that either his brain tumor or kayaking could kill him. As everything else in his life falls to the wayside, the feel-good nature of the rest of the film hinges on whether or not Lindgren succeeds in his Indus attempt. But what makes The River Runner fascinating is its honest portrayal of the never-quite-satisfied nature of the extreme athlete’s brain. 

7 Charming Small Towns To Visit In Southwestern Colorado


Special Thanks JANIE H. PACE

The writer on a stagecoach.

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It’s easy to spend a week exploring the San Juan Skyway. It takes you through some of the most majestic scenery and charming towns in southwestern Colorado.

A Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway, the 236-mile loop starts in Durango and leads you to scenic Silverton, through Ouray and Ridgway, then on to Telluride, Dolores, and Manco, all through the heart of the majestic San Juan Mountains.

Let’s explore ranch B&Bs, secluded lakes, old gold mines, ghost towns, hot springs resorts, top-notch ski hotels, Puebloan ruins, and archeological sites in southwestern Colorado.

Durango to Silverton railroad.

1. Durango

We usually stay at the historic Strater Hotel in downtown Durango, within walking distance to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. At the Strater, you’ll find waitresses dressed as saloon girls at the Diamond Belle Saloon. You can ride a stagecoach or an old horse-drawn wagon along a historic homes tour.

For some Durango hidden jewels, enjoy the romantic Blue Lake Ranch B&B in Hesperus, south of Durango, with casitas, cabins, or cottages spread throughout the 200 acres. Start your day with a chef-served southwestern breakfast delivered to your accommodation each morning with freshly roasted coffee. Or order a picnic lunch or an afternoon wine and cheese platter.

The James Ranch Grill is a “table on the farm,” sourcing the main ingredients from the ranch, including grass-fed cattle, pasture-raised chickens, and vegetables from ranch gardens using sustainable practices. Eat burgers, sandwiches, soup, or salads on picnic tables on lawn terraces or inside by the fireplace framed by large picture windows.

Sheltered in a secluded mountain valley at 8,000 feet, Vallecito Lake is located 18 miles from Durango. Spanish for “Little Valley,” the lake is one of Colorado’s most beautiful lakes. Years ago, as newlyweds, my husband and I camped along the lake and fished the waters and surrounding streams for trout. Today, you’ll find lots of cabin options here.

The Honeyville Factory Store, ten miles north of Durango, features gift packs of wildflower mountain honey, sauces, jams, and jellies. Sample honey wine and distilled spirits made nearby on the western slope.

Historic downtown Silverton, CO.

2. Silverton

Silverton, a former silver mining camp along the Million Dollar Highway, is a National Historic Landmark and part of the San Juan Skyway.

Visit the 14,000 square foot Mining Heritage Center, one of the best mining museums in the country. The tour starts in the old jail and leads you through an underground mine tunnel, then on to the museum center, where you learn about gold and silver mining. 

Pan for gold, silver, and copper, and keep what you find free with your ticket purchase. Located just minutes from historic Silverton, the Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour takes you on a vintage electric-powered mine train. Travel a third of a mile into Galena Mountain, where you can follow the gold vein and see the old mining equipment in action.

For hiking, the Cunningham Gulch offers many backcountry camping spots with old mining sites to explore. The gulch loop includes the Highland Mary Lakes Trail to alpine views above the tree line and the surrounding peaks. Explore the Old Hundred Boarding House built by German prospectors in 1904. You’ll find tramways and old bunkhouses still standing.

Explore Eureka, a mining ghost town on the Animas River with remnants of the old ore mill. By 1875, Eureka had a post office, and a year later, a railroad connected the town. At one point, Eureka was best known for the “finest saloons anywhere.” When the Sunnyside Mill closed in 1939, the settlement rapidly declined.

Howardville is a community at the mouth of Cunningham Creek along the Animas River. It was laid out as Bullion City in 1874, then renamed for Lieutenant Howard, a once-prominent local figure. You can still see old wooden cabin structures around the area.

An aerial view of Ouray, CO.

3. Ouray

Welcome to scenic Ouray, the Switzerland of America and the Outdoor Recreational Capital of Colorado. The Million Dollar Highway connects Silverton to Ouray.

Spend an afternoon at the Ouray Hot Springs Mineral Pool. Family-friendly and swimsuit required, the geothermal hot springs have operated since 1927. You’ll enjoy the quiet adult areas with massages at the spa. The grandkids will love the slides, climbing wall, and water float rentals. 

The East Fort Trail follows the East Fork of Powderhorn Creek, dotted with beaver-dammed ponds. The streamside willows may bushwhack you occasionally, and you’ll get wet feet as you cross the creek several times. The trail opens to meadows and ends at Robbers Roost, the site of an old cabin.

The 20-mile Galloping Goose Trail for hiking or biking follows along an old narrow-gauge rail line. The Uncompahgre RiverWay Trail is 12.6 miles and eventually links Delta with Ouray, ultimately a 65-mile route.

The remote Opus Hut is a full-service European-style backcountry hut with dinner and breakfast plus beer, wine, spirits, and snacks. The cabin, housing up to 20 people, has solar-powered lighting, electronic charging devices, and filtered drinking water. While the communal sleeping rooms have comforters and pillows, guests should bring their sleeping bags and liner. Two communal bathrooms are available with a sink, hot water, and a composting toilet. Drive to within a quarter-mile of the hut in the summer. In the winter (November–April), the road closes, and you hike in 3.5 miles.

Historic fire department in Ridgway, Colorado.

4. Ridgway

The gateway to the San Juan Mountains, Ridgway is a Certified IDA International Dark Sky community, taking steps to minimize light pollution for starry nights.

Don’t miss Chipeta Solar Springs Resort & Spa, named in honor of Chipeta, the wife of the great Ute Native American leader Chief Ouray. Choose from 33 guest rooms with amenities like a gas fireplace, a wet bar, a refrigerator, or a private deck with a hot tub. We loved the luxury spa treatments, cedar sauna, steam room, and two outdoor solar-heated pools, plus a complimentary yoga class. Fine dining is available at the award-winning Four Corners Restaurant and Rooftop Sky Bar. 

Downtown revitalization and beautification make Ridgway a state-certified Creative District and a Designated Main Street Community. Arts and crafts shows, live theater, movies, concerts, and music festivals abound.

At Ridgway State Park, four miles north of Ridgway, find 258 campsites for RVs and trailers, as well as walk-in sites or yurt camping. The five-mile-long reservoir, Lake Ridgway, offers a no bag limit for smallmouth bass. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourage you to fish and catch all you want since they threaten native fish.

A street view in Telluride.

5. Telluride And Mountain Village

Telluride is a National Historic Landmark District filled with Victorian homes, boutiques, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, and historic buildings. Butch Cassidy walked these streets when he robbed his first bank here on June 24, 1889.

Imagine being tucked in a box canyon surrounded by 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks. If you ask any local in Telluride, they’ll tell you they came for the skiing and stayed for the summers. Enjoy summer fun like fly fishing, hiking, biking, ziplining, horseback riding, or rafting and river sports. That’s not all. Partake in off-roading, golfing, camping, rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding, paragliding, or festivals.

Getting To Telluride

Guests can fly to Montrose, 65 miles away, nonstop from five major U.S. cities, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, and Denver. Or fly direct to Telluride from Denver. Take ground transportation from Montrose to Telluride. Rental cars are not necessary to get around. 

Ride the free 13-minute scenic gondola that connects Telluride to Mountain Village, situated at 9,545 feet, providing access to Telluride Ski Resort and Uncompahgre National Forest.

Pro Tip: Recently rated one of the top 50 ski hotels in North America by Conde Nast readers, located in the heart of Mountain Village, The Fairmont Heritage Place Franz Klammer Lodge is steps from the Village Gondola Station and the ski slopes. Each residence features a fully equipped kitchen, living and dining area, luxurious oversized bathrooms, a private balcony, and a washer and dryer.

6. Dolores

With less than a thousand population, Dolores is close to several recreational areas. 

Located nine miles west of Pleasant View in southwestern Colorado, the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument covers 176,056 acres of Ancestral Puebloan ruins, with more than 6,000 archeological sites.

The Canyons of the Ancient museum houses more than three million Ancestral Puebloan curated artifacts plus a public research library, educational resources, and a museum shop.

The Hovenweep National Monument includes six prehistoric villages constructed between 1200 and 1300. Their multi-story towers are perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders.

With 50 miles of shoreline in pinon, juniper, and sagebrush, McPhee Reservoir is the largest lake in the San Juan National Forest and the second-largest in Colorado. The picturesque campground, situated on a mesa 500 feet above the reservoir, offers 71 campsites, 24 with electric hookups. Find a boat launch, potable water, vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire grates.

7. Mancos

Mancos boasts historic buildings, art galleries, a cidery, coffee houses, and one of the oldest bars in Colorado. You’ll find quaint inns, B&Bs, and western outfitters.

Only ten minutes from Manco, Mesa Verde National Park is famous for its well-preserved ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, including the giant Cliff Palace. See panoramic canyon views of archaeological sites and several rock carvings along Petroglyph Point Trail.

The lake at Manco State Park offers boating, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, and jet skiing. You’ll enjoy camping, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.

Pro Tips: Stay at Majestic Dude Ranch near Mancos. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, exhilarating horseback rides, whitewater rafting, kid’s programs, and all-inclusive experiences you’ll never forget. And while you’re in the area, consider:

Record-breaking real estate frenzy is changing the culture of Colorado's mountain towns as locals are priced out

More than $15 billion in property sales in 2020 in seven resort communities marks a 61% increase over 2019. Historic sales volume and sky-high prices are pushing locals out of mountain towns.

Special Thanks Jason Blevins

Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley watches as the first slab is poured at his organizationÕs latest affordable housing project along U.S. Highway 40 in Steamboat Springs on May 7, 2021. The Sunlight Crossing development will have 90 rental units priced for residents earning between 80 and 120 percent of the average median income. (Matt Stensland, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Brianna Anthony and her boyfriend, Keenan Montague, have lived in three homes over the past six months in Telluride. The five-bedroom house that the local bartenders rented with friends sold last fall, and the new owner, an East Coast doctor with a home in nearby Mountain Village, launched a major renovation. They moved into another house, which this spring sold — sight unseen — for $2.2 million. And they moved again as that owner began renovations. 

They found a rental home in Rico, about 30 minutes away. And, yes, that house just sold. Now they are looking again for a place to rent. 

“I feel like Telluride is becoming a community where locals are not welcome but the people who are there six weeks a year, they are welcomed,” Anthony said. “What happens when the only people in these ski towns are here for a month or so a year?”

When Anthony and Montague were living in a long-term rental home on the east side of Telluride last fall, they watched four long-term rental homes sell and get ripped down to studs as new owners renovated. The renters in those homes, some of whom lived in Telluride for decades, left town, they said.

“The culture is definitely changing in Telluride,” Anthony said. “I wonder if these new owners know the dramatic effect they are having.”

The gondola above Telluride connects the town with Mountain Village. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

It’s not just Telluride. Across Colorado’s resort communities, a real estate frenzy is breaking records and transforming cultural landscapes. The record-setting pace of sales over the past year has turbo-charged a trend that has unfolded in recent years with more urban refugees relocating to mountain towns. This resort-home mania has happened before — and it didn’t end well.

In the few years leading up to 2007, mountain real estate brokers trumpeted their successes like a broken record. And, in fact, every month, quarter and year did break a record, thanks largely to loose lending that pushed ill-qualified buyers into homes with no money down and principle-only mortgage payments. When that lending fiasco fell apart, a yearslong recession and mighty crash in real estate values followed, leaving long-lasting impacts. 

Last year’s real estate sales in Colorado’s high country looked eerly similar to 2007, with every month in the last half of the year setting sales volume and pricing records. More than $15 billion changed hands in property deals last year in eight resort counties, a historic 61% increase over 2019 despite a nearly three-month shutdown of all real estate activity. Land Title Guarantee Company reports show Eagle County with a 153% annual increase in sales volume in 2020. Pitkin County was up 129%. Sales in Telluride more than doubled, as did sales in Crested Butte.

Homes are selling sight unseen for highest-ever prices. Ultra-wealthy buyers, flush with 2020 stock market millions and the recognition they don’t need to be in an office, are flocking to mountain communities. Those who are not quite as rich are swarming into downvalley enclaves. Prices are at all-time highs while supplies of homes are at all-time lows. It’s a frenzy that leaves even the hardened longtime locals and brokers agape. And it’s forcing some locals to leave, which suggests that the real estate boom of 2020 in the high country could forever alter the cultural identities of mountain towns.

“It’s wrenching what’s happening in our communities,” said Amy Levek, executive director of Telluride’s Trust for Community Housing and a former mayor of the town, which has seen a mass migration of newcomers replacing longtime locals. “I don’t know of anywhere that isn’t saying, ‘What are we going through and what are we becoming?’”

Levek counts about 125 Telluride workers who have lost their rental housing in the past year because it sold. She talks about urban newcomers shopping for homes with a budget in the several millions. If they can’t buy, they are ready to rent for as much as $15,000 or more a month. That shift has left local employers struggling to find workers. 

“There is a real shortage of people here right now,” Levek said, describing how the town of Telluride and San Miguel County are raising their subsidies for affordable housing to “obscene levels” to help offset the sudden spike in both homes and construction costs.

“I hate to be negative, but we are in a bad place,” she said. “The pace of change is so extreme. From month to month, we are seeing costs go up and our community change and our culture change, and it’s unsettling.”

Wealthy urban refugees spending big

The wealthy from big cities such as Chicago, New York, Miami and Dallas are driving some of the biggest shifts. In Eagle County in 2020, there were 83 deals for more than $5 million each, up from 40 in 2019. In Pitkin County, 51% of buyers were from out of state, marking the highest percentage of non-Colorado buyers in recent memory. The majority of out-of-state buyers in the Roaring Fork Valley came from Texas, followed by Florida, California and New York. 

And those out-of-towners were dropping big dollars. In 2020, Pitkin County logged 106 deals for more than $10 million each, up from 27 in 2019. 

And so far this year, homebuying in Pitkin County’s Aspen and Snowmass “has been off the charts,” said Tim Estin, a longtime Roaring Fork Valley broker with Sotheby’s.  

From July to December, real estate records were set nearly every month in Aspen and Snowmass. 

“A constant refrain last summer and fall was this can’t possibly sustain itself,” Estin said. “But at present, it is and even more.”

This home on Aspen’s Little Nell ski run is for sale for $35 million. (Provided by Tim Estin)

Estin keeps close tabs on soaring prices. The average selling price for the 30 three-bedroom condos that sold in downtown Aspen in April was $2,425 per square foot. “A staggering number,” he said. 

As the average price for a single-family home in downtown Aspen reached $12.6 million last month, sales have exploded in Snowmass, where the average selling price for a home was $4.9 million in April.  

Estin remembers the crash of late 2008 and 2009 in the valley, one of the few moments when Aspen real estate stuttered. 

He remembers watching real estate markets collapse in other locations but joined just about everyone in the Roaring Fork Valley in thinking that the bursting bubble would not reach Aspen and Snowmass, where real estate values have never endured a sustained decline.

“It didn’t look like anything could affect us. The best experts missed it,” he said. 

This time, he’s looking hard for signs of another collapse. Maybe it could be inflation. Historically low interest rates could climb and chill the market. Any time every financial metric is pinned at record levels, it’s safe to expect some sort of correction or downturn, he said. 

The city of Aspen as seen from a road above town. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

“At some point, things have to change and they will change,” said Estin, who suspects that the loosening of pandemic restrictions will sustain a strong economy for the coming months, maybe even a year or two. “I look back at last summer, and everyone who was buying, they were sort of fear-motivated. They wanted to get out of urban areas and come here to open spaces and beautiful country. Now, the motive is not fear. It’s relief. It’s almost like a celebration.”

Home and land sales in Telluride and Mountain Village were 166% over the five-year average in 2020, with prices climbing more than 30% last year. 

TD Smith moved to Telluride in 1971 when residential lots were $200 and any house in town cost $400. Like other brokers in resort communities, he has been selling a record amount of vacant land as wealthy buyers search high and low for a dream home that isn’t available. That means architects and custom homebuilders are lining up jobs that are several years out. 

So, buyers in recent months are scooping up older properties that can be remodeled and renovated in six months, without having to spend years pushing their projects through local approvals and waiting for builders and designers, Smith said. 

“I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs here. I know the bubble is not going to last forever. It never does,” said Smith, who has been selling real estate in Telluride and Mountain Village for 40 years. “We are a small community and we have never had a lot of inventory. But demand has always outstripped supply here.”

Hunting for signs of a bursting bubble

When prodded for signals that could trigger a market correction or slowdown in the frantic pace of sales, brokers who lived through the Great Recession have some ideas. They are quick to point out that lending in 2020 is much stricter than it was in 2007, when entire financial markets were supported by bad mortgages. 

They point to increased regulation possibly slowing real estate spending by the very wealthy. The Biden administration’s proposed adjustments to capital-gains taxes and 1031 exchanges — which allow property owners to transfer profits from a sale into a new property without paying capital-gains taxes — could dampen the market, as could a rise in interest rates from historic lows that are driving more buyers into homes. 

“It would be hard to fathom a drop like we had in ’08, but how long can this sustain?” said Trevor Theelke, who has compiled monthly reports on Eagle County property sales for Land Title Guarantee Company for nearly two decades. “It’s something we’ve never seen before, that’s for sure.”

It’s not just the uber-wealthy from big cities who are electrifying the real estate market in the high country. Lots of people from along the Front Range, too, are fleeing to the hills.

In Eagle County, where property buyers spent nearly $3.5 billion last year, sales in downvalley locations such as Eagle, Gypsum and Basalt accounted for more than 35% of the last year’s record-setting 2,572 deals.

A skier and a snowboarder walk through Vail’s Lionshead Village on the way to the slopes on December 18, 2019. (Andy Colwell, Special to the Colorado Sun)

“We are seeing a lot of Front Rangers moving up here,” said Timm Kluender, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway.

And they are cashing out of the urban homes in metro Denver and driving up prices in enclaves popular with working locals. The pace of sales in Eagle County — sales volume is up 156% through March compared with the same period last year, and the number of deals is up 160% — is challenging buyers, Kluender said. 

“If you are going back further than a couple months to look at comps, they are not really comps because the market has gone up so much in the last three months,” Kluender said. “You almost have to look at active and pending sales to get an accurate comp right now.”

The interest in downvalley communities has spurred many longtime locals to sell homes that they purchased more than a decade ago. 

“The challenge is being able to find them a replacement property because so little is available for sale,” Kluender said. 

Locals priced out of resort communities

The inability for locals to remain local is troubling housing advocates. 

Voters in Routt County in 2017 approved a property-tax increase that directs about $1 million a year toward affordable housing. Last year, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority built and rented 72 units. This year, the authority will bring 90 new units on the market. Another 72 are planned for next year. 

“We are building supply as fast as we can,” said Jason Peasley, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, noting that as soon as homes are offered for rent, locals fill them in a matter of days.

Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley, pictured May 7, 2021, led his organizationÕs efforts to build the 48-unit affordable housing development on the west side of Steamboat Springs. The Housing Authority has a goal to build 600 units by 2030. (Matt Stensland, Special to The Colorado Sun)

But the authority is still only catching up. The 2017 ballot measure promised about 600 new units, which is less than 40% of the demand for affordable rental units, Peasley said. When the tax is set to expire in 2027, Peasley expects residents will see the role of affordable housing in the community and renew the tax. 

“Our goal was to prove to the community that we would take these resources and make an impact — and we’ve begun to show that.” he said. “A lot of what we are doing is cultural preservation for Steamboat. We are creating a big melting pot for everyone in the community.”

Peasley is not critical of the influx of newcomers to Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley. They are attracted to the same things that bring everyone to Routt County: a wealth of outdoor amenities and a vibrant community. They are bringing good jobs, putting kids in local schools, paying taxes and spending at local businesses. They are the new locals, only with more money.

“From an economic-development standpoint, these are good people to be bringing into our community, but from a community culture standpoint, I don’t know,” he said. “That’s the hard part. It’s such a balancing act.”

Newcomers are a “blessing and a curse.”

Phillips Armstrong owns three restaurants in Steamboat and one in Breckenridge. He’s building another in Aspen and another in Breckenridge. They are higher-end eateries and his employees earn high wages, with managers making about $80,000 a year and servers taking home a few hundred dollars on a busy night. 

Housing for his well-paid workers “has always been an issue, but mostly background noise,” he said. 

“But now, the shift has been dramatic,” Armstrong said, noting how workers are not returning to his restaurants’ jobs after the slow pandemic winter because they can’t find housing. “It’s just been a fever pitch this last six months.”

So, Armstrong’s company, Destination Hospitality, is leasing its own properties when it finds anything and then offering rental homes to workers.

“We have kind of gotten into the landlord business, which is not a business I’ve ever wanted to be in,” he said. 

Steamboat has traditionally been able to accommodate workers. It’s a wider valley than, say, Crested Butte, Aspen and Telluride, so there’s more space for affordable-housing options. Workers in Steamboat don’t necessarily have to live in downvalley communities such as Oak Creek, Hayden and Craig. 

But that’s changing. Armstrong is seeing his priced-out workers renting homes in communities such as Craig and Fairplay, which hinders his ability to staff his restaurants in Routt County and Summit County, where public transportation does not stretch to far-away satellite communities. 

“This new wave of people, they are the blessing and the curse,” he said. “We definitely have — and will have this summer — an insatiable demand for the restaurants. But I never, as a restaurant-business owner, … thought staffing would be limiting my revenue. But that’s where I am. Dropping days I can be opening. Curtailing hours I am open. That’s my only solution.”

A mix of homes and commercial space is under construction in the new Railyard Leadville community in Leadville. (Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun)

Montague, the Telluride bartender who is looking for his fourth rental home in barely six months, has an idea about what Colorado’s resort towns are going to look like when locals are priced out. Food will take hours at local restaurants. Galleries and shops will be closed for most of the week. Ski resorts will struggle to remain open. Long waits for everything will be the new normal.

“The impacts will be known soon, when the customer service goes down at every business in town,” Montague said. “I’m afraid that will be the only thing that will wake everyone up to the impacts of this real estate craziness. Everyone wants to come here and buy here for the atmosphere, but they are the ones who are actually killing that atmosphere.”

Telluride Jazz Festival Announces Artist Lineu

Telluride Jazz Festival Announces Artist Lineup Featuring Galactic featuring Anjelika 'Jelly' Joseph, Robert Glasper, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Budos Band, The Hot Sardines, Poncho Sanchez and More

August 13-15, 2021 in Telluride, Colorado

Telluride, Colorado (May 26, 2021) - As the summer season in the world-famous mountain town of Telluride, Colorado begins to approach, the Telluride Jazz Festival reveals its 2021 artist lineup. Set on August 13-15, 2021, the festival presents a well-rounded, diverse mix of live jazz, funk, rock, soul, and gospel performances featuring Galactic featuring Anjelika 'Jelly' Joseph, Robert Glasper, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Budos Band, The Hot Sardines, Poncho Sanchez, The Dip and many more. The complete list of announced artists is included below.

"I can't pinpoint the artist that I'm most excited about in the 2021 Telluride Jazz Festival lineup, because I'm excited about them all," exclaimed Steve Gumble, Festival Director. "There's no shortage of energy and flavor throughout the billing, offering an incredibly unique three days of music. From two New Orleans jazz music icons, Galactic featuring Anjelika 'Jelly' Joseph and Preservation Hall Jazz Band, along with progressive jazz masters, Robert Glasper and The Budos Band and so much more, the talent goes deep."

Telluride Town Park is renowned as one of America's most scenic and spectacular live music venues. Nestled among the aspen trees and surrounded by 13,000 foot mountain peaks, festival artists will perform on the state-of-the-art Main Stage. A secondary stage, "Society Stage", free of admission, will host weekend programming including interactive artist and student band performances in the center of Telluride. The intimate performances on the "Society Stage" aim to further the festival's and Telluride Society for Jazz's mission of providing student education through music.

In addition, luxurious VIP and Patron Festival Experiences offer elevated culinary and cocktail aspects to the weekend. A fleet of special events round out the festival with free yoga sessions, morning jam collaborations, a free historical walking tour, cozy late night shows and more.

2021 Telluride Jazz Festival Artist Lineup:

Galactic featuring Anjelika 'Jelly' Joseph

Robert Glasper

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The Budos Band

The Hot Sardines

Poncho Sanchez

The Dip

Christian Sands

Kelly Finnigan & the Atonements


Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom

Catherine Russell

The Harlem Gospel Travelers

Crescent Super Band

Pete Muller & The Kindred Souls

Rico Jones Countercurrent

The Speakeasy Jazz Sextet

Telluride Student All-Stars Jazz Ensemble

Hooligans Brass Band

Deep Pocket

The Soul Research Foundation

The Inevitables

Voodoo Orchestra

Max Headroom 

Little Big Band 

Stillwater All-Stars

Festival tickets go on sale Thursday, May 27 at 10am (MT). 3-Day Passes are $190 plus fees, Single-Day Passes start at $65 plus fees. The following passes are limited in quantities while supplies last: Patron Experience, VIP Experience, "Jazz After Dark" and 4-Day Camping Passes. For festival information or to purchase tickets, visit To purchase tickets by phone, please call (970) 728-8037.


About Telluride Jazz Festival

Located in the breathtaking mountain town of Telluride, Colorado, the 44th Telluride Jazz Festival, August 13-15, 2021, celebrates the rich tradition, modern styles and cutting edge progression of the American Jazz art form delivering an unmatched aesthetic experience. SBG Productions brings a new era to the Telluride Jazz Festival, showcasing three days and nights of world class jazz, funk, soul, folk and gospel, with a goal of community engagement and student education. A musically-charged local culture accompanied by a wide variety of special events including interactive artist performances, kids and family activities, cozy late night club shows, and much more will round out the weekend celebration. The historical mining town of Telluride sits nestled in a scenic box canyon at 8,750 feet, surrounded by 13,000 foot peaks, and is a prized gem of the Rocky Mountains.


About SBG Productions

A full service event and festival production company since 1994, SBG Productions specializes in the unique, multi-faceted live music experiences of the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, Telluride Jazz Festival, and Durango Blues Train.




Media Contact:

Jacob Bomersback, Director of Marketing, SBG Productions, Inc.

Email: | Phone: (970) 728-8037 ext. 106 | @TellurideJazz |