Spring in Telluride, Ridgway and the San Juan Mountains is a magical time of year. The snow begins to melt, the flowers poke out, the town quiets down and the mountains come to life in a riot of green vibrancy. With the ski season over and summer still a couple months away, Telluride’s spring off season is a great time to experience the natural beauty and epic adventures of Telluride at a slower pace, in a more tranquil atmosphere. So if you’re wondering what to do in spring in Telluride, we’ve got the ultimate guide to off season fun for you below!
Don’t be mistaken: spring is definitely off season around here. Many restaurants will be closed, the Telluride gondola stops running and big festivals and events take a pause. However, that doesn’t mean spring doesn’t have its own charm. We know sometimes breaks from work and school come when they come, so you might find off season in Telluride is your only shot to get out here. Whatever the reason, we’ve designed this guide to help you navigate the uncertain waters of spring and make the most of your trip, no matter when you find yourself here. Whether you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities, relaxing hot springs or cultural exploration, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during spring off season in Telluride, Ridgway, and the San Juan Mountains.
What To Do in Spring in Telluride and the Surrounding Region
Go Off Season Hiking, Fishing and Camping
As the snow melts and the vegetation begins to peep through, spring in the San Juans is transformed into a stunning wilderness ripe for exploration. Winter fades into summer, and the hiking and biking trails open up, making it easy to get out and tromp around. From easy strolls to challenging hikes, there’s a trail for every level of adventurer.
One of the best hikes to try in Telluride’s spring off season is the Jud Wiebe Trail, which offers stunning views of the town and surrounding mountains. For a more challenging hike, try the Blue Lakes Trail, which takes you up to a series of alpine lakes surrounded by towering peaks. Make sure you wear snow or mud boots and check local weather reports if you plan to venture up high. Be sure to avoid avalanche territory, so you’ll want to save hikes like the iconic Bear Creek Trail, with steep uphill exposure, until the summertime when the snow has melted away.
Ridgway State Park is another great option for spring breakers, with its slightly lower elevation it can make for some great hiking and adventure activities in spring. The park offers fishing, birding and camping year round. You’ll also find that fun educational programs start up for the summer beginning Memorial Day weekend. Of course as the summer approaches the water season picks up, with boating and stand-up paddle-boarding coming into season.
Test Out Your Spring Mountain Biking Skills
If you prefer two wheels to two feet, spring is also an excellent time to hit the mountain biking trails at lower elevations. The Boggy Draw Trail System, located just outside of Dolores, is a popular spot for mountain bikers and offers trails suitable for all levels of experience. Alternatively, the Phil’s World Trail System outside Cortez features fast and flowy trails that are perfect for speed demons. If you’re in for a different kind of fun, you can try out your fat tire biking skills along the snowy trails in & around Telluride. The Valley Floor is a great introductory path for those just wanting to try it out.
Enjoy a Hot Springs Soak in Ouray
After a long day of hiking or biking, there’s nothing better than soaking in a natural hot spring. The San Juan Mountains are home to several hot springs that are open year-round, making them the perfect way to relax and unwind after a day of outdoor adventures this spring.
One of the best hot springs to try during the spring off season is Orvis Hot Springs, located in Ridgway. Nestled in a quiet valley, this hot spring features several pools of varying temperatures, as well as a sauna and lodging options for those who want to stay overnight. For a family-friendly environment be sure to check out the superb Ouray Hot Springs, which normally stays open for all but one week in the spring, with many different pools, slides and activities for kids and kids at heart.
Take Part in Telluride’s Spring Off Season Events and Festivals
Spring may be off season in the Telluride and Ridgway areas, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a handful of cultural events and activities to enjoy as the summer approaches. In fact, spring can be an excellent time to experience some of the area’s unique culture and history at your own pace.
One of the most exciting cultural events marks the end of Telluride’s spring off season: MountainFilm, a world-renowned film festival that takes place in late May. This festival features documentaries, shorts, and feature films that celebrate the outdoor lifestyle and explore environmental issues.
For a more lighthearted event, check out the Telluride Balloon Festival, which takes place in early June. During this festival, hot air balloons fill the skies over Telluride, creating a colorful spectacle that’s fun for the whole family.
Of course the first major festival marking the start of summer in Telluride is the iconic Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which takes place in mid-June. You’ll want to prepare for this event months in advance and book your tickets the winter prior. This festival is a celebration of all things bluegrass and features some of the biggest names in the genre.
Explore Off Season Dining and Shopping
You’ll have to scavenge a bit to find spring off season dining in Telluride. We recommend you check out the Telluride Visitor’s Center website for their current list of off season dining. But if you’re wondering what to do in Telluride in spring, eating delicious food is definitely always a good choice! While many restaurants close during this time, those that remain open often offer off season specials, making it a great chance to try something new and get more bang for your buck.
For a taste of the local brews, head to Smuggler’s Brewery in Telluride, which generally stays open throughout both of Telluride’s off seasons. If you’re feeling tacos and margaritas, check out Uno Dos Tres, a local favorite for Mexican food that normally offers extended off season hours.
Off season in Ridgway hits a littler softer than Telluride, and you may find yourself with more options for dining and touring. Walking Main Street you’ll find plenty of unique shops, restaurants and galleries showcasing the work of local artists and craftsmen. As the spring nears a close these venues start to reopen for the summer and make a great afternoon activity. 610 Arts Collective is an eclectic local gallery you’ll definitely want to add to your list. Mountain Girl Gallery is another favorite and features stunning pottery, jewelry and metalwork handcrafted by 4 local lady legends. For great Ridgway dining make sure to add Provisions to your list, which serves delicious brunch and dinner throughout most of the off season. You won’t want to miss the Lotus Root Kitchen & Market, perfect for the passionate foodie. Of course a trip to Ridgway is incomplete without visiting the public park, featuring a playground for the kids and bike & skate park for those keen to test their skills.
Go Spring Backcountry Skiing Around Telluride
Just because the ski resort is closed doesn’t mean you can’t hit the backcountry during Telluride’s spring off season. In fact, the snow can often still be plentiful in the high mountains, making for some excellent spring skiing and snowboarding. Of course you must be a savvy outdoorsman and a backcountry pro to engage in this activity, so if you lack the experience either hire a guide or hold off until the next year.
Try Nordic Skiing, Snowshoeing and Disc Golf in Telluride and Ridgway
Cross country skiing and snowshoeing tend to have longer seasons than alpine skiing in the area, which make them one of the best spring activities in Telluride and Ridgway. The groomers generally extend their efforts another couple weeks to give locals more time to enjoy. Though even once the grooming is done, you can still get out and explore the trails before the snow gives way to the greenery beneath. Telluride’s Valley Floor, Mountain Village, Priest Lake and Trout Lake trails are all great options.
You’ll also want to check out Ridgway’s Top of the Pines, a nordic ski trail system in the winter and beloved camping site in the summer. The disc golf baskets here stay up year round, so even as the snow begins to melt you can bring your boots or snowshoes along and warm up the arm for the coming season. Dogs are also permitted in spring so it’s a wonderful way to get you and your furry friends some exercise and fresh air every spring.
Where to Stay and How to Get to Telluride in Springtime
Off Season Accommodations in Telluride and Ridgway
When it comes to lodging during the spring off season, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a cozy cabin, a luxurious hotel, or a budget-friendly hostel, there’s something to suit every need and budget.
In Telluride you’ll find a range of accommodations, from historic inns to modern hotels. The Hotel Telluride is a popular choice, staying open throughout off season it offers easy access to Telluride’s network of hiking and biking trails.
In Ridgway you’ll find a host of lodging options, including rustic cabins, bed and breakfasts, and many great camping sites. Chipeta Lodge remains open for the off season and offers spacious rooms and a range of amenities, including a full-service spa, the delightful Great White Buffalo Bar and an outdoor pool.
Getting To The Action
Getting to Telluride and Ridgway during the spring off season is easier than you might think. Roads are occasionally closed due to snow, but this tends to become less of an issue as the spring progresses.
The easiest way to get to Telluride is to fly into the Telluride Regional Airport, which is serviced by several major airlines. This option can be more expensive, so most visitors opt to fly into the Montrose Regional Airport, which is a little over an hour’s drive from Telluride.
Telluride is also easily accessible by car via a breathtaking drive through the mountain pass. You can also opt to take the Telluride Express, a paid shuttle service that remains open all year long.
Telluride’s Spring Off Season, a Time of Quiet Magic
Whether you’re looking for some spring off season adventure, relaxation, or good old fashioned peace and quiet in the great outdoors. Telluride and its surrounding areas await you. We hope you’ve learned a great deal about what to do in spring in Telluride to get you excited for your next trip. Where there’s majestic natural beauty, there’s activity. Be it hiking, biking, snowshoeing, disc golf or casual days in town park, you’re sure to find something to fit your mood during Telluride’s spring off season. You might have to get a little creative during your spring vacation, but off season tends to have surprises up its sleeve. It could just give you the perfect break you need from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Of course, when it comes to the great outdoors, the San Juan Mountains never sleep.