You may not have thought of driving from Denver to Telluride – the mining town is a popular tourist attraction with a rich history, but the road is quite long from Denver to the Rocky Mountains.

If you are the adventurous type and are taking a unique journey through some of America’s most picturesque landscapes, then this trip is definitely for you.

The journey from Denver to Telluride can be done in one day or in several days if you want to stop and explore the area on the way. The route takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes without interruption and is a constant barrage of beautiful scenery wherever you look.

You won’t want to miss anything on this trip, so read on for some tips on where to go and what to do along the way.

What is the distance between Telluride and Denver and how long does it take to get there?

The journey between Denver and Telluride is about 330 miles and takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes if you don’t stop along the way.

Leaving Denver can be a bit difficult because of the traffic jams, especially at weekends, but with the recommended route below, you’ll spend less time trying to get on the road.

Although the journey is quite long, you can reach Telluride the same day with a lunch break, breaks for gas and toilet facilities – you only have to leave early. With all these stops, your journey should take about 9 hours.

Streetscape of the Red Cliffs Amphitheatre, surrounded by trees during the day.
The fascinating view of the amphitheatre of the Red Rocks makes you want to get out of the car and explore this place.

Petra Lasovska/

However, there is no point in driving from Denver to Telluride if you want to ignore all the big places along the road. Give yourself two or more days to check everything so that this trip is the right one. If you have time to extend your holiday, you can extend this trip for as long as you like by spending one or more days in each resort.

Best route from Denver to Telluride

If you drive from Denver to Telluride, you might be tempted to take the I-70 via Grand Junction. Although this route is also very pleasant, you will probably encounter a lot of traffic despite the 4 lanes of this highway. Walking slowly down the street to admire everyone is one thing, but not getting in the crowd is another!

Route Distance Driving time
Distance to line
(above I-70 W)
362 miles 6 hours 30 minutes
(via US Hwy 285 S and US-50 W)
330 miles 6 hours and 10 minutes

The best alternative would be to choose a more southerly route that allows you to spend most of your journey in the heart of Colorado’s mountain ranges. At the top of this route, which has its own beautiful landscape, many of the sights that can be reached via the I-70 can also be reached relatively quickly for this route, so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Denver to Telluride Route

Take U.S. 6 west of Denver and then head south on Hwy. 470. You will soon pass by Matthews/Winters Park, William F. Hayden Green Mountain Park and the beautiful Red Cliffs and Amphitheatre Park. Immediately after passing Mount Glennon Park, turn right onto the 285.

Head south on the highway, past the incredible mountains and the beautiful Stanton State Park. Then cross most of the Giant Pike and San Isabel National Forest just before taking Highway 50 towards Poncha Springs.

Stop 50 minutes from Monarch Mountain and Hannison National Forest and travel through Curecanti National Park. Just before you reach Montrose, you will see the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area on your right.

In Montrose turn left and cross the 550 to reach the last part of the road. Drive through the Uncompahgre National Forest and through the middle of the most beautiful mountains and you will soon reach Telluride.

Best ports of call between Denver and Telluride

Between Denver and Telluride there are many charming and unique places to stop, although it should be noted that most of the cities you pass are quite small, so there are not enough big hotels. With this in mind, here are some of the best places to stay on the road:

Take a break at the House of Tears in Buena Vista

Buena Vista is a bit off course, but it’s a good stopover if you want to divide your trip in two roughly equal parts. With its warm atmosphere and incredible views of the Saw Rocky Mountains, your stay here will not soon forget you.

The crowning glory of Buena Vista in terms of accommodation should be the House of Tears, a historic site. From the moment you walk into that holiday home, you feel like you’ve taken a step back. Between the beautiful antique furniture, the wonderful attention to detail and the amount of sunlight that penetrates each room, you will hardly find a rental that has more character than this French style wonder.

Apart from the fact that this house is beautiful, all boxes are marked in terms of comfort and value for money. You have access to an outdoor Jacuzzi and a spacious terrace, a playground and a living and relaxation area with a fireplace, ideal for watching a movie in the evening. If you have music, you can also set the mood and entertain travelers in the dining room by playing the piano.

It should be noted that this rental is on the good side – many other rental properties in small towns are available at a much lower price, especially if you are traveling out of season. In this context, only a small part of these rents (if any) comes close to the level of luxury that the Teardrop House offers.

Enjoy the view of Rosa Tudor and the Salida chalet.

Just like Buena Vista, Salida is off the road. But the detour is a small price to pay for the Bed & Breakfast and Chalet Tudor Rose experience.

Situated on a 37 hectare ridge, surrounded by pine trees, the property offers incredible views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, all at a very affordable price. Guests can stay in a suite or chalet.

Facilities include a deck with jacuzzi overlooking the Mosquito Mountain Range and Arkansas Canyon. Guests can enjoy the bathroom while they are afraid of the beauty of the place.

Animal lovers will love this place too. The place is animal friendly and welcomes everyone who brings his or her horses for a great ride in Colorado. They have stables, bays and meadows with a wooden fence.

A view of the Arkansas River that flows near Salida, Colorado, with trees and the top of a mountain on a sunny day.
Besides the surrounding mountain ranges, you can also enjoy various water activities on the river Arkansas near Salida.


Things to see on a trip from Denver to Telluride

Given the length of the Rocky Mountains on this route, it is not surprising that there are numerous places worth seeing. If you have a few weeks off, maybe you can describe all these places in detail:

  1. Northern Dinosaur Park – A park near Denver where fossils have been unearthed for about 150 years.
  2. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is an incredibly unique rock formation adapted for highly successful events.
  3. Tiny City and Railway is a very popular local attraction with smaller buildings and a small train ridge.
  4. Stanton State Park is a park of breathtaking beauty, with green meadows, forests, bays and towering Stanton cliffs.
  5. Southern Park Municipal Museum – The museum is a reconstruction of a former mining town and is located in Fairplay, known as the source of inspiration for the exhibition Southern Park.
  6. Pike and San Isabel National Forest – This beautiful forest with lush trees and the highest point in all of Colorado is worth exploring for a few days.
  7. Monarque Mount is a popular and much appreciated place for skiing, this place is definitely worth a visit if you travel in winter.
  8. Hannison National Forest – better described as a sea of green – should not be missed.
  9. Curecanti National Holiday Area – home to the Blue Mass, Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs. This beautiful park is for good reasons a popular place for camping and fishing.
  10. Black Canyon in Hannison National Park is undoubtedly one of the greatest natural wonders of America, this deep and dark canyon is one of the attractions of this route.
  11. Uncompahgra National Forest is an excellent recreational area ideal for driving and sightseeing with roads such as the Million Dollar Highway.

These are just some of the places worth visiting – each of the mountains, parks and forests mentioned here borders on at least one side. Take a few laps and you’ll discover a lot of new things!

Highway 45 is empty at Telluride, Colorado, with trees in autumn and mountain views.
From Denver you will be greeted by this picturesque view in the afternoon of autumn on Route 145 near Telluride.

Dawn Wilson Photo/

Best time to travel from Denver to Telluride

You can travel from Denver to Telluride at almost any time of the year, although there are a few things to consider.

Telluride is a rare example of a tourist town that is perfect for a visit in all seasons. Although the city is probably best known for its excellent skiing and snowboarding spots, there are several incredible hiking, camping and climbing areas throughout the region, and in summer the city hosts many events, such as the Telluride Bluegrass festival. Moreover, due to its remote location, Telluride is never full of visitors like many other tourist cities.

If you want to go skiing and see Telluride in its busiest spot, you can visit it at any time between November and early spring as this is the most important skiing season in town. If you prefer a quieter stay (although this is not the busiest place to stay either), you can book a cheap hotel room in September or October, because the catch is that many locals won’t work during this period.

The only thing you absolutely have to take into account is driving – driving is certainly not extreme, but you have to drive carefully when it snows. There can be a lot of snow in Denver in early spring, so keep this in mind when making your decision and pack it up.

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