From carbon neutral micro brew festivals to the complimentary bio fuel bus, a ‘free box’, random acts of coffee kindness and no traffic lights. Why you should pay Telluride forward.

Some mountain towns just scream community and the box canyon town of Telluride in the San Juan mountains of Colorado has got it in spades. It helps that it comes with a picture box setting with soaring peaks thrusting skyward in an amphitheatre around the heritage town with a Main Street plucked straight from a Hollywood cowboy set.

You have got to love a town that purchases 570 acres of gateway meadow known as The Valley Floor out of the hands of the San Miguel Valley Corporation and declares it open space, forever wild in perpetuity. Community 1, greed 0.

You have also got to love a town with no traffic lights, none, not one.

If, like me, you’re a sucker for a farmers organic market, a local brew, a love of nature over corporations and random acts of kindness then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s ten reasons why.

Cowboy Coffee random acts of kindness

The coffee here is good, so good we caught the gondola down each day just get a cup of joe. But what I really love in the little caravan on the main street is the Pay it Forward window where you buy someone a cup of coffee and leave the card there for them to pick up. The simple gifts in life mean a lot.

The Free Box

Get in quick as the Free Box is cleared out every Friday. Locals and tourists heading home leave unwanted goods from clothes to televisions to skis, snowboards, camping gear and more for others to pick up for free. One guy I met at the box found himself a pair of zip off trek pants for summer that he was clearly chuffed with.

Free wind powered gondola

Telluride is split between the town of Telluride on the valley floor and Mountain Village half way up the mountain. The two are connected by a free gondola that is run by wind power. They even have blankets for gondola riders to use in winter and dog friendly cabins for those travelling with Fido.

telluride gondola
The gondola runs on wind power

Free bio fuel driven shuttle bus

The Galloping Goose is the town’s free shuttle bus service. If you grab bus #101 then you’ll know that your ride is run on non toxic, biodegradable, vegetable oil based biodiesel fuel.

Galloping Goose
The Galloping Goose free bus

Wagner Skis made for your DNA in a carbon neutral way

Pete Wagner makes custom made skis once sold from a pre purposed gas station in Placerville using wind and solar power to ensure a carbon neutral factory (now relocated to Mountain Village). Not only are your skis one of kind made specifically for your own skiing DNA with a top sheet designed just for you, they are also good for the environment that means so much to those who care for the great outdoors. In our world that’s a double hitter.

Pete Wagner, his skis and the truck that inspired them
Pete Wagner, his skis and the truck that inspired them

Carbon neutral festivals

Telluride loves a festival. The Telluride Film Festival, the Mountain Film Festival, the Bluegrass Festival and the Blues and Brews Festival are the signature events of a year of festivals dedicated to yoga, dance and jazz and even a Mushroom Festival.  The Blues and Brews Festival is 100% Carbon Neutral and offers free filtered water and carbon offset options.

blues festival
Blues and Brews Festival in September

Dogs, dogs, dogs

A town that looks out for it’s canine residents is a caring town indeed. Dogs are the best therapy ever and no more so than Telluride where you can’t walk two feet without running into a dog and their human taking in the town.

Alta Lakes Observatory

Accessed by snow mobile in winter down a remote five mile road, the Observatory at Alta Lakes backcountry cabin is a truly special place. Hand built by locals in the 1970s this rustic outpost is shielded by mountain peaks close to an abandoned mining ghost town that just adds to the charm.

Someone with a sense of humour has deposited a red British telephone box not far from the front door. Add a giant stone fireplace, beds for ten friends and some of the best skiing and hiking terrain around and you will be hoping you get snowed in like we did.

Telluride Aids Benefit

The Telluride Aids Benefit is the hottest ticket in town come winter. The benefit has been running since 1994 and has raised over $1.8million for HIV and Aids education, health and wellness across numerous beneficiary funds. The fashion parade is a fusion between comedy, theatrics, dance and catwalk fashion and uses locals as models to showcase the town’s designers and fashion retailers.  

Trust me, this isn’t just any old parade it is a total party and the most fun you can have with a DJ, a catwalk and a choreographer and all for a damn good cause.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash was a guest of Ski Max Holidays, Telluride Ski Resort, Lumiere Hotel and Colorado Ski Country


  1. Telluride is amazing, one of the great places in this world, but it’s really more and more become a gated community for the rich where the walls keeping out the middle-class are made of money. The town does what it can to build affordable housing, but rents are outrageous and a modest house in town costs millions and millions of dollars.


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