Aspen is a legendary, Rocky Mountain town, famous for its skiing, hiking, art, and distinct culture. But have you heard about Telluride, it’s slightly more secluded, just as epic cousin? Here are a few reasons why we think Telluride is the new Aspen.
The two cities have similar origins. Both were first inhabited by the Ute tribe, who hunted the land every summer. White settlers made their way into the valleys around 1870, in search of silver. The towns grew over the next twenty years or so, until the price of silver fell and populations dwindled into the early twentieth century. The terrain surrounding both towns makes it easy to imagine yourself venturing over mountain passages in search of wild game, and old mining structures keep memories of the silver age alive. These remnants of the past make significant contributions to the old-west feel of both Aspen and Telluride.
Ski Town Revival
After the boom and bust years of mining, it was “white gold” (snow) that finally started to bring people back into the two towns. In both cases, enterprising businessmen established ski resorts on some epic terrain, bringing adventure seekers back into town. It’s pretty safe to say that if someone lives in Telluride or Aspen, someone in their recent lineage was into doing challenging and fun things outside. This makes for an adrenaline-fed culture with plenty of outdoor adventure companions. When the snow melts, of course, many skiers take to their bikes, and ski trails often make for great mountain bike rides.
Smaller, Well-Kept Secret
Aspen Skiing Corporation was founded in 1946, and soon after became recognized as a premier international ski resort. Along with skiing came people from all over the world, which prompted the growth of businesses, restaurants, and boutiques, all with a very unique “wild west” appeal. The ski bums of the 60s and 70s stuck around to become the entrepreneurs of the 80s and 90s, and now Aspen is a full-on resort town. The natural beauty remains, but it’s not such a secret anymore. What used to be an escape from the bustle of everyday life has grown into somewhat of a mountain metropolis. There are still some great gems to discover, a bit out of town, and in the off-season. But personally, we’re a little more excited about Telluride these days.
The Telluride Ski Resort got started about 25 years after Aspen, so it hasn’t had as much time to be discovered. Today, Telluride’s population is still only about 2,000 residents (compared to Aspen’s 6,500 or so). But with similar geography, the culture of the place is similar to the culture that made Aspen famous. In addition to its fantastic outdoor appeal, Telluride is well-known for its Film Festival, Jazz Festival, Blues & Brews, Bluegrass Festival, and lots of newer festivals centered around things like wine and yoga. It’s an amazing destination with plenty of old western charm.