The first free, green transportation of its kind, nothing in the U.S. compares to the Telluride Gondola. And, it’s more than a lift up the mountain; It’s a local attraction. Telluriders depend on it for their employment, and it saves gasoline emissions for the box canyon and fuel costs for working citizens.
In just 13 minutes, one can travel from Telluride to the Mountain Village or vice versa. Not only are the icy conditions and traffic avoided on the hill up Society Drive, but the use of the free Gondola saves on parking in the Mountain Village, which can be problematic. In the same way, visitors of Telluride can access the chairlifts during ski season, biking and hiking trails during the summer, as well as evening concerts and festivals. The Gondola provides a link between the two areas that is efficient, cost-free and relatively quick, at 11 miles per hour.
The Telluride Station is located next to the Camel’s Garden, Telluride Sports and Oak restaurant on San Juan Avenue. Here also are Chairlift 8 and a TelSki ticket office for the convenience of skiers. In addition, the Gondola is advantageously located on the River Trail of the San Miguel River. At the top of this ride, at an elevation of 10,500 feet, rests the San Sophia Nature Center as well as Allred’s, an upscale restaurant with striking views of Ajax Peak and the Town of Telluride, a few thousand feet below. At the Mountain Village Station, Gondola riders disembark at The Market at Mountain Village, the Interceptor free parking area, post office and Mountain Village Town Hall.
Running from 7 a.m. to midnight during the summer and winter seasons, the Gondola has handicapped cabins as well as pet-friendly cabins. Ski and bike racks are affixed to cabins as well to make transporting gear hassle-free, and the experienced and friendly Gondola operators assist travelers in boarding. Blankets are available for the bitter temperatures. The Gondola is not heated. The Gondola does close for off-season for the spring and fall, as many local businesses are not open for the slow periods. During this time, maintenance occurs to make for a smooth busy season.
Telluride is a leader in conscious thought, setting many examples for other communities in the country and all over the world. The Gondola relies on clean, green energy, and the electricity used to power it comes from wind power purchased through San Miguel Power Association. Besides offering convenient transportation that is absolutely free for all travelers, the Gondola also offers stunning views of the Telluride canyon and the mesas, as well as Telluride Airport, down the valley on the Mountain Village side.
Wildlife can be seen the entire ride, including deer, elk, marmot, various species of birds and sometimes bears. Early morning and sundown make for the best animal watching. Safety is required on the Gondola. No smoking or open containers of alcohol are permitted. Riders are asked to remain seated, with the cabin door closed at all times.
Cameras, however, are always encouraged.