How Safe Is Telluride for Travel?

Telluride, United States
Safety Index:
87

If Colorado is a family of ski towns, then Telluride is the fun uncle.

This city, combined with neighboring Mountain Village, is more than just a winter haven, it’s a year-round oasis of Colorado excitement nestled into a canyon with screaming heights of mountain peaks above it.

This is a place where you won’t feel like an outcast if you don’t ski, but if you do, you can take it to the next level with heli-skiing, where a helicopter drops you off in otherwise inaccessible terrain to ride fresh powder in untouched backcountry.

Hikers get incredible views of waterfalls that splash into life in late spring and early summer.

Mountain bikers couldn’t wish this place to live if they tried.

If there’s something to do outdoors in the mountains, you can do it here.

If you’ve heard of Telluride before, you know how unique this place is.

If you haven’t, here’s what U.S. News & World Report says about it:

  • #1 Best Place to Visit in Colorado
  • #2 Best Small Town to Visit Nationwide
  • #3 Beat Mountain Town in the USA

You don’t have the crowds of Vail or the arrogance of Aspen.

You just have a fun town in the wild west section of southwestern Colorado ready to host any adventure you can handle and not judging you should you choose to just stay at the spa all day.

Warnings & Dangers in Telluride

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

There's a low overall risk here. A lot of things are wild here, but not the crime numbers. It's a safe town by crime statistics and it's protected by the Telluride Marshal's Department.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

If you fly into Montrose Regional Airport, you'll get a free shuttle ride from the airport to the city. Once you're in Telluride, you can take the Gondola (FOR FREE!) to Mountain Village. There's also a bus system called the Galloping Goose to take you around town (also free). You can't get a taxi here, and while rideshares are available, it might take a while to get one. All options are low-risk. If you choose to get a car rental in the winter, make sure it's four-wheel drive.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

No pickpockets are purse-snatchings were reported in the latest crime statistics, and the item most commonly stolen was a bike. On top of that, there were just 29 thefts to begin within 2020, so you should feel safe with a low rise.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

You'll need to worry about major winter storms closing down roads, avalanches that shut down ski areas, and wildfires from spring through fall. There's a medium risk, especially since there's only one way in and out of Telluride.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

There have only been three robberies in Telluride since 2012. The one violent crime reported was two friends on a playground with a "personal" weapon. Rest assured, there's a low risk here.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Since many people haven't heard of Telluride, there's a good chance it hasn't gotten onto the radar of terrorists either. With less than 2500 people living here, it wouldn't be a hard target anyway. There's a low risk.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

There's a low risk overall, but one area of caution. The Telluride Marshals Department has gotten numerous complaints of rental scams on Craigslist. Book through the legitimate websites in Telluride. When in doubt, ask for a phone number and check the rental license through the city. While you can get reasonable prices, it's never going to be a really cheap deal for a place that is so popular. Even the city leaders have asked to cut back on the marketing budget because there's just not enough room for all the people who want to visit here.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Women should feel safe here. It is a party town, so the usual "don't take a drink you didn't see made" rules apply and you should never go back to a room with someone you don't know. You might find love in the air in Telluride, but keep it in the public air until you know you can trust that person.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

Not only is there a low risk in the drinking water, as it meets or exceeds all standards, but there is also isn't even a risk of lead in the drinking water. This is because, as the town states in its annual water quality report, lead pipes aren't used in the distribution of tap water. No report has even shown lead in the drinking water here.

Safest Places to Visit in Telluride

I just don’t even know where to start.

This place has so much to do.

I think I’ll have to explain by category of things to do in order to not completely bust my word count limit.

Telluride Ski Resort was once ranked the #1 ski resort in the United States by the prestigious Conde Nast.

What makes this area unique is the high-risking jagged peaks of the surrounding mountains and the challenges on the slopes.

You can also Nordic ski, cross-country ski, snowmobile, or snowshoe here.

The city is surrounded by several hot springs areas or towns.

Some are entire cities that can be rented out for corporate retreats, others are just hot springs loaded with nutrients coming from the depths of the earth.

Many believe these waters have healing powers.

Heli-skiing is one of the most adventurous things you can do here.

Helitrax goes beyond the altitude limits of any other helicopter company in the country to provide background skiing at its absolute finest.

For even more adventure, you can try some ice climbing, day or night.

You can go through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh or let sled dogs pull you along in a ride similar to the Iditarod.

Fat Bike snow rides are also a fun way to enjoy the snow without risking a broken leg (as much).

Fly fishing is popular in the winter too.

Summer brings a new world of adventures.

The Bridal Falls spring to life 365 feet above the earth, making it the tallest free-falling waterfall you can find in the state.

Roads closed by excessive snowfall and hiking trails buried until 10 feet of snow are now visible and accessible for dozens of outdoor adventures.

The wildflowers that pop up in spring are magical and span as far as the eye can see.

No matter what season, you can also get a walking tour of the Historic District in downtown Telluride and explore the museum that tells the stories of this region long before there was a Gondola to see it from 12,000 feet.

With that, I’ve only scratched the surface.

Telluride.com has an extensive list of all the activities to do in this region.

Placess to Avoid in Telluride

As for crime, there are no bad parts of the town.

It’s a safe place to stay and travel.

The biggest risks come from nature.

You want to avoid doing something adventurous beyond your level of tolerance.

For example, the gondola alone scares me, so I’d be on the Galloping Goose all day.

However, you might be okay on the Gondola, but a little too scared of the helicopter into the backcountry.

That’s okay.

The helicopter does also offer scenic rides instead of backcountry skiing.

There’s something for everyone, so don’t get pressured.

The altitude here is no joke.

The ground level starts almost 1000 feet higher than Vail and Aspen.

Only Breckenridge has a higher ground altitude level as far as ski towns go.

Give yourself a day to acclimate.

Cans of oxygen are sold in town, but they will only provide minimal relief at a dangerous moment.

Diamox is a prescription pill your doctor can get you to avoid the impact of altitude sickness, but you should still give yourself at least a day to acclimate.

Some of the mountains here reach up to 14,000 feet.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Telluride

  1. As of March 2022, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s office was warning of a particularly dangerous batch of drugs being used in the area. The opioid crisis is impacting all communities, but in this particular place, some of the drugs being sold aren’t anything but straight Fentanyl. Just 2 milligrams, the size of less than 50 salt grains, can kill you. While these fake prescription drugs are illegal, the main concern is how deadly they are.
  2. Download the ParkMobile app to be able to pay for parking from your mobile device. This will prevent you from having to run back to the car and feed the meter. Tickets will be handed out to vehicles past their time limit, so make it as easy as you can to keep your car safe while you explore.
  3. Get hooked up with instant alerts from the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office through the county website. This will let you know about weather dangers, wildfires, and civil emergencies. Mudslides, avalanches, flash flooding, and wildfires can happen quickly here. You need to stay informed.
  4. For hikers, study the maps before you go to see the difficulty of the trails before you head out. Some trails might require scrambling over rocks or rockclimbing gear. Especially at high elevations, even experienced hikers can get the wind taken out of them from the intense hikes.
  5. Before you go into the wilderness during any season, bring bear spray, a foghorn, a whistle, and enough clothing to survive overnight. You need to prepare for any worst-case scenario when venturing out into this rugged terrain.
  6. A video went viral last year of a deputy, known around Telluride as “Hot Cop”, chasing a bear from a populated area. It’s important to know two things. One – never chase a bear. (That deputy was specially trained). Two – there are bears in this area and, because people leave food out too often, the normally shy bears are becoming less afraid of people and more readily looking for food. If you see a bear in public, call the police. If you see a bear in the wilderness, just say “Hello, how are you? My name is ____” in a normal voice, so the bear knows you are human. Back away slowly. Should the bear get aggressive toward you, make as much noise as you possibly can and, as the Colorado Dept. of Wildlife says, “Let them know you aren’t worth the trouble.”
  7. Lock your car doors when you’re here and roll up the windows. This will help prevent auto break-ins, which, yes, do happen even in small mountain towns. You know what else could happen? A bear can get inside. There’s video on the Facebook page for the Marshals Department from 2019 when a bear got into a truck and locked itself inside. Have you ever seen what a bear can do to the inside of a car when trapped? It’s a lot worse than having your skis stolen.
  8. If you are road tripping here with your bicycle in tow, register it at the Marshals Office when you arrive in case it gets stolen. While there aren’t a lot of thefts here, bikes are the first thing to get stolen. Registering it makes it more likely you’ll get it back.
  9. In Colorado, bicyclists are expected to be treated and act as if they were a regular motorized vehicle. That means you have to stop at stop lights and can’t breeze through a stop sign.
  10. If you’re going to be rafting on the rivers in Telluride, there are some that move swiftly and over dangerous rocks. Always wear a helmet and personal flotation device in the water, no matter how experienced you are. You can save yourself if you’ve gotten knocked out with a head injury.

So... How Safe Is Telluride Really?

Despite all the people using the nickname “To Hell You Ride,” it’s really a safe place.

There were just 29 larcenies in 2020 and no robberies since 2018.

There was just one violent crime and we previously discussed that was a 20 something getting into a fight with a friend who was a 40 something on a local playground.

I really wish I knew more because I think that’s a great story.

You do have a lot of natural dangers, some of which you can control – like trying to drive in a blizzard – while others you can’t control – like winds shifting into a fast-moving wildfire sending flames toward the city.

I kinda lied earlier when I said there is just one way in and out of Telluride.

There is just one ROAD, but there are backroads that can be used with a 4X4 vehicle.

They are dangerous and unstable in parts, so you never want that to be your only escape route.

Follow evacuation orders, take mudslide risks seriously, and don’t try to scale a rock face if you’ve never done mountain climbing before.

How Does Telluride Compare?

CitySafety Index
Telluride87
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Boston67
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82

Useful Information

  • Visas - Your visa or passport will get checked wherever you enter the United States. You don't need additional processing between states and cities.
  • Currency - You will use the U.S. Dollar and more activities can be booked well in advance, saving you from trying to find a wallet in your ski gear or carrying a purse around with you. If you do need cash, get it before you get to the small town of Telluride or you might face high ATM charges.
  • Weather - Winter is going to need plenty of warm layers and clothing that covers all bare skin except the eyes and a place to breathe. Wear goggles to keep from damaging your eyes. You can rent ski gear in town if you don't want to purchase your own. In summer, you'll have beautiful warm days, but the nights can get chilly, so bring jeans or cargo pants and hoodies.
  • Airports - Telluride does have its own airport, with airport letters of TEX. However, there's one short runway that deals with a lot of canceled flights in winter and wildfire season due to weather. The most popular option is Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) and that's 65 miles away. There are shuttles available to Telluride from there and the drive is very much worth it.
  • Travel Insurance - From travel delays to deposits lost on adventures canceled due to weather, you want travel insurance to make sure you don't lose from circumstances you can't control.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Telluride Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -7° C
Feb -5° C
Mar -2° C
Apr 3° C
May 8° C
Jun 12° C
Jul 15° C
Aug 14° C
Sep 11° C
Oct 5° C
Nov -2° C
Dec -6° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
2461116222523201473
Low
°C
-16-13-10-5-12551-4-10-15
High
°F
363943526172777368574537
Low
°F
391423303641413425145

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