Doing It All in Telluride
It's not a breeze to get to — the airport currently takes no commercial traffic in — but once you arrive in Telluride, its outdoor adventures are shockingly easy to pursue. One moment you're polishing off a breakfast burrito at the Butcher & Baker Cafe; the next you're dropping an SUP into the San Miguel River, biking epic singletrack or hiking a trail with more scenic waterfalls than a rack of postcards.
A long-weekender will be eager to get into the mountains, but at 10,000 feet it's best to take it slow. (Your first night in Telluride is not the night to go big.) Devote day one to the Via Ferrata (Italian for "iron road"), a ridgeline rock face where you scramble along high narrow paths while clipped into a system of cables, aided by iron rungs sunk into the cliffs. "A high-stakes walk," is how guide Andrew Temple describes it, and while it is thrilling, it isn't strenuous or terribly time-consuming. You can be back in town in time for lunch, and a Bloody Mary, at the New Sheridan Hotel, right on the main drag.
This leaves the afternoon free for a gentle hike — the Jud Wiebe or Bear Creek Trail, which wind through ferns and stands of aspens above town. Or ride the gondola to Mountain Village, just over the peak, where slope-side restaurants and lodges like the Madeline Hotel are mixed among gear outfitters like BootDoctors, which will rent you a full-suspension bike to bomb down the mining roads and ski trails all around town, most of which will deposit you back on the valley floor, headed to town for the next adventure. Or you could just ease into the evening at the Telluride Brewery. You're well acclimated by now. Telluride would want you to go big.
Montrose Regional Airport is an hour's ride from town, with enough evening flights from Denver to make travel less than a whole-day affair. Or fly into Durango, 2.5 scenic hours away.