Cut Loose in Telluride, Colorado
Come May, this granite box canyon full of Skittle-colored Victorians transforms from a winter wonderland into a Rocky Mountain beach town (without the actual beach), where flip-flops and sundresses replace the Carhartts and Sorels. Waterfalls stream down the cliffs, and wildflowers freckle the meadows. "I moved here because I wanted to live in a ski town," says Katie Klingsporn, of the Mountainfilm festival. "But it didn't take long to realize that the summer eclipses the winter in so many ways."
Hikers and mountain bikers head up Black Bear Road for unobstructed views of 365-foot Bridal Veil Falls. The resort's gondola is outfitted with bike racks in summer, making it easier for riders to access the downhill-terrain park, with a thousand feet of vertical, and cross-country trails on the mountain. And then there's the Via Ferrata, a hiking-climbing route with iron rungs and cables that traverses a three-quarter-mile stretch of cliffs above town. "There are sections where you're looking down at a sheer drop of about a thousand feet," says Terese Broderick, who works for a climbing outfitter in town. "The view is unbelievable, and, depending on the person, reactions range from absolute fear to a huge level of stoke."
Every July, in a townwide embrace of Telluride's countercultural roots, residents cycle naked down Main Street in the Nothing Festival parade; in August they careen on old bikes for the Cruiser Criterium. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a festival occurs nearly every weekend, celebrating anything from bluegrass to mushrooms. And at watering holes like the Buck, a.k.a. the Last Dollar Saloon, it's not unusual to see grizzled patrollers and aging Dead Heads rubbing shoulders with weekending tech execs and film directors.
"Whether they're a ski bum or a second-home owner, everyone is here because they're in love with the mountains and laid-back lifestyle," says Ryan Bonneau, a local photographer. "The San Juan Mountains are still pretty undiscovered. It's just endless remote areas to explore."