Elevation: ca. 11,800 ft.
The remnants of this ghost town still remain, some as little as heaps of wood, others as frames, and some as full structures. Alta was a small mining town between Telluride and Rico housing a population of a few hundred. Gold was discovered here first in 1878 by Jack Mann, then population trends alternated up through World War II. An aerial tramway moved the ore to the mill below. This was the first mine to use AC current. The Mill burnt down in 1948. Some famous residents were George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and others who made the town what it became. Through the years, the remnants of the town were vandalized after the last residents left and most of what remains has been destroyed. The land has been purchased by a developer who plans to pave the route up to it selling lots in and around Alta Lakes further up the road. Visited on 5/31/09.
One of the spectacular beauties of Telluride are the stunning Bridal Veil Falls. A towering water fall dropping 365 feet at the end of the box canyon overlooking Telluride. Hiking and off road trails pass by the falls and there resides a power plant at its top. During the winter the frozen falls create a otherworldly art form. Atop the falls is a house owned by Eric Jacobson who restored the power plant. This plant provides for over 25 percent of Telluride's need for energy. In the 1990s the falls were opened to ice climbers but since it regained private property status again that changed. The area around the falls is subject to avalanche and environmental conditions. Reaching the top can be challenging at times. The falls are awe inspiring and definitely a great viewpoint. On our 5/31/09 visit, we were unable to make it up to them and could only admire Bridal Veils from afar, but that was far worth the inspiration. Someday I hope to climb up to them and enjoy close-up.
the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival gets the highest rating I could award. Held about mid-september, it is 3 days of great music, brews, scenery & people. There are great hotels nearby, along with RV parking, & campgrounds.
Check out Bear Creek Preserve. It's an easy hike, but flatlanders WILL think it's... tiresome. There's a cool waterfall at the top.
There are some great 4wd trails in the area. It's an easy way to get to some of the higher spots. The town of Ouray, which is about 45 minutes away, is also rather neat.