Telluride Gondola Ride in Colorado – FREE and Dog Friendly!

June 2023 – Telluride, Colorado, is an upscale and elegant resort town for the ultra wealthy, a place where A-list celebrities have getaway escapes.

I mean….ESTATES!

Fortunately, we common folk are also welcome there, and what a wonderful place it is to spend some time. And, it turns out, the FREE and dog friendly Telluride gondola ride is one of the best ways to see the area — and to get to town too!!

Telluride Gondola Ride in Colorado - Up Up and Away!

The Telluride gondola ride is FREE and dog friendly!

Telluride is no longer just a small mountain village that gradually evolved from a silver mining camp into a chic modern day ski town. “Telluride” now includes a vast expanse around the small downtown Main Street area, and as you drive the winding roads over the mountainsides you’ll see one eye-popping ritzy estate after another.

Elegant mansion estate with snow-capped mountain backdrop in Mountain Village atTelluride Colorado

What a place to call home!!

Mountain Village lies on a hillside and valley that is neighbors with the valley that downtown Telluride is in, and Market Plaza is in the heart of Mountain Village. For Telluride tourists, that is the best place to start your visit and get oriented.

We tried to start our visit in downtown Telluride the same way we had when we first visited the area 23 years ago, but there just wasn’t enough room on those tiny and very busy streets for a big dually truck to maneuver or to park! It was extremely frustrating, so we were thrilled to find that we could get to Telluride without dealing with parking at all!

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Market Plaza has easy parking (even for large dually trucks) in front of the Village Market grocery store. Like everything else in Telluride, this grocery store for the locals doesn’t look anything like the supermarkets most folks shop at!

Elegant mansion estate with snow-capped mountain backdrop in Telluride Colorado

Does the supermarket you go to every week look like this? Ours sure doesn’t!!

To the right of Village Market is the Market Plaza station for the Telluride gondola ride that goes up and over these gorgeous mountains.

Next to that is a fantastic little take-out coffee bistro window that serves espresso coffee at a calm but breakneck speed (there’s often a line of customers by the window!). They also have delicious breakfast burritos and other goodies!

The Telluride gondola ride consists of three legs originating at four gondola stations: Market Plaza to Mountain Village, Mountain Village to San Sophia, and San Sophia to Telluride. Each leg is a 5 to 7 minute long ride. You have to change gondolas at the Mountain Village station, but you can remain in your gondola at the San Sophia station and ride on through to downtown Telluride.

Telluride Colorado gondola map

The 4 stops (3 legs) are (from right to left): Market Plaza, Mountain Village, San Sophia and Telluride.

The Telluride gondola ride is an extremely smooth and professional operation!

Telluride Colorado Gondola

The Telluride gondola runs all year. No skis or ski boots required!

The best thing about the Telluride gondola ride for people who have a dog is that it is extremely dog friendly. Dogs are not only allowed to ride in the gondolas, they’re warmly welcomed!

In fact, the whole area around Telluride is really dog friendly. You see dogs with their people EVERYWHERE around town!

Someone put five cute pooches wearing ski gear onto a gondola seat and took their photo. You can find this image on post cards and on a huge poster on one of the station walls. It’s nicknamed the GonDOGola!!

I know…I can hear you saying that now you’ve heard everything!!

We dog people are a little crazy, but we’re very warm hearted!

Telluride Colorado gondola rides accept dogs Gondogola!

Telluride is very dog friendly, and the Telluride Gondola downright encourages them to ride!

Each gondola car is numbered, and the odd numbered ones have paw prints on the outside indicating that our four footed friends can join us in that car. I can’t say that I saw any cats, but I’m sure they would be welcome too (on a leash)!

Telluride Colorado Gondola for dogs is pet-friendly

The four paw prints on the car let you know it’s a pet-friendly car!

So, off we went. Mark carried Buddy into the gondola and I followed, snapping away. It was hilarious! We were laughing like crazy, but the attendants helping people in and out of the gondola just took it in stride. They see baffled, laughing owners and their dogs all day long!

Happy dog and owner on the Telluride Colorado gondola

Buddy sure has done a lot of interesting things!

Regardless what kind of four footed (or two footed) friend you choose to bring with you — or even if you ride alone — the ride on the gondola is a jaw-dropper and is worth every penny. Oh, that’s right, it’s FREE! Well, it is worth making a detour in your travels to go and do!

The doors close and seal automatically as the gondola leaves the station, and you’re suddenly enclosed in a glass bubble with views on all sides.

The ride was incredibly smooth and quiet, and we were the only ones in our gondola! (3 adults can sit on each of the two bench seats that face each other).

Telluride gondola in Colorado goes over rooftops

The gondola soars over houses, ski stations and tree tops too!

The views were so awesome we couldn’t decide which way to face! We kept moving from one seat to the other and pointing things out to each other.

Dog checks out the view from the Telluride Colorado gondola

A dog’s eye view is as good as a bird’s eye view on this ride!

On this first leg from Market Plaza to Mountain Village, we sailed over the rooftops of houses and over what looked like community center areas too.

Telluride Colorado

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Suddenly we floated over a scene that was right out of the Swiss Alps! What a place! What a ride!!

Spectacular alpine view from the Telluride gondola in Colorado

Are we in the Rockies or the Alps?!

Swiss Alps view from the Telluride Gondola in Colorado

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The gondola slowed down as we arrived at the Mountain Village station until it was moving at the pace of a crawl, and the doors automatically opened.

We had tons of time to get out onto the ground comfortably, even carrying Buddy. After all, six adults routinely get in and out with skis, ski poles, ski boots and all kinds of other winter skiing paraphernalia.

We walked around a little bit in Mountain Village. Lots of people take a chair lift up the mountain with their mountain bikes. We saw bikes going on one chair on the lift and the mountain bikers themselves sitting on the next chair behind. Quite a few people were riding around the Mountain Village area and headed back down the mountain on their bikes.

Bicycles at Mountain Village on Telluride gondola ride in Colorado

There are separate chair lifts to take a bike up the mountain and we saw lots of people riding around at Mountain Village.

Bicycles at Mountain Village on the Telluride gondola ride in Colorado

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There were still patches of snow on the ground even though it was almost July!!

Happy dog and owner in the snow at Mountain VIllage Colorado

In the last days of June there was still snow in some places!

After breathing the high mountain air deeply and milling around a bit, we hopped back on the gondola to ride to our next stop, the San Sophia station. This time we had company in our gondola.

Happy dog and owner in the snow at Mountain VIllage Colorado

Back onto the Gondola!

We could see the Telluride airport in the distance. It looked like it ran through a plush green carpet and right off the edge of a cliff!

View of Telluride Colorado airport from the gondola

The Telluride airport runway seems to go right off a cliff!

Once at the San Sophia station, we poked around a bit and then boarded the gondola one more time to make our way down into Telluride.

What an incredible descent this was into town. It was like taking a steep escalator or even a glass elevator down into town. We saw a waterfall cascading over a red rock cliff in the distance, and then we dropped straight down the mountain!

Telluride Gondola on the way to San Sophia Station passes a waterfall

As we descended into Telluride, we saw a thin waterfall pouring over the edge of a red rock cliff in the distance

Telluride gondola descends from San Sofia station into Telluride Colorado

Then down we went into the quaint town of Telluride.

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We hopped off the gondola and were suddenly in the heart of Telluride! No parking hassles whatsoever, and we’d had fun the whole way!!

Telluride was as quaint as we remember it being all those years ago when we stayed in a tent in the tiny campground at the far end of town. It’s more upscale now, but just as charming. And the campground is still there…also more upscale but also just as nice!

Telluride Colorado main street of town

Telluride is a beautiful town.

Telluride Colorado Main street buildings

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Telluride Colorado old First National Bank building

The old First National Bank building.

Everything about this whole region is classy. It’s a world apart. We wandered down one street and did a double-take when we noticed a really elegant stone gate with gold lettering above it that said, “Telluride Marshal’s Department.”

I don’t know of any Marshal’s Department anywhere that welcomes you in with a fancy stone entrance gate, gold lettering on the sign and flower baskets hanging out front!

Telluride Marshal's Department entrance gate

Where else but Telluride does the entrance to the Marshal’s Department look like this?

There are loads of enticing restaurants — many with raised outdoor seating that is set up right in the street! — and there are a ton of boutique shops too.

Telluride Colorado elegant outdoor dining in the street

Many restaurants have outdoor seating right in the street!

We did a little bit of window shopping and walked a few of the back streets. We found some tiny colorful houses that must have originally been miners’ homes a century or more ago.

Telluride Colorado colorful old homes

Telluride’s mining past is remembered in vivid color.

At last it was time to go home. By now we were old hats with the gondola ride business, but we were still awestruck by the view that grew steadily behind us as we rose higher and higher above the town of Telluride.

Fun with a dog on the Telluride Gondola in Colorado

Camera, dog and a big smile!

Telluride gondola ride in Colorado - view of downtown Telluride from the gondola

Goodbye, Telluride, way down there!!

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This was a glorious day we will always remember.

If your travels take you anywhere near Telluride and you can spare a day in your itinerary, take this gondola ride into town — and if you have a dog, take your dog too!

Telluride gondola ride in Colorado

If you have a chance, do this ride!

If you’re in love with Colorado and wish to stay longer, check vacancies in Colorado Springs with daily cash pay and prolong your stay in this beautiful state.

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