Welcome to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in gorgeous Telluride, Colorado. This former mining town in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, is set in a beautiful box canyon amid snow-capped, forested peaks and waterfalls and is home to one of the premier bluegrass festivals in the world. Come see what kind of party Planet Bluegrass puts on.
If this is your first time at Telluride or the festival, they are both ri-dad-gum-diculous. Naturally, there will be some growing pains and misfires that first-timers are bound to make. Read along, weary traveler, so we can keep those to a minimum. We can do this. Not every one of us needs to wake up moonshine blind in a Colorado jail.
Telluride Bluegrass Information Aplenty:
- Camping: Bluegrass festivals are all about the camping. The savagery and unbridled fun that comes with handles of whiskey and banjo pickin, foot stompin goodness till the sun comes up and beyond, can be yours to suffer. There are four camping areas that are used for the festival and can all be found on their Festival map.
MARY E. ILIUM CAMPGROUNDThis tent camping is located at the National Forest campground about 7 miles from the festival grounds. It’s on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests under special use permit from the Forest Service, USDA. It was $55 with vehicle passes available for vehicles no longer than 22′. Charcoal grills are allowed and quiet hours are from 2am-7am (That’s not too much. If you can’t sleep while people are playing music, then tent camping at a bluegrass festival might not be the best idea.) The Mary E. Campground is located in the scenic Ilium Valley west of Telluride. This campground is nestled in the woods, with the river nearby and lots of shade. Mary E offers a more natural, backwoods camping experience than any of our other campgrounds. The shuttle ride to the festival is longer than for other campgrounds, but if you’re looking for a more traditional outdoor camping experience it’s worth it.
- LAWSON HILL CAMPGROUND
Tent camping only in a ball field located about 4 miles from the festival grounds. Metal pans must be used under stoves to protect grass and charcoal grills are not allowed. Tent stakes longer than 6″ are prohibited to protect irrigation systems. Quiet hours are 2am-7am (awesome!) and free shuttle runs to and fro the festival. It’s $60 and no vehicles are allowed but there is free parking nearby. Lawson Hill is a baseball field located several miles west of the town of Telluride, just to the west of the Valley Floor preservation area. As this is a large open field, there is little shade, so plan to bring your own. Bring along a bike – the Telluride bike path provides a gently rolling, paved path from Lawson Hill to the town of Telluride and the festival grounds.
- WARNER FIELD CAMPGROUND
Tent camping only and adjacent to the festival grounds. Showers available in the Town Park campground. Those camping in Warner Field will be allowed general access to Town Park camping areas, but will not be allowed to carry camping materials to or from Town Park camping areas. Quiet hours are 2am-7am (nice.) Metal pans must be used under stoves to protect grass and charcoal grills are not allowed. No vehicles are allowed on the field and glass is prohibited.
Tickets: $350 (Sold-out via online lottery open October 31-November 8) Warner Field is the baseball field located right next to the festival grounds. There is little shade, so plan to bring your own. It is usually possible to hear the main stage from most campsites at Warner Field.
- TOWN PARK CAMPGROUND
INCLUDES 4-DAY PASS / SOLD VIA LOTTERY
This involves lotteries and planning, but this is where you want to stay. Yup. Tent camping and vehicles adjacent to the festival grounds. A limited number of vehicle passes will be available in the online lottery. Vehicles must be less than 24 feet in length.
Free parking is available nearby. Tickets are $350 (Sold-out via online lottery open October 31-November 8) The home to the many traditional camps at Telluride Bluegrass, Town Park is the hallowed soil of Festivarian Nation. The beautiful, natural campground features a waterfall, river, lots of trees, and a series of small hills and bowls. Campers at Town Park have access to showers and permanent bathrooms. Many Town Park residents plan to arrive days before the festival to enjoy a full slate of activities organized by the Town Park Festivarians. Learn more about the culture, tradition, and community of Town Park at www.festivarian.com.
- Free Camping: At nailtravels, we always try and let you know the best way to travel free and easy while on the road. Telluride does not make it real easy to live on the cheap so you’ll have to be creative. The sleeping in cars option is tough because the whole town is blocked off from visitor parking. It wasn’t bad enough that we had to sleep in our cars the first two nights, we still received parking tickets from the city. Ugh. A parking ticket on top of sleeping in the front seat of an Nissan Xterra. Another option is to traverse the San Muguel River and find a cozy spot in the woods to set up your primitive camp. It’s real close to downtown and a reasonable suggestion if you don’t mind the lack of amenities. You can also park your car at Mountain Village and sleep in it there. You’ll just have to take the free gondola ride back and forth to the festival. Be careful not to be overwhelmed by the romantic beauty and propose to some stranger. These gondolas can be quite hazardous.
- No Dogs: Like every other festival on this side of the Mississippi, no dogs are allowed at all. They wouldn’t even let my friend bring his seeing eye dog, and he’s blind. We were planning on sneaking our dogs in the camping area, but it would have been difficult to smuggle in the Chihuahua much less the pit bull. Because of this unexpected step back, we got to stay in a…
- Hotels: Camping is the mostmilk at Telluride because of the late night jam sessions, but the town of Telluride, which is quite close, and littered with hotels and restaurants. Thanks to Luke the pit bull, we got stuck in The Peaks Resort and Spa which was just a short gondola ride up to Mountain Village. Not too shabby.
Check out The Oak, the new Fat Alley, in Telluride for beer, bourbon and barbecue. It’s good food, great company, and Schlitz on draft for two dollars. Well, color me happy. And it’s even owned by an Alabama football fan so sit down and enjoy the decorations. They also have a food stand at the festival so don’t be afraid to sample their wares between sets. Telluride’s premier restaurant is located at the base of Chair 8 and the Gondola in the historic ski resort town of Telluride Colorado. Phone: 970-728-3985
- Telluride: The backdrop for the festival is a box canyon with mountains on every side. The road through town ends at a scenic waterfall that can be seen from nearly everywhere. There are shops and bars all through the small town and it really comes off a bit on the fancy side.
- NightGrass Shows: The sun may set and the temperature may drop, but the music doesn’t stop at Telluride Bluegrass NightGrass is the late-night component of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. These intimate indoor shows are held nightly at the historic Sheridan Opera House and Fly Me to the Moon Saloon (both located just a few blocks from the Town Park festival grounds) as well as the Palm Theater (at the west end of town, an easy walk down Colorado Avenue or serviced by free shuttles). Special shows are also held at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village (a free gondola ride from Telluride) so don’t go to bed too early.
- Temperature: Be ready for hot days and cool nights. Summertime in Telluride is pretty warm with lots of sun, so be prepared with shade and sunscreen. The main stage area is an uncovered field so make sure to bring a sun shade for the long days of fiddle music. Kelty makes a few models that are the mostmilk.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national organization that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. The Center accomplishes this mission by delivering cutting-edge education and research to millions of people across the country every year. At Telluride, Northwest String Summit, and RockyGrass festivals they host a Leave No Trace contest in an effort to extend the spirit of sustainable Festivation into the campgrounds. Coordinated by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, this contest encourages others to raise the bar for sustainable and creative camping. These kinds of initiatives provide a framework for festival sustainability.
All entrants are eligible for random daily prizes, while campsites that excel in achieving the highest levels of the Leave No Trace philosophy could win camping and 3-day passes for the 2017 Festival. Enjoy your world. Leave No Trace.