Grand Junction to Telluride: Trip Length & Local Tips

Known as the hidden hub of Colorado’s wine country, Grand Junction is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Aside from an excellent selection of tasty adult beverages, the area offers easy access to lakes and rivers, hiking and biking trails, and several well-known state historic museums.

 

When planning a trip from Grand Junction to Telluride, it’s important to consider the best route, method of transport, and safety travel tips.

 

We break down all of the above in our handy travel guide below!  

 

Flying or Driving to Telluride

 

Driving is the easiest and most popular way to travel from Grand Junction to Telluride.

 

Telluride is located about 125 miles southeast of Grand Junction, and you can expect to spend about two and a half hours in the car driving under normal weather and traffic conditions.

 

Driving directions from Grand Junction to Telluride:

  • Follow I-70BL East and 29 Road to US-50 East in Orchard Mesa (5 Miles/10 Minutes)
  • Continue on US-50 E
  • Take US-550 S to CO-62 (82 Miles/1.5 Hours)
  • Follow CO-62 and CO-145 to W Colorado Avenue in Telluride (40 Miles/1 Hour)

 

You can view step by step directions via Google here.

 

Flights are available from Grand Junction to Telluride, though they can be a bit expensive and you will likely have a layover in Denver or another nearby city. Direct flights are currently not available. Flight prices vary seasonally, but often start at over $800 for a two-way trip. The length of the trip will also vary greatly based on your layover, but you can expect to spend at least 3-4 hours in the airport.

 

Our recommendation is to drive to Telluride. The trip is quite scenic and there’s plenty to see and do along the way!

 

Best Highways to Take from Grand Junction to Telluride

US-50 East
Photo Credit: Kent Kanouse via Flickr CC2.0

Taking US-50 East is the most popular and most efficient highway to take from Grand Junction to Telluride. This route will take you through the nearby towns of Delta, Montrose, Ridgway, and Placerville. This is the best highway to take if you’re seeking a direct route or if you’re traveling in the winter and you’re concerned about highway conditions. As a main thoroughfare, US-50 East is well maintained and plowed during normal snow conditions. There’s also a moderate amount of gas stations, dining, and entertainment along the way if that’s what you’re looking for. The entire trip is 125 miles or 2.5 hours.

Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway
Photo Credit: jaygannett via Flickr CC2.0

The Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway is a spectacular alternative route from Grand Junction to Telluride. The beautiful, unspoiled backdrop is a bit remote but incredibly scenic and a great route for visitors seeking truly amazing mountain views, including the famous Gateway Canyon. Most of the route follows the Dolores and San Miguel rivers, which have slowly etched magnificent sandstone canyons into the backdrop. There are plenty of natural stops along the way to get out and enjoy the scenery. Just remember that the route is fairly remote, with extremely limited access to gas stations, dining, and activities. The total trip from Grand Junction to Telluride via the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway is 155 miles or 3.5 hours.

 

Top Things to Do and See Between Grand Junction and Telluride

There’s plenty to see and do between Grand Junction and Telluride!

 

Assuming you take the main route via Highway US-50 East, you’ll pass through several nearby mountain towns along the 2.5-hour drive, including Delta, Olathe, Montrose, Ridgway, and Placerville.

Confluence Park
Photo Credit: Kent Kanouse via Flickr CC2.0

Delta, Colorado is home to several natural attractions, including Confluence Park and Sweitzer Lake and State Park.

Black Canyon National Park
Photo Credit: Jasperdo via Flickr CC2.0

Montrose is another popular spot between Grand Junction and Telluride. This charming mountain town is home to Black Canyon National Park and is the perfect pit stop for exploring. The scenic town offers plenty of outdoor activities, cultural sites, golf, and several enticing dining options. Refuel with a pint and a slice at Colorado Boy Pizzeria, or enjoy a few local Colorado brews at Horsefly Brewing Company. Montrose is located about halfway between Grand Junction and Telluride.

Last Dollar Road
Photo Credit: junaidrao via Flickr CC2.0

Ridgway is a small, scenic town known for natural attractions like Ridgeway State Park and the Ridgeway Railroad Museum.

 

If you opt to take the longer, scenic route along the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway, you’ll tack an extra hour onto the total drive—but rest assured that the extra time is well worth the scenery! This remote mountain highway features spectacular views of mountain rivers and canyons that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. Be advised that this route is extremely remote, and you won’t have access to many stations or restaurants along the way.

 

Road Safety and Travel Tips

Whether you’re renting a vehicle for the trip or you’re taking your own, we recommend an SUV for the mountain drive, especially during winter travel. It’s also recommended to have first-aid and road assistance kits on hand in case you experience any issues. And, a AAA membership could come in handy if you do experience any unexpected travel issues.

 

Be sure to also check the weather and road conditions in advance to ensure that you have a safe and speedy trip. Travel apps like Waze are a great way to stay up to date on the latest road and traffic conditions. And, apps like GasBuddy can also help you find the cheapest gas along the way.

 

 

Whether you’re traveling for a quick day trip or staying for a thrilling mountain getaway, rest assured that the trip between Grand Junction to Telluride is an easy, scenic drive packed with plenty to do along the way! We’ll see you soon!