Mary E. Illium Campers, Please Respond

I have friends that will be camping at Mary E. and have been able to field all their questions up to this point. Telluride Tom has provided lots of info through the forum that has been related, but we were wondering if you folks that have actually camped at MEI over the last few years could clue us in just a bit more.

What did you experience upon arrival, with the parking, during the festival, riding the shuttle bus, getting to and from Nightgrass, the on-site/off site facilities… you get the picture.

Can you share it in, oh… I’d say… hummm… 1000 words or less?

Thanks! :wave
Auntie Hope :pickin

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Depending on what day they plan on arriving, parking shouldn’t be too difficult. Getting a vehicle pass is a really good idea, because otherwise your car can end up almost a mile down the road.

If they get there on Tuesday or early Wednesday, finding a spot to set up will not be all that difficult as most people start arriving in the late afternoon on Wednesday. During the festival it’s great, there are people coming and going all the time, and at night there are always campfires somewhere or another. Some people tend to stay at one campfire the whole night, others wander around a bit. There are usually quite a few people picking and partying right after the headline set.

I’ve never done nightgrass, so I can’t really comment on that.

Riding the shuttle can be hectic at times. Especially trying to get up there for that first show. My brother and I had to wait 45 minutes for the first shuttle that first day, not because they were running slow, but because of the sheer number of people that were trying to get in at the same time. My advice is to catch a shuttle at least an hour before the first act to make sure you are up there on time.

The on-site facilities consist of a water tank near the entrace, several clumps of port-a-poties, and ice every morning. They make runs up to town for ice until people stop wanting it, so you can get ice every morning if you need it. It’s something like $2 a bag if I remember right, not 100% sure on the price.

Anything else you want to know? If they need any more questions answered, don’t hesitate to have them post here, or e-mail me at I’ve camped there the last 3 years in a row, and would be glad to share anything I can to help out some new people :cheers.

Last year we tried to do a nightgrass show for the Wayword sons, but realized that it we be a giant hassle with our gear. We just decided to make some peoples nights and we dropped the tickets in their hands for free and caught the shuttle home. The narrow rows in the shuttle also had us rethinking the materials we would bring with us every day. We had backpack chairs ideal for the festival, however it was so much of a hassle getting them on the bus we quit bringing them and just delt with sitting on a blanket. Beyond that the place was wonderful. Real good laid back vibe. Got pretty cold at night.


I think that may have been myself and my girlfriend you gave those tickets to and yes you did make our night. Just wanted to say thanks again.

Gosh, I love this board! :love

Auntie Hope :pickin

(need… more… input)

Anything specific you are looking for?

You perspective was spot-on Matt. They loved it! :thumbsup

Did ya camp with a youngin’? How many kids did ya see down the road there? Quite Time enforced, or just good neighbors? Have there been any Mary E. traditions started, like in Town Park?

Auntie Hope :pickin

There are usually a fair amount of kids running around. Quite time isn’t really enforced, but people are respectful if others are trying to sleep. I usually ask the people around before I set up if they are going to be late night party people or people who want sleep, and so far I’ve avoided any run ins of that sort.

Not sure about the traditions, I’ve not run into the same people down there yet… we usually end up camping in more or less the same spot, and the people around us are almost always Festivirgians. There are usually quite a few people around that bring instruments, and there will usually be a bunch of music circles all over every night, not sure if that really counts as a tradition though, since it’s usually different people.

Hello All,

First time to Telluride and we couldn’t be more excited! We moved from Indiana to Denver just so we could be closer when the Solstice hit!!
We have camping at Mary E Ilium but I can’t find the spot on a map. The closest I’ve come is that it is somewhere in Mountain Village. Can anyone offer up more specific directions to the spot? Is there a map that lays out the festival, i.e., gondola drops, shuttle route.
Nightgrass opener is YMSB at the conference center. Will we have to shuttle to town to board a gondola that is taking us back to Mountain Village or is the place close enough to the campground that we can hike?

Hi! I camped at Illium in 2006 and absolutely LOVED it! Finding it on a map can be a challenge, and it’s actually pretty far from Mountain Village. You CAN hike between Illium and Mountain Village, but it’s a good 2-3 hours, and not a hike I’d want to do at night. The hike is great, though, and I strongly recommend it if you enjoy hiking.

The shuttle starts running Wednesday, so getting to the YMSB kick-off show is no problem - you’ll find it harder to get tickets! I didn’t go to the kick-off show in 2006, but my camp neighbors did, and they had no problem with transportation (and they made me jealous describing how GREAT the show was!).

If you like, I’ll try to find some old maps I used to locate the campground. Just send me a direct e-mail and I’ll send you what I can find.

Mary E. Ilium is not in or near Mountain Village!
It’s located about 7 miles West of Telluride on Ilium Road.
Ironically, I can’t find a map to show where it is exactly even on the National Forest Service web site, and they run it!

Maybe Planet Bluegrass can help with a map and the shuttle routes. (Dustin?) :huh

Yeah, I could never find it on a map either. I found it in 2006 using Google Earth, based on descriptions of the area (and a little guess-work). I just went back to Google Earth and found it right away, but only because I’ve been there and recognize the area. The turn-off from 145 is marked by one small sign, and I over-shot the turn on my first attempt, but it was pretty easy to turn-around and get back to it. When I drove down Illium road, at first I thought I must have been mistaken because the road passes by some kind of road maintenance depot or industrial operation, and I thought “this doesn’t look right!”. Keep going. It gets MUCH better!

We’re new to Mary E. has anyone found a map yet? :flower

Here are some images from Google maps that might help:

more zoomed in, the second image is of the actual campground (the lighter colored ground mingling in the trees, with the camp entrance on the south end)

I am camping at Illium this year(just bought my ticket yesterday!). Do I have to go into town first and get my wristband before I am allowed to unload my camping stuff, or can I just go straightaway to Illium?

Auntie Hope,

I posted a link to some Ilium pics and talked about some stuff over here - might help.

What did you experience upon arrival…
We pulled in late, after midnight on Weds. People were working the gate so we got our wrist bands and properly oriented. After driving around a bit as quietly as we could we set up in a great little corner, then took the car to the road and returned to camp and met some neighbors. The gate seems to always be staffed, which is appreciated.

…with the parking…
I don’t mind parking on the road but I am a walker and I don’t need my car for anything during fest proper.

…during the festival, riding the shuttle bus…
I’ve only gotten antsy from waiting for the shuttle a couple times. It’s pretty well-ran and your fellow riders are fun and interesting people. You probably don’t want to be going back and forth in a couple times in single day.

…the on-site/off site facilities…
Well beyond adequate. I thought it was a bit of a hassle to get to the HS for a shower and then off to where ever you’re going.

I don’t recall any kids around. I’m not a parent but I’d say that its not unfriendly to children.

Sure would like to hear about more Ilium traditions.

so you get the wristband at Illium…OK Thanks

Correct! Thought I addressed you and that question directly, but I see that I didn’t.

no you did, I just love positive reinforcement :wink: