The Pilgrimage to Telluride: Worth the drive?

Who here drives in every year from out of state? How long is your drive?

I leave from Baton Rouge, LA every year. About 1,400 miles. It’s a good 22-24 hours of road time each way. It’s kind of fun traveling from the Bayou > DFW metro > flatlands of Amarillo & West TX > the deserts of NM (depressing) > San Juan Skyway > Telluride. Lot’s of different scenery along the way.

I always consider flying into Montrose & busing in/out as it’s probably only $400ish more than driving. Then I think about lugging my guitar, mando, tent, & rest of TBF stuff & it sounds miserable, too. Somehow my mind thinks that the long ass drive & struggle to make it makes that turn off Society Dr. + the festival experience even sweeter. The drive back sucks though, no doubt & usually involves a little crying while leaving town. Haha! Anyone else feel like their go through these thoughts year after year?

I never consider flying. This will be the first year we haven’t rented a vehicle. We’ve got almost a 2,000 mile round trip. We take 2-3 days to make the trip especially this year since we’ll be in my 35 year old car.

We head up from between Houston/Austin
It’s always a haul but after doing it so many times you start to notice things you’ve missed. NM is indeed boring but you can always aim for sante fe and check out meow wolf to break up the drive. Theres a few hotsprings along the way you can check out.
But unfortunately it is bland and windy through there.
I aim for the nm stretch at night or super early morning. Accend with the sun. Ive been driving to the uncompahgre since the 90s. Flown a few times I do prefer the drive. When you heading out?

Do yall rent a vehicle due to space constraints? Do yall pay for the rental even on the days youre at TBF or turn it in somewhere?

I have done BR > Austin (to sleep & visit fam for an evening) & depart at 3 am straight to Telluride which puts me on Colorado Ave around 6 PM -ish. That’s a long day, but so much anticipation. My first bluegrass, I drove 22 hours straight to Baton Rouge. Last year I drove 15 & had to take a 4 hour nap outside of Dallas before finishing the rest.

We fly our millennium turtlevan. It’s a genuine starcraft.

We’ve rented in the past for having space, and typically because we don’t like putting miles on our vehicles. But since we just sank a bunch of cash into my old car we decided it be fun to drive it instead of renting. We have considered not bringing bikes and renting those, but I really like my bike.

And though we have 3 adults and 1 teenager in the vehicle, I’m certain I will be the driver 95% of the way if not all the way, but I don’t mind. I just got my Medical card, so no more worries about holding on the road between OK and CO.

We leave out and spend a day just crossing TX. Drive till we get tired pull over for a few and keep going the fastest haul was 18~19 but oh it was rough. We plan ahead and try to take our time. (Meaning she gets mad if I dont stop a few times along the way;)

I have been making the drive from Wisconsin to Telluride every year since 1987. And as the 1400 plus miles is not enough I go through Moab on the way out but that makes it a business trip. I’m thinking that I need to make it a three day drive rather than two. Seeing that I have just got tickets for the Thursday night after Telluride for Leftover Salmon and Horseshoes and Hand Grenades at the Ryman it looks like the trip home will have a slight detour as well.


So far I find myself in a rush to get there and then to get back home once I get in the car to get back. I am self-employed this year and didn’t book any events the week before or the week after, so I may hit Taos or Santa Fe for a day or 2 on the way up.

We drive from Ohio. About 30 hours including stops for food, gas, restroom, etc… We usually rent a large SUV since we carry a ton of stuff, tent, instruments, booze, food and all my son’s cooking stuff that he brings for RAM. We all drive so we take shifts. Leaving early on Thursday gets us in the vicinity by Friday afternoon, sometimes we hit the hot springs, and then pull into town early for land rush and help set up the RAM tents and kitchen.
Monday AM is the worst. We need to take everything down and help pack up the camp. Saddest day of the year. Then we drive to Montrose, eat a huge meal, and drive back. Kansas, by far, is the worst part of the drive. We just leave the rental in town when we don’t need it.

That’s a haul, for sure! Company probably makes the drive much more tolerable. I come solo from Louisiana. I usually get in Sunday and camp out at alta until Tuesday morning when we set up camp at Lawson.
Load out Monday is absolutely the saddest day of the year!

Usually we do I-40 through OK, TX and stay in or near ABQ, NM. Then up 550 to Durango and Dolores to Telluride. This year we had planned on staying with friends in Salida CO on the Thursday the 13th, but they now have different plans and we are looking at staying on the mesa outside Taos in the Greater World Earthship Community, where we also have a few friends who live there (and we are in the middle of building our own Earthship in Eastern OK). If we decide to skip the Taos trip to Earthship HQ, we’ll probably stay at the Orient Land Trust either camping or “motel room” for our 2/3rds the way stop over. If you have never been the Orient Land Trust is an amazing piece of property north of Sanddunes Nat Park. They have several naturally occurring and dammed hot springs amongst a killer 14,000 acres filled with trails and millions of bats who reside within the abandoned mine shafts on the property. Costs to camp, get a room, or just day visit, and its clothing optional, but this place is way cool and the money raised goes to good people doing incredible things and protecting a swell piece of land.

We drive in from Jackson MS every year. My suggestion for the TX route folks is to avoid going all the way to Albuquerque and turning north. That drive across the desert is horribly boring. Go to Raton NM and take 25 to 69 towards Salida CO. The drive from Raton to Telluride is fantastic. Twisty roads without a bunch of traffic, and lots of wildlife.

Hey! A fellow southerner, cheers.

That stretch in NM is for sure boring, but good for listening to podcasts & deep thinking if you need it. I’m checking out the route from Raton right now. Thanks for the suggestion!

In general when travelling to Colorado we usually go through Raton. Trinidad is the typical dinner spot. The drive to Salida is nice, and from Gunnison west is great country. If you have extra time its possible to hit two National Parks that route Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. If we don’t go through Taos this year this will probably be our route as well. We’re still trying to hammer out the details of our commute.

Starting this week (TEX) is an option. They are going to be offering commercial daily flights to Telluride.
So we can always pack light and hop on a flight.
Not sure how I feel about this though I think a charm of the journey is the unforeseen challenges of said Pilgrimage.

What do yall think?
Is this a good thing or a bad one?

  • :cow

I have flown into TEX from DEN (X2) before & it’s an amazing flight! Neither of the times were on my dime, though hah! Price can be hefty, but if I had the means I would probably hop on it again at some point!