Town Park Noob? Here's what to expect!

Hey there!

So you’ve been fortunate enough to score some Town Park tickets but…what next!? What’s all of the hype about and how does it all work? I aim to explain that below.

I’m relatively new to the Festival and Town Park during but since the “Town Park Virgin” thread is currently sitting at 80 pages long, I thought it might be helpful to consolidate as much as I could into a more digestible format. Being a relative newcomer myself, I know the anxiety of not having as much information as possible to help plan.

If you have suggestions to improve on this, please contribute below and I’ll do my best to wrap everything together. Please note that this guide has a lot of specifics intended solely for Town Park. Warner Field allows entry into Town Park and vice versa but if you don’t have either of these passes, a lot of this will not apply to your situation. This currently only covers up until Fest but it may be expanded later.

If this is your first TBF at Town Park, welcome! In my experience you will not find a better group of individuals from all walks of life as you will here. Not to oversell it but prepare to be awestruck by the scenery, the music, and most importantly, the people.


Above all, the most important thing I’ve learned about Town Park and TBF in general is that the so called “Festivarians” are a unique group. I’ll try to sum the philosophy up:
*Take care of others.
*Take care of yourself.
*Have fun but not at another’s expense.
*Clean up after yourself.

If you have questions when you arrive, just ask! Someone will certainly help you out.

Town Park consists of 3 sections. With all three, you can camp anywhere aside from roads, paths, past the waterfall ‘no camping sign’ or taped off areas. Regardless of which area you end up in, be wary of low spots as they can collect rain during storms. Also be aware that camping near the river (which runs through all 3 areas), can help drown out noise (a pro or a con depending on your style) but it tends to be significantly chillier. You may not camp within 30 feet of a water source.

The first area is the ‘normal’ Town Park which exists as a regular campground outside of fest. During non-fest times, this area has numbered vehicle camping spots. Some ‘tenured’ Festivarians will reserve these spots well in advance of the fest where they’ll camp for up to 2 weeks before TBF. This area is generally relatively shaded although there are patches with full sun. Once Planet Bluegrass takes over, tent camping is allowed here in and among the campers/trailers and numbered spots.

During fest, the Bear Creek Preserve opens for tent camping only. Bear Creek is mostly shaded with patches of sun. This area is where most of the pre-fest events happen and it can be a little loud here at night depending on who you camp next to. Picking circles happen at all hours of the day and night here so if you need your beauty rest, be sure to bring some earplugs. There are relatively quiet areas of Bear Creek as well. If this is a major concern to you and you don’t want to camp in Primitive, ask around and some of the veterans can point you to the right area.

Directly adjacent to the regular campground, across a walking bridge, the Primitive Area opens for tent camping. This area is slightly more remote from the actual festival but is typically not much more of a haul than Bear Creek Preserve. However, this area is a little more laid back and quieter. It will take just a few minutes longer to get to the entrance to the festival and the shower/restrooms. Primitive has a few spots with picnic tables (they go quickly), some shade, and a large open field.

Port-a-potties are dispersed throughout Bear Creek and the ‘normal’ area. There are not any in Primitive. Be mindful of how close to those you camp. They’re cleaned daily but they can get a little…special…as time goes on.

This will all make more sense once you get there and start walking around. Bring a tarp with you and walk around to scope out spots. If you’re not sure what to do or where to camp, ask around and someone will help you out!

Here’s my terrible attempt at a map of the areas. Yellow is Bear Creek Preserve, blue is the ‘normal’ area, red is Primitive, and green is Warner field. I’m sure it’s a bit off but that’s the gist of it.

Camping in Town Park is different from most other festivals you may have been to in the past. With Town Park, vehicle passes are extremely limited and, in tune with the Festivarian Mindset mentioned above, they are unofficially reserved for those with mobility issues, medical concerns, or those who are expecting or with young children. I know you just bought your awesome camper or retrofitted a sweet adventure van but, you’re best off to bring your tent instead. If you absolutely must use your vehicle to camp in and don’t have the issues mentioned above, you may want to check out Ilium or Lawson Hill campgrounds instead.

There’s always a list of folks who need these passes to be able to attend TBF so if you have one and want to be a good Festivarian, please contact debbiefromtucson who will get them in the right hands. I’ll buy you a beer in return.

Okay cool. Let’s roll on some specifics.

Land Rush:
At 8am on the Saturday preceding the actual festival, Planet Bluegrass takes over and the Bear Creek Preserve opens and people run to claim a spot by throwing down tarps. Some folks camp overnight to wait in line to claim a coveted spot, others show up just prior to ‘rope drop’. It’s important to note that you definitely do not need to be a part of land rush to find a good spot. Things start filling in as time goes on but there are plenty of great spots on Saturday/Sunday and even into Monday. More on this later. If you decide to do land rush, you will be directed to LEGALLY park along the main drag of downtown and walk over to one of the 2 rope drop entrances, both leading into Bear Creek Preserve. Here they are as indicated by the gold stars:

Please note that there are some rather long standing camps who are in a specific spot for a specific reason. Many of these camps have been around for not years but decades, and they are very organized to get set up. Some have large numbers and all generally have larger party enclosures to set up their kitchens and entertainment areas. These are the camps who host events before and during the festival, and need the room to do so. If you happen to encroach on ‘their established’ footprint, they will let you know why one spot won’t work, but will show you a good spot to set up. Anyone with a TP pass can generally set up in most places, but start the dialogue if you are trying to squeeze in somewhere. It’s all about making new friends and being a part of this Festivarian experience, especially in TP before the festival starts.

Land rush is over and you’ve claimed your spot. You’ll head back to your vehicle and will drive to one of the 2 unloading spots (yellow stars on the map above which also correlate to the rope drop areas). Here you will have about 30 minutes or so to dump off all of your stuff at your site. There are a few kind people who bring wheelbarrows/wagons to help you unload but these are not guaranteed to be available so if you have a ton of stuff (like I always do), please plan accordingly.

If you show up after land rush - maybe around 11am or later, as you enter town you’ll be directed to Town Park where you’ll just drive up to one of the stars and start unloading.

Upon removing your gear from your vehicle, you’ll be directed to a parking spot. Either along the streets, Carhenge (near the entrance to town), or Mountain Village. This will be dictated by your arrival time and volunteers will point you in the right direction. If you are looking to park after unloading on pre-fest Saturday you will most likely be directed to park on Main Street/Colorado Ave/Highway 145. Vehicle Gate staff/volunteer will direct you uphill towards the waterfalls to park but only to the the cemetery pull-out on the left. After that parking will move to either Carhenge or along Mahoney Street down by the high school roundabout. Always check with the TP vehicle staff as the parking location can change from one car to another leaving Town Park as Planet Bluegrass tracks actual spots available and two-way radios the vehicle gate when the parking moves.

The walk back from Carhenge is about 20 minutes. You can either walk through town or along the San Miguel River (I recommend the latter). We bring a bike so whoever ends up taking the car back just cruises back to camp to finish setting up. If you end up at Mountain Village, you’ll take the gondola back down and walk back to Town Park ~10 minutes. It’s important to note that once Fest starts, you will not be able to drive your vehicle as all of the streets are barricaded unless you have a designated pass to drive around town (this is mostly limited to residents and these are not available for purchase).

More About The Map:
It’s really hard to encompass Town Park into a little map like this but here are some pointers. The big building you see in the center is the Herzog Theater - basically a multipurpose building. This building is open Wednesday-Monday 7am-11am and is a good place to charge a phone, grab wifi, or hit up one of the restrooms. The blue thing you see in the bottom left is the pool. Here there are showers and restrooms. You can also pay to get into the pool if you’d like. Just to the left of the pool you’ll see a road that goes into a roundabout. If you take the roundabout to the left, you’ll head into the normal campground which goes to one of the Bear Creek rope drop entrances. If you head right, you’ll end up at the other Bear Creek entrance. You’ll also see several names on the map. These are the aforementioned ‘established’ camps. While not fully updated, it’s a good overview. The areas to the right of the stars would be Bear Creek Preserve. Up and left is the ‘normal’ campground. There are some more restrooms and showers just down from “Wander In”. The Primitive Area is up from there a bit. Warner Field is off to the bottom left of the photo. The Field that is shown in the bottom right is Bear Creek Field and is where all the port-a-potties are set up during the festival. The festival itself is diagonally off the picture to the lower right.

When to get there:
This all depends on your party size and your tolerance for flexibility. As mentioned, some folks arrive well before the fest to make certain that they get the exact spot they want. The closer you get to the Fest, the more people will pile in and everything will become more crowded. The later you show up from Saturday, you’ll still find a spot BUT you may need to be a little more adaptable as time goes on. If you’re 1 or 2 people with a small setup, it’ll be easy to shoehorn in. If you plan on a large group with several tents and plan on showing up late, you may not be able to get a spot together. Everyone who has a ticket WILL have a place to camp but things do get a bit tight by Wednesday.

Camping: Whew. You landed at your spot and are (mostly) unpacked. First things first, grab yourself a beverage. You deserve it. You made it! Relax. If you didn’t have your wristbands mailed to you, at some point you’ll want to head to will call to pick them up. Will call is located near town park, one block off of the main downtown drag, across the street from the post office.

I’ll leave it to you to build an all encompassing packing list but here are some helpful hints. At this time of the year, it gets HOT during the day and COLD during the night. It’s been known to snow and it’s also been into the mid 80’s (which feels like 100 at altitude) so plan accordingly. Wood fires are not allowed in TP. However, propane fueled cooking and warming devices are allowed. Charcoal is okay, but only in the pre-established grills. Please be responsible when using these.

As for food, you could probably survive by eating in town or inside of the Fest for every meal but it’s not going to be cheap. Remember that this is a resort town. There’s ice for sale around TP at the campground host and via enterprising deliverers so you’ll be able to keep your goodies nice and cold. It’s convenient but a little pricey so try to pick some up on the way in. PLEASE BRING YOUR ICE BAGS TO US AT CAMP TRAILER SMASH. We take them to CHaRM in Boulder for recycling. There are 2 grocery stores in town but again, they’re not cheap so plan on maybe picking up any food out of town. There are also a couple of places to buy liquor. But again you’ll find prices a little higher than you might be accustomed to so bring your favorites with you. Some folks like to try to grab some beer from the local breweries along the way. Telluride Brewing and Dolores Brewing (opens at 4 pm daily) both have some great beers.

There is a hardware store (Timberline Ace Hardware Store) just a 5 minute walk from TP. They sell everything you might have forgotten, from fest chairs to tent patches. They’ve saved me more than once. As mentioned, showers are available in TP. There’s often a small wait at peak hours (early morning and mid-afternoon) but it’s not that bad. BRING QUARTERS - sometimes the camp hosts have them but I’d bring some just in case. Showers are limited to 5 minutes of hot water for $3 (in quarters). If you prepare everything before your shower, most folks can knock it out in that time. If you need more time, just add more quarters! You can also get a free shower token if you purchase entrance into the pool. If you don’t want to lug a bunch of quarters around, I think you can buy shower tokens at the Visitor’s Center at the north end of the pools. There are also showers available on a donation basis at the High School which isn’t too far away (medium walk or short bike ride). Additionally, there are 2 sinks by the bath house for doing dishes.

Clean water is provided around Town Park. FYI, dogs (or any pets) are not allowed at TP. There are a couple of charging areas around TP - namely Herzog and the restroom/shower/dishwashing/water area just ‘up’ from there on the map. A bicycle can prove helpful to run to town for supplies, getting to Elk’s park, Nightgrass, etc. Festivarians are a trustworthy group but keep in mind that TP is open to the public before the fest so you may want a lock to wrap it up to a tree (please be absolutely certain not to damage the trees if you do this. Use either a coated cable/chain or pick up some of that foam pipe insulation stuff to put your lock through). If you’ve set up camp but need to leave for a few days, just let your neighbors know to keep an eye on things for you.

Bring cash. The ATM in the festival has very long lines. There are a couple of banks in town with ATMs as well.

There are big recycling/compost/trash containers on site between Herzog and the TP Bathrooms. Please practice a “Leave No Trace” policy.

Pre Fest Events: The real fun begins. Various pre-fest shenanigans occur from Saturday before Fest through the end of everything. I’m going to be brief here but count on being rather entertained. Things like the Goddess Walk, Rumballs, Crunchy Frogs, Crawfish Boil, Town Park Concerts, Tropical Tuesday, Bloody Marys, Beer Tasting by the waterfall, etc. Your fellow Festivarians provide these things out of their own pockets to support the entire experience so please contribute with your time, money, and/or in-kind donations to help keep these traditions alive!

Here’s a Google Calendar for the 2019 TP Schedule including TP events and Elks Parks schedule:

If you have questions that aren’t addressed in this writeup, please post them here and I’ll continue to build out this guide over time.

I look forward to seeing you all up there!

Camp Trailer Smash (We’re not famous/infamous enough to be on the map yet but we’re between Crossroads and Hulaganz, right next to the waterfall. Stop by and say hi!)

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Just to keep this topic readable to those unfamiliar with Town Park, as comments are posted and the original post is modified to include those comments, the comments will be removed so that the only thing remaining is the original (modified) version of the post.

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Thanks for all the comments, and thanks to Lucas for summarizing all those other pages into one post. :thumbsup

I wish I had this info a few years back :thumbsup

nice way to condense a ton of info. Thanks!

Thanks for the great summary. Two questions. 1. Is there a map of Town Park camping area ? 2. Are there time restrictions on jamming at campsite ? Thanks. Elway


There are 2 maps listed above that should help you out. Here are the links again:

There are no ‘quiet hours’ in Town Park so jamming is okay whenever. Just be respectful to your neighbors.

You can also download the 2018 Campground Brochure and Map from Telluride Park and Recreation.

Thank you for all of the great information! Very helpful. We are camping in Town Park and will be arriving early on Wednesday morning (by 8:00 a.m.) Will we have any issues finding a spot? We do have a large tent. Hoping to be in the “Primitive” area.

Howdy CDog! :wave

By Wednesday, there won’t be a lot of open real estate around. However, there will be a lot of tarps that camps are holding for other members who are also arriving Wednesday. Not sure how many campers will be up and around that early, especially after Tuesday night. But just start walking around introducing yourself and asking where there might be some space. I’d walk or bike through the entire campground a couple times, but I agree, primitive will probably be your best bet.


Thank you Pass Port!! We have a large base camp tent (15 ft x 7.5 ft). Is this too large to find room? Should we bring something smaller? We are virgins and don’t want to offend anyone if our tent is obnoxiously large.

Thanks for all your help! :thumbsup

I’d stick with the plan. Try to find a spot for your main tent. You could bring the smaller one just in case, but I think you can find a spot, especially coming in the morning before the main wave. If you were arriving late afternoon or evening, I’d say to lower your expectations use the smaller one.

Oh, and don’t forget Rumballs on Wednesday!! :drunk Usually starts at 3 pm at the MASH tent with the Mayor opening the Festival. I think they will start earlier due to the FirstGrass show this year. There will probably be a posting from Telluride Tom about the time change. :thumbsup

No doubt, this ain’t Four Corners/Pagosa :lol

question, i’m coming down friday, was wondering how long dogs were allowed in town park before the festival?

Not quite sure, but the Planet takes over the campground on Saturday and then the dogs gotta get out!

Hi, I am planning on coming to Telluride for pre-fest activities only. Need to see a few precious people. I will be in Telluride from Sunday to Wednesday before festival begins on Thursday. My question: When do you need to start showing your Town Park wristband? I will not have one of those and I am not camping.

Losing sleep over the excitement! :festivarian

I would like to know as well. We got a condo this year and would like to visit friends when we get there. I love checking out the prefest fun in town park. :cheers
If I remember correctly it’s sometime Wednesday evening after First Grass starts.

They should be checking by Wednesday but it’s hard to say for sure. :thumbsup

I have a couple of dumb questions… :slight_smile:

Our friends are in Warner Field and we are in Towne Park, unfortunately. SO sad. With the bracelet security system, can our friends come to our place and hang out and vice versa? Or are you not allowed to go into other sections? I am a little confused…

Also, how hard is it to just get up and grab a good cup of coffee in the morning? Do I need to bring my grill so I can heat water for my own coffee? Such first world problems, I know… We are just looking to not have to do too much work in Telluride and sit back and enjoy. As I write this, I sound so high maintenance. In reality, this is our one vacation without children so we want to spoil ourselves. :slight_smile:

Warner and TP allow entrance between each.

There are coffee spots in town - about a 15 minute walk and it opens at 7am. If you’re an early riser, it’d probably be a good idea to bring your own.