Volume 5: Telluride/ Ouray/ Ophir

These mountain towns are gems in Southwest Colorado. Telluride and tiny Ophir are in San Miguel County, and Ouray, not far away if unimproved roads aren’t a barrier, is located in Ouray County. Telluride is the most populous (about two thousand residents) and best known of the three, home to a famous ski resort, many well-known music festivals, and exclusive luxury homes. Telluride’s colorful history as a hard-rock mining town where gold, silver, and tellurium were extracted beginning in 1878 changed dramatically in the 1970s when the Telluride Ski Resort opened. Telluride’s elevation is 8,750 feet above sea level, a bit higher than Ouray’s 7,792. (source)

Fewer than 1,000 people call Ouray home, but each year many thousands of tourists visit the charming village, nicknamed the “Switzerland of America.” Like most mountain towns in the region, Ouray was founded on mining (gold, in this case), made accessible by the railroad, and popular with visitors. (source)

Ophir, Colorado, is the highest in elevation of these three towns at 9,695 feet. Gold was discovered in 1875, and the town was founded in 1881, but the mines decreased until there was only one resident in 1970! Telluride’s popularity in recent has allowed a few hundred residents to call Ophir home. (source)