Road Trip: A Journey to Telluride

Author: Joanne Popovich-Shipman

Did you know… the route between New York and Miami is the most traveled of any domestic flight route. Nearly 7 million passengers made the trip in 2012 according to Airtimes.

For our first family vacation, we decided to drive to Telluride, Colorado from Phoenix, Arizona a few years ago for some Spring skiing.  Though the flight is relatively short into the neighboring town of Montrose, we wanted to bring our two dogs and take our own ski and snowboard gear.  So we loaded up the SUV and headed out in the early morning twilight for the eight hour road trip.


We snaked our way through Arizona’s highways and into Colorado where we began the last leg of our trip on State Route 145 in the small town of Cortez.  I absolutely love the one hour drive on SR 145 with its twisty turns and gradual increase in elevation into a world of alpine and aspen. The Dolores River to the right of the road acts as a steady yet ever-changing companion.  As stunning as this part of the drive was, what made an impression on me the most were the Rocky Mountains which stand tall and grand in the distance until you are enveloped by them in Telluride’s box canyon.


There are many photographic moments along SR145 as well as in Telluride.  Aside from the multiple places to stop and photograph the river, one of the more memorable stops is Alta Lakes about 6 miles south of Telluride where you can find the ghost town of Alta and its lakes at approximately 11,000 feet (high clearance vehicle recommended).  Telluride itself offers many photographic opportunities due to its late 1800s mining history, and don’t miss Colorado’s tallest free-falling waterfall Bridal Veil Falls at the end of town (access limited during winter months!).


Since this trip, we have flown a few times into Colorado as well, but the drive is worth every moment and photograph by far, especially in the Fall.  Driving allows us to make an adventure out of the entire trip, not just the destination. So next time you are thinking about taking a short domestic flight, consider a road trip instead.  Pack some snacks and water, stop often for photographs and build a story around your trip whether driving to Telluride, from New York to Miami, or perhaps the best kind of road trip “Destination Unknown”.

What road trip brings back fond and fun memories for you?

Joanne Popovich-Shipman is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.