With three ways in and only two ways out, Telluride sits in a very isolated part of Colorado. From the west, Colorado Route 145 is the most common way into Telluride, however there are two passes for the more adventurous types. Imogene Pass is the more forgiving of the two passes, though it still requires 4x4 experience and should not be taken lightly. Black Bear Pass is noted to be Colorado’s most dangerous pass. It is only passable in one direction because of a treacherous stair step section. Telluride is situated at an altitude of 8,750 feet.
The town is served by air transportation via Telluride Regional Airport, the highest commercial airport in the United States. The airport is considered challenging by pilots because of frequent adverse weather conditions, high altitude, and the extremely rugged mountain terrain which surrounds the airport on nearly all sides.
During the 1980s, Telluride developed a reputation for being "Colorado's best kept secret," which paradoxically made it one of the more well known resort communities. Wealthy skiers flocked to the world class mountain all winter and sightseers kept hotel rooms full all summer. In the 1980s Telluride also became notorious in the drug counter culture for being a drop point for Mexican smugglers and a favorite place for wealthy importers to enjoy some downtime. The town was even featured in the hit song by glenn Frey from Miami Vice, "Smugglers Blues." For a while the modern Telluride was living up to its Wild West history. This type of attention, as it turned out, was just what the town needed to differentiate it from Aspen. The festivals combined with Telluride's bad-boy town image attracted celebrities like Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, and Oliver Stone. By the mid 1990s, Telluride had shed both its mining personality and drug image to establish itself as a premier resort town balancing modern culture with fascinating western history. In 2003, Prospect Bowl, an extension to the ski area opened, providing the resort with many new trails and back country runs. In 2007-08, the ski area opened some of the most extreme, in-bound, hike-to terrain in the country. Most lifts in the area are high speed quad chairs capable of holding four passengers. The highest lift on the mountain reaches an altitude of 12,255 feet.