May 1973: Telluride, Colorado, A Four Wheeler’s Paradise - Trail's EndPosted in News on April 22, 2014
Forty-one years ago this month, we published a story written by Udo Winkler that proclaimed Telluride, Colorado, to be a four wheeler’s paradise. The story kicked off by asking, “Have you ever dreamed of a place that caters only to four wheelers?” Winkler followed up that attention-grabbing question by asking; “How about a place where you can drive a different four wheel drive trail every day for two years in a row?” That place was Telluride.
“Right now, Telluride has a stable population of 630 people and a 4x4 population of 303, which is probably the highest per capita in the world.” —Four Wheeler, May 1973
The story noted that while in 1973 Telluride you should make sure to stop at the corner drugstore (the only one in town at the time), and say hello to Homer Reid. Reid was noted as being a major source of information about the town and the trails that surround it. But just as important, Reid was said to have had the first Jeep in the area. The year was 1946, and apparently the vehicle caused quite a controversy. The story doesn’t say why there was a hullabaloo regarding the Jeep, but whatever the reason, it didn’t last long. Soon, the story says, Telluride residents began buying 4x4s in droves, which made for an interesting demographic. “Right now, Telluride has a stable population of 630 people and a 4x4 population of 303, which is probably the highest per capita in the world,” the story said. It went on to say, “Included are one Toyota, one Land Rover, and about a dozen Scouts. The Jeeps are spread over all models, from the little military to the mighty Gladiator truck.”
The story delved into the history of Telluride (founded in 1878 as Columbia), as well as an overview of the major trails (Black Bear Road and Imogene Pass included) and mines (like the Smuggler and Tomboy) in the area. Also noted was that the Telluride Jeep Club was instrumental in opening up an old cliff trail on the east side of town. Referring to this trail, Winkler said, “Nowhere in the world will you find equal scenery and excitement. Atop the trail you will drive across Ingram Fall, but try not to look down, as you may get vertigo.” We’re fairly certain he’s referring to the amazing final switchbacks of Black Bear Road. Four Wheeler has a long history with Telluride and the surrounding San Juan Mountains. Our first magazine cover from February 1962 sported a photo of several 4x4s descending the notorious Black Bear Road above Telluride. Through the years we have returned to the area for many trail rides, events, and personal wheeling trips. The town, which sits in a box canyon surrounded by towering mountains, has most certainly changed in the 41 years since Winkler’s story published. Nonetheless, Telluride is still the hub of an incredible wheeling area, and as long as they’re not clogged with snow, you can still wheel legendary trails like Black Bear and Imogene. It’s still a four-wheeler’s paradise, just like in 1973.