Quintessential Telluride – Oprah, you are not welcome here.

Via Jessica Durivage
on Jul 16, 2011
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I don’t think you are cooler because you are from “Telluride.”  Sorry.  I’m not hatin’ or anything. I think living in a box canyon might do a bit more than close up your world physically. Just sayin.

There is more to know about Telluride than the fact that it is 92.7% white, was the first city in the world to have electric street lights and Tom Cruise owns a home here.  The town is known for its “quirky charm.” After spending a few days here, I don’t think that “quirky” or “charming” would necessarily be how I would describe it.

It is a little more like “passive agressive.” From overpriced egg sandwiches to people trying to preserve a certain “way of living,” I’m feeling a bit void of the authentic connections I thought I would find here.

I am here for the 4th Annual Telluride Yoga Festival practicing at 9,000 feet with the likes of Beryl Bender Birch, Scott Blossom and David Swenson.  The experience here is pretty epic.  This part of the world boasts mandatory green building codes, no chain restaurants and the only (clean, domestic, renewable energy) wind-powered gondola in North America…and yet I can’t help but feel a little suspicious of the $500,000 500 square foot condos and an attitude of entitlement coming from our servers at the restaurants.  Is there such thing as reverse brainwashing? Don’t get me wrong, there are too-rare, worthy sustainable initiatives coming out of Telluride and Mountain Village; it is breathtakingly gorgeous from every imaginable angle and the nearest stoplight to this 13-block town is 45 miles away.  I just think I might pass on drinking this kool-aid… I mean you can’t truly trust a town that has bad service in their restaurants.

My journey through the signs of Telluride:

I have yet to see a bike with a ticket on it, but you all will be the first to know when I do…

I see your bumper sticker and raise you “Inclusive-ness”  According to the locals, even Oprah didn’t really feel like she fit in.  Rumor has it, she felt like a little black bean in a big ol’ bowl of white rice.

So, if I can afford $1.3 million for a miniature sized house my civil liberties will be safe?  Phew!

T-ride has some pretty happy pups – on and off leashes they roam free, obey their masters and have their own special “parking spots.” Dogs might actually be honored as the more evolved species here, compared to humans.

Typical T-ride dinner at their majorly overpriced grocery.

Evolved beings only in the coffee shop, please.

Behind me were about 10 Telluride Tourists also taking a picture of this sign.

All in all, hanging out in a town whose name came from the famous send off “To hell you ride” given to fortune seekers as they passed through to go deeper into the mountains looking for glory is entertaining…to say the least.  The key there is “pass by”, which I am glad I did.  I think the real pot of gold is waiting just past the spiritual bypassing going on in this box canyon.

Would not be complete without a video of a few hipsters getting their live jam on at the local Thai Food joint, Siam.


About Jessica Durivage

Whether in a business suit, on a yoga mat or a meditation cushion, Jessica will follow her Dharma to the ends of the earth and work to bridge the gap with the world and the light that dwells within each being.  Grateful for the wealth of experiences, teachers and mentors who have guided her along her path as a yogi, a business woman, a non-profiteer and an improv comedian; she cultivates mindful, savvy and innovative approaches to make the world a better place each day and lead with compassion, from the heart (and trying not to take herself too seriously). / Jessica is the founder and owner of Where is My Guru - an ever evolving work of life that encompasses writing, art, community, leadership, consulting and a weekly radio show where you can find her contemplating Purusha, Prakriti, the Yoga Sutras and why all Yogis are crazy mo fo's. Check in with the Where is My Guru Blog and the radio show on Fridays at 11am EST - www.whereismygurunow.com


35 Responses to “Quintessential Telluride – Oprah, you are not welcome here.”

  1. Nancy H says:

    So true! Beautiful scenery, but the people? Very passive aggressive. 😉

  2. yogi tobye says:

    Sounds like Greystones, co. Wicklow, Ireland 🙂

  3. Dana says:

    Well, I have slept 4 nights here, I hope I'm not trapped between worlds! Actually, it has been a good experience for me that the vibe was weird here, otherwise I wouldn't want to leave because it is one unbelievable view after another. It really is hard to describe how the locals are here, but I think you did a great job Jessica. All I can say is 30% less oxygen than at sea level has to have some long term effect on the brain…

  4. James Hay says:

    Jessica I have to say your quick-fire, rapid judgment on the people of Telluride is off the mark somewhat. You started out your article by stating "Sorry. I’m not hatin’ or anything." which is exactly what you did.

    We have here in Telluride what we call a vocal minority, meaning people with way too much money and time on their hands. Please don't whitewash the people of Telluride due to a few humorous signs, a bad experience with your server and a small superficial utopian community. This article lacks professionalism and gives me a sense that there is an underlying bitterness here.

  5. James Hay says:

    Maybe next time you are here you should try and meet some real locals and I can assure that you will see a different side of Telluride. I agree with a lot of the items you mentioned above since I personally have to deal with high grocery prices on a daily basis and some of the delusional politics here; but remember, there are many good people living in Telluride that don't drink the Kool-Aid and appreciate each and every moment they spend living here because they cherish the quality of life.

    I hope your next visit to Telluride–that is, of course, if you haven’t already been too scarred by your most recent visit–you will come with a more open mind and look a little deeper. I believe you may be a bit surprised by what you find.

    James Hay

  6. Wow, Thaddeus, that is some amazing history and thank you so much for sharing. There definitely is an "other worldly" vibe or as some of the other vendors here at the yoga festival are calling it, "Disney Worldly" vibe. I look forward to coming back anytime and as soon as time permits… I will just be sure to say in Mountain Village and stay away from falling asleep in the canyon. Again, fascinating history – is there a link or website you can share where you found that info? – Jess

  7. Hey David,
    It is indeed one of THE most beautiful places I have ever seen. I don't think I could ever live here, but I have had two opportunities to visit this summer and it has been amazing experiences each time. This past one, though… I just could not get away from the fact that 9 out of 10 interactions I have had with locals have left me feeling… unsatisfied and not really welcome. From the yoga festival to our nights in town, myself and the group of people I was with, gave way too many second glances to one another, to have left it unnoticed. Thanks again, and I hope you are happy where ever you are!

  8. We just need to travel in groups, Dana. lol. Been so much fun hanging with you here.

  9. James,
    In no way do I mean to offend the local population of Telluride… which I know (according to the many facts stated in above story) are change makers in the world. As a writer, here to writer about my experience here (taken only at face value….) – this was my experience. I am a tourist, the media, a yogi – coming in to participate in the festivities and the glory of summer. Without naming names (which I could have done) – I feel this article has given a truthful account of my own personal experience. Do I wish it could have been different? Of course! But, unfortunately – there was an extreme lack of professionalism and hospitality extended to a visitor this time around. Your town is amazing, beautiful and I hope to be back. Must be a hard problem to live with… too much money and too much time. I know plenty of people who run non-profit organizations here at the festival that would have loved to connect with you!

  10. Hi Suzanne,
    Thanks so much for your comments and the perspective of the "day to day folk" that are the heart and soul… the bread and butter, of this town. As a visitor and also a writer who came in without any expectations… there were just too many strange and even stranger experiences to count. The article was purposefully written in a general form, to not call people or restaurants out by name… I was not setting out to be hurtful… just honest. I hope that my next pass here will be a different experience, and you can be sure I will write about it.
    Thanks, Jess

  11. Thaddeus1 says:

    No..sorry i don't have anything such as that…like most good stories and spiritual information it came to me by word of mouth…it is really difficult to find "documented" information regarding the spiritual lives of the Ute…Aspen, along with Telluride, was also "cursed" by the Utes…supposedly living in Aspen dooms you to never being able to find happiness anywhere else, and if you are move to Telluride with a romantic partner, the relationship is doomed to fail…if you ever stumble upon any sources for the above, I would be very interested as well…blessings

  12. Agreed. Word of mouth is the best stuff and where the real juice is transmitted. Thanks again for your perspective. So fascinating!

  13. tanya lee markul says:

    Hi Jessica – thanks for sharing! Perhaps a bit more time there and the place would show a different side, although I very much do believe in first impressions, but I also believe it can take time. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion with us!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  14. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  15. Thank you, Tanya. I so appreciate your comments about "first impression" and "giving it time." I am one to play the edge when I write and to be honest, I wanted this one to be different… Over and over again, we encountered people and experiences that left our heads spinning. Beautiful place, hope to come back and write about a different kind of Telluride… but for now – this is where i am at.

  16. maria says:


  17. Chelsea says:

    Your honest is so refreshing, Jess. I always wonder if bloggers hold back their "true" thoughts about towns and festivals and teachers and events and what not for fear of being too critical. I try to keep with the radical honesty myself, even if my feelings aren't on the bright shiny side of the mountain. Good stuff. Never visited Telluride myself, but I wouldn't be opposed to checking it out next year and making an impression for myself. 🙂

  18. Chels! We need to bring more openness and honesty to the table here in this blogosphere! Finding the balance between ahimsa and satya, while being editorial is fun, challenging and sometimes can be a cause for pause… "Will I write something so people will like me?" "Am I afraid to piss this person or that person off?". Radical honesty. I like it. Our own yoga practice is all about looking at the underbelly of our own stuff – bring it to light – and work with a process from there to release it.
    Next year… it's a date.

  19. Jay,
    I am so stoked about your experience here! That is amazing! I just wanted to pass along the email in case you wanted to write for elephant – we are always looking for new writers to share their experiences. [email protected]

    When you are lucky enough to contribute to an independent media source like elephant, you get these instructions at the helm:

    "Welcome to elephant. We’re independent media. That means no fat cats own us, we say what we want to say."

    Thanks for your comment and I look forward to reading your blogs! -Jess

  20. Jay W says:


    Thanks for the feedback. This was my first time to post on a blog or any type of media likes this site for people to read. It does suck that your experience was not as enjoyable as mine. I can appreciate the monies spent on food, but over the course of many years spent skiing since the age of 4 and being almost 38 now I have grown accustomed to high food prices eating out and the grocery store. As for the price of real estate….I am very tuned into that as that was my business for 14 years. I did think my Oprah comment was funny though….????

    I did try to approach the human side in my last couple of comments because in the end…We are all human and all inhabit this giant rock floating around in space.

    I really liked the interactive side of your post with the pics and captions. Have a safe trip back home and I look forward to seeing you again soon and playing with you on the Mat.

    Not sure if you had the same body experience as me, but the next day after Scott's class my legs were so SORE…

  21. tanya lee markul says:

    I appreciate this very much. I always think that (for me), if I only have 30 seconds with someone, am I giving off the best me I could give?! I mean, if it all matters and is all connected, wouldn't I want to ensure that or at least try? 🙂

  22. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  23. Gman says:

    off of

  24. elephantjournal says:

    Love your enthusiasm, but leaving mean anonymous comments just makes you sound like a "c," as you put it. So rephrase in constructive way, you're good to go–we love criticism and debate, just keep it less about the writer and more about the argument. ~ W.

  25. […] Quintessential Telluride – Oprah, you are not welcome here. […]

  26. markd says:

    Jess, you strike me as an inexperienced traveler and yet another uptight Yogi.

    Just sayin'.

  27. Jessica says:

    Hey Mark –
    Actually, I have traveled extensively all over the world – and I feel grateful and fortunate to have been able to visit some pretty amazing places – Telluride included.
    This is an "editorial" piece of writing, where I am sharing my experience of the town and the festival. Do I wish I could be walking away like all blissed out and grateful? Sure! But, man.. I don't know. There were one too many times during this trip when not only me… but the group I was with and also over hearing conversations where people just felt a little slighted. I could have written about the countless unreturned emails, the blowing off of specific requests, the ego mania happening at the festival check in desk (which was shared with me by too many others to count….).

  28. Jessica says:

    I don't know – I try to see things with open eyes and then use the platform to share a truthful experience, but hopefully in a way that might make a local say "Wow, sorry you had a bad experience here as a vistor, a tourist, someone who is contributing to the economy of our town…."
    I was there in May and had a blast, if that tells you anything. Unfortunately, I was not there on a writing assignment.
    Uptight? Let's have a drink someday and then you can be the judge of that. Just trying to keep it real.

  29. […] Quintessential Telluride – Oprah, you are not welcome here. […]

  30. Aubrey Hackman says:

    I'd have to agree that the article is definitely "hatin" on Telluride and feel badly that you didn't enjoy your experience in Telluride. Especially because you forgot to mention that your pass and your hotel room were comped so that wasn't expensive- in fact it was gifted to you. I've never heard that Oprah left because she didn't fit in and um, if you haven't noticed Colorado in general is 92.7% white (which isn't possibly true- the town is at least 1/3 hispanic). Anyway, as director of the Telluride Yoga Festival, an avid world traveler and someone who is also on a budget I can say this: Telluride is expensive, but it's worth it. It's specia; it's a place you'll never forget and I would never rely on a blogger to accurately depict anything because bloggers do just that– spend most of their time in front of computer trying to come up with something original to write not out actually experiencing a place. Next time- try hiking to one of 8 waterfalls that dumps into Telluride or go to the 2nd tallest waterfall in the country right at the end of our secluded box canyon and breath in the mist, or just walk along the river that runs straight through town- but by all means woman GO OUTSIDE and actually experience what a place has to offer instead of complaining at a screen and relaying mis-information about Oprah. And the yoga we offer- is fucking amazing- excuse my French.

  31. Aubrey Hackman says:

    I'd have to agree 1000% with you James.

  32. cogrl90 says:

    This is a very bias review and not fair to the locals here that work their asses of to barely make it. We are required to kiss ass to people that come in for one week, and judge us. Not cool. I happen to know oprah loves it here, despite being a huge minority.

  33. not welcome says:

    Please tell me this woman had been canned from the "gifting list" of Telluride Yoga Fesival. Oprah happens to be here right now why would she come back if she hated it… get your nose out of your computer and smell the fresh mountain air-
    You must not be welcome in Telluride EVER

  34. minnie says:

    here's the thing: most of the "locals" you met there moved there in the late 90s at the earliest. the town was already progressing economically to the point that the blue collar workers left over from mining and pre-ski days couldn't afford/didn't want to be there anymore. so the population has completely turned over within the past 30 even 20 years. telluride at that point became a bubble. but up to and even a bit beyond that point the population was a true community. (some would say it still is, but….) quirky, sure white, but not neccesssarily passive aggressive. that came with the influx of tourists. constant. everywhere. bitching. this town has transitioned from a community to a tourist town. and it sucks. just know that the week before you came there was another festival, the week before that another, and another and another. there is no longer much of an off season and very little break from those who come to look, admire, judge, instagram, demand, article and move on. everyone wants to live there, but the ones who have to make a living don't want to deal with the ones that sustain that income. the ones who can truly afford it? you didn't interact with them. except maybe in a class. next to you. head to toe lulu and loving life.

  35. Rebekah says:

    Telluride is a beautiful town – I spotted my first lynx while hiking there a couple of years ago. But if you would like a little more laid-back, quiet atmosphere that could be appealing to many yogis, you might try Grand Lake, Colorado. Small village at the western mouth of Rocky Mountain National Park. It has mountains, waterfalls, and the largest natural lake in Colorado. We welcome you to visit sometime!