The most unique public transportation system of its kind in North America has gone platinum. The beloved Telluride-Mountain Village Gondola system will celebrate its 20th anniversary December 20, 2016, at Club Red in Mountain Village. This free event will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is open to residents and visitors alike.
“We are looking forward to celebrating this amazing machine and all that it’s done for our community,” said Marketing and Business Development Director Nichole Zangara Riley. “In the last 20 years it has carried over 40 million passengers, brought two communities together – Telluride and Mountain Village – with the views to boot, and reduced the region’s carbon footprint. People have been married on the gondola. Musicians have recorded songs and films have been produced on the gondola. The list goes on and on. Simply put, this mode of transportation is unforgettable and it’s part of the lifestyle, so it only makes sense to celebrate the gondola turning 20.”
All told, the anniversary celebration will include appetizers and dessert, a champagne toast, and live music by local band Chrome Velvet. In addition, a GoPro camera, Stalk-It snowboard and Osprey backpack will be raffled off, gondola anniversary schwag items will be given away, and the coveted red cabin will turn into a photo booth.
“And of course we couldn’t stop there, so we are premiering two short gondola films and launching Vizzit, a Mountain Village tour guide and storytelling app that features the gondola,” explained Zangara Riley. “We are also excited to announce that the Telluride Ski Resort will run a #GondolaSelfie sweepstakes on Instagram between December 20 and December 31 along with surprising several gondola riders with gifts and prizes in celebration of the gondola’s 20th anniversary. And to add a personal touch to the evening event, Mountain Village visionary Ron Allred will share his story of how the gondola came to be. This really is a not-to-be-missed event.”
Owned and operated by the Town of Mountain Village, the gondola opened on December 20, 1996, one year after the Town of Mountain Village was incorporated, to provide free transportation between Mountain Village and Telluride while reducing the area’s carbon footprint. The electricity used to operate the gondola comes from on-site solar energy and wind power purchased from San Miguel Power Association; LED lighting throughout the terminals ensures it is used efficiently. With roughly 2.61 million passenger rides each year, the gondola offers an effective mode of transportation that reduces carbon emissions resulting in cleaner air for the region. It also adds to the guest experience, giving visitors ease of access to both towns without needing a vehicle, making the destination one of the most pedestrian-friendly mountain resorts in the country.
Green transportation is not the only perk the gondola provides. It also gives riders access to hiking and biking trails in the summer and ski terrain in the winter. Guests have a front-row seat to view the striking scenery from 10,500 feet on the gondola. The ride from Mountain Village to Station St. Sophia has an elevation gain of 960 feet, which then takes an exhilarating 1,750 foot vertical foot plunge down in to the Town of Telluride. The entire two-mile journey takes about 13 minutes. The gondola runs daily from 7 a.m. to midnight during summer and winter, and it is ranked as the number one thing to do in Telluride and Mountain Village on TripAdvisor.
Since 1996, the gondola has remained a free mode of transportation. The Town of Mountain Village owns and operates the gondola, and the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association funds operations, maintenance and capital improvements.
“The gondola has played a vital role in our community over the years,” said President and CEO of the Telluride Tourism Board Michael Martelon. “It has become an icon for the destination, and we look forward to honoring its importance and celebrating 20 years of operation.”
To learn more about the gondola, visit townofmountainvillage.com/getting-around/gondola-chondola. For event details, visit townofmountainvillage.com/event/20th-gondola-anniversary-celebration.