Spring in Telluride is known affectionately as "mud season" because of the inevitable way that the snowmelt softens the earth on the trails. Mud season is typically marked by an exodus: workers from the ski resort escape to faraway beaches and nearby deserts, and families skip town during the spring break from school, trying to find somewhere warm to vacation, ideally with a pool or an ocean. It can feel like a ghost town here, and you almost expect a tumbleweed to roll down the empty streets.
Sure it's a little lonely, but mud season has its advantages. For one, there's lots of parking. In the height of summer festival season or the middle of ski season, you might have to circle the 12 blocks of town a few times before you find a parking spot. Not during mud season. You can pull right up anywhere and park.
Second, you will have all the hiking and biking trails to yourself. Sure, it's muddy, and the weather fluctuates between sunny and snowy. You'll probably have to traverse patches of snow, but glissading is a blast, and if you fall, no worries — you probably won't be seen by anybody.
Mud season is also a time of bonding. That guitarist you wanted to play with? He's probably still in town. The backcountry ski tour you put off all through avalanche season? It's pretty safe now, and you can probably scrape up a partner who will be grateful to earn some turns with you. The bars and restaurants are quiet, but perfect for intimate conversations and there's no waiting for your food or drinks.
It's also the best time to find a job or a place to live. It's one of the only times of year when you can jump on a recently vacated room in a house or a condo, because during the high season, housing is tight and the competition is stiff. Mud season, not so much. Plenty of businesses hiring and lots of places to rent.
Maybe the best thing about mud season is the Free Box. The Free Box is like a barometer, measuring the movement of people in and out of Telluride, and during spring it is off the charts. Spring is a time of transformation and migration, and the Free Box captures all the detritus of the changing of seasons and the relocation of residents. There is no better time for some Free Box shopping than spring when it's overflowing with treasures and trash.
So, dig in. Rifle through the Free Box, play some guitar, find a job and a room, and take a hike. Telluride during the mud season is all yours, just for you and a few select people, at least until the crowds return to celebrate summer.