top of page

Telluride Mushroom Festival

Good evening, friends,

With the passing of another week, we get another mushroom festival recap. I was fortunate enough to attend the longest running mushroom festival in the country - the 42nd annual Telluride Mushroom Festival in Telluride, CO. You'd be hard-pressed to pick a more beautiful setting for a mushroom festival, and the rains have been so plentiful in the San Juan mountains that we were seeing more mushrooms in a few square feet than I'd seen all summer. For every mushroom I wanted to look at, I'd pass over ten more. Why don't we go ahead and take a look back at this wonderful festival along with some of those fascinating fungal finds.


Telluride is a four day festival, running Thursday through Sunday, but many opt-in to a "pre-fest" activity - like a full-day class on mycoremediation - on Wednesday. It's a marathon, not a sprint, at an elevation of 8,750 ft. It was far and away the most organized festival I've attended with multiple speakers and events occurring simultaneously in different parts of the town throughout the four days. With a robust speakers line-up, I took a liking to the lectures and included the title slides for some of the featured presentations below. You'll notice psilocybin was a focal point of some lectures as it's been a focal point of the festival since its inception 42 years ago.

All the lectures were insightful and inspiring in their own right but I don't want to linger on pictures of powerpoints too long. One takeaway was that research is being conducted with psilocybin for a wide-range of therapeutic uses - from treatment of veterans with PTSD to addiction therapy for crack cocaine addicts - and the results are promising across the board. The FDA may legalize it for medicinal use in 2025, but it was reiterated that this healing knowledge was understood by indigenous peoples, like the Mazatec people of Central Mexico, long before any of this lab coat research was underway.

Telluride was unique in a number of ways, one being that the town of Telluride is quite isolated. It's a six hour drive from Denver, or you can connect into the smaller Montrose airport about an hour away. This also limits accommodations and, while there is a campsite in town, it's difficult to get a reservation for the week of the mushroom festival. The majority of attendees are splitting airbnbs/condos or crashing on couches of their friends that are splitting airbnbs/condos. While that ups the price to participate, that also grants kitchen access for a number of attendees. Here are just a couple of the edible mushrooms we foraged throughout the festival:

Hawkwings (Sarcodon), a toothed mushroom, were large and plentiful.

We dry fried them (sautéed in the pan without oil/fat) for 10-15 minutes before adding oil and had them with quesadillas. I personally didn't get too creative with the recipes, usually just cooking the mushrooms by themselves and adding them to whatever else I was going to eat. "Letting the ingredients speak for themselves" or something like that.

Saffron Milkcap or Lactarius Section Deliciosi

Saffron Milkcap

The green, orange, and blue coloring may not look appetizing but it actually cooks up quite nicely. We prepared them in a similar manner as the hawk wings and then had them with pasta.

Saffron Milkcap

Perhaps the most impressive, and tasty, was the Blue Chanterelle (Polyozellus - technically not a real chanterelle). Paul and Rhoi (two of our Telluride roommates) found these and prepared them as an appetizer to a true chanterelle pasta for our last supper. I'm not a photographer, but Rhoi certainly is (mistarhoi on instagram) and was kind enough to share this in situ picture of the mushrooms below.

In addition to lectures and foraged foods, there's a focus on the arts. That was on display nowhere more than the Mycolicious Mycoluscious Mycological Poetry show on Friday night. These incredibly well-rehearsed acts, songs, and poems unearthed the wide range of talent teeming within this collective of mycophiles. From mushroom songs and poems to mushroom comedy, I didn't anticipate the amount of effort and esteem that each performer invested into their performance. I was completely enthralled. I also didn't record anything so I guess you'll just have to check it out for yourself one of these years.

The main event of the entire festival was the parade on Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of people took to main street, Colorado Ave, dawning their best fungal-themed ensembles. I piggy-backed off my much more creative roommates that decided to be different species of insect-infecting fungi and stuffed some "mycelium" (white poly-fill) into my arm pits and under my hat. They represented our shared living space well and ended up winning a prize for "Best Insect Biotrophs" - each winning a mushroom book of their choice. Rhoi captured the costumes of Katie, Zoey, Aaron, and Paul, below.

Friends in mushroom costumes

And here's a participant's point of view during the parade:


As it was with documenting mushrooms, for everything I try to include I'm missing ten other events - I didn't even talk about making mushroom paper! I'm gonna throw in some more mushroom photos and cap it there. I could write a lot more but I'll sum it up by saying it's basically the Super Bowl of mushroom festivals. There aren't any bigger or better. I don't know if I'll be there next year but I'm certainly glad I got the full experience this year. Alright mushrooms, take us out...

Green elf cups (Chlorociboria species)

Now spin the color wheel around to red cups on a stick. No one knew what this was, but it was vouchered and the specimen was kept for further study. iNaturalist suggests Cytidia salicina.

Cytidia salicina

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) with an immature amanita egg on the right. The Mario mushroom.

Amanita muscaria

Purple Mycena (Mycena Pura)

Purple Mycena

Clitocybe odora. Does this photo look more professional than the others? I was able to sneak in a shot after Alan Rockefeller set up this field guide quality display.

Clitocybe odora

Witch's Hat (Hygrocybe conica complex)

Witch's Hat

Goldencaps (Cystoderma aureum). We'll sign off today with the first mushroom I found in Telluride.

I believe this is the latest I've ever published MM, with just sixty minutes remaining in this Mushroom Monday on the eastern seaboard. Eager to snooze,



bottom of page