A Telluride Visit: Third Time, Still Charming
Even with serious upgrades, the old mining town feel is still the same
THIRD TIME, STILL CHARMING
The last time I skied in Telluride was almost three decades ago. The bad news is, that cute B&B where I stayed on the third floor and shared a bathroom is no longer. The good news is I can still rip a turn. The even better news is that Telluride remains the same low-key town it was in the '80s. Though there are some beneficial upgrades—the mountain is bigger, stores are more chic, the chow is tastier, and the houses keep getting higher on charm—but thanks to its remote boxed canyon locale, the old mining town feel is the same. And the night stargazing remains world-tilting. Here, I offer a highlight reel from my marvelous three-day adventure there.
1. GREAT VIEWS, NO GRIDLOCK
Instead of sitting in the parking lot that I-70 has become, I flew into Montrose and then took a shuttle into town. This December, Allegiant Air started a Denver/Montrose flight that runs about $130 round trip.
2. YOU CAN GET ALMOST EVERYWHERE ON FOOT
The town snuggles right up to the base of the mountain so whether you’re skiing or not, just about everything is within walking distance. If you stay in the mountain village, there are restaurants, spas, shops and ski access out your door. For in-town visits, The Telluride Gondola (now celebrating its 21st year) is free and the 13-minute ride between town and the mountain Village offers stunning views day and night and runs from 6:30 am to midnight so that visitors need no car for exploring Telluride’s two main locales.
3. COWBOYS WITH GREAT HAIR
I love a good cowboy bar with history. The New Sheridan is right on Colorado Ave. (Telluride’s main thoroughfare) and has been around since 1895 with a bar that remains unchanged. Cool details (check out the lofted poker table by the back) and guys with extremely long ponytails abound. Plus, Jack Daniels is $5 at all times. Nuff said.
4. SCRUMPTIOUS BUFFALO
Next door at The New Sheridan Chop House the cuts are pricey but worth the dinero. My husband, who is a restaurant critic, pronounced the Dry-Aged Bone-In Bison Ribeye ($59) the best he’d ever had. I was very, very happy with my filet. All in all, a glorious meatfest.
5. NO LIFT LINES
True, it’s a haul from the Front Range, but if you can add a few extra days to your weekend, you’ll have a very large mountain with very few people on it.
6. HISTORY WITH A FIVE GALLON HAT
On June 24, 1889 Telluride became the first Western town to have Robert LeRoy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy, rob its bank. At high noon, Butch and two accomplices made off with about $20,000 from the original San Miguel Valley Bank. Now the Mahr Building, there’s a plaque outside that marks the spot. And even with only one way out of town, Butch and his companions managed a successful getaway, thus marking the no-turning-back point for his life as an outlaw.
The Butcher & Baker Café offers my kind of no-nonsense food that merges homey and delish in a way I can wrap my arms around. That’s why I stopped in two of the three days I was in town. The first day I made a friend while sitting at the counter indulging in an afternoon snack that was one of the best oatmeal cookies in memory and I’m very picky about my oatmeal cookies. The next afternoon I happily scarfed an Albacore Tuna Salad Wrap that was easily big enough for two. Next time I’m staying for cocktails and dinner.
8. HOME GOODIES
I can’t resist a design store and Tweed Design Studio and Boutique is worthy of a look around. Great fabrics, pillows, art and décor items in a welcoming space. I also enjoyed Hook on a Wall’s whimsical mercantile feel and its wide range of home products. Plus, if you need a hook shaped like a cast iron garden tap, look no further.
9. FAT WHEELS
Thankfully we were encouraged to borrow some fat tire bikes from the Boot Doctors. Even more thankfully we got Max Cooper as our amazing guide. What does fat tire biking on a single track feel like? To us, it felt like we were kids again—a bit wobbly, free and giggling. We worked our way along the river and through the woods, enjoying Max’s guidance and inspiring company. The light was magic and the wind in our hair exhilarating.
10. STELLAR BREW
Good thing the last stop of our ride was The Telluride Brewing Company. Chris Fish and Tommy Thacher met while working at a local bar. Fish was the brewmaster, Tommy the bartender. In 2011 they began building a, no joke, liquid business. Their company now produces five year-round offerings (with fab graphics) including Face Down Brown Ale and Tempter IPA. There’s a fun tasting room (open Monday through Saturday) on site that’s perfect for thirst quenching and good company. Check telluridebrewingco.com for hours.
The only thing that beats a good breakfast spot is a great one. And just about 40 miles outside of Telluride, Chef Amie Minnick’s Provisions Café and Catering is that. The European-style eatery serves breakfast lunch and dinner in what was formerly a barber shop in the very quaint town of Ridgway. I can think of no better way to start the day than with Minnick's poached eggs over arugula, shaved Swiss cheese, prosciutto crumbles, and lemon & basil vinaigrette with house-made sourdough muffin on the side. And as if to grant me too much happiness in one sitting, I was also able to purchase farm fresh eggs, homemade bread, jam and granola to stock the home larder.
I decided to forgo air travel and drive back home to the Front Range with my husband. Though the ride was seven hours, the varied scenery—canyons, mesas, rock formations, plains, small towns
, and even Ralph Lauren’s posh fence line—reminded me yet again, why I’m so grateful to call Colorado home.