“If Telluride ain’t Heaven, then Heaven can wait.” These words by American jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie are often proudly repeated by the locals around this quintessential Southwest Colorado town; and somehow, they’re not an overstatement.
Telluride feels like the reason we all moved to Colorado: steep tree-lined canyon walls peppered with abandoned silver mines, the tumbling 365’ Bridal Veil Falls crowned by the stately peaks of the San Juans, and picturesque Main Street lined with modern eateries and landmark buildings housed within quaint Victorian architecture. It’s equal parts tranquil and dazzling, wild west and chic, where you can get lost on mountain trails and rub elbows with A Listers over an elegant meal.
The best part? It’s well off the beaten track. Despite record ski and festival crowds, at a six-hour drive from Denver, and without a major highway in sight, Telluride offers a true retreat for Coloradans who want to get away but, well, don’t really want to leave Colorado. Take a road trip in shoulder season or during the week and find paradise.
9 A.M. Salute the San Juans
Shake off the long drive with a yoga class at Telluride Yoga Center. This sunny space in the heart of town opened its doors in 1999 and with morning classes ranging from creative Prana Vinyasa Flow to classical Ashtanga and Slow Flow, there’s something for everyone.
10:30 A.M. Fuel Up at The Butcher & Baker Cafe
Opened unsurprisingly by a butcher and a baker, this hot spot is such a favorite they’ve moved to a bigger location to accommodate the throngs of hungry mountain folk seeking hearty fare. Their expertise lies in sourcing local, handcrafted and sustainable ingredients to create plates that are classic but inspired. Don’t miss the chilaquiles!
1 P.M. Paddle on Priest Lake
This adventure starts with an epic 8-mile gondola ride featuring stunning views all the way to Mountain Village where the team at BootDoctors will take you Stand Up Paddle boarding on a pristine alpine lake, only 20 minutes from town but refreshingly free of cell service.
5 P.M. Après with the Locals
Conveniently awaiting you at the bottom of the gondola is Cosmopolitan where you can saddle up to the bar for happy hour. The regulars will prod you to try a local favorite, “The Flatliner,” a tasty blend of vodka, espresso, Baileys and Kahlua that has likely been the unfortunate demise of many an unsuspecting tourist.
6 P.M. Dine at the Ranch
Telluride Sleighs & Wagons will pick you up for an enchanting horse driven wagon ride up to Aldasoro Ranch where you’ll watch the sun set behind the San Juans with a glass of wine, learn the rich history of the area, and dine family-style in a tent on charcuterie, sirloin and roasted local vegetables. The ranch has been in the Aldasoro family since the 1920s when they immigrated from Spain’s Basque Country and found the San Juans to be just like home.
Bookend your trip with a night or two at the Hotel Telluride, a shaded sanctuary right off Main Street where you can soak off your day in the outdoor jacuzzi, sip a cocktail or coffee by the open fire, and sleep in the most comfortable bed in town.
Telluride guests can also stay in Mountain Village (above Telluride the town, accessed via a fun and free gondola), and for those looking for a more luxurious trip should book the Madeline Hotel. This “treat yourself” choice has top-tier amenities, a rooftop pool and refined on-site dining.
Photos by Julia Clarke and the Madeline Hotel & Residences.
Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2018 issue.