Talkin' 'Bout Telluride

Talkin' 'Bout Telluride

Vacation News » North America Vacation News Edition | By Steve Winston | October 4, 2012 8:30 AM ET

Telluride is "real."

It's an authentic, unspoiled Western town with a colorful heritage. And it maintains a kind of casual, small-town charm that has long since been lost in more "hip" spots.

Mother Nature has blessed this small town with a stunning setting. Sitting at the end of a box canyon in southwest Colorado's San Juan Mountains, Telluride boasts seven waterfalls - all visible from downtown. Bridal Veil Falls, at 365 feet, is the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado. And the town is surrounded by the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in North America.

The entire town is actually a National Historic Landmark District. Fortunes were won and lost here, in the mines that once surrounded the town. Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch kicked off their bank-robbing careers here, at the San Miguel Valley Bank on June 24, 1889, making a "withdrawal" of $20,000. And George Westinghouse, L.L. Nunn, and Nikola Tesla built the world's first AC power plant here...making Telluride the first city in the world with electric streetlights.

You don't really need a car here; it's a great walking town. If you do prefer mechanical transportation, though, there's a free bus system that runs on vegetable oil-based fuel. And it says something about Telluride that there are no chain restaurants, shops, or hotels here; everything is locally-owned.

This place wrote the book on "pet-friendly." The canine population here is thought by most locals to be higher than the human one. Dogs are welcome in most lodging facilities. And "Puppy Parking" spots allow them to wait on the street for a few minutes while their owners pop into the shops.

The town comes alive every summer with great events, starting with Mountainfilm in May and ending with the Blues & Brews Festival in September.

Telluride lives outdoors, on the mountains and bike paths and hiking trails. On weekends, it seems half the town is trying to "bag a 14'er" in the surrounding 14,000-foot peaks. There are plenty of horseback-riding options, too, ranging from a scenic afternoon ride to a chuck wagon dinner to an overnight trip.

You can tee off at one of the highest courses in the country, at the Telluride Golf Club...where your balls will travel 15 percent further than at sea level. And the San Miguel River offers fly fishing, rafting, and kayaking.

In wintertime, Telluride turns into a genuine Alpine village, with skiing, snowboarding, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, and Colorado's only heli-skiing outfitter, which will drop expert skiers and snow-boarders into the backcountry to create their own trails. .

One of the best places to stay is Mountain Lodge at Telluride, in the Mountain Village community on Telluride Mountain. Mountain Lodge at Telluride is an exclusive slope-side resort steeped in Western elegance. At 9,500 feet, this ski-in, ski-out lodge has private luxury cabins (actually private homes), condominiums, and lodge rooms, with gas fireplaces, private balcony or patio, and jetted tubs. When you step out your door, you're in the midst of national forest land and spectacular scenery...along with the freshest air you've ever breathed and the bluest sky you've ever seen.

Amenities include a fitness center, steam room, grocery-shopping service, grocery store, outdoor deck with heated pool and Jacuzzi, and, in winter, heated underground parking, ski valet, ski lockers and storage. The View Restaurant offers upscale "pub" dining and - true to its name - spectacular views. And even though it sits in a majestic forest setting, Mountain Lodge at Telluride is close to town, whether by foot, shuttle, or gondola.

Telluride's a place to which people come back...again and again and again.

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