A Perfect Weekend in Telluride

“This view is, like, killer,” I overheard a 20-something say to his companions during a recent visit to Telluride. We had just walked by each other on the main street of this southwestern Colorado mountain town, wedged into a box canyon. The group was looking toward the vertiginous cliffs high above, where Ingram Falls plunged over a notch in the rock; below the falls, a thread of water followed a steep, diagonal runnel, glinting silver, like the precious metal miners once sought here.

The comment was an understatement. Surrounded by soaring peaks in the craggy San Juan Mountains, Telluride sits in an almost impossibly beautiful setting. I’ve been visiting regularly from my home near Aspen for almost 30 years, and every time I drive the final stretch into town, my breath catches when the lofty panorama bursts into view.

Well known for its ski resort, Telluride attracts plenty of summer and fall visitors, too. A season-long slate of weekend festivals ranges from bluegrass to blues, mushroom hunting to classic cars. For a time, some locals even designated one July weekend as the “Nothing Festival” to provide a break from the hectic schedule. Later this summer the star-studded Telluride Film Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary (Aug. 31 to Sept. 4).

A Perfect Weekend in Telluride
Surrounded by soaring peaks in the craggy San Juan Mountains, Telluride sits in an almost impossibly beautiful setting.Andrew Miller for The New York Times

Special programming aside, summer and fall (through mid-October, when many businesses close down until Thanksgiving) are the time to discover not just Telluride’s stellar scenery, but the hiking and biking trails scribed across those hillsides. There’s also a flourishing arts scene and plenty of independently owned shops and galleries along Colorado Avenue, the main thoroughfare.

Despite the remote location, getting to Telluride is easier than it may seem. Throughout the summer, nonstop flights from four cities — Denver, Chicago, Houston and Dallas — arrive daily at the Montrose Regional Airport, an hour and a half drive away by shuttle or rental car. Denver Air Connection also offers daily flights from Phoenix and Denver to the small Telluride Airport, on a mesa above the town. You can easily get by without a car for a weekend. Several hikes start from town, and free bus service loops through the community. A gondola, also free, runs daily until midnight between Telluride and the pedestrian-oriented center of Mountain Village, a town partway up the ski area purpose-built for visitors.

Like many mountain resort communities that have felt the impact of a pandemic-driven surge in residents and visitors, exacerbated by soaring housing costs and the resulting employee shortage, Telluride emphasizes sustainable tourism these days. The primary message you’ll see online and in visitor guides: Be conscious not only of your environmental footprint but also of your impact on the community.

Amid the changes, some of the things that embody Telluride’s tight-knit ethos remain the same. For almost 40 years, the beloved community radio station, KOTO, has been broadcasting local news and eclectic music from a lavender-hued Victorian. For nearly the same amount of time, downtown’s legendary Free Box has drawn treasure hunters who browse among the castoffs — books, clothing, housewares — left within the worn wood cubbies. Some even find serviceable skis and other sports gear.

Old skis are a common decoration in Telluride.Andrew Miller for The New York Times
One of many well-preserved Victorian homes.Andrew Miller for The New York Times

Acclimate to the altitude — Telluride sits at 8,750 feet — with a day spent exploring the town, which was designated a National Historic Landmark District more than 60 years ago for its importance as a late-19th-century mining hub.

Start out with breakfast at the Butcher and the Baker. If you’re not diverted by the pastries at the counter — homemade pop tarts, cinnamon buns, scones — opt for a hearty breakfast sandwich on a homemade English muffin (from $11) or house granola with yogurt and fruit ($13). The restaurant operates its own farm, which supplies fresh produce.

At only 12 blocks long by eight blocks wide, Telluride is eminently walkable. I love strolling by the meticulously kept Victorians, their candy-colored shingles and gingerbread trim intact thanks to stringent preservation and design guidelines (inside, they’re often sleekly modern). They’re not just for show, either, as stand-up paddleboards stored under a porch, camping trailers parked in the driveway or mountain bikes propped up outside reflect mountain-town activities — and gorgeous flowers bloom everywhere.

Stop in at the Telluride Historical Museum ($9), housed in a former hospital, for more insight on the town’s past; a new exhibition celebrates 50 years of festivals, starting with the Telluride Bluegrass Festival that takes place each June and attracts some 10,000 music aficionados.

If you’re near the north end of Aspen Street, look for the quarter-of-a-mile steep trail that leads to Cornet Falls, an 80-foot-high cascade that plummets off a lip of red-hued sandstone into a small pool. (Depending on water levels, you may have to cross a small side stream along the way, so watch your footing.)

Andrew Miller for The New York Times
Andrew Miller for The New York Times

Back downtown, stop by the Stronghouse Brew Pub for Bavarian-style pretzels with beer-cheese dip ($13) and an elk jalapeño cheddar bratwurst ($11) amid a buzzy beer hall vibe. The building’s stone walls (inside and out) give it a European farmhouse feel, but the setting is actually a renovated warehouse dating to 1892. Out of the nine or so beers brewed on site, I sampled the petite saison ($8 for a pint), which was light and tart.

After lunch, walk to the north end of the block to peek into the Telluride Transfer Warehouse, an arts center in the making. The one-time hub for commerce and storage, built in 1906, sat empty for almost 40 years after the roof collapsed under heavy snow in 1979. Telluride Arts, a nonprofit group, bought the building six years ago and launched a fund-raising campaign to restore it as a performance and exhibition venue, with a striking design by the Seattle architecture firm Olson Kundig.

Diagonally across the street, the longtime Ah Haa School for the Arts recently reopened in a new building that includes studios and exhibition space (closed on Sundays); among the offerings are an annual building-wide immersive art installation (July 14to 16) and farmers’ market-to-table lunchtime cooking classes on select Fridays.

Head up to Colorado Avenue to browse stores and galleries. Among them, Western Rise offers tech pants, shorts and merino T-shirts for men, designed by a husband-and-wife team who have an atelier in the back. Crossbow Leather specializes in locally made bags and accessories. Mixx Projects has artisan jewelry, paintings, mixed media art and furniture. Jagged Edge Mountain Gear carries hiking apparel, shoes, backpacks and accessories. Telluride Arts has two adjacent gallery spaces; one hosts rotating shows, while the other has a new long-term exhibition that focuses on Transfer Warehouse’s history and artwork inspired by the site. If it’s a Friday, wind down the afternoon with a gondola ride up to Mountain Village for Music on the Green, a free weekly concert series (5 p.m. to 7 p.m., through Sept. 8) that spotlights Americana, roots and bluegrass performers.

Make your dinner reservation at Petite Maison, a jewel box of a restaurant opened last year by the team behind the National, another popular spot. The menu features classic French bistro fare like coq au vin, moules frites and steak tartare (entrees from $34). The nightly bar menu special offers a less expensive option.

Then amble back up to Colorado Avenue and the Ride Lounge in the historic Roma building, which has welcomed live-music lovers since last summer. Local bands jam in the unpretentious venue amid a gallery of photos featuring musicians who have played in town, including, at the bar’s namesake, the annual Ride Festival.

The view of Bridal Veil falls from the the Telluride Via Ferrata.Andrew Miller for The New York Times
A bridge on the San Miguel River trail.Andrew Miller for The New York Times

Take advantage of Telluride’s mountain setting with a morning adventure: hiking, going for a four-wheel-drive excursion or tackling the via ferrata.

Before heading out, stop by Baked in Telluride for coffee and raised doughnuts the size of small plates ($2.80), foot-long maple bars ($3.30) or a bagel breakfast sandwich ($8). Take along a sandwich and maybe a sea salt dark chocolate chip cookie ($2.95) to eat on the trail.

Two half-day hikes start in town: From the top of Aspen Street, the Jud Wiebe trail loops for almost three miles through field and forest above Telluride, with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. The heavily trafficked Bear Creek trail starts at the south end of Pine Street and follows an old mining track for a little more than two miles to Bear Creek Falls, gaining some 1,000 feet.

A less-busy option: the two-mile Ridge trail at the ski area. Ride the gondola from Telluride to the San Sophia Station. The view includes Lizard Head Peak (a distinctive vertical rock formation) and two 14,000-foot-plus-high mountains, Wilson Peak and Mount Wilson. Follow the trail signs to hike downhill, detouring to take in the bird’s-eye overlook of town. The route winds through aspen groves and meadows, finishing in Mountain Village.

Telluride Outside’s half-day, four-wheel-drive tour ($120 per person) up a road to the top of Imogene Pass is breathtaking both for the scenery and the elevation (13,114 feet). It includes a stop at Tomboy ghost town, where gold miners eked out a hardscrabble life in the early 1900s, as vividly recounted in Harriet Fish Backus’s book “Tomboy Bride.”

Telluride’s via ferrata used to be under the radar, but now three local guide services, including Mountain Trip (from $189 per person), lead outings on it. Thanks to permanently attached steel cables and rungs, you can traverse this cliff face several hundred feet above the ground — provided you don’t fear heights. You’ll get a distinct vantage of Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s highest free-flowing waterfall.

The $5 Moscow Mule with housemade ginger beer and vodka at Telluride Distilling Company in Mountain Village.Andrew Miller for The New York Times
A raised doughnut at the Baked In Telluride restaurant.Andrew Miller for The New York Times

Post-adventure, go for the summer version of après-ski at a trio of spots around Mountain Village. On the ground floor of the Franz Klammer Lodge complex, Telluride Distilling Company serves up $5 mules, made with housemade ginger beer and vodka, and other reasonably priced whiskey, gin and agave cocktails. Next door, the Communion Wine Bar, which opened last summer, has been getting enthusiastic reviews for its lesser-known wines by the glass. Telluride Brewing Company pours its refreshing I.P.A.s and other ales at a brewpub in the Hotel Madeline building (the brewery’s original tap room just west of Telluride remains a hub for locals who stream in after biking and kayaking.)

Finish up with a casual dinner back in Telluride. La Cocina de Luz is my go-to for tamales and giant burrito plates, accompanied by the requisite margarita (entrees from $22). Newer is the Wok of Joy, a Thai spot opened in 2021 by Joy Itthithepphana, who earned fans for her pad Thai and spicy curries while operating a food cart in Mountain Village. Now that devoted clientele packs the small dining area of this counter-service restaurant for those dishes and more (entrees average $20).

The Telluride area has no shortage of luxe hotels, with the biggest concentration in Mountain Village. Last year at the Madeline Hotel and Residences (rooms from $599), an Auberge Resorts Collection property, the 155 rooms and suites were redone in a modern chalet style. An emphasis on wellness includes meditation stools in every room, chlorophyll-enhanced water in the lobby and nightly turndown service with amenities like CBD lotion. The complex also has a spa, outdoor pool, restaurant and cocktail lounge. Every afternoon at 4 p.m., Bryan Woody, the hotel’s general manager, plays the alpenhorn during a complimentary Champagne toast, as his St. Bernard, Cheyenne, greets guests.

On the west side of town, the Hotel Telluride (rooms from $369) is a reliable option, with friendly service and a relaxed vibe. The 59 rooms, all with balconies, are furnished in mountain lodge style, and the on-site restaurant serves breakfast and dinner. The hotel is within a few blocks of the commercial district and offers free shuttle service around town and cruiser bikes for loan.

If you have a car and a limited budget, consider the Bivvi Hostel Telluride, open since 2020 in Placerville, about 16 miles down the valley. Private and shared rooms, all with their own bathrooms and continental breakfast included, start at $55 per person in a dorm room.

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– 출처 : https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/13/travel/telluride-colorado-weekend.html

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