Hannah Drake

Telluride Travel Guide

TravelHannah DrakeComment

Back in September of 2015, before I even started this blog, I took advantage of a Living Social or Groupon type discount and treated myself to a few days in the picturesque town of Telluride, Colorado. Because I went in the middle of the week, no one was really available to go with me. I made the near seven hour drive by myself and actually had a really wonderful time. It was such a fantastic time of year to go because the fall colours were coming through, the weather was perfect with that signature crisp in the air in the mornings and evenings), and it wasn’t too busy.

Since the trip pre-dated my blog, but remains one of the best holidays I’ve ever taken, I decided to share a bit about the trip in this space, four years later.

WHERE TO STAY

Like I said, I took advantage of a discount to stay at the Lumiere, which is not a place I could usually afford. It was so nice and I loved staying a little bit tucked away in the Mountain Village. I had breathtaking views of the mountainside off my balcony and it proved to be a great location.

I would honestly just recommend anywhere in the Mountain Village. I parked my car when I arrived and only used it once while I was there. I was a short walking distance to the (free) gondola over the mountain into Telluride, which itself is an easily walkable town. With the time of year I was there, my dinner times were perfectly timed to pretty much always catch the alpenglow from the sunset while on the gondola. I loved it!

WHERE TO EAT (AND DRINK)

I had my first meal in Telluride at The Floradora Saloon, where the bartender chatted about seasonal regulars, including Oprah, Tom Cruise, and Jerry Seinfeld. I ordered the duck spring rolls and an extra dirty martini and just sat at the bar enjoying my little appetiser.

For dinner, I walked over to the Cosmopolitan to eat in their restaurant. I treated myself to the surf ‘n turf and apparently called it the best lobster I’ve ever had!

The next day, I had lunch at the highly recommended and the award winning Brown Dog, that serves Detroit style pizza. (I didn’t know that was a thing.) I ordered the 3-1-3, but I’m not sure if Detroit style is my thing.

Before my final dinner in Telluride, I had a drink at the Last Dollar Saloon in town caught my eye for dinner, so I headed back to Mountain Village and boy am I glad I did. I’m not even kidding when I say that four years later, I still think about this meal! I stopped at the Madeline to eat in their restaurant. I sat at the bar again and took some suggestions from the very friendly bartender. She recommended the Buffalo Negra, a cocktail that included bourbon, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, and ginger beer. It was amazing. To eat, I just ordered fresh oysters and literally the most delicious tater tots I’ve even eaten to date.

The next day before heading home, I stopped for a quick lunch at Steamies in town. It very much reminded me of Shake Shack, especially the crinkle cut fries.

For breakfast both days I was there, I took a box of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s to have in my room, which turned out to be on the balcony every morning. It was a great way to start the day.

WHAT TO DO

On the only full day I was there, I decided to drive up to the famous Bridal Veil Falls. In hindsight, I would actually recommend just hiking up, but I didn’t exactly come prepared for a hike. If I recall correctly, I drove up as far as I could go, which did offer stunning views, but being in Colorado, you’ve simply got to hike!

I booked a 4x4 Tour of Imogene Pass through the hotel for my final morning in Telluride, which later ended up saving my life. (Just keep reading.) They picked me up from the hotel in the morning before driving around Mountain Village and Telluride picking up everyone else. (I was the only one under 50!) The guide said they considered it bad luck for single women to go beyond the tunnel. That's when I started getting nervous. When the Tomboy Mine was functioning, the only single woman allowed up there was the school teacher. The views were incredible, but after we passed the ghost town of Tomboy Mine, we were beyond tree line and it was pretty barren. We stopped at the top to take some photos before heading back down the same way. There is only one road up and down the pass, it’s almost always only wide enough for one vehicle, and it definitely takes some skill to navigate the rough mountain road. However, our guide was tossing out some driving tips to us in the back while he was driving. And thank God for that.

Before starting the journey back, I wanted to drive the colourful Million Dollar Highway that was nearby. I pulled up how to get there on Google Maps and it gave me two options, both would take about the same amount of time, but one was significantly shorter in distance that the other. I figured it was a glitch, chose the shorter route, and went on my merry way. I even drove by the mountain seen on Coors cans, which is no where near the Coors brewery. Eventually I turned off the main highway, drove through a very small town, then started driving into the actual forest. After having to drive through a small creek that flowed through the road, the trees finally cleared and I saw that the road curved around the side of the mountain, was very rocky, and was about wide enough for one car at a time. There was a Jeep Wrangler stopped on the road ahead of me. The passenger was outside taking pictures, but when she got back in, they didn't start going. Then the driver got out and walked up to my car saying he was waiting for the car to come down because it's "pretty narrow up there". So we waited. The car that was coming down took forever and then had to go up onto the side of the mountain a little bit to pass us. It really was narrow!

We start going and I quickly realised we were on a 4x4 trail. I later discovered it was Ophir Pass, one of the most dangerous roads in the state. You can only drive it with high clearance 4-wheel drive so thank goodness I was in my mom's Rav-4. I was white-knuckling the steering wheel and actually praying aloud and talking to myself the entire time. The guy ahead of me stopped again at a switch back and said there were more cars coming. I asked him if he had driven the road before and he said he just had a map that located the few spots where you could pull over to pass. We waited while two more cars passed and then continued on our way. I got high-centered for a quick second and then we eventually made it to the top. He told me I could keep going and it was an easier road on the way down. I actually thank God for that man every day because I would have died on that road without him, I'm pretty sure. I would have started going and ended up head-to-head with the car coming down with no where to go. It was terrifying! But I eventually made it to the Million Dollar Highway and it might have been worth it.

WHAT TO WEAR IN TELLURIDE

I haven’t included any of my very 2015 #OOTD mirror selfies, but I’ll give you an idea of the things I packed for my three days in Telluride in mid-September. Of course your activities will dictate what you pack, so if you plan on being more active, make sure you’re prepared for hiking or biking or whatever else you want to do.

Have you been to Telluride yet? I’m sure it’s on your list now!

Lumiere image from Google.

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