Road Trip: Travel to Telluride for the season that shimmers | SummitDaily.com

Road Trip: Travel to Telluride for the season that shimmers

Kim Fuller
Special to the Daily

If the drive to Telluride doesn't show you enough autumn splendor, just wait until the San Juan mountains come into view.

"From the very moment you pull into Telluride, there is simply nothing that compares to the rugged, steep and extreme terrain of the San Juan range," said Meghan Gruszynski, marketing manager for The Peaks Resort and Spa. "This incredible region, combined with the beauty of the changing fall colors, sets the stage for a picture-perfect experience."

Take a right turn up toward Mountain Village just before you come into Telluride to get the full scope of all the vistas that keep the area so coveted. The upper village is connected to Telluride by a set of free gondolas, so transportation is both easy and entertaining.

COLORFUL FLAVORS

The Peaks Resort in Mountain Village (http://www.thepeaksresort.com) is a great home base for a short trip or extended vacation, and if you arrive before nightfall, find a seat at the Palmyra Restaurant & Bar alongside a west-facing wall of windows or on the open-air balcony. Executive chef Patrick Funk has teamed up with food and beverage manager Matt McConnell to bring "regionally relevant cuisine" to the table, with 75 percent of the restaurant's products sourced locally.

Start with a Palisade peach Bellini to settle in, prepping your taste buds for a cup of Olathe corn soup, which is rich in texture and full of fall flavor.

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McConnell's wine list is extensive, and his recommendations are fun and informative. A bottle of pinot noir accompanies the range of cuisine well, from the pan-seared halibut to the succulent bison rib eye.

The dining room stays lively as the sun dips below the horizon line, but gradually, full bellies are called to their accommodations, heading to sleep amid down feathers and dreams.

GET UP AND GO

While the mountains aren't moving and it's temping to sleep in, early risers can get the most out of the area's recreation and still have time to check out all of the cultural hot spots.

"Telluride offers countless opportunities to fit in a little fitness with a lot of fun," Gruszynski said. "You can downhill mountain bike with the help of the free gondola and hike trails to explore the vibrant colors of the fall mixed with the rushing waterfalls surrounding town."

Right from The Peaks, you can mountain bike the Jurassic Trail, or man-power your way into town via the Boomerang to Valley Floor route. Take the gondola up to the St. Sophia station to hit Prospect Trail, a 10-mile intermediate traverse over rolling singletrack. If you don't have a bike, there are plenty of outfitters available for rentals, and hiking is a great option and accessible on most of the trails.

Bear Creek Trail is a popular local hike out of town and is accessed from the end of South Pine Street (http://www.visittelluride.com/things-to-do/trails-huts). The 2½-mile climb leads to upper Bear Creek Falls and connects to the Wasatch Trail and Bridal Veil Basin. This time of year, the fall colors on all of these trails will be bursting.

"Telluride's box canyon creates a backdrop unlike any other for Gold Season," said Kiera Skinner, Telluride Tourism Board director of marketing and public relations. "You are literally surrounded on all sides by gold, red and orange as the colors change through the valley."

EXPLORE, ENJOY

When hunger strikes, stop at Brown Dog Pizza (http://www.browndogpizza.com) on Colorado Avenue (Main Street) for a Detroit-style pizza — try the 3-1-3. If your appetite is mountainous, start with a Mamma Mia burrata appetizer, and wash it all down with Bridal Veil rye pale ale from Telluride Brewing Co.

If you're looking for brunch, visit the Chop House Restaurant at the New Sheridan Hotel to take in the foliage on the patio with a mimosa or two (http://www.newsheridan.com), and don't miss The Butcher & Baker Cafe for a fresh and friendly atmosphere (http://www.butcherandbakercafe.com). Both eateries are on Colorado Avenue.

For shopping, Big Colorado Love apparel features products with a logo of a heart on the state flag (http://www.bigcoloradolove.com). Ten percent of BCL's profits go to Colorado charities. Find the products downtown at Melange Telluride, an art and design boutique run by working artists (http://www.melangetelluride.com).

Ready for something sweet? The Telluride Truffle on Fir Street offers fresh, handmade chocolates with Colorado organic cream, along with fine liquors with names such as Powder Day, First Tracks, Snowcapped and Rocky Top (http://www.telluridetruffle.com).

The Telluride Farmers Market takes place on South Oak Street every Friday through mid-October. The market runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and all products are grown within 100 miles of Telluride (http://www.thetelluridefarmersmarket.com).

SETTLE IN

Head back up the gondola to The Peaks for some time to enjoy its indoor-outdoor pool and hot tubs. Kids love the waterslide, while adults can swim laps at their leisure.

The onsite spa is the largest in Colorado and features 32 treatments rooms, as well as a full fitness center. Indulge in an Evening to Unwind half-day treatment; rejuvenate your muscles with a 90-minute custom massage. On Sundays, restorative yoga at noon with Regan is a relaxing treat all its own.

Before you sink in to your covers for the night, head out for some food at the top of the gondola station St. Sophia at Allred's. The views of Telluride are the best you can get from a dining room, and the spicy peach margarita with jalepeno-infused tequila goes down almost too easily. Try the carpaccio wraps, too (http://www.visittelluride.com/things-to-do/dining-nightlife/allreds).

If you want to keep the night going, there's a new music club in town. Club Red at the Telluride Conference Center is reminiscent of an old speakeasy or jazz club and offers an intimate music experience (http://www.visittelluride.com/venue/club-red). Just be sure to get enough rest to wake up and play all over again. A sunrise hike up the See Forever Trail takes about an hour each way, and the morning alpenglow is worth every step.

Upcoming events

Telluride Photo Festival — Thursday, Oct. 2, to Sunday, Oct. 5

Matisyahu performs at Club Red — Thursday, Oct. 9

Telluride Horror Show — Friday, Oct. 10, to Sunday, Oct. 12

Gold Season lodging specials

• The Peaks Resort & Spa — Gold Season Rate is 20 percent off all room nights, $25 resort credit per night and free valet parking; must book directly with the hotel. To book this rate, visit http://www.thepeaksresort.com/offers, or call (970) 728-6800.

• Through Friday, Oct. 31, Receive a third or fourth night free during midweek stays at participating properties, including Hotel Columbia, Hotel Madeline, New Sheridan Hotel, Lumiere, The Auberge Residence at Element 52, Fairmont Heritage Place, Franz Klammer Lodge. Learn more at http://www.visittelluride.com/freefall.