Southwest Colorado Roadtrip – Ouray and Telluride
After the first leg of our roadtrip through southwestern Colorado, we loaded up the car and made our way out of Gunnison to head to Ouray and Telluride. You pass Blue Mesa Reservoir along the way. While it has a certain natural beauty in its stark and remote landscape, it’s a bit boring for a camping destination for me. (OK, I don’t camp period – I’ll just admit that here.)But for a “get out of the car and stretch your legs” spot, it was pretty scenic. Then back in the car and along we continued into Ouray.Ouray sits in the valley of some of the prettiest mountains – The San Juans – in all of Colorado. You enter the town from one end of the valley and leave from the other, and we couldn’t help but stop to photography the vista as we arrived.There isn’t a heck of alot in Ouray – there’s the local brewery and some historic buildings……including the St. Elmo Hotel (looks like a YMCA flop house now frankly) and the beautifully resorted Hotel Beaumont. We stayed there – in a room that President Hoover stayed in no less! The restoration of the hotel, which was closed for a long time, took years and cost $24 million – for a 12-room hotel. Clearly that was not an investment, but a charitable act.It’s a short ride from Ouray to Telluride – back out the highway toward Ridgway, then down into the valley where Telluride sits. And it’s the most magnificent mountain scenery you’ll find almost anywhere.These are the views from the top of the gondola – which incidentally is free. Just hop on, ride up to the top, bring a picnic if you like, and enjoy the view.Because I had research to do for the cookbook I’m working on (oops, cat out of the bag a bit – stay tuned for more on that!), we chose to head back down into town for lunch at Rustico. Stefano and his family are transplants from Bormio, in the lakes region of Italy north of Bellagio and Lake Como. When asked how he ended up running a restaurant in Telluride, he pointed out how similar the look of the town is with the imposing mountains rising up around it, just the way the Italian Alps do in northern Italy. We chatted about my project, discussed Italian politics (Berlusconi), and were delighted with a meal that tasted just like we actually were in Italy. After our short day in Telluride we ventured back over the mountains for another night in Ouray – check out these peaks!I can’t imagine what I would write here that would add any more to the beauty of this part of the world.Back in Ouray we ventured onto the so-called “easy” perimeter loop trail to hike the full loop around Ouray. The hike started with a 45 degree ascent up a path near Cascade Falls – we almost lost a lung!It was much harder hiking than we had prepared for, so we only made it about 1/4 of the way around – just far enough for the great views down on the town cut into the center of the mountains.Ouray is a fairy tale little town, complete with gorgeous views, quaint establishments, tons of outdoor activity, and a pretty historic hotel. It’s a great place to unwind and re-connect with your loved one. It was a perfect stop for us. Next up…the most terrifying drive I’ve ever done – and that includes the Amalfi Coast of Italy!
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