Asher on Aspen: Touring Telluride | AspenTimes.com
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Asher on Aspen: Touring Telluride

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen

With the stunning fall foliage at its peak, a couple friends and I decided it was the perfect time to take a drive and visit a new town in Colorado. About a four-hour journey from Aspen, the drive to Telluride went by fast as we adored mother nature’s crazy colorful beauty the entire way. The colors throughout the state are absolutely magical right now as the leaves are changing from every shade of yellow, orange and red that you can imagine. The ravishing colors set against the dramatic peaks of the San Juan mountain range made for an unforgettable drive with my friends Lauren and Charlotte.

Perched in a box canyon surrounded by three sides of 13,000-foot peaks, Telluride is a pristine jewel in Colorado, offering expansive mountain playgrounds and a charming downtown. Our first night we dined at Chop House Restaurant located inside of the New Sheridan Hotel. Similar to Aspen, the restaurants can only operate at 50% capacity while adhering to social distancing guidelines. The ambience reminded me instantly of the Hotel Jerome with its western, authentic setting. We caught up and dished over tasty cocktails and incredible food, and it was the perfect way to start our mini vacation.

The Lumière Hotel served as our base camp for the impromptu visit. This hidden hotel gem is an intimate boutique hotel located in Mountain Village — about a three-minute walk to the free gondola. The 13-minute gondola ride connects the town of Telluride with Mountain Village, making it super easy to travel back and forth. With strict COVID-19 regulations in place, we of course wore our masks for the duration of the ride. Our room was cozy and luxurious and, admittedly, hard to leave at times. From the fine touches and the friendly staff, I was already yearning for a return visit before we had even checked out.

The next day, we wanted to get outside and soak up the luscious fall colors, so we decided to hike Bear Creek, a 5.1-mile, out-and-back trail that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. We were told by locals that this hike is a must when visiting Telluride and the views certainly did not disappoint. Full of aspen and pine groves, the trail looked like a yellow brick road as it boasted a blanket layer of golden glossy Aspen leaves the entire way.

That night, we ate at a restaurant called There… and it was definitely a trip highlight. I was a bit skeptical at first when I walked in and saw the small, intimate space with only about five tables that were spaced out, but from the moment I sat down, my experience was elevated. The food was served tapas style, and everything was meant to be shared. The wagyu cheesesteak steamed buns were so scrumptious that I ordered another round immediately upon finishing the first.

We instantly hit it off with our server and bartender — comparing stories of how we ended up in each of our mountain towns and even recognizing some mutual friends that we had in common. The conversation flowed easily, and the staff felt like instant friends. There… had a small-town tavern feel, mixed with a super funky Spanish twist. The night quickly took a turn after our second cocktail when our server invited us to a gathering down the street. We certainly were not expecting to have a big night, but our curiosity for what a local Telluride get-together would be like got the best of us.

About a block away, we followed our new friends to “the brown house,” which we later learned was a hub for local ski bums. To our surprise, the room was dark and quiet yet filled with a handful of people. We discovered a small group of friends bobbing up and down wearing masks, and headphones that glowed in the dark. It was a Tuesday night in the off-season, and we had just walked into a silent disco. That’s right, a socially distanced dance party was in full effect and we just happened to stumble in.

We were handed headphones and asked to stand 6 feet apart from the other partygoers, which was no more than 10 people. It was an instant good time from the moment the catchy tunes started booming through our eardrums. The locals who we quickly befriended were able to show us Telluride’s spirit in a way that tourists simply could not. Once the dancing started to subside, our new friends took us to an incredible rooftop location where we sat and gazed at the stars cuddled underneath a mountain of blankets until the late hours of the night.

It was here that I realized I was a big fan of Telluride and the local culture. Few places in the world rival the natural beauty and the unpretentious, comfortable small-town charm that this old mining town boasts. Convincing friends to travel from one mountain town to the next is not always easy — especially when it means leaving Aspen; however, I think it’s necessary sometimes to leave this luscious bubble that we call home and experience a new bubble every once in a while.


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