Cool down with some Colorado fun
Ryan Summerlin June 30, 2012
Living in Colorado has its perks – with so many world-class attractions, why leave the state? Just hop in your car, pack a snack, and fill up your gas tank. Summer adventure is on the horizon.
Almost five hours in your car may seem excessive, but it’s totally worth it to visit Telluride. The stark contradiction between Telluride’s small-town appeal and the jagged, toothy peaks surrounding it brings people back again and again. This old mining settlement is nestled deeply in a narrow box canyon, and the views are reason enough to make the trip.The town and surrounding areas feature drastic weather contrasts, as well. Dress in layers, and bring a hat. It can (and will) snow there in June.A visit to Telluride isn’t just about the scenery, however. With numerous festivals and a formidable night life, a long-weekend visit can feature anything you want. There’s top dining, numerous outdoor recreation options, shopping, a variety of bars and lots of cultural events. Don’t forget to ride the gondola up to Mountain Village, home to Telluride Ski Resort and Telluride Golf Course.Do visit the Historic Sheridan Opera House or the New Sheridan’s Chop House for a steak and a drink. If you like barbecue and bourbon, Oak by the Gondola is your best bet. Also, don’t miss the hike up to Bridal Veil Falls. It’s at the far end of town, past the cemetery. At 365 feet tall, it’s said to be the tallest free-falling waterfall in the state.Room prices soar during festival and holiday weekends, however. And even with high prices, most hotels won’t have walk-in space during special events, so preplanning your trip is a must.Two more travel tips – request a room with a view (preferably with a balcony), and stay in town. If you’d rather wait to book a room, stop by the Telluride Visitor’s Center upon arrival. Its staff can direct you to last-minute deals.Carpooling as a group is also recommended, as town parking is limited. You won’t need to drive once you’re there.For more information about visiting Telluride, go to www.visittelluride.com.
With so many recreation options – such as hiking, biking, rafting, climbing and horse-back riding, to name a few – Ouray is another great pick for a weekend away. Known for its mountain scenery and seasonal wildflowers, a summer visit to Ouray is ideal. An ice-climbing mecca, it’s pretty dark and cold during winter months.Roughly four hours from Vail, leave early and you’ll be there for lunch. Visit the Ouray Brewery for its unique feel – it features three floors, food and craft brews right on Main Street.Planning on some exercise? Bring your bike, or plan a hike. And you should definitely pack a picnic snack to enjoy while appreciating Ouray’s natural beauty.According to the Ouray Chamber Resort Association, “the Box Canyon Waterfall & Park is Ouray’s natural wonder – formed when the rushing waters of Canyon Creek eroded a deep and narrow box canyon through fault-weakened limestone. The park’s short trails are easily accessible from the southwest corner of town. … The lower trail, an easy 500-foot hike via a walkway and suspension bridge, will lead you straight into the belly of the falls.”If you want to combine education with adventure, the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine Tour is just the ticket. Guided tours into a real silver and gold mine provide insight into Ouray’s rich history. An added bonus – temperatures inside mines are naturally cooler than outside. Visit www.bachelorsyracusemine.com for more info.If you like to soak, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool may be another fun stop. Its website says it’s open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. The slides run from noon to 6 p.m. Definitely call around to find ideal accommodations, or visit the Ouray Visitor’s Center website for trip tips at www.ouraycolorado.com.
Not afraid of the heat? Unaweep Canyon is the perfect spot for an exploratory day trip. About three hours from Vail, this canyon area features breathtaking desert scenery, a higher elevation (so, it may be slightly cooler than Grand Junction) and limited traffic flow. Don’t be surprised if you see caravans of college students studying rocks near the road. Unaweep boasts a landscape interesting to both scholars and scientists because of its geological formations and unique fossils. If you’re into rock climbing, check out local guides for a variety of routes in the area. Don’t forget to pack lots of water. It’s dry up there!According to the Bureau of Land Management website, Unaweep Canyon is found on the northern boundary of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. This BLM-managed area features 209,610 acres of land from Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties. “Red-rock canyons and sandstone bluffs hold geological and paleontological resources spanning 600 million years, as well as many cultural and historic sites,” the BLM website says. “Ute Tribes today consider these pinyon-juniper-covered lands an important connection to their ancestral past.”Unless you like camping, definitely reserve a hotel room in Grand Junction, Fruita, Palisade or Gateway. Los Altos Bed and Breakfast in the Redlands area of Grand Junction features panoramic views of the Grand Mesa. If you have the time, hop on Colorado’s Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway. The Colorado Department of Transportation says you can drive it in three hours. The 133-mile-long byway is made up of state Highways 141 and 145, and you can even take it as an extended drive on the way to Telluride or Ouray.
If you’ve caught “valley fever” but can’t get away, a trip to Frisco may cure your hankering for adventure.Marina access to Dillon Reservoir and hyper-local recreation opportunities create a unique family experience. And you can play there without visiting nearby resort towns, such as busier Breckenridge (unless you want to).Alpine views are an attractive feature of Frisco Bay Marina’s offerings. And for those without boats, the marina provides lots of rentals. According to the town of Frisco, you may canoe, kayak, power and sail boat, pending availability. The marina’s Island Grill, a popular location with local residents and visitors for sunset cocktails, also features a limited menu. A little history: Summit County’s Dillon Reservoir (or Lake Dillon) is managed by Denver Water, and the reservoir is also a main Front Range water source. The old town of Dillon was partially moved and then flooded with the construction of the Dillon Dam in the 1960s. Old town remnants are now deep beneath the water.Frisco’s Peninsula Recreation Area has a number of fun attractions, too – a disc-golf course, a skate park, hiking trails and a campground, to name a few. The newly constructed Frisco Adventure Park, featuring mostly winter activities, is also located on this stretch of land off state Highway 9.Places to eat are also plentiful. The Boatyard Grill features American-style family dining, and it’s easy on your wallet. If you love sushi, eat at Kemosabe on Main Street. Frisco also has Prost, its own tiny German beer hall right on the main drag.With so many specialty shops and a laid-back atmosphere, there’s great window-shopping options on Main Street, too. For more information about visiting Frisco, visit www.townoffrisco.com.