The Telluride trip was planned at the same time when we went to Jackson Hole in 2018. Because of the schedule and the pandemic, we didn’t got chance to make the trip until this year. Since it was the first time we traveled by air since the pandemic started, we were quite cautious and careful. In Colorado, although almost everyone in the airport and on the plane wore masks, in several local cities, there were few people wearing masks, and the attitude towards pandemic prevention really varies greatly from region to region.
Our flight left California in the morning, connecting in Denver and arriving in Montrose at almost 3 p.m. The view of the Rocky Mountains from the plane was spectacular, but there were not many areas covered with yellow trees. I was a little concerned that we were too early to see the fall colors.
Montrose is about an hour’s drive from Telluride. If you don’t want to drive yourself, there are shuttles take visitors to Telluride. We got a Chevrolet Equinox, which is an urban SUV, and actually cannot go off-road on the many mountain roads in Colorado.
It was intensely sunny outside. I guess it’s almost 80 degrees, and didn’t feel like fall at all. We bought some food and water at Walmart and officially set off.
10 more minutes drive after passing Ridgway, we arrived at Ouray. This area was inhabited by the Ute Indian tribe until the arrival of the Europeans. In 1861, with the discovery of gold mines, there was a gradual influx of foreigners. In 1876, the town of Ouray was officially established and named after the chief of the Ute tribe. For nearly 100 years after that, gold and silver mining was the main source of income for the local economy, although there were ups and downs due to the market and regulations. Some mining sites were still in operation even as late as 1990.
Around 1920, the downturn in the mining industry led the residents of Ouray to look for other ways to make a living. Ouray has been called the “Switzerland of America”, although it is an exaggeration, the natural beauty of the area made tourism a preferred alternative to mining. To attract tourists, Ouray began building a large public swimming pool in 1923, and to this day, the spa pool is a major tourist attraction in Ouray. Interestingly, when the pool was first built, the town claimed that it was the “most radioactive pool” in the United States. At that time, people thought that radioactivity was good for health, but today, this would scare everyone off.
Most of the existing buildings in Ouray were built in the 1880s to 1890s. We walked around the street, it was almost 6 o’clock, it was a bit late, many stores were already closed, only some souvenir stores and restaurants were still open. We chatted with the owner of a souvenir store for a while, he also loves photography and has a lot of his works for sale hanging on the wall of the store. He told us that the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton is a good place to see the fall colors, but the fall in Telluride comes later and the leaves are not yet yellow.
Drive back from Ouray and turn left at Ridgway, we were on our way to Telluride. The elevation rises gradually. Near the top of the mountain, to our left, it’s a meadow field extending to the majestic San Juan Mountains in the distance. I stopped to take a few photos on the side of the road and continued on. The place at the top of the mountain is called Dallas Divide, with the San Juan Mountains to the south and the Uncompahgre Plain to the north. It is the watershed between the Uncompahgre and San Miguel rivers. About one mile away from Dallas Divide, there is a viewpoint surrounded by mountains. Especially on the slow slopes of the San Juan Ridge, yellow aspen and red and brown shrubs are intermingled and colorful, with strong autumn colors overflowing. Many people took pictures here and waited for the sunset. I also lingered here for a long time until way after the sunset, before continuing on my way.
After another 40 minutes of driving through the dark valley, we finally arrived at Telluride. We had booked The Auberge Residences for our first night, which are actually private condominiums managed by a company that rents out all sizes of suites. We booked a suit with two roome, but the management couldn’t find our order. Eventually, the owner upgraded us to a two-story four-room suite. The room was very new and decorated like a model room, but unfortunately we were only staying for one night.
It was almost nine o’clock. We worried that the restaurant would be closed, so the hotel made sure that an Italian restaurant called Rustico was still open and drove us to the restaurant. The restaurant had both indoor and outdoor seating, and it was still crowded. We ordered a pasta and mushroom lamb carpaccio. The food tasted fine, but the service is awful and the waiter was impatient.
Returned to the hotel, we found that the shower faucet could not be turned off after turned on. We called the apartment plumber, thinking that no one would come because it was too late, but at midnight, the plumber did come. After almost half an hour and tried all sorts of means, the water was finally stopped. Overall, it was a smooth day with some hustles in the end.