Our trip began September 26th, we flew from DFW to Montrose, Colorado. It is a very nice quick flight. Me and Adeline slept the whole way there. We rented a full size Suburban, which I was a little nervous about. I have never driven one before, I drive a 4 door Jeep. It’s a bit smaller, but the cameras and sensors on the SUV really helped out. We stopped by the Black Canyon Gunnison National park on our drive into Telluride. It is 31 miles from the Airport in Montorse and 2 hours from Telluride. The park is known for its incredibly narrow canyons, which were carved over millions of years by the Gunnison River cutting through ~1.7 billion year-old Precambrian metamorphic rock. The Black Canyon, so named because the walls are often shrouded in shadows making them appear black, has some of the world's oldest exposed rock. It was beautiful! We were disappointed that we couldn’t drive down unto the Canyon due to the roads being closed, but the view from the Rim still made it worth the drive. Adeline was also thankful for the sight seeing stops. We were excited that Montrose has a Walmart, so we could get her a walker for the room. The drive from Montrose into Telluride gradually gets more and more beautiful.
We stayed at The Peaks Resort and Spa. It is located in Mountain Village just a hop skip and gondola ride from Telluride. The weather was a little rainy, but amplified the relaxing feeling of being nestled into the mountains even more. We ate at The Peaks restaurant almost every time we ate, because the view and food were equally great. They have a gondola that takes you to and from Mountain Village unto Telluride. It’s about a 10 minute walk from The Peaks. It is the best gondola ride I’ve ever been on. We were even lucky enough to be there through a small snowfall, one of the first of the season. The yellow and orange trees against the snow cap mountains, makes the perfect picture. I felt like I was in a Calendar.
Telluride is just magnificent. The city is nestled in the valley, with the perfect view of the mountains. They have a wonderful park full of birds and wild life, in the middle of town. It’s the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen. They pride themselves on low light pollution. We had to use flash lights and it felt like you could see every star in the sky.
For our celebration night, we ate at Allred’s Restaurant which is located at the first stop on the Gondola ride. We met up with some family to celebrate their engagement and this was the perfect place. The view from Allred’s is wonderful at sunset, you get a great view of Mountain Village. The atmosphere and service is definitely 5 star. It is reservation only. I would suggest to bring a can of oxygen or buying one in Telluride for the ride, you get a little light headed up there.
We stayed at The Peaks for four nights, then headed to Durango. We stopped by Mesa Verde on the way. If you’re a height junkie like me, you’ll love driving around the bluff. The Mesa Verde National Park is home to numerous ruins of villages and dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloan peoples. They lived in the dwellings at Mesa Verde from approximately 600 to 1300 AD. There are over 4,000 archaeological sites and over 600 cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people at the site. It is amazing to see what looks look a small hole in the cliff wall with little buildings, but is actually quiet large. There are 150 homes in the Cliff Palace.
They close the cliff dwelling tours at 2p.m. Which we were unaware of. We were disappointed that we missed the tours, but thankful for the sun when it shone through the clouds. It is really amazing when the sun hits the cliff dwellings, as you will see through my pictures. If you’re in this area, you should definitely check it out, it is worth the drive.
Durango is a different pace then Telluride. There is quiet a bit of traffic and it is a very busy city. We stayed at The Double Tree Hilton, in a room with a balcony facing the creek. It was beautiful, but the highway is on the other side of the creek so it could get pretty loud at times. I would stay there again, but is something to be aware of. We stayed there one night, then drove onto Santa Fe, New Mexico. The drive from Telluride to Santa Fe, is one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever driven.
My advice from this adventure, would be to call the National Parks you want to visit and make sure the whole park is open to the public. Also, if you’re wanting to Tour Mesa Verde’s Cliff Dwellings call ahead and get all the current information As you plan your trip.
Part 2, Albuquerque.