Day 4 – Palisade to Telluride
This morning we are on the road to Telluride from Palisade. Even though the distance is under 100 miles, the road to get there is only two lane highways filled with rolling hills, valleys, and lots of turns, making the drive time close to three hours. But before we leave Palisade we have two quick stops. The first is Herman’s Peach Stand. Anyone from Colorado knows that Palisade Peaches are some of the sweetest and juiciest you’ll ever have, and they are only available in late August and early September. This delightful stand featured dozens of peaches, as well as pears, watermelons, and other fine fruits. They also showcased a wide variety of jellies, jams, syrups, preserves, and salsa featuring their peaches. If you’re ever passing through Palisades make sure to stop off the highway and drive a couple blocks south of the exit to find the best produce stand in the town.
The other stop we made was at the Meadery of the Rockies. Mead is a drink quite similar to wine, except it is honey based and the fermentation process is a little different. Most meads are much sweeter than wines and typically have a higher alcohol content by volume. While at the meadery my father and I sampled five of their dozen or so meads, starting with driest to sweetest. The first was Lancelot, a dry mead that gives a honey aroma but packs the punch of smoke and beeswax flavor to the palate. The flavor certainly lingers and is a little much to be served with dinner. It’s too dry for dessert, and much to bitter to enjoy with dinner, so you might as well buy a nice white wine instead. However, the Camelot mead, which isn’t quite a dessert beverage features caramel and butterscotch aroma while maintaining its light body and taste of honey with hints of jasmine, a much better buy in my opinion. The next two meads are from their Fruit n’ Honey Collection, pairing wonderful Palisade fruits with honey based mead. The obvious first choice is Peaches n’ Honey, which tastes exactly as it sounds. It comes on sweet but ends with a lingering taste of peachy cream. Next up is the Cherries n’ Honey, which starts off tart like a dark cherry, but soon transitions to the sweetness of the honey while providing a clean finish. This rose bodied drink was my overall favorite from the five I sampled. Finally, this meadery features three dessert meads that truly feel like your drinking dessert. I sampled the Raspberry Chocolate Satin, which begins sweet and fruity, but has the undertones of a rich, almost bitter chocolate. The two complement each other well without overpowering your tongue.
Well, with that behind us my family and I hit the road South towards Telluride. The drive was simple enough, but very plain as I watched vineyards and orchards give way to desert and mesas which eventually gave way to aspens and mountains in no time. There are several small towns we passed through, such as Delta, Montrose and Ridgeway, each boasting their own claims to fame. However, the real fun came as we creeped up on the backside of Telluride, getting a gorgeous view of its mountain range. Telluride is an interesting town as it sits at the very end of a long box canyon, essentially nature’s cul-de-sac. In order to drive in from the north we had to drive around this mountain range and back up through the canyon valley. Things were going well until halfway up the valley when a freak torrential downpour occurred! It created standing pools of water on the road and a fierce thundering of rain on the roof of the car. But, in the blink of an eye we were on the other side with dry pavement and sunny skies. (Gotta love that Colorado weather)
The town of Telluride really harkens back to a simpler time. The town is quite small and prominently features the shops and restaurants along their main street. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Telluride to take advantage of their ample hiking, mountain biking, and 4×4 trails. (Not to mention their skiing). After stopping for lunch at Smuggler’s Brewpub, (try the Wildcat Wheat, especially if you’re a fan of Boulder Beer’s Pale Ale), my family and I suited up to trek up to Bridal Veil Falls.
The most iconic of all trail routes in Telluride, this hike features two massive cascading waterfalls that help run a generator for the town during the summer. The road up to the falls is well maintained and can be traversed so long as you have a high clearance vehicle, 4×4 drive, and a steady hand. Since we didn’t have that at our disposal we opted to hike the 1.2 miles up to the base of the falls. Vehicles and hikers alike can continue up to the power house above the falls where several other trailheads begin. However, with the spectacular views of Telluride and the canyon walls from the road below there was no need to hike any higher. The waterfalls are a sight to behold, towering down from the rock face. After a warm hike in the sun the cool breeze and light mist that comes from the water rushing over the rocks is a welcome relief. All of us were delighted to scamper across the rocks to get as close to the falls as we could, taking memorable photos and making memories scaling loose rocks along the way.
After coming back down we decided to get an eagle eye view of the town by making our way to the Telluride Ski Resort and Mountain Village. Though the ski resort and mountain village is based on the other side of the ridge from the town, there is a handy FREE gondola that connects the two. This gondola whisks you up and over the main peak of Telluride, offering a one of a kind view down the valley. Once in the mountain village you’ll be met by a European themed master plan of towering hotels, restaurants, and shops. All are connected through massive squares and plazas, all brick paved and populated by outdoor furniture. In the winter this seems like a vacationing skier’s paradise with the amount of offerings all at the base of the mountain. That being said, it does give off the Disney vibe for ski resorts, featuring over the top sized hotels with a uniform European theme, all featuring fo-stone and timber work. If you want to really get the authentic mountain experience it’s time to head back over to the town of Telluride.
For dinner we strolled the main street, enjoying the sunset down the box canyon walls and taking in the beautiful simplicity of a small town’s turnout on main street. As opposed to Aspen there were fewer cars on the road and the people were very social as they went from shop to shop. Of the many dinner options available we ended up at La Cocina de Luz. This mexican restaurant is laid back and relaxed with order service and plenty of seat your self space, both indoors and out. But don’t be fooled, the service is top-notch and the food was to die for. Clearly they have passion for Mexican cuisine as there were many entrees and beverages unique to the restaurant. Everything from their daily specials, to the limeade and hibiscus ice tea, to the salsas and margaritas available. Even though I ordered a traditional dish of carne asada enchiladas, the rice and roasted vegetables sides were something I didn’t see coming. Perfectly seasoned and just the right balance for the red chili salsa, this plate was a great cap to dinner.
Posted on August 24, 2011, in Colorado Road Trip and tagged Bridal Veil Falls, canyon, Colorado, Herman, mainstreet, mead, Meadery of the Rockies, mountains, Palisade, Peaches, Telluride. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.