Interestingly, Delta, Colorado is almost directly in the middle of two extremely wealthy mountain towns. They’re about two hours from Telluride and two and a half hours from Aspen, and so we visited both during our trip. The other cute small town recommendation out here is Ouray, which, honestly, I’m still not quite sure how to pronounce.
Let’s start with Telluride! I’ve wanted to go here for ages, but it is so far out of the way from almost everything else in Colorado that I’d never gotten the chance. They had some fun with their COVID posters, as you can see below. Overall, beautiful scenery, a great town to walk around in, and we spotted some fun restaurants – I would have loved to be here in a non-pandemic time to eat in some of those restaurants, but alas. Takeout will have to do for now. If we’d had more time there, I also understand there are some scenic hikes nearby.
Moving on to Aspen, which is probably about 4.5 hours total in the opposite direction. I have been to Aspen before, when I was little. My family went to a wedding out here once. What I remember from that is that the aspen trees were all that bright yellow color, and my parents and I watched the original Charlie’s Angels TV show the night before the wedding and when we woke up we found traces of a bear nearby. Obviously our little day trip was a little different. Sam and I wandered around the city center, ate on the patio of a café, and then found a path through the trees that we walked along for a while. It’s even more gorgeous that I remember there.
Our third featured mountain town is Ouray! This one was a recommendation from our Airbnb host. It’s not quite as glitzy as the others, but it was charming. If we’d had more time, we might have gone beyond it, because apparently there is a very beautiful mountain road that leads to more cute and historic old mountain towns.
I think the night coming back from Ouray was the night of the deer. We saw so many. I don’t know if you’ve read The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones, which is a deer-related horror novel, but it felt a little like that. Several passed in front of the car that we could see, and we were terrified we were going to hit one. The worst, though, was when we came up over a small hill and I found myself looking directly into the eyes of a deer that was contemplating whether it should cross the street. I stared straight into its soul, I think, and it was just me and the deer for a few seconds before I finally managed to say something to alert Sam to its presence. Luckily for both the deer and our car, it stayed on the side of the road.
On the subject of rural life, I’d like to take a minute to note the advantages of our farm stay. The place we were staying had a herd of cows, horses that regularly wore jackets for the cold, chickens, and goats of both the fainting and non fainting variety. Some days we would go out to wander around their various pens, and we even got the chance to feed some of the animals while we were there! I love being in a city most of the time, but it was really great to get away from it all and wake up to cows mooing in a field. We used to joke they had some sort of daily standup meeting because they would all congregate in one area and moo at a specific time each morning.
All in all, I cannot stress enough how underrated southwestern Colorado is. It was never really on my list, but when COVID shifted my travel plans to be closer to home and pushed me to look at places for outdoor-focused road trips, it created new options of places to visit. I’m so glad we took a chance on Delta and had the time to really explore the region.