A Horse Walked Into the Saloon: Only in Telluride



I was sipping a Fat Tire draft beer when a horse walked into the saloon. I gawked. The locals looked up briefly and went back to their drinks.

Only in Telluride…..

The altitude was 9,000 feet and I was taking a break from writing a travel story about a travel show. Dave Eckert of Culinary Travels was in Telluride, Colorado to tape a program for PBS. The show provides a quick snapshot of a destination including what to do, where to stay and where to eat. As is the case for many resort areas, chefs and restauranteurs are drawn to the locale. That explains why a small town like Telluride is a foodie’s delight. I was fortunate enough to shadow Eckert and his crew for the filming, including the tough assignment of eating at three of Telluride’s finest restaurants: the Chop House in the New Sheridan Hotel, Allred’s and Harmon’s. Talk about dedication to one’s work! The production team filmed for two full days, eventually providing 240 “raw” minutes of takes that are ultimately pared down to a thirty minute segment. The procedure is fascinating. After the footage is reviewed, a script is written to supplement the taped interviews and the final edit completed. It is a time consuming and arduous process.

Telluride, a historic western mining town, is located in southwestern Colorado, resting in a valley surrounded by the 12,000′ to 14,000′ peaks of the San Juan Range of the Rocky Mountains. First populated in 1890, it experienced a boom through the early years of the century and then died. Its rebirth began in the 1970s when the ski resort opened. Its growth continues today.

I stayed at the New Sheridan Hotel. Centrally located on the main street, the hotel is close to shops, restaurants, book stores and is a short two blocks from the ski lift. The name has an interesting history. The original Sheridan Hotel burned down in the early 1890s and its replacement was built in 1895, thus the “New” in the name. The thirty-two room boutique charmer has been completely remodeled and is cozy and guest friendly. The rate includes a full, cooked-to-order breakfast and an open pantry with sodas and juices. Coffee, hot chocolate, cider, and tea, along with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies are also free. The cozy library features a fireplace and a computer for guest use. A “pillow library” adds another nice touch. My room had a jetted tub and all have data ports, cable TV, robes and all of the amenities of an upscale hotel. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Rates are reasonable and seasonal. There are eight rooms with shared club style bathrooms that are downright inexpensive. Don’t miss the rooftop hot tubs.

But now, back to the horse in the saloon. Roudy Roudebusch is a local legend in Telluride. Several times a year he moseys into town, points his horse through the New Sheridan Bar’s swinging doors, rides up to the bar and orders a drink. He then turns the horse around, rides back out through the swinging doors, down the steps, onto the street and trots off. It is quite an experience to share bar space with a horse! Roudy is breaking in two new horses, Golly Gee and Pal. His long time equestrian sidekick, Cindy, died recently in a bizarre fashion. The horse was killed at pasture during a storm when she was hit by lightening.

Only in Telluride…..

Travel Information:

The Telluride airport is at the highest altitude of any airport in North America. The scenery is breathtaking and as, you can imagine, this is a very serious ski destination. Prospect Bowl, 733 acres of terrain, nearly doubling the size of the mountain, made its grand debut in 2001/2002. Three high-speed quads in Prospect Bowl access a diversity of terrain, ideal for all ability levels. Shopping is fun, with an array of eclectic boutiques and antique and book stores. This is not a one season resort town. There is hiking, fishing, golf, kayaking and rafting available throughout the year.

The New Sheridan Hotel can be found online at www.newsheridan.com. Add your name to their email list for future information. Check the website calendar for events, activities and specials throughout the year. The hotel can also be reached at 1-800-200-1891. Incidentally, the New Sheridan Bar is one the oldest in Colorado.

Look for a copy of the magazine Dining Out in Telluride, available all around town. There are dozens of very good restaurants. Here are a two recommendations for inexpensive, good food. For lunch or dinner, try Fat Alley BBQ. Don’t miss the brisket and sweet potato fries. Another favorite of mine is Wildflour, specializing in homemade soups and oversized sandwiches. And, of course, do not overlook Dave Eckert’s top picks: the Chop House, Allred’s and Harmon’s.

Dave Eckert tapes twenty-six half hour episodes yearly for PBS. Culinary Travels also appears in-flight on US Air, Delta and Northwest. Contact your local PBS station for the schedule. His website can be found at www.culinarytravels.com.

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