A Guide to Colorado’s Best Kept Secret

Despite being home to some of the best resorts and outdoor opportunities Colorado has to offer, the Western Slope flies well under the radar.

Herb Lester

From Issue Four of Gear Patrol Magazine.
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The Western Slope, which covers all land west of the Continental Divide inside the Colorado border, is consistently overshadowed by the Front Range. Don’t trust the hype. The other side of the Rockies is an underpopulated gold mine. At the heart lies Grand Junction, its largest city, and the mesas, plains and mountains to the south and west of the oil-boom-and-bust town are well worth a long, slow road trip through.

Where to Eat & Drink

The Finest Western Colorado has to Offer


Bin 707 Foodbar (Pictured Above)
From the multitalented mind of engineer-turned-chef Josh Niernberg comes Grand Junction’s best restaurant, serving seasonal dishes sourced from local farmers alongside craft cocktails and an impressive selection of whiskeys and mezcals.

Location: 225 N 5th St #105, Grand Junction | Learn More: bin707.com

The Hot Tomato
Hands down the best pizza in the Western Slope. The Hot Tomato specializes in East Coast–style pizza and is just as good as its New York and New Jersey counterparts. Try the Badabing! or the Icarus.

Location: 124 N Mulberry St, Fuita | Learn More: hottomatocafe.com

If you thirst for craft cocktails and hunger for eclectic small bites, then this is your spot. Located at the top of West Pacific Avenue, the ornate tin ceiling and local vibe pair nicely with the Kobe kushiyaki and steamed crispy spicy duck buns.

Location: 627 W Pacific Ave, Telluride | Learn More: therebars.com

Ska Brewing Co.
Just outside of downtown Durango sits the area’s best brewery. Named for the genre of music, this large brewery pours tasty suds and serves up traditional bar fare.

Location: 225 Girard St, Durango | Learn More: skabrewing.com

Colterris Wines
Located in the Palisade wine region, Colterris makes some of the best Cab Franc in the region. The Overlook location has a great view of the surrounding area and features a tasting room offering pours of selected wines.

Location: 3907 N River Rd, Palisade | Learn More: colterris.com

The Last Dollar Saloon
Known locally as “The Buck,” the Last Dollar Saloon is Telluride’s version of a dive bar. It’s a popular après-ski spot where the drinks flow late into the night. Come for the $2 PBRs, stay for the $5 house margs.

Location: 100 E Colorado Ave, Telluride | Learn More: lastdollarsaloon.com

What to Do

See the Great Outdoors


Lunch Loops
Get your miles in on some of the best mountain bike trails in the Fruita/Grand Junction area. Be sure to take a rip on Gunny Loop, and be prepared for fast and flowing downhills with segments of rocky, technical terrain.

Location: Monument Rd, Grand Junction | Learn More: mtbproject.com

Over the Edge Sports
Need to get kitted up before hitting the trail? Stop by OTE in Fruita. They have everything you need, from local maps and bike rentals to Shot Bloks and energy gels to save your cramp-prone quads.

Location: 202 E Aspen Ave, Fruita | Learn More: otesports.com

Imogene Pass
If four-wheeled adventure is more your style, head up and over Imogene Pass. It’s the highest mountain pass in the San Juan Mountains and it pleases (or frightens) with steep drop-offs and rugged terrain. Four-wheel-drive is a must. Novice drivers, be warned.

Location: Imogene Pass Road, Telluride | Learn More: telluride.com

Where to Stay

Resorts of the Western Slope


The Leland House and Rochester Hotels
The best places to lay your head in Durango. The sister hotels are located in renovated historic buildings and offer a distinctly western feel. If nothing else, they are convenient spots to rest up for your Western Slope adventures.

Location: 726 E 2nd Ave, Durango | Learn More: rochesterhotel.com

Smith Fork Ranch
One part dude ranch, one part luxury resort. Quench your inner cowboy’s thirst for life on the range with horseback riding, clay shooting and fishing — all a stone’s throw from the property.

Location: 45362 Needle Rock Rd, Crawford | Learn More: smithforkranch.com

Dunton Hot Springs (Pictured Above)
Tucked away in the ghost town of Dunton, Dunton Hot Springs is the ideal restorative retreat. The resort is all-inclusive and blurs the line between backcountry glamping and all-out luxury. A moonlight dip in “the source” is not to be missed.

Location: 52068 Co Rd 38, Dolores | Learn More: duntonhotsprings.com

Gateway Canyons
For four-wheeled, high-speed adventure wrapped in luxury, head to Gateway Canyons. The resort offers a luxury car rental service,
a notable auto museum and UTV tours. After a day of burning fuel, Gateway’s spa is top-notch, and the food is some of the
best in the region.

Location: 43200 CO-141, Gateway | Learn More: gatewaycanyons.com

Read More in Gear Patrol Magazine

A version of this story appears in Gear Patrol Magazine: Issue Four, 320 pages of stories, reports, interviews and original photography across America. Now available. Subscribe Now: $39

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