Just above Telluride as the crow flies, an eight-mile gravel road winds through aspen and spruce groves, ascending into blissful Rocky Mountain solitude. Tucked snugly in its own valley at the end of that road is Dunton Hot Springs Resort. This 800-acre escape is hard to find and even harder to leave, which is precisely why it draws the likes of Willie Nelson and Jack Nicholson.
Founded in 1895 as a base camp for miners and trappers, the ghost town has been transformed into a luxuriously rustic retreat. Today it contains 10 guest cabins, all appointed with down comforters, towel warmers, fireplaces and full kitchens. There's also a main lodge with a saloon and dance hall, a library that houses classic literature and historic documents from the area, a bathhouse, tepees and an open-air chapel.
Because the resort is built on a geothermal outlet, visitors to Dunton can wash away aches with a soak in one of the several hot springs and in the original bathhouse, the resort's gem. Its pool emits an orange steam that bathes the house in a sweet, warm mist of natural minerals¿just the ticket after a long summer hike among the awesome San Juan mountains that stand sentinel over Dunton's valley. In winter, heliski trips take guests to 13,000 feet for a "powder infinito" experience.
While you can count on the bathhouse to soothe your aching muscles, rely on resident chef John Skinner to pacify your grumbling stomach. His passion for food will become yours when you wake to the sweet flavor of his fresh fruit crepes or relax into an evening beef tenderloin feast followed by a ricotta cheesecake.
Details: One cabin or the entire town of 10 cabins can be rented out. Prices start at $250 per person and include three meals a day. Contact: 970-882-4800, or visit www.duntonhotsprings.com.