Over 100 years ago, cowboys and wranglers ate at this table while their herds grazed nearby. On a recent night, at the same table, sat the drummer from a popular alternative rock group and his friends, a restaurateur turned vintner, hotel marketing executives, and a young ranch manager whose grass-fed beef was featured on the menu.
Originally a remote mining camp in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and later a cattle ranch, the town was deserted in 1918. Today, with log cabins in various sizes and shapes, Dunton Hot Springs still resembles its former self — at first glance, anyway. Inside the rustic buildings are extravagant furnishings, plush beds, and all the amenities expected in the most deluxe of hotels. Outside, Mother Nature provides lots to do depending on the season.
Guests enjoy horseback riding through the surrounding wilderness, fly fishing, river rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking, until winter changes the agenda to helicopter skiing, snow shoeing, ice climbing, or just relaxing in front of the fireplace. Delighting in the spectacular scenery is a year-round activity, and hot springs, both indoors and outdoors, invite guests to soak in perfect 103-degree, natural waters.
The Relais & Chateaux property’s commitment to sharing the beauty of its environment, its stirring history, and the authentic experience of its locale shows: Executive Chef Basil Yu creates menus based on local seasonal ingredients, sometimes surprising his guests with unique vegetables or foraged mushrooms. Grass-fed beef is served, purchased from a nearby ranch selected for its production methods: hormone and antibiotic-free growth in a stress-free environment along with feed consisting of various grasses, plants, and legumes. Sustainable fish and game are other menu options, and a variety of fresh produce is available for vegetarians. Wines from nearby Sutcliffe Vineyards are poured at the evening communal dinner. Private dining is offered as well.
A visit to cell phone-free Dunton Hot Springs (Wi-Fi is provided) is an opportunity to unplug and step into the history of the American West. Imagining the Native Americans, miners, ranchers, and families who first occupied Dunton adds to the appreciation of this uniquely preserved part of the country. Rooms start at about $600 in the winter and spring and $945 in the summer and fall.