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On Walkabout In: Cuchara, Colorado

Basic Information

Narrative

The small mountain village of Cuchara located in the Culebra Range of southern Colorado is a place that my wife and I liked to escape to occasionally on a weekend.  This small village has seen better days before the Cuchara Ski Resort closed a few years ago, but it is still a lovely place to visit.  The village is situated in a beautiful alpine valley at an altitude of 8,468 feet (2,581 m):


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Cuchara is surrounded by the San Isabel National Forest which offers plenty of fishing and hiking opportunities which is something my family enjoys doing.  The village is also located off of Colorado State Highway 12 which is a popular auto tour route in the area called the Scenic Highway of Legends due to the areas Native-American, pioneer, and mining past.  The name Cuchara is Spanish for “spoon” due to the shape of the valley being like a spoon.  This below picture taken from the Cordova Pass Lookout shows the Cuchara Valley where the village is located.  The village is located on the opposite side of the rock wall:

The Cuchara area has many rock walls called dikes that were pushed to the surface by the volcanic activity that created the Spanish Peaks.  Here is the view panning towards the left of the Culebra Range which is subrange of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains that tower over Cuchara:

We recently stayed in Cuchara as a place to use as base to climb up the West Spanish Peak.  You can read about my hike up the West Spanish Peak at the below link:

The place my wife and I stayed at on our recent trip to Cuchara is the Aspen Leaf Village located at the old ski resort:

The condos at this site are all privately owned and various rental agencies rent them out for the owners.  Using a rental agency in nearby La Veta we reserved one of these condos.  From the Aspen Leaf Village we had a great view of the mountain I came to Cuchara to climb up, the West Spanish Peak:

The western face of the West Spanish Peak is its most steep side, so this made the mountain appear to be even more impressive than it already is from Cuchara.  Something else nice about staying at the old ski resort was the fact that we regularly saw deer wandering around the resort:

The actual village of Cuchara is located less than a 5 minute drive from the old ski resort.  The village is composed of a few wooden buildings that house a few restaurants, gift stores, coffee shops, real estate offices, etc.:

The Rio Cucharas River flows through the middle of the village:

Back when the ski resort was open this village was quite busy during the winter months, but now a days the village sees the majority of its business during the summer months from people like me who come up here to get away from the city for a weekend.  Interestingly one business in Cuchara does have a bit of notoriety which is the Dog Bar & Grill:

The Denver Post considered the Dog Bar as one of its 12 best outdoor patios in Colorado.  Every time we come to Chuchara my wife and I stop at the Dog Bar, sit on the patio, and order something to eat.  We tend to end up striking up conversations with other people out on the patio which just further adds to the friendly atmosphere of the place.  My wife and I also stop to eat at the more expensive Timbers Restaurant across the street from the Dog Bar:

The food at Timbers is twice as expensive as the Dog Bar, but it also twice as tasty.  Here is a picture of the deep fried peppers we like to order as a appetizer:

Here is a picture of the lamb dish that my wife ordered the last time we were there:

It looked a bit overcooked but actually tasted great.  The salmon dish I ordered also tasted great and I highly recommend it:

The service at the restaurant was also excellent so even though it is expensive you get what you pay for.

Conclusion

Overall Cuchara may not be for everyone because it is not a high end mountain escape like Breckenridge and some of the other more popular mountain villages in Colorado.  Cuchara is a very low key, off the beaten path type of destination that my wife and I prefer.  The Cuchara Valley is absolutely gorgeous and spending a weekend in the village is very affordable.  So for anyone looking to spend a weekend exploring the Spanish Peaks Wilderness or the Culebra Range this is a great place to stay.

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