By Anna Skorczeski, Travel Correspondent
Southwestern-Style Inn Near Picturesque Mesas
Mountain lions are known to prowl the foothills of Golden, Colorado, but nonetheless, the furry form lurking in the periphery comes as something of a surprise. From the Table Mountain Inn's front desk, it looks like it could be stalking something: head down, left front paw extended, black-tipped tail seemingly stopped mid-twitch. But the cat is no threat. Rather, frozen in taxidermied immortality in the lobby, it’s an exotic extension of the southwestern aesthetic established by the hotel’s pinkish fauxdobe exterior and glazed ochre tiles.
Spacious grand king rooms, which make up one portion of the hotel’s 74 guest rooms, continue the motif with Native American patterns on pillowcases and bed skirts, punched-metal light-switch covers, and TV cabinets with crackled-paint finishes. From each room’s attached patio or balcony, the region’s famous topography can be seen sloping skyward. The in-room wet bar includes two complimentary bottles of Crystal Geyser water to keep travelers hydrated for high-altitude hopscotch matches. Downstairs at the Table Mountain Inn Grill & Cantina, servers in bolo ties dish out southwestern fare such as creamy green-chili mac 'n' cheese, and two daily happy hours offer twice the opportunity to sample jumbo Honcho Mesa margaritas.
Golden, Colorado: Outdoor Adventures and Prominent Potables
Year after year, Colorado is found to have one of the country’s slimmest populations, and Golden’s geography—sandwiched between the Table Mountains and Lookout Mountain—suggests why with its abundant opportunities for hiking, biking, and skiing. Kate Taylor at the hotel's front desk happily hands out printed directions, complete with rattlesnake warning, for climbing Castle Rock, the storied formation jutting above the area's southerly mesa.
Dozens of ski resorts also dot the Rocky Mountain foothills west of Golden, but skiers and snowboarders need only venture 45 minutes by car to reach Echo Mountain, a purist’s operation that swaps luxury lodges for affordable daily lift tickets, short lines, and free parking. The resort's night skiing draws workaday couples and athletic raccoons alike.