History, Scenery and a Foodie’s Paradise at the Rochester Hotel and Leland House
The best reason to stop in Durango, Colo. on your way to Mesa Verde National Park
There are many reasons to stop in Durango, Colo.
Perhaps, you’re on your way to Mesa Verde National Park to explore ancient ruins. Maybe, you came for the stunning scenery. It might have been the promise of more restaurants per capita than San Francisco that drew you in. Whatever the reason, know this:
“Everyone’s welcome here,” shares Rochester Hotel owner Kirk Komick. “There’s such a sense of community.” He pauses for a brief moment. “Unless you’re here to show off your Mercedes. Then, you should probably keep driving. But if you’re content with a Subaru, you’ll fit right in here.”
There’s no better place to base your trip to Durango than one of Komick’s two properties: the Leland House or the Rochester Hotel.
At the Leland House, you’ll find I Love Lucy style apartments with kitchens. These historic B&B-themed accommodations will give you a home away from home while on vacation or business.
Across the street, the Rochester Hotel is themed after 15 of the most popular Western movies filmed in Durango. The beautiful scenery and iconic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad have attracted film crews from movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.
The Rochester Hotel wasn’t always a beacon of history and charm. In the ‘90s, when Komick and his mother, Diane Wildfang, moved to Durango to renovate the Leland House, the Rochester was in disrepair. They watched the old building for years, hoping that an inspired individual would purchase it and help it live up to its potential.
That never happened, so Komick and his mother decided to take it upon themselves. In partnership with local Fort Lewis College theatre department, they transformed the building into a haunted house and raised more than $10,000 for local charities. It gave them the exposure they needed to turn it into what it is today: a great place to relax and enjoy the vibrant town of Durango, and a walk back in time thanks to Diane’s husband, history writer Frederic Wildfang.
Today, 2nd Avenue, where the Rochester and Leland House sit, has become its own district of Durango. Head to the Cyprus Cafe, located in an old Victorian for healthy and fresh Mediterranean fare with a sustainable twist. The beautiful patio boasts live music and there are always friendly dogs eager to be pet.
Make sure to stop by Bookcase and the Barber, a used-bookstore-turned-barber shop. Before showing up, you’ll want to go to the website at www.bookcaseandbarber.com to find the ever-changing secret password. Tell it to one of the barbers and the bookshelves will reveal a hidden speakeasy. There, you can order cocktails themed after classic authors. Komick suggests the Hemingway Part 2, a blend of absinthe, agave and Prosecco.
While you’ll feel refreshed and off the beaten path staying away from Durango’s main drag, you’re still just a short distance from the shops, restaurants and attractions in town like the famous railroad.
Take a stroll, or borrow one of the Rochester’s cruiser bikes to go explore town and the seven miles of paved riverside Animas River Trail that will let you explore the area’s stunning scenery.
“Many of our guests haven’t been on a bike in years,” says Komick. “You definitely won’t forget Durango after spending a day on a bike here.”
After a long day of exploring, head back to the Rochester Hotel Secret Garden. Shaded by 100-year-old silver leaf maples, you can experience the state’s music scene during the hotel’s summer fundraiser concert series. Sip on signature cocktails and try the specialty grilled cheese, made with mushrooms and Colorado’s famous green chiles. Concerts are every Wednesday late June through late August starting at 5 p.m.
For more information and to make a reservation, visit www.rochesterhotel.com.