As you get ready for the long weekend, remember that traveling through Colorado is like traveling in no other state. Where else would you make a twelve-hour round trip for a two-mile hike? Or take a spur-of-the-moment drive along a scenic byway? Stopping at small towns, talking with the residents and trying out local coffee shops is part of the fun. So is popping in at the local dispensary.
Since you've got plenty of time over Labor Day, this is the ideal weekend for a long jaunt to the southwestern part of the state, which is not only filled with incredible scenery and old-time charm, but dispensaries that you won't find on Leafly or Weedmaps, where the conversation is easy and the flower might be grown right out back. Here are five finds along the way:
402 Palomino Trail, Ridgway
This family-owned and -operated dispensary on the Western Slope is super-comfortable, and you’ll feel right at home the minute you step in. Fiddler's aims to have the “highest quality cannabis, hash and edibles” in the area, and also offers great discounts. The prices aren't bad, and the hash was some of the best I've had. I tried a house blend of flower (it differs from time to time), and it was a really nice hybrid that perked me up with one puff before a hard hike.
Silverton Green Works
124 East 13th Street, Silverton
One of the attractions at Silverton Green Works is the art, works by artist Lynn Ellen Bean and photographer Stephen F. Rich. The overall aesthetic is rad: dive bar meets small-town art gallery meets coffee shop meets dispensary. The menu isn’t deep, but the store has a great product line and a WiFi strain that's definitely worth trying.
High Valley Retail Cannabis
60250 County Road 7, Moffat
High Valley Retail Cannabis was the San Luis Valley’s first recreational dispensary. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere in "downtown" Moffat, which makes finding it that much better, since it has a big menu and carries a variety of edibles, pipes, tinctures and more. The Salted Caramel Krispy Treats alone are worth the stop; so is the friendly service. When I asked if the flower was organic, the sole staffer answered, “You know, I’m not actually sure. Let me call our store manager and ask.” Then she phoned the manager, and I heard her learn that, yes, the flower is organic and also how it’s grown. When you ask the same question in Denver, you will usually hear, “Oh, that’s a loosely thrown-around term,” which means it isn't organic. Honesty and transparency count; it’s better to ask someone else than to act like you know, all you budtenders.
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Telluride Bud Company
135 South Spruce Street, Telluride
Everything about Telluride rules the school, including its dispensaries. There are actually four in the area, though you won't easily find them on a map or online. Locally owned Telluride Bud Company is all about “Recreational Marijuana With Rocky Mountain Roots,” and when you stop in, not only will you be greeted by good vibes and the smell of fresh flower, but you'll get tips on the best hikes and conditions on whatever terrain you might be exploring. This place knows its flower, its town and its surroundings, which makes you feel like you've found a hidden gem. Try the Arrowhead strain; it’s fantastic. Telluride Bud also has really great CBD strains for sore muscles after long Telluride days.
141 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs
As you hit the home stretch on the drive back to Denver, the super-popular Maggie’s Farm in Manitou Springs is a must-stop. This is the only location in the state where med and rec share the setup, and visiting is an interesting experience, almost like being in line at an airport. You go through four different rooms before you actually check out; keep your ID out, as each room will need to see it. What makes the lines, the rooms and the wait all worth it is the flower. Maggie's believes the best flower starts with the seed, not clones, then makes sure it goes into 100 percent organic and custom-blended soil instead of a large grow room. This makes for some of the best bud I’ve had. If you care about what you put into your body, let the budtender lead the way to cannabis heaven.