Anyone who’s trekked through 2 feet of snow in freezing temperatures to get to a backcountry hut in Colorado can tell you what an adventure winter lodging here can be.
For everyone else, there are these much easier to approach cabins, chalets and lodge retreats.
They’re located from Estes Park to Pagosa Springs and scattered around the mountains in between. They offer winter activities like tubing and snowshoeing on-site. They feature saunas, wood fireplaces and hot tubs or springs nearby for a warming soak. A few are more rustic, while others feel downright extravagant for a “cabin” in the woods.
And even though you can drive right to their front stoops, these destinations during Colorado’s winter are no joke. Some may get snowed-in, or require four-wheel drive. As Flying Moon Cabins owners Lindsay and Alex Dalton tell their guests, bring plenty of food, dress accordingly and buy travel insurance in case winter plans change.
Other than that, get ready to start the kettle and stack the firewood. Here are six places to book for an off-the-beaten path winter mountain escape. It’s about to get cozy in these parts.
Flying Moon Cabins
Where: 7 miles southwest of Idaho Springs along Chicago Creek
What they’re like: Expect analog everything with just-strong-enough Wi-Fi for any pressing work that needs to get done. Otherwise, it’s screen-free time inside these midcentury-era cabins outfitted with furnishings and decor plucked straight from the ’70s. Each of the four units features a record player and a small sampling of vinyl (think John Prine, Carole King) from the owners’ own collection. And aside from the tastefully updated bathrooms, it’s all about vintage floral sofas, mustard-yellow kitchen appliances and wood paneling galore, plus plenty of used books and knickknacks to explore while settling in. Outside, there are nooks to discover along the creek (when the snow hasn’t covered them), and paths to follow into the woods.
Best winter amenity: All of the cabins are well-insulated and well-heated, and they offer full stoves and ovens for cooking meals. The White Rabbit comes with a private sauna in a converted shed just a few steps from its front door.
Cost: Starting at $125 a night for The Cardinal, The Canyon Rose and The Wild Iris, or $140 for The White Rabbit. Note that while dogs are allowed for an extra fee, children are not. Adults only, please. Book at flyingmooncabins.com.
Where: 28 miles east of Basalt along the Fryingpan River, in the former Diamond J Lodge
What it’s like: Beyul is a wilderness sanctuary about an hour from Aspen but much further still in terms of truly disconnecting. The drive out Frying Pan Road is epic for those who have never seen this part of the state, complete with red rocks framing the valley, then opening up to the 1,000-acre Ruedi Reservoir whose views punctuate the trip. Once you’re through the property gates, the real fun begins with room for hiking and exploration, art to discover in nature (from visiting artists in residence; see also regular live music and themed retreats) and then 11 secluded cabins, plus eight main lodge rooms to bunk in for the night.
Best winter amenity: Gas fireplaces heat the cabins, and a communal sauna and hot tub are located at the center of the property for guests. While there are no grocery stores or restaurants within 30 minutes, the main lodge stocks a small pantry of drinks and dry goods that can be prepared in basic kitchens on-site.
Cost: Starting at $99 a night for a lodge room and up to $499 for the largest, 12-person cabin. Book at beyulretreat.com.
Where: 8 miles southwest of Pagosa Springs
What it’s like: This earth home got a big bump in business after being featured on Netflix’s “World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals” over the summer. The place is set on 7 acres, surrounded by San Juan National Forest, with access by car to the less-trodden Wolf Creek and Purgatory ski areas. Unlike just about any other property, Wonder Haus can feel entirely snowed-in (and largely underground) once winter hits. It’s heated with passive solar energy, which means temperatures are constant and cool inside. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of blankets and spots to cozy up. Just don’t get too settled indoors, because there’s a third-story observation tower for gazing up at the stars.
Best winter amenity: An epic center fireplace in the great room to gather around at night, space for snowshoeing and sledding, and Pagosa’s geothermal hot springs just a few miles up the road.
Cost: $400-$500 a night. Book on Airbnb at tinyurl.com/dvn7x38w.
Where: A mile outside of downtown Boulder, nestled at the foot of the Flatirons.
What it’s like: This 123-year-old National Historic Landmark combines the best of its original summer-camp setting with modern upgrades and remodels that make it comfortable year-round. Nearly 60 cabins are dispersed across the property, which also includes two lodges, a dining hall, general store and concert venue. And all of this comes steps away from 40 miles of Boulder’s best hiking trails. Once indoors, the century-old structures have been filled with craftsman furniture pieces, Smeg refrigerators and rocking chairs. The newest, Mary H. Galey cottage, sleeps up to 12 with two wet bars to stock with warming drinks, one grand piano and a stone fireplace.
Best winter amenity: Concerts, talks and activities all season long, with a special WinterFest (think holiday market, sleigh rides) just before the holidays.
Cost: Around $250 a night for studio cabins and up to $1,000 a night for the 12-person Mary H. Galey house. Book at chautauqua.com.
C Lazy U Ranch
Where: 7 miles north of Granby near the Willow Creek Reservoir
What it’s like: A luxury, all-inclusive dude ranch resort that goes all-out in winter with ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and trail riding throughout the season. This is the cabin trip for the couple or family who wants everything taken care of and options for everyone to enjoy wintertime on the ranch. The cabins are Western-luxe, the dining room is a wooded lodge serving up aged beef, rack of lamb and wine pairings to boot. And outside, there are fire pits for cozying up at night and groomed trails for bundled-up horseback riding during the day.
Best winter amenity: The spa experience (massages, facials) is not to be missed — it’s typically located in a glamping-style setup alongside Willow Creek but moves indoors in the colder weather.
Cost: Starting at $410 a night for adults and $200 a night for children (includes accommodations, three gourmet meals daily and ranch activities). Book at clazyu.com.
The Lodge at Stanley
Where: Located on the grounds of The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park
What it’s like: Built in 1910 next door to the historic Stanley hotel, this colonial-style manor house was originally used as a gentlemen’s lodge (see: wayward bachelor pad). Now it’s a handsome boutique option for all travelers to The Stanley, complete with a lobby-side living room featuring oversized leather couches and a fireplace. There are upstairs lounges, too, to sit with a book and coffee and enjoy the views of Rocky Mountain National Park. And a grand staircase makes for a good backdrop as you live out your dead-of-winter “The Shining” dreams.
Best winter amenity: You really have everything you need onsite at The Stanley, from the old-school bar serving a huge selection of whiskeys, to the new Post Chicken & Beer serving comfort foods like thigh fries alongside warming house IPAs, lagers and pilsners.
Cost: Around $319-$399 for a Lodge room during the winter season. Book at stanleyhotel.com.
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