A Cabin in the Pines

We love the idea of getting away to a remote cottage in Colorado's high country. Yet, more often than not, that "sweet little rustic retreat" you rented online turns out to be a dusty, cold, bare-bones log dwelling with a tattered plaid sofa and animal heads on the walls. Truth is: It's just not that easy to find weekend escape-worthy cabins on your own. Which is why we've done it for you. Throughout Colorado, we found resorts that offer cozy, romantic, well-appointed cabins. If fluffy down comforters, rough-hewn furniture, and quiet nights by the fire are what you seek, we have a cabin for you.

November 2008

Blue Lake Ranch
Individual accommodations with a bed-and-breakfast twist.

Late for our check-in, we are speeding down Main Avenue in Durango. My husband and I are stressed; work has been relentless, and life has flung a few curveballs of late. We desperately need a getaway.

Which is why we've chosen to sojourn into the woods at Blue Lake Ranch's serene Cabin on the Lake. With a picnic and bottle of Beaujolais in tow, we are resolved to settle our lives into quietude for the next 24 hours.

The Cabin on the Lake, Blue Lake's only genuine cabin, sits in repose on the banks of a three-acre lake with sweeping views of the La Plata Mountains. Built 25 years ago from locally hewn ponderosa pine, the log cabin's design and decor is part Swiss Alps, part American Indian. We toss our bags in the master bedroom, and within moments head down to the cabin's private dock for a quick look around. Bare cottonwoods tower above us, their branches swaying in the winter wind. The lake, frozen solid with a light dusting of snow, sparkles in the high-altitude sun. I could sit here for hours soaking up the scenery, but the chill in the air changes my mind.

Hunger pangs draw us back to the cabin and into the kitchen. Relaxing at the dining table with the feast we'd packed, I ask, "What do we do now?" Darren answers, "This is it."

The in-room guestbook suggests activities like cross-country skiing on local trails, taking a sled dog tour, and downhill skiing at nearby Durango Mountain Resort. But we're here to relax and unwind. We lie on the king-size bed under the cozy down comforter, reading and listening to the fire crackling in the fireplace until sleep overtakes us.

The morning sun streams through the cabin's many windows, waking us in time for breakfast. We follow the short path to the main lodge for an impressive spread set out by Brazilian expat/chef Jackie Crawford. We tuck into vegetable frittatas, pork tamales, and an array of fresh fruit.

As we enjoy the last of our coffee, a towering, gray-haired gentleman wanders to our tableside. "What are you doing today?" asks David Alford, who we quickly realize is the owner of Blue Lake Ranch. With a heavy sigh, we answer that we must head back home—and back to work. "One day is not enough," he says. We nod in agreement. —Erinn Morgan

Special Touch The perfect spots for reading and reclining, two comfy leather chairs sit in front of the master suite's stone fireplace.

Must-Try Activity Just 25 minutes west, the well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park are open throughout the winter.

Where to Eat The closest restaurant—and one of the area's finest—is the Kennebec Café and Bakery, an elegant European-style cafe serving creative, tasty cuisine. Try the savory duck two-ways entrée, a delicious pairing of seared breast and confit with a pomegranate glaze. 4 County Road 124, Hesperus, 970-247-5674, www.kennebeccafe.com

How to Book It The Cabin on the Lake sleeps two to eight people. Double-occupancy rates range from $275 in winter to $375 in summer per night ($20 extra per person). Blue Lake offers other individual accommodations, including the River House and the Cottage in the Woods. Call 1-888-258-3525 or visit www.bluelakeranch.com for reservations or more information.