Mountain Hideaways

Escape for a quiet, cozy, winter weekend at one of these delightful high-country retreats.

November 2009

West Elk Lodge and Ranch

What was once a simple refuge for the elk-hunting set has recently become a vacation destination for anyone who revels in the great outdoors. Nestled into the West Elk Wilderness Area—more than 175,000 acres of all-out Colorado splendor—the new West Elk Lodge and Ranch is a 20,000-square-foot ponderosa log structure that will surpass your typical dude-ranch-slash-hunting-lodge expectations. With marble flooring, hand-chiseled fireplaces, 400-count sheets on handcrafted aspen beds, and spectacular views from every room, this isn't your run-of-the-mill man cave. Maybe more amazing than the decor, though, is the fact that West Elk, which just opened this past June, is completely eco-friendly. Solar energy keeps the floors warm and the hot tubs hot, and thermal materials like native stone siding and 16-inch logs keep the heat where it's supposed to be—inside—so you'll be toasty no matter how much snow there is outside. The ranch hopes to one day offer only weeklong dude ranch-style stays, but until word gets out the owners are offering shorter stays.

Highlight Horseback riding along nearly 160 miles of trails in the West Elk Wilderness Area, the fifth-largest wilderness area in Colorado. Not sure-handed with the reins? No problem. West Elk guides can give you a refresher course. Or, for the holiday season, the lodge offers a horse-drawn sleigh ride, complete with jingle bells.

Best Room Reserve one of the rooms on the top floor of the main lodge (currently $150), all of which have king beds, Posturepedic-style mattresses, Italian travertine tile, and private balconies.

Info 4444 E. 50 Drive, Crawford, 970-921-3557, www.westelklodge.com