From backcountry huts and wintertime glamping to poolside lounging and hot spring soaking, we’ve found more than 20 places in Colorado (and beyond!) that you should visit this season.
Kessler Canyon • Near De Beque, Colorado / $$$ (For the Outdoorsman)
Just 45 minutes east of Grand Junction, hidden within the yawning canyons of Colorado’s Western Slope, lies one of the state’s best-kept secrets. An outdoorsman’s paradise, the Kessler Canyon ranch spans 23,000 acres of rugged terrain that supports adventures in fly-fishing, hiking, ATV-ing, mountain biking, clay shooting, and, most popular in the fall and early winter, big game and upland bird hunting. The resort itself—an amalgamation of red-roofed buildings nestled next to a small lake at the base of soaring mesas—is an exercise in wood-heavy, masculine design tempered by elegant decor, attention to detail, and, almost everywhere you look, dedication to the fine art that hangs on the walls and the bronze statues that dot the property. The ranch was built by the Kessler family as a private escape in 2006; the personal touches and exclusive vibe remained even after they opened it to the public in 2007.
Who It’s For: In the fall and winter, the ranch is crawling with hunters looking to bag elk, mule deer, or a mountain lion.
Get A Room: There are three lodging options—guest rooms in the Guesthouse or the Homestead or hunting cabins that are scattered throughout the property. We’d choose a suite in the Guesthouse for the mountain and stream views.
The Best Part: The staff’s intensely consistent yet understated manner of serving its guests; you won’t encounter a sour face, a service misstep, or a faux pas from anyone.
Bonus: Chef Leonard McNab’s “cowboy cuisine” is anything but. Chef Lenny, as everyone calls him, was a true chuck wagon cook—but these days he rustles up dishes like acorn squash–eggnog bisque with nutmeg cream and coffee-crusted rack of lamb with homemade red jalapeño–mint jelly.
Book It: Rates in November and through December 15 (the ranch is closed from December 16 through April) start at $295 for room only and begin at $470 for the all-inclusive option; kesslercanyon.com; 970-283-1145
Avalanche Ranch • Near redstone, Colorado / $ (For Couples)
Nestled into the shadow of 12,953-foot Mt. Sopris, the 36-acre Avalanche Ranch Cabins and Hot Springs serves as a lovely home base for all the wintertime activities you might seek: snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, ice climbing, sledding, sleigh rides, and dog sled tours. What you might not expect is that Avalanche Ranch brings a bit of warmth to the snowy season with its three beautifully terraced hot springs pools, which were completed less than two years ago.
Who It’s For: Couples looking for a reasonably priced, easy-rustic escape from the city.
Get A Room: If you’re planning to enjoy the hot springs, cabins 1, 2, 12, and 14 are closest to the pools.
The Best Part: The views of Mt. Sopris, Elephant Mountain, and Avalanche Creek Valley are postcard worthy.
Book It: Cabins run from $85 to $189 per night in the winter; avalancheranch.com; 970-963-2846
The Gant Aspen • Aspen, Colorado / $$ (For Families)
There are many fine hotels in this jewel of a town tucked into the Elk Mountains—the Little Nell, the Hotel Jerome, the Sky Hotel. But sometimes, especially if you have kids in tow, a low-key (and often lower-priced) condo feels more comfortable. The Gant, a 140-condo-unit resort, offers nearly anything you might want for a lovely yet practical ski weekend: fully equipped kitchens, wood-burning fireplaces, swimming pools and three hot tubs, saunas, shuttle services, daily housekeeping, ski storage, overnight tuning services, and a helpful concierge.
Who It’s For: Families wanting to experience the beauty of Aspen and its three ski mountains without staying in a ritzy hotel.
Get A Room: The Gant has one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom condos.
The Best Part: A superb location. Just three blocks from the ski lifts and the heart of downtown Aspen, this unassuming ski condo enclave is a compelling—and different—way to stay near the famous slopes at Ajax.
Book It: Rates vary depending on dates and size of condo; gantaspen.com; 1-866-956-6317
Amangiri • Canyon Point, Utah / $$$ (For the Adventurer)
If the landscapes of the Western desert speak to you, Amangiri should be your next destination. Huddled at the base of a towering mesa, the 34-suite resort blends seamlessly into its environment. In fact, the designers of this exclusive hotel were so mindful of the scenery’s allure they built the swimming pool around a finger of rock that juts into the 600-acre property. The interior decor also takes the surrounding natural wonder into account: the clean, right angles, varied textures, and neutral color scheme mimic what guests see out the floor-to-ceiling windows in their suites. Amangiri’s maxim of peaceful relaxation is perfectly complemented by its comprehensive outdoor adventure offerings, which take advantage of the Four Corners region. Surrounded by attractions like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Lake Powell, and Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks, guests can sign up for guided hikes, float trips, climbing, canyoneering, cycling, ballooning, boating, and horseback riding trips.
Who It’s For: Outdoor enthusiasts who want to break up their adventures with a spa massage and a day at the pool.
Get A Room: Sunset views from the Mesa View suites are unsurpassed.
The Best Part: The on-property hiking is second to none; grab a trail map when you arrive.
Book It: From November 1 through March 15, 2013, the Season of Adventure & Rejuvenation special includes all meals, two daily guided group hikes, and one daily yoga class. Package rates start at $1,050. amanresorts.com; 1-877-695-3999.