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Getting on the hill takes a good deal of effort if you live in Denver. There’s the traffic, the parking lots, the schlepping of gear. Fortunately, there’s also a solution: Avoid the hassle by renting a ski-in, ski-out escape. Whether you choose a ritzy 20-bedroom house on the mountain or a tucked-away cabin near seemingly endless Nordic trails, proximity to the recreation you seek makes for a painless getaway. This winter, indulge in the high-country lifestyle by booking a stay at one of these eight amazing accommodations.
Roaring Fork Log Cabin
Photo courtesy of C2 Photography
Ski-in, ski-out access alone would normally satisfy the “location, location, location” requirement for any high-country abode; however, Roaring Fork Log Cabin doesn’t stop there. The 2,700-square-foot, four-bedroom retreat—owned and operated by Denver-based Cuvée—sits along the bank of the Roaring Fork River, is a short walk from downtown Aspen, has a full view of Ajax, and lies adjacent to the Rio Grande Trail, a riverside cross-country skiing path in the winter. As if that weren’t enough, this 63-year-old haven ($3,850 to $7,500 per night) was fully renovated in 2014 and revitalized with Ralph Lauren fabrics, handmade furnishings, new fireplaces, radiant heat, original wall art, and 3,000 square feet of patio space with an outdoor kitchen and the requisite hot tub. If skinny skis aren’t your thing but alpine schussing is, you can always walk the half-mile to the Silver Queen Gondola, where Cuvée has (of course) procured heated ski lockers for Roaring Fork Log Cabin guests.
Skiing type: Cross-country and alpine
Lives Of The Rich And Famous: You might not be able to live like an NFL quarterback all the time, but if you can pull together the dough to stay at this cabin for a day or two, then you’re at least vacationing like one. Peyton Manning and his family spent a few days at this Aspen hideaway last winter.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Bennett
The word “special” is used an awful lot to describe the places we visit. In fact, it’s probably overused, and yet, we have to say it: Wild Skies is truly special. The richly decorated 3,500-square-foot river-adjacent dream home ($550 to $1,100 per night) is owned by Lisa and Chip Bennett, who built it in 2012 after lightning destroyed their first cabin. The love that went into the rebuild is evident in the multilevel decks, first-floor game room, wood-burning fireplace, open-design kitchen, hotel-perfect bathrooms, and smartly devised mudroom. The design touches are lovely, but they alone do not make Wild Skies unique. That comes from its isolation, the sounds of the river, the clear view of the stars at night, and the out-the-front-door access to some of Colorado’s most beautiful trails. There are backcountry paths galore, but cross-country skiers can take advantage of easy cruising on 40 miles of the Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway and 50-plus nearby miles of trails maintained and sometimes groomed by local clubs. No matter what recreational track you choose, though, coming back to the cabin as the sun disappears is…well…you know the word for it.
Location: Flat Tops Wilderness
Get Away From It All: During the winter, Wild Skies is one of the very few—if not the only—rentable cabins in the Flat Tops. Once the main road is closed by snow, the only way to reach the four-bedroom home is by snowmobile—or the owners’ Jeep, which is outfitted with snowcatlike tracks.
Photo courtesy of Winter Park Lodging Company
A night in Bridger’s Cache is about as close as you’ll get to actually sleeping on a ski hill. Tucked into the trees about 300 yards below the Mary Jane base, this gated community hosts the only two available freestanding-home rentals at Winter Park Resort. We’re fans of the fun mountain touches (think: cowhide dining chairs and a moose head over the fireplace) at the three-floor, five-bedroom Ski Lodge ($720 to $2,200 per night). Kids in particular will adore the timber bunk room, which sleeps six. The morning after an evening spent sipping Cabernet Sauvignon in the wine room, step out into the cool air and follow the green Corridor run for a short schuss to the main base area.
Location: Winter Park
Getting There: The Winter Park Express train is back (January 7 through March 26). Find tickets ($39 to $59 one way) at amtrak.com/winterparkexpress.
Tennessee Pass Sleep Yurts
Photos courtesy of Tim Gormley
Sometimes the best way to get up-close and personal with Colorado’s snow-globe-like scenery isn’t to rent a mammoth house. Instead, consider lodging that’s a little less permanent and a lot more in-tune with its surroundings: a yurt. Although you can find primitive versions in various state parks and roadside campgrounds, the luxury yurts at Tennessee Pass ($225 per night) are much more desirable. Built in 2011, the four six-person “tents” each come with a wood-burning stove, three full beds dressed in cozy linens, a table and chairs, and a kitchenette with propane burners, pots and pans, utensils, fresh water, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. It may not be the Ritz, but the yurts’ small footprints allow them to be ensconced in the trees just feet from a large network of Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails—which, by the way, is how you reach the yurts in the first place.
Suppertime: The sleep yurts boast well-stocked kitchenettes perfect for spaghetti night, but we recommend making dinner reservations at the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse one evening. This off-the-grid yurt—just a short snowshoe from your accommodations—offers solid mountain fare, tasty cocktails, and an unparalleled dining experience for $85 per guest (alcohol not included).
Photo courtesy of Alex Fenlon
If you think “ski vacation” is synonymous with “luxury,” then Gunsight Lodge is what you’ve been looking for. The sprawling mansion sleeps 12 comfortably in six bedrooms, all of which have en-suite bathrooms (hello, steam showers) and spectacular views of the West Elk Mountains. (Winter rates start at $1,900 per day with a five-night minimum.) Situated on the back side of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, the lodge’s front door opens onto the Gunsight Pass cat track; follow it a short way to the Teocalli Lift. After a long day on the slopes—and after dropping your kicks on the boot dryer—unwind in the sauna or by playing pool in the downstairs family game and media room. Just don’t forget to ask the ski gods for a powder day.
Location: Crested Butte
Insiders Know: This lodge is worth a visit in the summer, too. Crested Butte is considered the wildflower capital of Colorado, and the rolling fields surrounding Gunsight are awash in a rainbow of colors in July and August.
Three Sisters Lookout
Courtesy of Liam Doran/Breckenridge Tourism Office
Can’t afford a high-end, high-country second home? Neither can we. But we can all pretend for a few days at this five-bedroom private house on Bald Mountain with panoramic views of the Tenmile Range. Built in 2015, the modern-rustic retreat ($850 to $2,475 per night) sleeps 16 and has 4.5 bathrooms, and the living room windows frame Breckenridge Ski Resort in the distance. The luxuries extend outside, too—and we’re not just talking about the built-in grill and hot tub on the deck. Walk about a half-mile north or east of the house to reach an array of cross-country routes, including the moderate Sally Barber Mine Road and Barney Ford Trail and the four-mile (one way) Bald Mountain trailhead. But just so you know: We won’t judge you if you cut your outdoor adventure a little short to get back for an après drink and a perfect sunset view.
Tip: Exploring Main Street is easy thanks to the Breckenridge Free Ride shuttle stop just two blocks from the house.
866 Bachelor Ridge
Courtesy of Triumph Mountain Properties
This perched-right-on-the-ski-mountain home is exactly what everyone has in mind when they envision a winter vacation in Colorado: five fireplaces. A soaring great room with exposed log beams. A granite-counter-topped kitchen with a cozy breakfast nook. An outdoor fire pit perfect for warming frigid fingers. Huge windows affording spectacular views. And two legitimate ski runs—Beaver Creek Resort’s Ridge Rider, a groomed blue, and Everkrisp, a groomed green—less than 100 yards from the front door. If you had something better in mind than this Triumph Mountain Properties home ($2,500 to $5,850 per night), we can’t imagine what it would look like.
Location: Beaver Creek
Home Entertainment: No one will get bored at this 7,590-square-foot beauty that sleeps 14. With a piano, bumper pool table, fitness room, poker table, and hot tub, there’s always something to do.
Townhome On The Creek 135
Courtesy of Telluride Resort Lodging
You’ve already made the six-hour haul to Telluride—don’t waste another minute trying to get on the slopes. The seven rentable condos in Townhome on the Creek ($429 to $1,899 per night) are located in Mountain Village at Telluride Ski Resort. Ski over the Tristant bridge to the mellow Village Bypass or hop on the private chairlift to get to the base and start exploring the mountain’s 2,000 acres of terrain (primarily intermediate and expert). The layouts and sizes of Townhome’s log-cabin-style units vary, but all have gas fireplaces, gourmet kitchens, private decks, and heated garages.
New This Year: Telluride Ski Resort is now part of the Mountain Collective, a ski pass that includes two days of riding at each of the 14 participating mountains (located in four countries).