Estes Park has no shortage of lodging options, including perhaps the most recognizable hotel in Colorado, the Stanley. But if haunted historic inns or traditional mountain lodges aren’t your thing, the pickings outside Rocky Mountain National Park are decidedly slim. But that’s changing: In December, Trailborn—a new hotel brand founded by New York entrepreneurs Ben Weinberg and Mike Weiss—opened its flagship location across from Lake Estes.

Weinberg and Weiss’ Trailborn chain is intended to provide hip, boutique lodging within close proximity of outdoor rec hotspots. The six-acre Colorado campus (outposts near the Grand Canyon and in Mendocino, California, are slated to open soon) consists of two converted motel properties—the 40-room Trailborn Rocky Mountains (open now) and the 46-room Trailborn Rocky Mountains Outpost (set to open in May)—an on-site restaurant and bar, and two seasonal pools. Outfitted in a contemporary-cool aesthetic, the new hotel is a fresh departure from the norm in Estes while still offering amenities targeted to adventurers and a come-as-you-are vibe that feels at home in the Rockies.

Here, how to make the most of your visit with tips picked up during our recent stay.

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1. Fuel up and wind down at Casa Colina.

The hotel’s on-site eatery, Casa Colina, opened in March and dishes out a small-but-satisfying Mexican-American menu in a casual, seat-yourself atmosphere. Grab a hefty, foil-wrapped bacon, egg, potato, and cheese burrito and a cup of Huckleberry Roasters coffee before before heading out for a morning hike. After a day of outdoor adventures, sidle up to the chic bar for a mezcal margarita, chips and guac, and an order of tacos served on a colorful tray. (We recommend going veggie—the Hongos tacos feature smoky, seared oyster mushrooms atop a melted-to-a-crisp bed of queso fresco.)

2. Heed the hotel’s advice.

Along with your room key, you’ll receive a “Guide To Your Stay” pamphlet during check-in, but don’t pitch it thinking it’s all hotel rules and Wi-Fi login info. The printed pamphlet is full of QR codes that link to helpful info about the national park—including alerts and closures and shuttle tickets—nearby hikes, and apps for identifying local flora and fauna. Our most-used resource: the Field Guide, which highlights must-visit restaurants, shops, and hidden gems around town. Without it, we wouldn’t have found Cinnamon’s, a tucked-away bakery that tends to sell out of its heavenly cinnamon rolls and sticky buns before 10 a.m. each day.

3. Chill out in the lounge.

Though Trailborn’s standard guest rooms feel, well, standard, the true design inspiration comes from the hotel’s open-concept communal area, which houses the front desk, Casa Colina, and a cozy lounge space. California-based design and architecture firm Electric Bowery outfitted the spaces with custom furniture in funky forms and organic materials, contemporary lighting, soothing earth tones, and colorful pieces by local artists (including Charlie Clark and Olive Moya). Flagstone floors hold up to muddy hiking boots, while the double-sided fireplace’s glossy black ceramic tile adds sheen and sophistication to the space. The lounge’s leather-upholstered banquette is the perfect perch for sipping on a latte, flipping through one of the many mountain-themed coffee table books on display, and taking in peak views through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

4. Try out a guided experience.

Trailborn invites guests to explore Rocky Mountain National Park through a range of guided outdoor excursions, from snowshoeing tours and cross-country skiing to wildlife photography and golden hour hikes. Back at the hotel, guests can book craft workshops, like candle making, and cocktail tastings with some of the state’s most beloved brewers. These experiences range in price, but for the frugal traveler, the hotel also offers complimentary activities, including bike rentals and backyard yoga sessions. And if your kiddos are along for the ride, keep them entertained with wilderness classes ($30/kid) and in-room “camping” sleepover setups ($30/room) specifically designed for mini explorers.

5. Don’t skip the s’mores night cap.

an outdoor fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs
The outdoor fire pit. Photo by Christian Harder

No mountain adventure is complete without roasting ’mallows to gooey perfection over a campfire. Every evening after 5 p.m., guests can grab complimentary s’mores supplies and head to the hotel’s back patio, where a fire pit encircled by Adirondack chairs and surrounded by aspen trees offers the charms of tent camping without the backache.