(credit: Devil’s Thumb Ranch)
Just a couple of hours outside of Denver are five of the finest ways to enjoy some of the best parts of camping. Who wouldn’t want to sit by a warm crackling fire, take a moonlit walk, hike and relax over s’mores with friendly conversation? Not everyone is cut out for the more roughing-it style of traditional camping. Wilderness explorers can still soak up all that the Colorado mountains have to offer in upscale resorts and find a pampering and luxurious alternative to camping.
The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera
2205 Cordillera Way
Edwards, CO 81632
The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera is a secret hidden gem just outside of Vail that offers all the beauty and adventure of camping along with the added bonus of luxury. Cordillera is a romantic home away from home where guests can sit on their own balcony with a crackling fireplace inside, and gaze out an entire valley filled with trees and colors. The restaurant has indoor/outdoor dining and is surrounded by huge windows with an excellent chance of seeing a deer or two stroll by. The outdoor fire pit and pool are ideal meeting places to get to know fellow guests over cocktails. The very friendly concierge staff will help set up hiking, biking and other outdoor adventures.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa
3530 County Road 83
Tabernash, CO 80478
Just north of Winter Park, visitors can find beautiful upscale cabins at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Hiking, fishing, biking and the beautiful mountain outdoors can be found without the dirt and hassle of camping. A weekend here will be worth the money with its amazing pampering spa that includes a crackling fireplace by which to sit while waiting for a massage, a yoga studio and steam rooms. The food at the restaurant is flavorful and fresh, and there is a coffee shop that offers delicious warm drinks. The bathrooms include a deep claw-foot bathtub and a large walk-in shower in which to soak away the worries.
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PO Box 514
Grand Lake, CO 80447
Summer: (970) 627-3314, Winter: (970) 531-0815
Perfect for families and getaways, the Lemmon Lodge is the ideal alternative to traditional camping. This resort is located at one of the most beautiful lakes in Colorado, Grand Lake, and it rents out log or more rustic cabins right on a private sand beach. This incredibly relaxing resort has cabins with private docks to the water. Campers can bring their own boat or rent one and enjoy fishing, hiking and soaking up the summer Colorado sunshine. The kitchen and bathrooms offer the amenities that camping just couldn’t touch. Right outside the main entrance, you are steps away from the public beach, restaurants and shops in the main town.
McGregor Mountain Lodge
2815 Fall River Road
Estes Park, CO 80517
Just outside the Rocky Mountain National Park is the McGregor Mountain Lodge. With wildlife aplenty right outside the windows, this resort is beautiful and charming. Similar to camping, guests can begin their day relaxing with coffee and possibly spotting elk, big horn sheep, foxes and the occasional bear. Guests who stay in the cabin named the “Old Caretaker’s Cabin” will never want to go home. The kindest of innkeepers welcome the guests to clean and comfortable cabins.
Vail Cascade Resort & Spa
1300 Westhaven Drive
Vail, CO 81657
Vail is known for its true luxury and the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa is no exception. The hotel concierge will set up your outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, fishing and maybe a round of golf. It is the perfect place for the parents to find time for themselves while the kids enjoy activities such as s’mores at five, an outdoor heated pool, a Wii in the lobby and a cute little marketplace for them to grab snacks. The resort’s hot tub and heated pool at night can be a start or end to a relaxing time by one of outdoor fire pits. The restaurant offers a great variety of food for every taste with a very good wine selection.
Colleen Bement is a freelance writer covering all things Denver. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.