Summer is a time for getting outdoors and exploring. Colorado has an enviable list of natural wonders to see, but it also has its share of quirky experiences, too. When it comes to where to stay after a day of fun and adventure, there are plenty of places that will make your Colorado adventure even more memorable. Check out our list of 20 of them.
1. At an Old Mining Site
While you don’t actually stay inside Last Chance Mine in Creede, you can experience 1890's living thanks to three guest cabins onsite. The rustic guest cabins can accommodate a total of 12 people with water, wood, and bedding provided. Amazingly, the cabins are free to use, but donations are gratefully accepted to fund mine-restoration work. Holidays are usually busy, but the rest of the season is typically pretty open. There is also a mining-era museum, a shop selling handmade jewelry that uses amethyst, agate and turquoise all from the Last Chance Mine. There are also underground tours that run every day and are $15 for adults, $10 for children.
2. In a Covered Wagon
Experience true western adventure by staying in a covered wagon. There are several places West of 105 that offer various wagons as accommodation including at Winding River Resort in Grand Lake, Avalanche Ranch Cabins and Hot Springs in Redstone, Dolores River Campground, and Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Conestoga Wagons were much larger than the covered farm wagons that were primarily used in the Westward expansion being on average around 18 feet long and 11 feet high. They were able to carry up to 12,000 pounds of cargo and were built with the floors curving upward to prevent cargo from shifting. The facilities and what is included (as well as what kind of wagon) differs by location, with some having just linens, heat and electricity while others have mini fridges and microwaves.
3. In a Converted Airstream
Stay Amigo Motor Lodge in Salida has four converted Airstreams from the late 50’s to the early 70’s. Completely renovated, all four trailers have different layouts with three of them having one bed and the other having a bed and a bunk bed. All four have heat and air conditioning, but they have no plumbing and so share an indoor bathroom.
4. In an Old Lookout Tower
Located in San Juan National Forest not far from Mancos State Park, The Jersey Jim Lookout Tower can be rented for one- or two-night stays from late May to mid October, weather permitting. Previously home to U.S. Forest Service fire lookouts from the 1940’s to 1970’s, the tower was renovated and saved from demolition in 1991 by the Jersey Jim Foundation, a nonprofit local volunteer organization, which operates and maintains the tower under permit with the San Juan National Forest. Costing $40 per night, the one-room tower cab includes original furniture and propane heating and lighting however there is no electricity or running water. There lookout has one double bed.
5. In a Tipi
There are dozens of spots around the state that offer tipi camping and glamping. From select KOA campgrounds (including Carbondale, Cortez, Ouray, Royal Gorge and Glenwood Springs) as well as several properties that exclusively offer tipis such as North Fork Tipi Haven in Hotchkiss, Collective Vail and Arapaho Valley Ranch in Granby.
6. In a Yurt
Yurts are becoming increasingly common across the country and are a great way to get outdoors but with some of the comforts and protections of home. Some of our favorite spots for staying in a yurt include Ridgway State Park if you’re looking for a more rustic option and Cedar Ridge Ranch in Carbondale if you want to be more pampered.
7. In a Treehouse
Highland Haven in Evergreen has an 850-square-foot, three level, two story luxury treehouse. The main floor has a king bed, stained glass, a custom iron and stone fireplace and even a chandelier! The spa room has a Jacuzzi and great views and there is also a two-person steam shower. Possibly one of the most unique accommodation options in the state, the tree house was built with romance in mind, but is suitable for any kind of getaway.
8. In a Train Caboose
In addition to the aforementioned covered wagon, Strawberry Park Hot Springs also has a converted train caboose (the cabin at the end of a train that provides shelter for crew) which the company says is the most comfortable of the accommodations at the property. With a gas fireplace, bathroom with shower, solar lights, a full size sofa bed and a kitchenette that comes with everything you will need to cook a meal. The caboose is also the most popular accommodation at Strawberry Park, so reservations in advance are recommended. The caboose can only accommodate a maximum of two people.
9. At a Drive In
The Best Western Movie Manor in Monte Vista pretty much sums up the experience on offer with its name. Attached to a historic drive-in movie theatre, Movie Manor offers guests the chance to watch movies on the big screen - a really big screen - from the comfort of your room (well most rooms). The movie season runs from mid-May through mid-September. There is, in fact, two screens, the second of which must be driven to, but it is included in your room rate and it is on property.
10. In an Orchard
Delicious Orchards in Hotchkiss offers the chance to camp among the trees (just not during growing season). Open to tents, cars, campers and RVs, the experience is going to be somewhat rustic meaning there are no hook-ups available. You don't need reservations as there is plenty of space, but space is allocated on a first come first served basis. There are no showers, but there is a single restroom, an outdoor sink, and a portable toilet. Pets are welcome and there is even a dog clean up station and water dishes in the courtyard.
11. In a Distillery
The Distillery Inn in Carbondale is a special place that has been recognized by media from around the world. The only Inn in the world housed within a working distillery - that would be the excellent Marble Distilling - the Inn offers five luxury suites that are outfitted with hand-selected sustainable materials, sophisticated finishes and, or so they say, the most comfortable beds this side of the Rockies.
12. In an Old School
One of just two of 17 school sites still standing in the Mining District of Cripple Creek, Carr Manor as it is now called was converted into a small hotel in 1982. Twenty years later is was sold and restored. Today it has 14 rooms and suites, a conference center and a Grand Ballroom. With many original artefacts and photographs, Carr Manor is a step back in time. Room 24, the Lowell Thomas King Suite, still contains the original school chalkboards.
13. In an Old Jail
The Station on the Riverwalk in Pueblo is a boutique hotel with just seven “cells.” What was once the town’s police station and jail (up until 2010, amazingly), the family-owned property has been tastefully yet sparsely reinvented to bring the rooms up to date while leaving a hint of its original purpose behind. The Station’s speak-easy influenced lounge is called the The Clink and offers craft cocktails and crepes.
14. In a Tiny House
The WeeCasa Tiny House Resort in Lyons has 22 different properties including an adorable little hobbit looking tiny home. All of the properties are available on a nightly rental basis. Born as a partnership between neighbors in town as a result of a flood, the tiny homes are owned by people who share their tiny houses with those who want to stay. This explains the diverse range of architectural styles of the houses.
15. On a Cliff
If the options on this list so far have struck as not adrenaline-inducing enough, then look no further than camping on a literal cliff face hundreds of feet above the safety of terra firma.
In Estes Park, Kent Mountain Adventure Center lives up to its name by providing thrill seekers with the opportunity to sleep on the kind of portaledge used by ‘big-wall’ climbers. And if that isn't enough, the experience also includes a steak dinner with wine and omelettes and lattes for breakfast.
16. On a Camel Farm
Mudita Camel Farm just outside La Jara in Conejos County is, well, a camel farm. Almost two years ago the owners added a yurt to give people the chance to sleep and wake up with, or at least near, camels (a fence separates you from the camels, but you can get a tour if you really want to get up close). Offering year-round camping, the yurt sleeps four people with a queen bed and a futon. There is an outhouse with a composting toilet, water and a wash basin, and a wood stove.
17. In a Bubble
You may have seen them in Iceland where people go to see the Northern Lights from the comfort of their own bubble room, but you can also stay inside a bubble at Bison Peak Lodge at Puma Hills near Lake George. With half- or fully-transparent bubble tents, the night sky and surrounding forest feel and look a little different when you can see everything. Each tent is furnished with a queen bed, a sitting area, a dresser, private changing room, mud room, and battery or solar-lighting. There is also a propane grill and tools, an outdoor dining area, a two-gallon water dispenser and a secure food and toiletries storage container.
18. Among Archaeological Sites
Open since 1980, Kelly Place is an area of archaeological significance and a unique bed and breakfast at the same time. The main lodge was built in the 1960’s with additional cabins added around 2000. Located just 10 miles west of Cortez in the Four Corners region, the property is nestled among red-rock canyons and near Sleeping Ute Mountain. In addition to the main lodge and additional cabins, there are also five campsites and four RV sites as well as more than 25 documented prehistoric Native American sites on the 38-acre estate. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monument are close by.
19. In a Dunefield
The dunes at Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve aren’t just any dunes, they are the highest in North America. Clear summer nights offer some of the most amazing stargazing you’ll experience anywhere - in the world. And the best part is that it is completely free. Free permits for camping in the approximately 30 square-mile dunefield are available in the Visitor Center and are allocated on a first come first served basis.
20. At a UFO Watchtower
Not far from Great Sand Dunes National Park is the UFO Watchtower. Owner Judy Messoline offers those seeking to make contact with extraterrestrials the chance to camp on her property and climb the watchtower to keep and eye out for flying saucers. Those in the know say that the San Luis Valley is a known hotbed for UFO sightings.