13 Unusual Places to Stay near Rocky Mountain National Park

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You can stay in a Daoist lodge, dogsled at a mountain YMCA, or stay on a farm with a goddess. Here are our top 13 places to stay in the Colorado Rockies, if you are seeking unforgettable, adventurous experiences.

1. Hot Springs Resort with Attitude

Soaking at Hot Sulphur Springs Resort

What’s unique about a hot spring resort? This one loves to say, “No.” No telephones. No smoking. No alcohol. No pets. And no cooking. It’s their way of giving you a simple, relaxing experience away from distractions. Hot Sulphur Springs Resort’s lodging options include simple motel rooms, a cabin, and an apartment. Your room includes access to hot pools fed by seven natural springs.

On a budget? Bring your RV or tent and camp for free at Pioneer Park. Pick a spot on the southern edge of this 80-acre park to be within walking distance to the hot springs resort. A day pass for the hot pools is less than twenty dollars.

For more information:

Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa
5609 Co Hwy 20, Hot Sulphur Springs, CO 80451

Pioneer Park

2. Daoist Wellness Resort with Oxygen Bar

Dao House Lodge with Longs Peak in the background in winter

The Dao House lodge in winter with Longs Peak in the background. 

Spend time with resort staff trained under Chinese Daoist priest Wu Dang Chen to learn internal and external martial arts and wellness on the eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. Follow a wellness plan personalized for you, indulge in a local, organic meal program, and practice Tai Chi and meditation. Sensitive to mountain elevations? Make a visit to the oxygen bar to get a treatment with 90% pure oxygen infused with your choice of relaxing or energizing aromatherapy blends.

For more information:
Dao House
6120 Highway 7, Estes Park, CO 80517

3. Historic 1920s Mountain Lodge

The pool overlooking Grand Lake at the Grand Lake Lodge

The pool overlooking Grand Lake at the Grand Lake Lodge

Rocky Mountain National Park doesn’t have any lodges inside the park. However, there is a cabin resort that is surrounded by the park on three sides and overlooks Grand Lake on the other side. Its large veranda and lookout decks have earned it the nickname of “Colorado’s favorite front porch.” Grand Lake Lodge got its start in the 1920s and is a registered national historic landmark. Visit the main lodge to relax at the circular fireplace, hickory rockers, and swings before retreating to your cabin.

For more information:
Grand Lake Lodge
(855) 585-0004
15500 US Highway 34, Grand Lake, CO 80447

4. Yurt Glamping

Snow Mountain Ranch Yurt

On the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, stay at one of two Yurt Villages at Snow Mountain Ranch. Even though the yurts are not heated, they are available year-round except for a few weeks downtime in April and May. 

An hour fro​m the national park, Golden Gate Canyon State Park has two yurts available to visitors year-round. Visit the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook, where visitors can see 100 miles of the Continental Divide. With pristine bathrooms nearby, a budget-friendly price tag, and dogs allowed, these huts are truly family friendly.

For more information:

YMCA of the Rockies, Snow Mountain Ranch

Golden Gate Canyon State Park
(303) 582-3707
92 Crawford Gulch Road, Golden, CO, 80403

5. Ski or Hike to a Mountain Hut

Broome Hut in winter in the wilderness west of Rocky Mountain National Park

Broome Hut in winter.

Grand County on the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park is building a series of backcountry huts. The first to be completed was Broome Hut west of Berthoud Pass. Bring 15 of your closest friends to this hut situated at 11,350 feet at treeline in the Second Creek Basin and watch the sunrise hit the face of the headwall.

Read more about backcountry huts and yurts.

For more information:
Grand Huts Association
PO Box 1046, Fraser, CO 80442

Reservatons through 10th Mountain Division Huts
(970) 925-5775

6. This YMCA isn’t a Sweaty Gym

Lodging at YMCA Estes Park Center

The YMCA of the Rockies is unlike any Y you’ve ever seen. Stay in a rustic mountain cabin, a yurt, vacation home, lodge or ranch. In the summer learn how to rock climb, do archery, or go horseback on a trail ride. In the winter, ride a dog sled, go snowmobiling, or go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

For more information:
YMCA of the Rockies

Estes Park Center
2515 Tunnel Road, Estes Park, CO 80511

Snow Mountain Ranch
1101 County Road 53, Granby, CO 80446

7. Pretend you’re a Colorado Cowboy at This Luxurious Ranch

Pool at Devils Thumb Ranch

Devil's Thumb Ranch Pool. 

Legend says that warring tribes reconciled and buried the devil in the mountains above Tabernash, Colo. But they left the devil’s left thumb protruding above the dirt to remind them of the evil of war. Under the Devil’s Thumb rock formation is where a dairy ranch operated until it was turned into a vacation ranch in 1946. Today it is a 6,000-acre complex of buildings in a style reminiscent of park architecture made famous at America’s first national park. Stay in the ranch’s cabins, lodge rooms, bunkhouse, vacation home, or sister inns.

For more information:
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa
3530 County Road 83, Tabernash, CO 80478

8. Stay in a Fruit Picker’s Cottage

De-stress on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park by stopping at the self described “bohemian-style eco-friendly farm stay bed and breakfast” near Fort Collins. The goddess-gardener-artist-healer Kathleen will lovingly guide you to spiritual healing with fresh, organic foods, a therapeutic petting zoo, massage treatments, and peaceful rural setting.

For more information:
The Shangri-la Inn at Gaia's Farm & Gardens
Laporte, CO

Learn more about farm stays.

9. Sleep Lightly at a Haunted Hotel

Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO which inspired the Stephen King Book "The Shining"

A Victorian mansion stands out in the forefront of Rocky Mountain National Park's Lumpy Ridge. Seen above the Stanley Hotel is the ominous rock formation called the Twin Owls. But that's not the spookiest part of the Stanley story. Author Stephen King was inspired by the Stanley Hotel before he wrote "The Shining," a tale about an alcoholic winter caretaker at a remote mountain resort. We dare you to to stay in room 217. Read more about Freelan Stanley and his hotel's haunted history.

For more information:
The Stanley Hotel
(800) 976-1377
333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517

10. Hang Your Keys on the Ceiling

While another Estes Park hotel, The Stanley inspired a book, a book inspired the name of the Baldpate Inn built in 1917. The author of the mystery novel Seven Keys to Baldpate visited the inn and said it looked just like the lodge in his book, so the name of the real inn was changed. The theme of the novel revolved around seven guests, each with their own key to the inn. The modern-day Baldpate Inn boosts the world’s largest key collection as a result of their key-giving tradition in honor of the book. Each guest was given a key to keep as their own. After it became too expensive to continue the giveaways, guests started donating their own keys to the inn, often from exotic locations. The collection of over 20,000 hangs in the Key Room.

For more information:
The Baldpate Inn
4900 South Hwy. 7, Estes Park, CO 80517

11. Bed in Fire Tower has 360-degree View

For an unforgettable adventure, stay in a fire lookout tower. Drive to a 11,000 feet elevation near Evergreen, Colo. then hike 1 mile (2 miles in winter) and climb up the stairs on the outside of an old fire lookout tower to reach a 14-foot-square room with unobstructed views. Oh yeah... there's no water up there so you have to lug your own drinking water up with you. Need to use the bathroom? Climb across a catwalk then down exterior stairs to a privy that gets rid of the evidence with fire. (It's called an incinerating toilet.) The good news is that there are comfy beds, a heater, and a kitchen for your use.

For more information:
Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout
Idaho Springs CO 80452

12. Stay in a Hostel Bunkhouse

Colorado Mountain School

Would you swap privacy for inexpensive accommodations? Don't forget to bring a headlamp and earplugs to the Climber's Lodge at the Colorado Mountain School. It offers 16 single bed spaces (6 are bunkbeds) in three shared rooms. But there are luxuries too, like a full kitchen, WiFi, lounge games and a ping pong table. Having a family reunion or a group retreat? Rent the entire lodge for $1,000/night. Shuttles run to and from its doorstep to the Denver International Airport daily.

For more information:
(720) 387-8944
341 Moraine Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517 

13. Be a Zookeeper for a Day at a Vacation Rental Zoo

Interact with kangaroos, a zonkey (zebra-donkey), tortoises and more when you stay near Golden, Colo., at the Zoo Chateau. The luxury four bedroom, four bathroom house sleeps nine and has a two night minimum stay. You can host a wedding here, but don't ask to ride down the isle on the zonkey. Most of the animals have been recused from shelters or poor situations and now serve as ambassadors advocating for ethical treatment of all animals. Want a shorter experience? Buy a ticket for an event and make a day trip of it. (No drop-ins allowed.) Experiences include bottle-feeding a kangaroo, yoga with kangaroos and more.

For more information: