11 Unusual Places to Stay near Rocky Mountain National Park

Don’t let your trip to the park sound just like your neighbors’ vacation. Set it apart by staying at some of the fantastic and unusual places along the way.
By Tori Peglar ,

You can stay in a Daoist lodge, dogsled at a mountain YMCA, or stay on a farm with a goddess. Here are our top 11 places to stay in the Colorado Rockies, if you are seeking unforgettable, adventurous experiences.

1. Hot Springs Resort with Attitude

Hot Sulphur Springs Resort Pool, 

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
800-510-6235
5609 Co Hwy 20, Hot Sulphur Springs, CO 80451
hotsulphursprings.com

Pioneer Park
www.hotsulphurspringsco.com/hot-sulphur-springs-colorado-town-amenities--hss.htm

2. Daoist Wellness Resort with Oxygen Bar

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

Spend time under Chinese Daoist priest Wu Dang Chen at the Dao House 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
866.734.4326
6120 Highway 7, Estes Park, CO 80517
daohouse.com

Oxygen Lodge daohouse.com/oxygen-lounge-2

3. Historic 1920s Mountain 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
grandlakelodge.com

4. Golden Yurt Glamping

Golden, CO Yurt. 

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:
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
(303) 582-3707
92 Crawford Gulch Road, Golden, CO, 80403
cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/GoldenGateCanyon/

5. Ski or Hike to a Mountain Hut

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
970-726-8096
PO Box 1046, Fraser, CO 80442
www.grandhuts.org

Reservatons through 10th Mountain Division Huts
(970) 925-5775
www.huts.org/The_Huts/broomeHut.php

6. This YMCA isn’t a Sweaty Gym

Lodging at the YMCA near Rocky Mountain National Park.

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
888-613-9622

Estes Park Center
2515 Tunnel Road, Estes Park, CO 80511
ymcarockies.org

Snow Mountain Ranch
1101 County Road 53, Granby, CO 80446
snowmountainranch.org

7. Pretend you’re a Colorado Cowboy at This Luxurious 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
970-726-5632
3530 County Road 83, Tabernash, CO 80478
www.devilsthumbranch.com

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
970-817-2186
Laporte, CO
www.gaiascsa.com

Learn more about farm stays.

9. Sleep Lightly at a Haunted Hotel

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
www.stanleyhotel.com

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
970-586-6151
4900 South Hwy. 7, Estes Park, CO 80517
www.baldpateinn.com

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. Read a personal account about a stay in the tower.

For more information:
Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout
303-567-3000
Idaho Springs CO 80452
www.recreation.gov/camping/squaw-mountain-fire-lookout/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=113589