Wanted: Cabin in the woods, two nights, close to home

When a mid-week staycation is just the thing

By Joshua Berman

This article was originally published in The Denver Post on May 6, 2018

NEDERLAND — My family and I stepped into the creaky-wood, century-old home with our necks craned, looking around at the wood-burning stove, stack of logs, carefully hung art from around the world. The girls wandered off on a self-guided tour while my wife and I floated through the kitchen to the brightly lit breakfast nook, which looked out over a snow-painted, thickly forested gulch.

The house originally served as a baggage depot for the Switzerland Trail Railroad but there were modern additions built into and around the original structure: central heat, WiFi, electricity, and heated floor tiles in the bathroom. The home has been lovingly updated and restored as a vacation rental which I found on Glamping Hub, a portal for “outdoor accommodations” around the world which started in 2014, and is partly based in Denver. They list nearly 1,700 properties in Colorado alone, the majority of which are well kept cabins, but they also manage a selection of yurts, tepees, tiny homes, safari tents, and tree houses.

The girls padded down from the upstairs bedroom and discovered the bookshelf with its boardgame collection. “Can we build a fire?” “Can we have hot chocolate?” “Can we do this puzzle?”

We’d been looking for a family retreat before spring break ended and school began— just a quick routine disruptor to shake off the winter and enjoy each other’s company. This year, deciding it was too cold to camp and too extravagant to think about a hotel or resort, a “Charming Cabin with Mountain Views near Indian Peaks Wilderness,” as its listing read, seemed like the perfect middle ground. And while I have a hard time using the word “glamping” for any structure with walls thicker than canvas, it still sounded like a nice option.

In the end, we went for proximity—the cabin was only 20 miles due west of our home, well under an hour’s drive, and we didn’t even have to get close to I-70. Plus, this mid-week staycation in the mountains boasted 3,000 feet of extra elevation above the Front Range, giving it a perfectly crisp, winter-y, alpine edge.

If anyone got restless, Eldora Mountain Resort, our favorite backyard slopes, was still open and literally, right around the corner. Or we could go hiking at nearby Mud Lake in the Caribou Ranch Open Space, or take a trip to town to kill time at the Nederland Public Library and go for a few $1-rides on the Carousel of Happiness.

Or, we could stay in our pajamas for two days and play games on the floor, read guidebooks and climbing magazines from the bookshelf, and get some occasional fresh air by exploring the trees and drainage just outside. I offered off-site excursions to my family every few hours—anyone want to go into town? Find a playground? But nobody responded. They just wanted to stay. So that’s what we did.

More DENVER POST travel columns by Joshua Berman

If you do it: Browse vacation rentals at www.GlampingHub.com. Prices range from seasonal $50/night nature lodges and tepees to $1000/night luxury ski-in homes, and everything in between.

If you go to Nederland, Colorado: Stay at the “Charming Cabin with Mountain Views near Indian Peaks Wilderness in Nederland, Colorado”

For the best (and only) local skiing, Eldora Mountain Resort opens back up in the fall. 

The Carousel of Happiness is open year-round and still only costs $1 per ride:

Carousel of Happiness in Nederland — a “carouselfie”?
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