Who wants a standard hotel room when you can stay in a treehouse? If you're game for an unusual overnight in Colorado, consider one of these fun options:
Caboose at Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs
A former caboose now serves as the "most comfortable" accommodations at Strawberry Park Hot Springs, about a 20-minute drive (four-wheel-drive only in winter) from downtown Steamboat Springs.
The renovated caboose has a gas fireplace, bathroom with shower, solar lights and full-size futon with linens.
The kitchenette comes with pots, pans, dishes and silverware, but you'll need to bring your own food to prepare. Don't forget your swimsuit, as the hot springs here are the main attraction, though beware (or prepare): They are clothing optional after dark. No children allowed in the soaking pools once the sun sets.
The Strawberry Hot Springs are a fun way to relax any time of day, clothing or not. These natural pools of mineral water are tucked deep in the forest along a river. The adventurous like to jump back and forth between the frigid river water and the steamy hot springs.
Treehouse at Highland Haven Creekside Inn, Evergreen
Romantic, charming Highland Haven is about 40 minutes southwest of Denver. (It's one of the closest, easy-access mountain destinations to the big city.) The warm and elegant decor in each cabin is a far cry from your typical flowery bedspreads and dainty doilies found in many B&Bs.
Plus, they're built right on Bear Creek.
But the real highlight here is a special, two-story treehouse, complete with king bed, custom stone-and-iron fireplace, sparkly chandelier, two-person steam shower and "champagne bubble" Jacuzzi tub. The room rate here includes a full breakfast buffet that should not be missed; gourmet items include delicious egg dishes and homemade muffins and pastries.
Covered wagons at Avalanche Ranch, Redstone
The cabins at Avalanche Ranch are rustic and decorated with nifty Colorado collectibles. But for a truly unusual — and even more rustic — experience, book the Covered Wagon, Shepherd's Wagon or Gypsy Wagon.
Each has a full-sized bed, coffee maker, towels, a charcoal BBQ grill and a picnic table. They are stationed near the tiered natural hot springs, and that's where you'll use the communal bathroom and shower, too — shared with other wagon dwellers and day visitors to the hot springs. Sleeping quarters are tight, but their budget price (less than $100 per night) and opportunities for romance (and novelty) just might outweigh the discomfort in overnighting in such cramped quarters.
Plus, the wagons are painted in such bright colors (especially the Gypsy Wagon), they make great photo ops.
No more than two people can stay in each wagon, and that includes kids. With such a small size, there's no space for a separate bathroom, but you can shower and use the restroom at the nearby hot springs.
Yurt at Tennessee Pass, Leadville
Yurts are portable, bent-dwelling structures traditionally used by nomads as homes in Central Asia. They're also a really cool lodging option at Tennessee Pass, at the base of Ski Cooper, about nine miles from Leadville.
Yurts afford the immersion in nature like a tent, but without the inconvenience of sleeping on a hard, rocky floor in a sleeping bag. They're a great middle ground between a tent and a hotel room, ideal for people who want to enjoy Colorado's wilderness but can't (or don't want to) go full-on camping.
Sleeping in these lattice-framed, tent-like structures is a cozy endeavor, especially in the winter, when they're heated by soapstone wood stoves. Each yurt sleeps up to six in double beds, plus a double-over-double bunk bed; you rent the entire yurt for the night, no matter how many people using it.
Beds are made from rough-hewn logs and feature down comforters. There's also a kitchenette, sink and fresh water, a single-burner propane stove, dining table and chairs and solar lighting. Each yurt is stocked with complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, cider and has cookware and dishware for light cooking and serving.
This is off-the-grid living, so cell service is spotty or nonexistent, and there are no electrical outlets or internet — or bathrooms. You'll need to use an outhouse, about 20 feet from each yurt.