Watch the video from our visit.
By Jorie Larsen, Travel Correspondent
Homey Mountain Lodge in Heart of Eagle County
Daisy, a half-boxer, half-pit-bull mix, bounds through the lobby and eagerly greets a pair of incoming guests, playfully nudging a suitcase with her nose. The young pooch, who belongs to a hotel manager, takes her duties seriously as an unofficial member of the welcoming committee at Eagle Lodge & Suites. A homey sense of hospitality suffuses the hotel, which treats visitors to a number of free perks and to free views of the Rocky Mountains in its backyard.
A massive elk-antler chandelier dangles from the vaulted lobby ceiling, lending the place a mountain-lodge aura that's echoed in the décor of the two-story family suites, where framed rustic scenes speckle the walls. A brood of four can comfortably spread their wings and reveal their vestigial tails in the 800-square-foot lodgings, which house four queen-size beds draped in all-white linens. Each suite comes furnished with a full bathroom and cable TV. A wet bar, mini refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker round out the amenities.
In the lobby, front-desk attendant Sarah offers up a plate of fresh-baked homemade chocolate-chip cookies to a pair of boarders as they pass by. Eagle Lodge & Suites prides itself on showering guests with complimentary treats and services, including a daily breakfast buffet loaded with cereals, muffins, bagels, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and waffles. Just beyond the dining room, two women swim the length of a 50-foot indoor pool that rests below a second-story weight room and adjacent fitness center. Outside, lodgers can settle small-claims-court disputes over games of horseshoes or grill out on the barbecue pit.
Eagle, Colorado: Quaint Mountain Town Minutes Away from World-Class Recreation
Fortified by mountains on all sides, Eagle sits in a scenic enclave smack dab between the posh ski resort of Vail and the outdoor haven of Glenwood Springs. A small-town communal vibe prevails at the Grand Avenue Grill, where a quartet of friends greets their server with a big smile and a hug. Unseasonable warmth hangs over the valley on a clear autumn day, inspiring guests to linger over glasses of wine on the outdoor patio as the sun dips behind the majestic mountains jutting skyward in the background.
On the 30-mile drive westward to Glenwood Springs, winding byways pass through the scenic Glenwood Canyon, carved by the rushing whitewater of the Colorado River. Bicyclists pedal 16 miles of paved trails alongside the river, whose mighty rapids whizz past mountain faces freckled with yellow aspens aglow in early autumn. Within the canyon, the rocky Hanging Lake trail climbs more than 1,000 feet in elevation. Breaths may get shorter as the air thins, but the view is worth it as hikers turn the last corner and a piercingly clear, emerald lake pops into view. It's fed by two waterfalls trickling down over moss-covered rock. A cluster of tired hikers drape themselves on benches to ogle the view, and others scramble up the rocks behind the lake to see Spouting Rock, a gushing waterfall that cascades into Hanging Lake.
Thirty miles east of Eagle lies Vail, one of the most legendary ski destinations in the western United States thanks to its more than 5,000 skiable acres. Fresh powder blankets the 7 miles of mountain front, seven back bowls, and three terrain parks. A palpable European feel permeates Vail Village, whose alpine architecture and dirndl-wearing mail carriers call to mind a bucolic Bavarian hamlet. Bronze sculptures of bears, bighorn sheep, and skiers decorate the pedestrian pathways, lending an artistic touch to the athletically minded resort town. Boutiques, galleries, and restaurants offer plenty of diversion from the slopes.