Rustic Lodge with Mountain Views and Local Artwork
In 2008, professional photographer Gary Oakley commissioned more than 20 artists and gathered eco-friendly materials to build a hotel that reflected his love for both art and nature. The result was the Sundance Mountain Lodge, a 5-acre estate nestled along the front range of the Colorado Rockies and dotted with red-rock waterfalls, hand-carved bridges, and babbling streams. The lodge’s original building was already an architectural marvel, built in the 1970s with heavy timber beams and stone walls by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Oakley and his crew updated it by adding a wealth of local artwork, including glass wall murals, Oakley’s own striking photos of horses, and a handcrafted wedding gazebo made from beetle kill logs.
Oakley also made certain that there was always an abundance of activities at the hotel. When the sun’s out, head to the outdoor pool for a refreshing dip and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Kids can feed ducks down at the pond or hide out in canvas tepees. When the cool air settles in at night, gather around a glowing fire pit out back to roast marshmallows and burn parking tickets.
The social hub of the hotel, Oakley's Cafe and Bistro hosts happy hours, karaoke, and live music. One on side of the dining room, lantern lights and a chalkboard menu create a cozy, romantic feel. On the other, a retro lounge replete with crushed-velvet curtains, white leather love seats, and zebra-print rugs recalls a vintage speakeasy.
Guest rooms at the Sundance Mountain Lodge reflect the rugged landscape with log furnishings and nature photographs. Courtyard rooms overlook the waterfalls and pool area, and all accommodations feature private balconies and recycled carpeting.
Pikes Peak Country: Rocky Mountains, Hiking Trails, and Wildlife
The first settlers in the central Colorado countryside had originally set out to find fortune through California’s gold rush, but when their wagon trains arrived in the lush meadowlands of Monument, they made the place their home. They weren’t the only ones inspired by the area’s natural beauty—Pikes Peak's rocky summit, which looms 14,115 feet over the region, once provoked songwriter Katharine Lee Bates to pen the lyrics to "America the Beautiful."
For a close-up look at the cliffs, hop onto one of Pikes Peak Cog Railway's red train cars, which crawl up the mountains and pass wildlife and crashing waterfalls. The area's diverse geography also lends itself to outdoor recreation, from hiking on the pine-fringed trails of the Garden of the Gods to hot air balloon rides.