Hostile to hostels? Try a unique U.S. adventure lodge
When the focus of your trip is the great outdoors, you don't need to stay in a bare-bones hostel to connect with like-minded travelers.
Hipster hostel/hotel adventure lodges are springing up in mountain towns and at surf breaks across the American West. In many, you can demo equipment, get a guide, catch a concert and soak in the scenery. Whether you’re solo, a couple, traveling with a group or even if you have your dog in tow, these motels, lodges and high-end hostels connect travelers with kindred spirits. And when the radar doesn’t deliver the conditions you hoped for, they all provide an appealing place to weather the storm.
“There are major gaps between high-end mountain lodges, Holiday Inns and Airbnbs,” said Johannes Ariens, co-founder of LOGE Camps, which focuses on delivering affordable, community-oriented lodging in some of the most popular yet often underserved markets in the country. “They all serve a purpose. But often what outdoors people want is in the middle – they want community, a place to stay that's unique, affordable, and cool and not necessarily in someone's basement.”
“We wanted to make a true backcountry lodge experience available to everyone," he said, "not just elite skiers with the time and fitness to haul all their gear into a remote location, or people with the money to visit a helicopter-access lodge.
"We want to give more people the opportunity to fall in love with mountain recreation and to give mountain lovers an exceptionally comfortable though not prohibitively expensive base of operations.”
Adventure-oriented communal properties may help you discover a new passion, a new trail network or a new break, and there’s a good chance you’ll go home with great memories as well as new friends.
Founded by two Seattle-based surfers who wanted an all-immersive base for adventure weekends and a way to connect with new friends who were into the same activities, the LOGE Camp team came up with the idea to reclaim dilapidated mid-century motels (the ones where you pull your car right up to your door) and convert them to modern micro-resorts with all the amenities for an active clientele.
Five camps have opened since 2017, with more locations coming soon. Some LOGE Camps are in well-known hubs — Bend, Oregon; Mt. Shasta, California; and Breckenridge, Colorado. Some are in or will be in towns primed for revitalization, like Estes Park, Colorado, at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and Westport, Washington – a commercial fishing town west of Seattle with a great surf break. On-property demo centers provide guests with high-end mountain bikes and other gear. Each property has sport-specific amenities, like ski lockers and wetsuit rentals.
But LOGE Camps isn’t just a hotel chain. “We believe that more responsible users of the outdoors create more people that will fight for the protection of our wild places,” Ariens said. The Camps give 1% to a local non-profit, such as The Surfrider Foundation, Northwest Avalanche Association, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and Central Oregon Trail Association.
“Customers stay with us up to 15 times a year,” says Ariens. “We’re not putting lodges in aspirational communities where someone hopes to go for one big annual trip. We’re putting them in places that adventurers go for the weekend on a regular basis.”
Some of their guests are well-known athletes and musicians. LOGE Camps has an athlete team and contracts with musicians for LOGE Camp tours where they’re paid to stay and play.
“One of the hardest things for pro skiers, bikers and other athletes, as well as for traveling musicians is the cost of lodging along the way,” says Ariens. “We think it’s cool to have these folks at our properties, and they connect with our target guests.”
When you’re done with your day on the water or in the woods, a full program of events awaits back at the lodge — including free movies, live music every Saturday night, yoga classes and communal cooking at the outdoor kitchens.
Make it happen: Starting at $30 for hostel accommodations, and $150 for private rooms. Book online at logecamps.com.
Red Mountain Alpine Lodge
Disappear deep into Colorado’s San Juan mountains without having to walk, ski or heli-shuttle your gear to get to the goods. Red Mountain Alpine Lodge is off-grid, but only a five-minute walk from U.S. 550 – the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton.
The timber frame lodge is built on old mining claims at 11,000 feet on the site of the former mining boomtown called Red Mountain City. Its cathedral-ceiling living room frames awe-inspiring mountain views from every angle. There are plenty of comfortable places in the massive great room to post up for the show: sheepskin-draped benches next to the roaring wood stove, overstuffed couches and an upstairs lounge.
The staff serves food family-style at a massive wooden table with soaring views of the surrounding peaks. Some argue the apres-ski at Red Mountain Alpine Lodge, including homemade hot soup, fondue and other tasty treats, is as good as the skiing. Up to 20 guests sleep in three private rooms and a large loft with divided sleeping areas, all with shared baths.
Red Mountain Alpine Lodge is owned by San Juan Mountain Guides, who will take you backcountry skiing, rock or ice climbing, alpine climbing or mountaineering, or teach you avalanche safety and related skills while you’re there. They also pour your beer, mix your drinks and serve you dinner.
Make it happen: Starting at $95 per person per night including breakfast and dinner. Book online at redmountainalpinelodge.com.
Breckenridge, Colorado, is a powderhound’s paradise in winter and a mountain biker’s best life in summer. Boutique log cabin hostel Bivvi provides travelers on any budget a clean and comfortable bed, a killer breakfast and a place to connect with like-minded adventurers.
“My partners and I stayed in a lot of hostels,” said co-owner Balazs Jarai. “Mountain towns aren’t historically a hot spot for lower budget accommodation. Maybe it’s because ski trips are expensive, which is exactly why my partners and I came up with Bivvi.”
They built the kind of place they wanted to crash – a comfortable lodge where travelers could connect with other outdoorsy people in an inviting living room over a local microbrew or a great breakfast. Bivvi’s breakfast is legendary, featuring organic coffee, scrambled eggs, French toast, fresh fruit and more.
From the hot tub, you get views of the Ten Mile Mountain Range. It’s the Nature channel live – a family of shy red foxes tumbles around in the back yard in warm weather. Even though the Bivvi is walking distance from Breckenridge’s downtown, it’s still in the woods.
And it’s not just for budget solo travelers. Hostel accommodations are complemented by group suites with multiple private bedrooms and bathrooms and a full kitchen. There’s an equal split of private and dorm-style rooms. Each room has a private bathroom, whether it's a six-bunk suite or a private room with a queen-sized bed.
Everything at Bivvi takes place under the canopy of the building’s vaulted ceiling and ponderosa pine beams including a huge cozy great room, the bar, and a library and TV lounge.
“Our guests are from all over the world, but they share similar interests,” said Jarai. “A lot are first-time hostelers. And we want to make the experience memorable.” Bivvi is within spitting distance of The Colorado Trail, so while skiers and snowboarders claim most of the rooms in winter, through hikers and bikers populate their lodge in the summer months.
Make it happen: The lodge holds 41 guests, and rooms start at $35/night. Book online at thebivvi.com.