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Elk Mountain Resort, Montrose, CO - Review

All Fired Up in the Wild, Wild West

The picturesque main lodge of Elk Mountain Resort in Montrose, Colorado
Picturesque main lodge

A restful night between 450-thread count linens. A puff on a cigar from your personalized humidor in the climate-controlled cigar room. An anti-terrorism training course before a dinner of innovative alpine cuisine in front of a three-sided patio fireplace overlooking a spring-fed lake. Ah, it’s just another stay at Elk Mountain Resort.

Embraced by the San Juan Mountains and Uncompahgre National Forest in Southwest Colorado, forty minutes outside Telluride, this 275-acre resort has a very pristine feel to it, from its landscape of aspen, spruce and pine forests to the clean architectural lines of its Main Lodge and outbuildings. It was opened in June 2004 by a father and son team, Michael and Thomas Forman, who scoured the country for just the right location for their luxury resort and shooting club, which is situated in a far corner of the property.

While the comprehensive Valhalla Shooting Club (with its five-position clay shooting fields, live-fire scenario shoot house, indoor pistol range and hefty membership fee) is a cornerstone of the resort, the Main Lodge is its anchor. It was fashioned after a classic 19th-century hunting lodge, but while it hints at its rustic sources, it is in fact quite sleek looking. This social hub features a beautiful Great Room on the main floor, with a massive stone fireplace flanked by leather club chairs. Upstairs is the cigar room and a cocktail bar where classic pursuits such as billiards and card tables recall saloons of a century ago.

Artful lobby entrance to the restaurant at Elk Mountain Resort in Montrose, Colorado
Artful lobby entrance to the restaurant

Another feature of the Main Lodge is Tarragon at Elk Mountain, serving regional and alpine flavors crafted by consulting culinary director Richard Chamberlain, whose extensive background includes a stint as executive chef at the Little Nell hotel in Aspen. Adjacent to the restaurant is a 2,500-bottle wine cellar. Designed to resemble a mineshaft, it emphasizes California and European wines and has a grand tasting room for private dining. Another singular dining option is a catered picnic at one of the resort’s private picnic spots.

The accommodations here are notably stylish. Guests can choose from 21 lodge rooms and eighteen impressive, 2,600-square-foot cottages. There is no end to the finely-crafted details you’ll find in the cottages, beginning in their spacious Great Rooms: soaring ceilings, floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces, floating oak floors, hand-crafted Native American rugs, hand-painted parchment table lamps and chandeliers, built-in armoires with 32-inch TVs, VCRs, DVD players and CD players, and kitchenettes with honey maple cabinets. Also located on the first floor, master bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and double French doors that open onto private decks.

Rustic lodge bedroom at Elk Mountain Resort in Montrose, Colorado
Lavish cottage interior at Elk Mountain Resort in Montrose, Colorado
Rustic lodge bedroom
Lavish cottage interior

While not as spacious as the cottages, the cozy lodge rooms — connected to the Main Lodge by a covered heated walkway — are equally attractive, with hand-crafted furniture, warm wood floors, paneled wood ceilings, four-post wrought-iron beds and Native American wall and floor weavings. All accommodations come with complimentary DSL, data port connections, satellite TV and basics such as irons, safes and coffee makers.

With corporate retreat planners always seeking out the exclusive and unique, Elk Mountain Resort is sure to attract the conference crowds. The entire resort can be rented out for meetings (as well as weddings — there’s even an enclosed chapel looking onto the San Juans), and customized group activities include fishing, hiking and sessions at the shooting club. The Main Lodge houses corporate boardrooms with conference tables and audio/visual conferencing technologies. In addition, for large events, there is a 1,296-square-foot ballroom. And the cottages can be used to accommodate small groups.

Valhalla Shooting Club
Valhalla Shooting Club

Naturally, the shooting club gets a lot of attention, simply because most resorts showcase a spa or golf course rather than self-defense lessons and firearm safety. But there are plenty of other things to do at this outdoor playground. Winter activities include skiing at nearby Telluride, cross-country skiing through the San Juans, ice skating on the lake, ice climbing in Ouray and helicopter skiing from the resort’s own helipad. As for the rest of the year, you can take advantage of trout-stocked Tait’s Lake, the equestrian center, mountain bikes, ATVs, a state-of-the-art rock climbing monolith, an eight-station ropes course and even a go-kart course. As for those spa treatments, yes, they are on offer in-room. So if you’re looking for a destination to get fired up about, this is certainly the place.

Elk Mountain Resort
97 Elk Walk
Montrose, CO 81401
877-355-9255, 970-252-4900


Going to Colorado? Check out our Guide.

(Updated: 02/07/11 CT)

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