In a secluded Colorado canyon on a private stretch of river, the latest addition to the Eleven Experience collection of adventure lodges combines five-star comfort with a breath of fresh air
Long summer days are meant to be spent outdoors, but sometimes even the most rough and tumble outdoorsmen crave an alternative to tents and campfire cooking. Taylor River Lodge is that rare combination of wilderness setting and five-star service. It is the newest property from Eleven Experience, a growing portfolio of exclusive adventure lodges in destinations including Iceland, the Bahamas and the French Alps. It debuted last September, 15 miles south-east of Crested Butte, Colorado, home to Eleven's ski-focused flagship, Scarp River Lodge.
Tucked away in a secluded canyon, near the sleepy town of Almont, the lodge is blissfully remote, with no mobile-phone signal. At first glance, it could easily be mistaken for any other Rocky Mountain dude ranch, with rustic log cabins and a large campsite with fire pits. But a three-year renovation transformed the camp into a property that ticks all of the boxes of Chad Pike, the London-based American financier and founder of Eleven Experience. When he founded the collective in 2011, he wanted every property to tap into his own personal passions - sports (particularly fly fishing and off-piste skiing) and family (he has four children) - and his discriminating five-star tastes.
His wife, Blake, reimagined the basic cabins, creating cosy yet stylish spaces. Six cabins - three with twin beds in a loft - feature beds that combine Indian block-printed pillows with Moroccan textile-covered headboards. Antler-framed mirrors, stuffed trophy trout and other classic Western touches are used discreetly, and vintage books with titles like How to Play in the Woods replace televisions. The Rainbow Cabin, with two queen suites and a room with four bunk beds, and the Green Drake, which has two king suites and a bunk room, are ideal for families. The extra space in the latter allows for added features like a luxurious deep cedar wood bath, stone fireplaces and a study nook with a vintage writing desk.
While cabins are dens of privacy, the rest of the property is one big communal playground. A large games room meets the amusements of all ages, with a pool table, darts and table football. A moose head hangs above the bar, which is stocked with local spirits. The main gathering space, Kokanee Lodge, overlooks the property's trout-filled lake and evokes the feeling of an exclusive hunting lodge with its bearskin rug, stone fireplaces (indoor and out), horseshoe-shape bar and photographs of Taylor River adventures from the Fifties and Sixties.
Outdoors, guests can scramble up a climbing wall or test their aim with archery, BB-gun shooting or even axe throwing. There is an on-site shop kitting out guests in the appropriate clothing for any adventure and Eleven's exceptional guides lead mountain biking, white-water rafting and, of course, fly fishing trips either steps away on the lodge's semi-private stretch of the Taylor River or further afield in the Gunnison Valley. After a day in the wild, guests can unwind in the Bath House, complete with a sauna, steam room, and salt-water pool, before a farm-to-table meal under the stars. The great outdoors has never been so civilised.
Individual cabins cost from $1,720 a night, based on double occupancy.