A Quiet Holiday Retreat at Avalanche Ranch

Our first of four mini-vacays before COVID-19 was our Thanksgiving trip to Avalanche Ranch. Avalanche Ranch is a small property about four hours west of Denver with a dozen or so rustic cabins and three natural hot springs pools.

Avalanche Ranch was built fairly recently and has an interesting history. In 2008, two local high school geology classes helped the property owners discover that there might be hot underground water wells on the property by noticing that hot vents were melting piles of snow on the nearby highway. After two years of drilling and creating a 3,000-foot pipeline from a hot water well to the property, the hot springs pools of Avalanche Ranch were finally completed, and boy, are they gorgeous, inviting pools!

Hubby and I have wanted to book a stay at Avalanche Ranch for years, but the cabins book up months in advance and we were never able to get our act together to plan ahead for a booking. This past June, we finally committed to a stay at Avalanche Ranch, but one of the soonest dates available at the time was for the Thanksgiving weekend. Since we don’t have any tricky family politics to navigate for holidays, we were able to make a quick and easy decision to book Avalanche Ranch for a quiet holiday retreat.

When vacay weekend was finally approaching, we realized we would have to plan ahead and pre-cook our Thanksgiving meal at home because the cabin would have limited supplies and space. Not only that, after looking at the weather forecast, we realized we would have to hang our outdoor Christmas lights before several major snow storms hit the area that likely would not melt before Christmas.

After smoking a turkey and hanging our Christmas lights, we were ready to hit the road!

Thanksgiving 2019 1

Thanksgiving 2019 2

We received over 7 inches of snow (the largest snowfall in almost four years) right before we left for our trip to Avalanche Ranch. We were glad we put up our Christmas lights a few days prior because this snow wasn’t going anywhere any time soon!

Once we reached Avalanche Ranch, we were surprised to find that there was absolutely no cell phone reception or working wi-fi. This turned out to be a good thing because it forced a much-needed separation between us and our devices in order to enjoy our stay more.

Additionally, during certain early and late hours of the day, the hot springs pools on the property are only open to ranch guests, so we had plenty of opportunities to peacefully enjoy the hot springs to ourselves. We even received some fresh, blissful snow during our stay, which subsequently made for some interesting treks in swim suits and flip flops to/from our cabin and the hot springs!

Thanksgiving 2019 - Avalanche Ranch 1

Our rustic cabin at Avalanche Ranch with a snowy backdrop of Mount Sopris.

avalanche ranch cabin 12 bird

Each cabin at Avalanche Ranch has a cute theme and ours was “birds”.

Thanksgiving 2019 - Avalanche Ranch 2

A colorful cabin at Avalanche Ranch that houses materials and equipment for the livestock on the property.

avalanche ranch sheep

Curious sheep at Avalanche Ranch.

Thanksgiving 2019 - Avalanche Ranch 3

A cold trek from our cabin to the hot springs.

Thanksgiving 2019 - Avalanche Ranch 5

View of the largest hot springs pool. The two other pools are above this pool.

avalanche ranch waterfall

The largest, bottom tier hot springs pool is fed by water from the hot springs pool above via a gorgeous three-foot waterfall.

Thanksgiving 2019 - Avalanche Ranch 4

The most used hot spring at Avalanche Ranch due to its perfect temperature.

avalanche ranch hot tub

The outdoor hot tub at Avalanche Ranch. It’s also filled with hot water from the well.

We stayed at Avalanche Ranch a total of three nights, which allowed us to do some activities nearby. On our first full day, we snowboarded in fresh powder at Snowmass Mountain and followed up with a snowy stroll through nearby downtown Aspen.


Thanksgiving 2019 - Snowmass 2

Getting covered with snow on the chairlift at Snowmass Mountain.

Thanksgiving 2019 - Snowmass 3

Snowboarding in fresh powder on Snowmass Mountain. I forgot to bring snow goggles so I was flying blind before I finally told hubby he could go off and have some fun without me holding him back.

snowmass mountain

The end result of a husband leaving his wife to go do “a run or two” while it was dumping snow.

Thanksgiving 2019 - Snowmass 1

The parking lot was dry at the start of our snowboarding day and covered in snow by the end of the day!

downtown aspen snow

Downtown Aspen on a snowy November afternoon.

On our second day, we hiked to Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock, which was about an hour away from Avalanche Ranch. During most times of the year, the hike to Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock requires trail users to snag a permit and book a shuttle since the trail has gotten very popular and busy the past few years. It was such a treat to visit this trail in the cold months because we didn’t have to book a crowded shuttle and we had the trail almost all to ourselves!

Thanksgiving 2019 - Hanging Lake 1

The beginning of the trail to Hanging Lake. This is one of the few flat sections of the hike.

hanging lake hike snow

The hike to Hanging Lake is only three miles roundtrip, but steep and slippery!

Thanksgiving 2019 - Hanging Lake 2

This was my second trip to Hanging Lake and both have been in the month of November. It’s a treat to see Hanging Lake in snow!

Thanksgiving 2019 - Hanging Lake 3

Thanksgiving 2019 - Hanging Lake 4

The trail to Spouting Rock is only 100 yards above Hanging Lake and worth the extra, short trek. It’s literally water spouting out of a giant rock face and such an incredible sight to see! The water from this spot flows down to create the waterfalls that define the whimsical backdrop of Hanging Lake.

Thanksgiving 2019 - Hanging Lake 6

Inside the cave below Spouting Rock.

Thanksgiving 2019 - Hanging Lake 5

Icicles hanging down from the cave below Spouting Rock.

marble distillery

We followed up our cold hike with warm cocktails from Marble Distillery nearby.

Our weekend trip to Avalanche Ranch turned out to be the perfect relaxing, rustic retreat that we envisioned. Our next trip a few weeks later would have a lot to live up to! Stay tuned for my next post on my birthday trip in Steamboat Springs.

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