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The Gnome Home, a tiny house rental at WeeCasa in Lyons, features a queen size bed and a fold-out sleeper sofa, large bathroom and full kitchen. (Provided by WeeCasa)
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For most of us, summer travel will start small, with trips that minimize contact with people outside our family members or close friends.

If you’re not a camper and are unsure if you want to stay in a hotel with potentially hundreds of other people, a tiny home rental could offer a fun alternative getaway. A typical tiny home is plenty big for two to four people, and rentals usually have fully equipped kitchens, full bathrooms, and all the modern conveniences of home. A tiny home can serve as your home base for hiking, biking, off-roading and other no- or low-contact diversions during your physically distant summer vacation.

WeeCasa

501 W. Main St., Lyons; 720-460-0239, weecasa.com

WeeCasa in Lyons bills itself as “the world’s largest tiny house resort.” Lyons itself is known as the ”Double Gateway to the Rockies,” sitting at the intersection of two routes into Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park beyond. ”We have 22 tiny homes set up as a resort,” said Kenyon Waugh, Wee-EO of WeeCasa. The 5-year-old village comprises 13 home styles created by seven builders from Colorado and Tennessee. Its reservation calendar was filled with weddings when the new coronavirus came to town.

“So it’s good news and bad news,” Waugh said. “A lot of our weddings have been postponed to later this year or next year,” which has created immediate openings for other visitors.

The homes offer contactless check-in and have their own picnic tables so you can enjoy dinner and a sunset without worrying about who else sat at your table. The 6-acre property (a sort of “private park for our guests,” Waugh said) is along North Saint Vrain Creek and offers fishing along a stretch of private river access. “Fly fishing is a perfect social distancing activity,” Waugh said. Free yoga classes, limited to eight people, are offered on weekends. Waugh may offer “sip and paint” classes and outdoor movies this summer.

The property is a half block from downtown where many restaurants are offering take away meals, so you don’t need to cook if you don’t want to. It’s 20 minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park and close to many trailheads, and you can tube the Saint Vrain and forget about the outside world for a while. WeeCasa has a two-night minimum and is $159-$249 a night.

Trail and Hitch

322 County Road 8, Meeker; 970-964-7260, coloradotrailandhitch.com

Trail and Hitch near Meeker has eight tiny homes and 28 RV sites on land that once housed oil and gas crews working in the area. The reclaimed property opened for business in January and owner Amanda Montgomery planned to hold a grand opening March 31, but postponed the celebration amid the stay-at-home orders.

There’s a two-night minimum, and rates range from $180 to $350 for two nights. The homes sleep up to four or six people. About a four-hour drive from Denver, Meeker is on the edge of the White River National Forest with access to miles of hiking, biking and OHV trails. The Wagon Wheel Trail System offers roughly 250 miles of trails and interconnecting loops for all levels of riders. Meeker is an OHV-friendly town, so you can ride from the Trail and Hitch to the trail system and into town. If self-propelled adventure is your thing, the new Philip and Dorcas Jensen Memorial Park nearby has hiking and biking trails, including a mountain bike flow course.

Trail and Hitch offers contactless check-in. “The check-in process can be very easy. Get a code and show up anytime,” Montgomery said. Each home has its own grill and deck, and while the eight homes are arranged around two communal fire pits, Montgomery said efforts will be made to ensure people are maintaining proper distance, if needed.

Tiny Timbers

28422 Colorado 160, South Fork; 719-468-9498, tinytimbersresort.com

Tiny Timbers in South Fork is surrounded by nearly 2 million acres of national forest. Brett and Cheryl McIntosh bought the property 3 1/2 years ago and opened a coffee bistro in December 2018 and launched the lodging in May 2019. The property came with a 1933 log cabin, which the couple “took down to the foundation and the original logs and completely remodeled,” Cheryl McIntosh said. The two-bedroom cabin rents for $195 a night.

The couple then added four tiny homes that are available for $125 a night (another six are planned). Recent callers have asked whether it’s possible for guests to maintain adequate distance from other people, McIntosh said. “All of our cabins have keypads, and so basically they can book online, I send them a welcome email and greeting, all the information along with a code. They can actually enter the code, get into the Tiny Home, leave the day of checkout, and if they don’t want to, they don’t have to see anyone.”

Many people who booked early for summer also canceled early, opening up dates for more last-minute summer visitors. Guests are waiting longer than usual to book stays, McIntosh said. It’s understandable, with shifting regulations regarding what businesses and attractions are open and to what extent. South Fork is about a 4 1/2-hour drive from Denver and is a mecca for ATV riding. Hundreds of miles of national forest trails mean “ATV riding is huge,” McIntosh said. Of course, the Rio Grande River flows right through South Fork which is also a hot spot for fly fishing. ”So it really does lend itself to social distancing here,” she added.

Powderhorn

48338 Powderhorn Road, Mesa; 970-268-5700, powderhorn.com

Powderhorn ski area near Mesa has been around since the 1960s, but it’s never gained the notoriety of some of Colorado’s bigger resorts. Last fall the resort added six tiny homes as an alternative lodging option for winter visitors. ”We were thinking more along the lines of ‘We are a small western Colorado ski resort and it’s an aesthetic and a lodging option that fits much better with our resort,’” said Ryan Robinson, marketing and sales director at Powderhorn. The tiny homes were popular with guests and there are plans to add more, Robinson said. Summer reservations will open in mid-June as the ski area shifts to hosting summer hikers and mountain bikers. Initially, the tiny homes will be available Wednesday through Saturday nights, pegged to days the bike park is open (Thursdays to Sundays).

Rates vary from $75 to $249 a night and the tiny homes sleep two to eight people. In addition to nearly 11 miles of mountain bike trails, guests can ride the high-speed chairlift to hike alpine trails or simply take in the views. Powderhorn is a short drive from the top of Grand Mesa where you’ll find more than 300 lakes for fishing and an abundance of hiking and ATV trails. Robinson describes the area as semi-remote. Food and drinks are available at Powderhorn, and Mesa is about a 10-minute drive and has a small general store and a few restaurants. “We encourage people to plan ahead,” Robinson said. “It’s definitely out of the way.”

Guests can pick up their key without direct contact with anyone and payments can be made online. Powderhorn is about a 3 1/2-hour drive from Denver. Robinson recommends exiting Interstate 70 at De Beque to take 45 ½ Road to Mesa, saving 20-30 minutes.

Cohabit Podtel

240 Chapel Place, Avon; 248-797-4290, cohabitpodhotel.com

Cohabit Podtel in Avon offers another option to keep your distance from others during your vacation. Pod hotels, like hostels, have common areas shared by guests, but instead of private or shared rooms they have small private sleeping quarters, or pods, with little more than bunk beds and bedside table — albeit well-appointed. ”I would say we’re a hostel meets boutique hotel,” said Carryn Burton, who owns the property with her husband, Bret.

Cohabit’s common areas — lounge, lobby, locker area — are roomy enough that you can keep a proper distance from other guests, Burton said. ”We are already a pretty low-density space,” she said. There are 28 pods in the 7,000-square-foot building, the smallest a mere 5-by-71/2 feet. There also is one private room outfitted with a queen bed and en suite bathroom. Rates are $60-$99 a night. All rooms have mobile smart locks, eco-friendly insulation (made with recycled denim) to reduce noise, good ventilation, power outlets, reading lights and quality linens.

The podtel opened Feb. 14. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the country, which might have attracted a lot of attention in another era. “Our timing could not have been worse,” Carryn Burton said. Still, the couple hopes the area’s many summer activities — hiking, rafting, fly fishing — will draw visitors curious to experience sleeping in a pod as they venture beyond their home for the first time in months. “In the summer your options are endless” here, Burton said.

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