A remote, exclusive Colorado lodging destination that’s not hard to get to and affordable?  The Last Frontier Lodge fits the description. As we put it, we’re on the edge of nowhere.

Sitting on the deck, it’s easy to forget we’re less than a mile from town. Close by, too, are Paonia and Hotchkiss. The people in this valley are up to many interesting things, from art to wine making.

In the other direction, it’s ten miles on county road to the less traveled North Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The West Elk Wilderness is even closer.

Our single night rate is affordable. If you can stay longer, we’ll tailor your rate to help make it possible. We have guests that become part-time valley residents, enjoying the peace and quiet for a week or even a month.

No, we can’t keep up with Colorado’s famous ski towns for traffic. Then again, if you’re looking for a place that’s remote and exclusive….

We’re doing our best to stay that way.

An often heard question, “How far is it to the National Park?

How about a visual answer? Follow the link to what appear to be three slides taken from the same spot. The middle one, though, is just an enlargement of the first. LFL is circled in yellow, above the two wooden fence posts.

To see all the way down to the lake requires being about three hundred yards outside the park. That’s almost six miles from here. It’s another four miles to the ranger station and canyon itself.

One of the advantages of being a little lodge is that we can accommodate the needs of our guests.

We can ask you, “What kind of a place might you like this to be while you’re here?”

Most of our guests just want a place to call home while they enjoy this beautiful area and the opportunities provided to visitors.  The text on our home page is mined! — with links to sites which can help you become familiar with what is available in the area.

Too, we have guests who are involved in year-round sports.  They tell us about what the area has to offer, since there’s more here than anyone has ever had the time to do.

Yet another group wants a place of peace and quiet.  On the sunny days which tend to predominate here, the place warms up quickly in the morning.  It’s hard to beat — sitting here reading or writing, keeping an eye on the beautiful vistas varying from window to window.

Being a small lodge, we’re sensitive to the personalities of our guests and what they’re interested in doing while they’re here.  We’re in a position to be the kind of place you might seek.

Let us know what you’re looking for!

I can always count on the Forest Service to know the scenic vistas in areas I visit. Here, their choice is the view out the window as I write.

You can view it here.  Better yet, if you can break away for a few days, come and enjoy it for yourself, 970-921-5150 or email

Jeff Burch has been busy documenting some of the lesser known views in Western Colorado and neighboring Utah.  Some are as beautiful as any I’ve seen, even as they don’t cry “Colorado fourteeners.”  A fan of the work of photographers like Tim Fitzharris, David Muench and Ansel Adams – other photographers who’ve worked the landscape in these parts – I’m not easily impressed.

When I met Jeff, I had no idea who he was – but having done some photography and encountered cranky people, I didn’t want to subject him to such treatment.  Thus he hung out with us for three or four hours, picking the ideal spot and waiting for the moment when the light made the landscape pop.

We’ve all spent many hours trying to get pictures which do our view justice.  Jeff, though, has spent a great deal more time selecting the appropriate equipment and developing the necessary skills.  Rendering truly panoramic vistas isn’t easy.

Still, there’s always more to the beauty.  While “our” poster – the one taken from the lodge – captures the central drama, Mendicant Ridge alone is a spectacular view.  Photographs struggle to convey the power of the uplifts involved in creating the pretty pictures.  Not only are the tops of the mountains beautiful; the sheer magnitude of the scene can be more moving.

Jeff has three posters (shown below) providing different perspectives on the West Eks.  You’ll find more information by clicking on any of them to reach his poster page.


wp76f9b37d_05_06 wpd2d5651f_05_06

I often get the question, “What’s it like?”

The group from Dusseldorf said they had to come to see if the pictures were for real.  “They are,” they added.  You don’t have to leave the breakfast table to see that.

The North Fork Valley is like much of Colorado in that the natural setting provides a reason to visit. Located less than ten miles from the National Park, I suggest it’s a sin to visit and not take advantage of the opportunity.  The Wilderness and lakes are incredible, too.

However this valley provides a welcome contrast to the surrounding ski towns: places we love to visit as their residents come here to unwind.  By comparison to most places, perhaps, we don’t seem developed.

There is plenty of effort going into shaping the Valley though.  A clue to what’s happening made it into print, in a book entitled simply “An American Provence.”  Its author, Thomas Huber of the Department of Geology at the University of Colorado, compares the North Fork Valley with the Coulon valley in Provence, France.

I have my doubts many here are intent upon living up to the suggestion, but our guests who schedule a couple of days in which to investigate quickly realize they’ve budgeted too little time.  The VOGA 2011-2012 directory, Valley Organic Growers Association, boasts sixty-eight businesses involved in agriculture and viniculture.

You can check out the VOGA directory at

An American Provence is available, in print and electronic format, from the usual online suspects.  A local review by our own Tom Wills can be found at

Another great resource is the North Fork Valley web site