Colorado's Most Unusual B&Bs
Sleeping in the barn
Four Mile Creek Bed & Breakfast
Just southwest of Glenwood Springs on the banks of the tributary of its name, Four Mile Creek B&B was the nerve center of a 1,000-acre cattle ranch that was homesteaded in 1885. The ranch morphed into a dairy operation and changed owners every decade or so before the cows moved away once and for all in the 1960s.
Three decades of neglect later, the old barn nearly fell down. The nearly century-old roof had partially collapsed before a restoration began in the late 1990s.
It took innkeeper Jim Hawkins a few years to patch the place up, and the barn served as storage for about a decade. But then the time came to fulfill its destiny as one of the few former dairy barns to make the leap from cow house to plush lodging for humans. It’s now Four Mile Creek B&B’s Red Barn Suite, with radiant heating, a cozy courtyard out back and a funky-meets-rustic sensibility. An old streetlight illuminates the sitting area, and the lampshade is a repurposed colander.
A retired Denver firefighter, Jim runs Four Mile Creek B&B with his wife, Sharill. Both are artists, and it shows. Sharill, who makes distinctive jewelry out of old fruitcake tins, brings an inventive eye to design. “We pretty well don’t have anything that’s not from a thrift shop, garage sale or garbage can,” Jim said. “Everything has got a story, and if it doesn’t, I’ll make one up.”
The barn’s cozy creekside location is adjacent to the main house, built in 1926, and a pair of similarly restored guest cabins. The old bunkhouse is now a cowboy museum, outfitted as it would have been 100 years ago.
Post-Red Barn Suite, Jim, a musician who recently released his fourth country-tinged album, converted the second story of the barn into a 70-seat theater, its walls clad in black-and-white ranch photos, Western movie posters and collectible cowboy hats. “Some of them have stories. Some of them are mine; one of them was John Denver’s,” he said.
Since 2013, Hawkins has hosted six concerts a year between May and October. They’re community affairs, with big potluck dinners and music on center stage. “We eat like kings,” Jim said.
Then there was the black bear with a cheese-ball container stuck on his head. In summer 2016, locals would see the bear lumbering around the neighborhood, unable to eat or drink because it dug too deep in a roadside recycling bin.
Jim lassoed it and tied it to a tree to give Division of Wildlife officials a chance to get there before it wandered away. They darted the bear and freed it from its plastic prison.
The story quickly went viral, and reporters called from all over the planet. “It wasn’t what I had in mind at all,” he said. “But it was right after breakfast, so the guests got a good show.” – Eric Peterson
For the rest of the story see the March/April issue of Colorado Life.