Once upon a time, a bored girl went chasing rabbits in Colorado. Her curiosity and penchant for adventure led her into a mountainous world of intriguing people, mesmerizing views, and unusual dimensions.
Visions of Alice in Wonderland danced in my head as I was driving back to Denver after my WeeCasa Colorado adventure around Rocky Mountain National Park. I had just spent the last two days in an intriguing, tiny Wonderland.
Since I’m new to Colorado, everywhere is an adventure for me! I love that you can see the mountains from Denver, but eventually, I get bored of looking from afar and I want to get up close! I set out on a weekend adventure from my new home in Denver to the small town of Lyons and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Getting There with a Twist
I couldn’t just fall through a rabbit hole to Lyons; first I needed wheels. I don’t have a car in Denver, so I rented one. This was the perfect opportunity to try out the new car-sharing app Turo.com. It’s like Airbnb for cars; I would be trying local car rental directly from another person (a stranger). I wanted to try it for a number of reasons, but it is also normally cheaper than a car rental company. Plus, I love trying new things, and since this whole trip was about utilizing normal things with a slightly different twist, renting a stranger’s car seemed an appropriate choice!
Susan, the car owner, gave me the keys to her 2007 Subaru Outback, and off I went towards Lyons Colorado where I stayed for the night.
I opened the door to WeeCasa #9 and suddenly felt like I was falling into Alice’s Wonderland; everything seemed like it should be familiar, but it was as if my world had just shrunk.
I stayed in ‘The Boulder’ tiny home, a part of the WeeCasa Tiny Home Hotel Resort. I surveyed the 135 square feet carefully, taking in all of the exposed woodwork, and inventive little concepts in tiny design and use of space. I was actually surprised at how big 135 square feet looked even though it only took me four short steps to go from the kitchen through the ‘living room’ to the bathroom!
“12 tiny Wee Casas would fit inside the average American home.”
My tiny home was small but completely functional with a normal size kitchen sink, 2 burner stove, a bathroom with a real toilet, a stand-up shower, and a queen-sized bed lofted above the bathroom. The loft was even tall enough to easily sit up in bed.
A Tiny Home With a Tiny Past
When you book your tiny home you can choose which one you’d like to stay in. I chose to stay in ‘The Boulder’, a Rocky Mountain Tiny Home design. Each home seems to come with a back-story; I learned the owner of my house was a fisherwoman in Alaska in the summers. She had it built in Colorado for a winter home and lived in it around Lyons. She’s since decided not to live in it anymore (at least for now), so it’s been with WeeCasa ever since, instead of going into storage.
WeeCasa gave the Boulder a new life. They agreed to take it and use it in the resort; it gets used, the owner makes some money, it’s lodging, and it gets shared with the tiny home community! A win, win for everyone!
I’ll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours…
There are 22 tiny homes at WeeCasa situated in a campground like environment. There are areas of shared seating outside the houses, places for bonfires, and a small local market in Lyons where you can get supplies for cooking.
When staying at WeeCasa, expect to be social. Normally when staying at a hotel all of the rooms are basically the same layout and look. However, each WeeCasa home has a different layout and design creating this “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” situation! I found the experience to be more social than an average camping or hotel experience. Here everyone invited each other inside and soon a social circle was formed with your WeeCasa neighbors!
Meet the Tiny Experts
Greg and Jenn the Wee Managers
A trip to a tiny Wonderland means you meet interesting people too. No – I didn’t meet the Mad Hatter, but I did meet Greg and Jenn White, the Wee managers. Greg used to work at Microsoft and took a career break in 2001 to RV around the country and never came back. They raised three kids while living in RV’s and other various places while remaining minimal and mobile. You can read more of their story here. In addition, they’ve written a book on Becoming BareNaked: Leaving a six-figure career, selling their crap, pulling the kids out of school, and buying an RV ~ They hit the road in search of what it meant to be a family in America. If anyone was meant for tiny homes – they were!
Greg and Jenn walked me around all of the different tiny home designs at WeeCasa and gave me the history. They had models from many of the main builders; Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, Sprout Tiny Homes, Om Ah Homes, and Tiny Heirloom. I was amazed at the variety and the roominess of some!
Build It Tiny and They Will Come
People stay at WeeCasa for a couple of different reasons. Some use it as a big venue and rent the whole thing out for weddings or family reunions. But the majority of people who stay at WeeCasa are simply curious about tiny home living. People come from all over the country just to experience different models. They aren’t sure if they want to build or buy so they bounce around to different models and try them out.
“We get a lot of enthusiasts who are thinking about transitioning – it’s a way to do a test run and it’s a great way to introduce people to small living,” Jenn explained. “When you are in a tiny space – you can’t have two big sinks – maybe there is just one sink in the kitchen and none in the bathroom. You have to adjust. Tiny living is a reworking of things that we’ve been taught. Some people love that because they are ready for a different challenge in life, and for some people, it drives them nuts! And that’s how you determine real quick who can live in a tiny house and who can’t.”
Then there are the people who are curious; they see the myriad of tiny home shows and they just want to experience it and see what the fad is like. ”It’s a different way to lodge. It’s a vacation within a vacation. You can go to Holiday Inns all day long and they are all the same. But if you are coming here to see Rocky Mountain National Park and you get to stay in a tiny home…it’s like two vacations in one!” remarked Greg.
I was sort of in between the two types of travelers – I was curious, but I also wanted a bit of a test run. Eventually is it my goal to have a tiny house somewhere, and I wanted to see what it was like. After living out of a suitcase for 10 years I think tiny living would be a good fit for me, but I wanted to learn more about the industry. WeeCasa is a great place to do that. And Greg and Jenn are a wealth of knowledge about the industry whether you want to buy or build.
If you really want to take tiny home living for a serious test run, then stay in the winter. This is the first winter WeeCasa stayed open the entire time and you can actually do longer-term stays over the winter – up to 30 days. This way you can see if you can cut it or not as a tiny home dweller.
Leave More Time for the Things You Love
The tiny house movement advocates freedom through simplicity. In contrast to the average American home (2600 sq feet), staying in a tiny home (400 sq ft or less) reduces your footprint and leaves you more time to do the things you love. And that’s exactly what I did on my weekend vacation in Lyons and surrounding Rocky Mountain National Park; I did the things I loved – exploring.
The WeeCasa Resort ‘Park’ is situated perfectly on your way to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. I wanted to explore these two areas, but I also wanted to see the little town of Lyons with its many cute restaurants and art stores.
Things to do Around WeeCasa
Lyons and Around: WeeCasa is located a short five-minute walk to Main street where you’ll find delicious restaurants, galleries and breweries. My dinner at Farmer Girl was a highlight; fresh local ingredients and an eating experience you wouldn’t expect in such a small town. The homemade pasta was delicious! I also stopped by the Oskar Blues Brewery as each little Colorado town seems to have a local brewery or two. There was a great blues band playing, and many locals to talk to!
You don’t have to go far for adventure around Lyons – you can kayak on the river, go hiking, fly fishing, and biking. I didn’t have time to try these out on my tiny weekend, but it’s on my list for next time.
Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park: A short (and scenic) 30-minute drive will land you a step closer to the Rocky Mountain peaks that surround Estes Park. On the advice or friends and readers, I went and toured the famous haunted Stanley Hotel. It might look and sound familiar; it was Stephen King’s inspiration for his book The Shining. The hotel tour was full of history about the area and had plenty of creepy stories.
Just a few minutes further and you are at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. I drove up the famous Trail Ridge Road – the 3rd highest paved road in the US. The road crosses the Continental Divide and reaches a maximum elevation of 12,183 ft, near Fall River Pass.
Since it was May, the road wasn’t completely open yet, due to snowpack. However, the rangers allowed visitors to drive as far as Rainbow Curve at nearly 11,000 ft. There I parked the car and you could actually hike up the closed part of the road even higher. The opportunity to walk along Trail Ridge Road only happens for a few weeks of the year in the spring. I took advantage of this unique opportunity and walked a few miles up the road, got away from the crowds, had a little picnic lunch, enjoyed the view, and the complete quiet of the Rockies. It really was a ‘zen’ experience.
My tiny weekend vacation was a success, and unlike Alice’s Wonderland, it wasn’t a dream. Not only did I get to take a tiny home for a test run; but I met fascinating people, and was able to explore Rocky Mountain National Park in a completely unique way. My curiosity was satiated and I went back to Denver eager to tell others about my wild tales of this tiny Colorado Wonderland.
Want to stay at WeeCasa?
WeeCasa Website – Nightly rates vary from $149-185 based upon on the day of the week and the particular tiny home. A two-night minimum stay is required on the weekends.
Things to Do Around Lyons Colorado
Follow Sherry Ott @ottsworld