A-Lodge + crafting a Boulder adventure hub

Growing Boulder’s only hostel into an adventure destination

By Paul Hagey Sep 5 2019

On a recent weekday, a backpacker stood in the lobby of the A-Lodge, Boulder’s last and only hostel located a mile west of downtown Boulder up Boulder Canyon Drive, asking the desk person about local climbing routes.

This scenario presents A-Lodge co-founder Asa Firestone’s dirtbagger dream for the Adventure Lodge he and co-founder Kris Klauber launched in December 2014, when they took over the 6.8-acre property, at 91 Fourmile Canyon Road just off Boulder Canyon Road.

The property with Fourmile Creek coursing through it lives steps away from Boulder’s mountain biking and hiking gem Betasso Preserve, footsteps from Boulder Canyon’s climbing and fishing, and a headstart up to the Indian Peaks and Eldora above Nederland. Also just few hundred feet away is the terminus of the two-mile Boulder Canyon Trail, which funnels bikers, runners and hikers along Boulder Creek to downtown.

Asa Firestone at the A-Lodge. Photo: Paul Hagey

The location may be the perfect hub for Boulder adventures, and that was Asa and Kris’s whole idea.

To experience the A-Lodge at its summer Under The Stars Film Nights event, in which it shows adventure films on its wide lawn on an inflatable screen with beer slung by Sanitas Brewery and tacos by McDevitt Taco Supply, is to experience the lodge in full flower.

Thanks to the Boulder Canyon Trail, bikes upon bikes stack up along the entrance, and cozy crowds expand on the lawn under the darkening sky and twinkle light-wrapped trees. Perhaps not a more Boulder scene exists.

The A-Lodge’s summer Under The Stars Film Nights represent the apotheosis of the lodge’s founding vision. Photo: A-Lodge.

Building the A-Lodge Vision

Seeing news of Boulder’s Hostel on the Hill’s closure in the Daily Camera in 2012, an idea sparked in Asa’s mind: build an adventurer’s hostel in Boulder that fosters adventure community for locals and visitors alike.

The property, on the banks of Fourmile Creek just before it meets Boulder Creek, had been an active hotel for nearly three decades, but Asa and Kris had a different vision: a climber’s hostel where adventurers seeking Boulder’s diverse adventure landscape could crash between outings, learn about local adventures, socialize and grab a beer around the fire.

While hosting guests from day one, Asa and Kris have slowly been transforming the property and buildings into their adventure vision.

In May 2018, they completed a revamp of the A-Lodge lobby and secured a beer and liquor license, cementing a key ingredient of any adventure hub.

The revamped A-Lodge lobby. Photo: A-Lodge

Looking to expand, Asa and Kris bought two Mercedes Sprinter vans and added #vanlife to their offerings. Outfitted by Boulder’s own Titan Vans, the campers allow A-Lodge to expand their adventure offering to guests: essentially a mobile hotel room.

Vans go for roughly $200 per night for up to 100 miles of driving included for each day rented. Mileage over that goes for 35 cents per mile.

Offerings at the A-Lodge lounge. Photo: Paul Hagey

Summary of A-Lodge housing:

  • 27 private rooms ($200 per night in summer; $100 per night in off-peak seasons)
  • 12 hostel rooms ($35 to $65)
  • Two campsites ($45, adding five more sites soon)
  • Two vanlife sites (working 2 more vanlife sites)
  • 13 staff plus him and Kris (30 hours per week)

The A-Lodge is beginning to explore leading or coordinating adventures for locals and guests.

Adventurer at heart, building adventure community

The vision has shifted slightly with Asa and Kris realizing the business realities of running a hotel. They could not run a dirt-cheap hostel for shoestring only-for-the-adventure climbers and adventures they had originally imagined.

The price points are a bit higher for a bed in the 12-bed hostel, which climb toward $60 per night in summer and slide down in lower-demand fall and winter (price for a bunk right now is $55).

But the vision doesn’t stop with hosting out-of-town adventurers. The A-Lodge is working to cultivate a vibrant Boulder adventure community, where local adventurers can meet up for a beer, plan new routes and trips, and general, fuel each other’s adventure stoke.

For example, groups host community a pre-trail-run yoga every Wednesday afternoon and meditation every Thursday afternoon.

Feature image: Paul Hagey

Paul Hagey

Paul Hagey is BLDRfly’s founder and editor. When not wrangling video, audio and words in the name of story, he’s riding his mountain bike, trail running and hanging with his awesome wife Jen and their young daughter. paul@bldrfly.com