Wake up to camels outside of your hogan

The road from Denver to Conejos County is long, winding and sometimes bumpy, but well worth it for travelers seeking a glamping experience with a twist: an overnight stay in a hogan on a camel farm.

“Does Colorado have like a little bit of everything?” an old friend texted me the other day. I can confirm that it does, and this experience is proof.

I’m a good sport when it comes to traditional camping. As a Colorado newbie, I fall on the amateur end of the spectrum, and tend to tag along with well-prepared friends who can fell trees, traverse rough terrain and generally teach me their ways. But this city girl’s realm of expertise does naturally extend to glamping, or “the activity of camping with some of the comforts and luxuries of home.”

Matt Stalzer‘s property in the San Luis Valley — labeled “Camels and a Yurt” on Hipcamp, an online marketplace for outdoor stays — immediately caught my eye, with a nightly base fee of $110. However, he was quick to correct that, while his company is named Mudita’s Camel Yurt because he used to host guests in one, it’s now been replaced by a “sacred female Navajo hogan.”

“This is Navajo land here,” he added.

The property is tucked near the town of Capulin. The drive from Denver spans four hours, but makes for an impressive road trip.

Running a bit behind schedule, the night was pitch black by the time my boyfriend and I reached the dirt road leading to the property. With our navigation skills put to the test, we only got turned around once before arriving at our destination.

Crediting a friend with the idea of a camel AirBnB, Stalzer, 42, ran with it seven years ago. He and his wife, Meghan, now take care of 20 birds, four donkeys and five camels — with “maybe one camel on the way” — on their 35-acre homestead, which they bought in 2018.

A camel and donkeys graze on the 35-acre property in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. (Photo by Megan Ulu-Lani Boyanton/The Denver Post)

At one point, their source of income stemmed from milking camels twice daily. They no longer sell any milk, but Meghan spins camel wool into yarn, and is starting a side business for her camel fudge.

Lantern in hand, a bundled-up Stalzer first greeted us by the hogan, propane heater roaring inside. With the temperature expected to hit a low of minus 1 degrees that night, he left us well-prepared. A wood-burning stove and a hefty stack of firewood also awaited us within the hard-sided hogan.

Roughly the size of a studio apartment, the space easily accommodates a bed and a couch. The added amenities include a wash basin, propane stove, water jugs, tea, coffee and a French press — the last component deemed a cause for celebration by this caffeine-dependent reporter.

In front of the hogan, an outdoor fire pit stood at the ready for guests who aim to take in millions of stars glinting in the chilly November sky. A clean, lit outhouse — complete with a wooden toilet seat — stood off to the side.

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