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Retired NHL player, Roaring Fork Valley partners reopen Electric Mountain Lodge

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by Matthew Bennett from the Post Independent

Most businesses pride themselves on being easy to access. But the Electric Mountain Lodge, situated above Paonia on the Sunlight-to-Powderhorn trail system, with its "hard-to-get-to, even-harder-to-leave" catch phrase, promotes just the opposite.

After all, visitors during the winter months can only really access the rustic, remote destination, at an elevation of 9,200 feet, by snowmobile.

The lodge, which last served as a Christian youth center before its new Roaring Fork Valley co-owners Larry Giroux, Sean Gooding, and Dr. Dave Jensen acquired the property, will now offer seasonal activities, a variety of lodging options and a full-service dining room and bar.

According to Giroux, the Electric Mountain Lodge will have a soft opening on Friday, ahead of its grand opening slated for Dec. 22.

"We are opening up the Electric Mountain Lodge bigger and better than before and we are going to be open to the general public and have the same fun experiences that people enjoyed in the past," Giroux said.

In the fall, the lodge will welcome deer, elk and moose seekers who can hunt in the remote wilderness by day, and enjoy a meal and libation, or two, by the fireplace come nightfall.

"We have expanded the dining room – that includes a big stone fireplace now – and we can seat about 40-45 people," Giroux explained of the full-service dining room and bar, which will offer guests breakfast, lunch and dinner options."

"We are talking to Sunlight about doing snowmobile tours over there, too," Giroux added.

With over half-a-million acres of wilderness surrounding the lodge, the hunting and snowmobiling opportunities appear endless. However, Giroux hopes to also cater to the numerous professional athletes that frequent the Western Slope.

"We are hoping to rent [the lodge] out in January to Monster and Red Bull for the X Games guys to come in and train for the X Games," Giroux said.

According to Giroux, the lodge features four rooms for guests wishing to spend the night in the main building, in addition to two separate small cabins and three big units, which each offer two bedrooms and a loft.

The family-friendly lodge will also offer a game room equipped with a pool table and big screen TVs, in addition to a sauna and outdoor hot tub.

"I have been in the restaurant bar business before, and I thought this was a unique opportunity," Giroux explained. "This is a unique facility out there. It is hard to get to. It is off the beaten track, it is rustic, and it is in good shape."

While snowmobiling and hunting will spearhead the fall and winter seasons, when summer rolls around, the Electric Mountain Lodge will switch gears to ATV adventures, mountain biking, hiking, and fishing, he said.

Additionally, guests may also access the lodge by road at that point.

Giroux – a retired NHL player himself – spoke highly of the X Games visitors possibly headed to the lodge later this winter, but emphasized catering to the local communities from Delta to Glenwood Springs and south to Paonia, too.

"There is a local business out there. Our manager has been there 11 years, so he knows the community, and he lives in Paonia," Giroux said.

The Electric Mountain Lodge will also host weddings and conferences in its tucked-away location during the summer.

Prior to being rebuilt and serving as a private Christian youth camp, the lodge operated for many years as a popular all-season backcountry resort until a deadly propane explosion leveled the original lodge in 2005.

During the winter, the lodge can be accessed from the Roaring Fork Valley side via the Sunlight-to-Powderhorn snowmobile trail system. Trailheads are located in the Four Mile Park area above Sunlight Mountain Resort, and west of Carbondale at Marion Gulch.

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