Scene: Something Blue - Ski Mag

Scene: Something Blue

These Colorado resorts turned millions of acres of diseased pines into something uniquely beautiful.
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Pine beetle kill wood is showing up in ski country designs. | Photo: CHRIS COUNCIL/C2 PHOTOGRAPHY

Who knew a quarter-inch-long beetle could cause so much destruction? The nefarious mountain pine beetle, responsible for infesting roughly 3.4 million acres of lodgepole pines in the Colorado Rockies, has left behind diseased mountainsides nationwide that would collectively cover the state of Connecticut. And though skiers sigh at the growing patches of brown spreading across Summit, Routt, Pitkin, and Gunnison counties, local architects and interior designers are embracing the by-product: The unique blue-, gray-, or green-hued wood makes for a striking design element at Colorado lodges, restaurants, and bars. (The colors come from the fungus the beetle leaves behind.) Herein, a peek at what’s rising from the proverbial ashes.

The Little Nell, Aspen » The deeply striated tabletop inside the hotel’s wine cellar was crafted by Rocky Blue Woodworks from a single piece of beetle-kill lodgepole. It sits atop two wine casks and is the focal point for the cellar’s tasting and pairing events. (See photo top right.)

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Woody Creek Distillery, near Aspen » The wood paneling inside the Woody Creek Distillery’s barrel and tasting rooms is 100 percent beetle kill.

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Merry Go Round Restaurant, Aspen Highlands » With its $6 million renovation in 2011, the mountaintop restaurant received a new ceiling made from beetle-kill pine, over half of it from nearby White River National Forest.

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Hill House, Winter Park Resort » Winter Park, one the resorts hardest hit by the beetles, has removed over 600 acres of diseased trees since 2005. Hill House, at the base of the resort’s tubing hill, opened in 2012 as a warming hut, but its dramatic design, made with beetle-kill wood, makes it one of the most compelling structures at the resort.

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Talons Restaurant, Beaver Creek » The new Talons Restaurant opened in November 2013 with beetle-kill pine tables throughout both floors of the 17,000-square-foot building. Elsewhere around the resort, beetle kill is used in signage and benches.

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6th Alley Bar and Grill, Arapahoe Basin » The new-last-season 6th Alley Bar and Grill employs beetle kill in its over-the-bar growler hangers and in the beautiful blue-hued walls and bench at the entrance of the bar. 

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Nordic Inn, Crested Butte » The 2013 renovation of this classic downtown inn included beetle-kill ceilings in the upstairs guest rooms. 

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