In 1916, Michael Sorensen, a Danish immigrant and sheepherder, pulled together enough money to buy 169 acres of land in Hope Valley. Amid stands of aspens cut through by the West Fork of the Carson River, Sorensen built cabins over the next decade that he would rent out for 75 cents a night when he opened his namesake resort in 1926.
Nearly a century later, Sorensen’s has undergone many changes and owners over the years, but the soul of the property and the undeveloped landscape that surrounds it has not. It’s what attracted the newest proprietor, founder and CEO of Wylder Hotels John Flannigan, to breathe new life into the mountain retreat.
“As soon as I got to Hope Valley, I fell in love with it. It checked every box for what a Wylder Hotel is, in terms of a lot of land, nostalgia, the natural environment and experiential things to do,” said Flannigan.
Now called Wylder Hotel Hope Valley, Flannigan has begun renovating the 30 log cabins — ranging from 2 to 8 person accommodations — with pine-panelled walls, mountain modern furniture, and updated kitchens and bathrooms. New hammocks, swings, bridges, and fire pits now dot the property.
The neighboring campside was purchased, and seven yurts and a vintage Spartan trailer were added alongside the tent and RV sites and connected to the main property via a wooded trail. The yurts truly encompass the concept of “glamping,” with large footprints housing comfy beds, couches, a gas fireplace, dining nook and even a soaking tub.
And while much has changed since Wylder Hotel Hope Valley took over, one important thing has not: There is not a stitch of cell service and no WiFi.
EAT AND BE MERRY
Another nod to the resort’s history is Sorensen’s Café, which serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner to guests on its new deck or cozy dining room. The menu retained the longtime favorite, beef burgundy stew, but added in new flair with dishes like the shaved prime rib carne asada served with homemade flour tortillas and a grilled pork chop with apple-leek cream sauce. Sip on a hot toddy or classic Old Fashioned before diving into a heaping portion of comforting bread pudding.
At the revamped General Store, browse Sierra Nevada nature guides, trendy Pendleton gear and Stanley thermoses then grab an Americano at the coffee bar or a sausage breakfast sandwich slicked with spicy aioli.
The same woman who has made the much-loved baked goods at Sorensen’s for years is still cranking out delicious scones (try the coconut mango) and full pies (the peach strawberry is the ultimate souvenir to bring home).
For Flannigan, who also has a Wylder Hotel on a 9-acre waterfront property on Maryland’s Tilghman Island, the draw to Hope Valley was simple — the land.
“You have the West Fork of the Carson River meandering through and all of these great peaks, like Pickett Peak and Indian Head. Just this natural space that’s untouched,” says Flannigan. “The fly fishing, the hiking, the mountain biking, the kayaking. All of these great lakes like Silver Lake, Scotts Lake, the Blue Lakes and Caples Lake are all really nearby. You really have the changes of the seasons and all of the different elements that you can enjoy, whether it’s wildflower walks, the aspens changing in fall or the snow falling. It feels pretty magical here.”
During the winter months, guests can rent snowshoes to take in the miles of trails traversing Hope Valley and Carson Pass or take the kids to the property’s sledding hill. The newly restored wood-fired sauna is a wintertime favorite, with the brave popping out to make a quick snow angel before heading back into the warmth.
Hope Valley is also a great destination for cross country skiing, and Kirkwood Mountain Resort is just 20 minutes down the road.
“We tried to tap into that magical, nostalgic history that was already here,” said Flannigan. “And we’re excited for people to experience everything Hope Valley has to offer.”