Brought to you by: Colorado Collective
In southeastern Colorado, the Wet Mountain Valley is the heartbeat of the state for many Coloradans. Framed with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and the Wet Mountains to the west, the valley encompasses magnificent panoramic mountain views, a haven of homesteading country for farmers and ranchers, and a constellation of tiny towns that manifest a proud sense of history and community.
Hillside is one of those towns. They say, “If you blink, you’ll miss it,” as you drive along Highway 69 between Westcliffe and Cotopaxi. With roughly 9 acres and half a dozen structures, Hillside has been a hub in the valley’s community—most notably for its post office. With about three hundred P.O. Boxes and a small general store, locals, farmers, and ranchers frequent the post office not just to get their mail, but also to catch up with each other.
As a child, Chris Seegers would visit the Hillside post office with his grandfather, who owned a ranch across the road. Being the son of a missionary doctor and 1 of 8 kids, Chris preferred his summers with his grandparents in the Wet Mountain Valley to life abroad with his parents in countries like Mexico and Morocco. At the ripe age of 10, Chris began to learn the ropes of his grandfather’s ranch: building fence, pushing cattle, and working with horses. In hindsight, his trips to the Hillside post office with his grandpa would foreshadow a dedication and commitment to the community and an entrepreneurship venture that would change Hillside forever.
Chris and Tara Seegers’ vision for Hillside has been well executed. After purchasing Hillside, the Seegers’ sought the help of their contracting partners, Lori and Stuart Short, and most of the Hillside buildings have been renovated and are ready for guests. Four quaint cottages are perched along the property—all refurbished with a modern yet rustic feel thanks to Tara’s knack in interior design. Bright, clean, and glowing with a homespun elegance, each cottage invites you to sit in a cozy chair by the window to admire the view of the Sangres, prepare a fresh, home-cooked meal in a fully loaded kitchenette, or be a kid again and climb up to the top of the lofty queen-sized bunk beds to take an afternoon nap.
The cottages are just the beginning to all the Hillside charm. Across the way, a black willow tree grove with a small creek winding through it offers a blanket of shade and serenity to the property. The grove is rumored to be the oldest black willow tree grove in the state of Colorado. Yoga classes, retreats, wedding ceremonies, beer and wine tastings, and bluegrass concerts are just some of the events that this timeless grove will host.
Because of the Seegers and the support of the valley community, Hillside beats with a pulse the way it was intended to. With the Wet Mountain Valley as Hillside’s front door, limitless activities such as fly-fishing, rafting, hiking, mountain biking, stargazing, and music festivals are at its visitor’s fingertips. “The key theme is people that want peace, relaxation. People can bring their own food and cook their own meals and not have a motel or hotel feel. Out here at night, it’s just silent. To sit out here and drink a bottle of wine is incredible,” said Chris.
When asked whether or not the little town owners had big plans to expand, Chris explained that community is priceless in a country that is consumed with urban sprawl and development. “We are just short-term stewards of whatever we have. This is going to be here long after us. I’ve traveled all over the Midwest, and all these tiny towns are just disappearing. With that, you lose all the community, you lose all those deep relationships with families that have been there for 2 or 3 generations. So for us, it’s just maintaining that for as long as we own it—and hopefully whoever owns it after us continues to see the value in that.”
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Photography: Abby Mortenson