Travelers to Granby find friendly lodging at Headwaters Hostel |

Travelers to Granby find friendly lodging at Headwaters Hostel

Okja the husky and Meika the German Shepard man the front desk as Headwaters Hostel. The two dogs are part of the unique experience at the low-cost, shared lodging spot in Granby.
Amy Golden /

Okja the husky and Meika the German Shepard are the first to greet guests at the Headwaters Hostel in Granby.

The fluffy, friendly dogs belong to Natalie and Joel Nachtigal, who opened the hostel in September.

The idea for their shared-lodging business came to Joel and Natalie when they were traveling in a van along California’s coast. They stopped at a hostel and were blown away by their time there.

“It was like one of the most welcoming experiences we’ve ever had,” Joel said.

The two enjoyed the diversity of people brought together by travel. The social atmosphere was one they could see thriving in Grand County.

“We knew that we were moving to Granby and were immediately like, ‘Oh my gosh, Granby needs this,’” Natalie said. “We were surprised to find that there wasn’t already one here.”

As far as Natalie and Joel known, Headwaters is the only year-round hostel available in Grand County.

The couple moved to the area in April and two months later bought the building, which was originally built as a saddle shop in 1954. The Nachtigals spent the summer renovating the space to make it suitable for the low-cost lodging.

Headwaters Hostel wants to share its friendly and open atmosphere with travelers in Granby for an affordable price. The hostel opened in September.
Amy Golden /

Headwaters Hostel mixes its cabin-like interior with a hipster atmosphere and plenty of communal space. With COVID restrictions, the hostel can host eight to 10 people a night.

The beds, which sit in shared rooms, cost $40 nightly. There is also a private room available for up to three people at $80 to $100 a night.

Lodgers share bathrooms and kitchen facilities. With the pandemic, guests and staff wear masks in all public places and surfaces are sanitized multiple times a day.

While the low-cost lodging option is popular around European countries, a lot of visitors hesitate initially at the idea. However, the low prices in an area where many young adults can’t afford to stay are especially appealing to those traveling on their own.

“To be a solo traveler and get a $120 motel is just absurd,” Joel said. “Because we’re so fortunate to be here, we wanted other people in our situation to be able to experience it.”

Located in the heart of Grand, many visitors are happy to drive the half hour to Rocky Mountain National Park or Winter Park Resort. A surprising number of visitors have even made it to the hostel without a car as well, whether that is by bus, shuttle or train.

Natalie said the feedback has been incredible and that people seem to be enjoying their stays. The amenities are impressive, but the biggest highlight for visitors is almost always the two hostel dogs.

Opening a business meant for travel and socialization has not been easy during the pandemic, and the dry snow season isn’t helping. Even so, the couple is starting to see the environment they hoped to foster thrive at the hostel.

Strangers who might not generally be expected to get along have come together to play board games or do a Christmas gift exchange. And that’s exactly what Natalie and Joel wanted from this venture.

“Hostels create this environment that I’ve never really seen before,” Joel said. “It’s a very open minded, welcoming space. People from all walks of life and age demographics can just kind of unite.”

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