Is there anything better than making your way out onto a grassy meadow, settling beside a burbling brook, and soaking up the sunshine with great book? Like chocolate and peanut butter or pie and ice cream, literature and the great outdoors are simply better together, which makes the Rocky Mountain Land Library just about the greatest idea since the invention of à la mode. Bringing nearly 32,000 volumes to 10,000 feet above sea level, two devoted booksellers are creating a haven for book-lovers in the form of a residential library devoted to the intersection of literature and land.
Modeled on residential libraries like Gladstone's (formerly St. Denisol's) nestled in the whispering heart of the Welsh countryside, the Rocky Mountain Land Library offers bibliophiles, naturalists, researchers, and travelers the opportunity to sleep, eat, ponder, and wander amidst the untamed Colorado wilderness, on foot and in print.
Over the course of 20 years, Jeff Lee and Ann Martin have acquired an astonishing collection of books devoted to Western land, culture, history and industry, nurturing the dream of a home in the mountains for a library devoted to the land. With personal savings and a generous lease from the city of Aurora, Martin and Lee secured the perfect site — Buffalo Peaks, an abandoned ranch deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Dedicated to fostering a connection between readers and the land, The Rocky Mountain Land Library will establish a permanent home for diverse collections including "tales by Norman Maclean; wildlife sketches by William D. Berry; and books on beekeeping, dragonflies, cowboys and the Navajo," according to The New York Times.
Does this not sound like the dreamiest thing ever? Because if you said no, your opinion is wrong.
With six leaky outbuildings still in need of significant repairs, in addition to the costs of staffing, heat, electricity, water and furniture, The Rocky Mountain Land Library is still a work in progress. And yet, in many ways the Buffalo Peaks Ranch site is already up in running. While the majority of the collection hibernates in storage, a few choice volumes have been selected to circulate on the "Front Porch Library" of the main house, where readers are welcome to peruse the curated collection from the comfort of a rocking chair. A free seed exchange is in the works, cement corrals are being converted to artist studios, and an ambitious restoration program should render the historic ranch ready to receive overnight guest by summer's end.
With wilderness slowly inching further and further from view, and books going digital at a shockingly rapid rate, what could be more thrilling than a new institution dedicated to bringing people closer to the land through the power of the written word and the wonder of the Rocky Mountains. I certainly know where I'll be spending my next vacation.