Camp V, the West End’s new camping destination resort, is set to open this summer. Originally a mining complex built for the engineers who worked in the vanadium industry in the 1940s, the area used to be known as “Snob Hill,” but was called Vancorum. The historic cabins will remain, along with other camping options, for a “glamping” experience along the river.
Owner Natalie Binder, who bought the project from the late Pat Smith, said the cabins have excellent “bones,” and though they need some restoration work, they are mostly sound. She’s excited to share the structures as part of the camping center.
Binder’s family, both her mother and father’s side, lived in the West End area. Her grandmother is Norwood School Superintendent Bette Nickell, and the Binders were a big family in Naturita. Though she was raised in Wyoming, she always visited the West End, and has lived in the Telluride area for 20 years.
She bought Vancorum two years ago with the intention of saving it and doing something special with it. Through an Economic Opportunity Zone investment partner, she’s been in the planning stages, working with engineers and hydrologists, and also going through the permitting process with Montrose County.
Though she had secured permitting previously, she’s repeating part of the process, as Camp V will actually be bigger than she originally thought. That’s because the experts helping her plan the project advised her she’d outgrow her initial proposal fairly quickly.
The glamping destination will also have renovated Airstream trailers and other spaces for RVs. Binder described it as a boutique camp resort, one which will include art and special programming for visitors, like yoga, outdoor movies, lawn games or artist-in-residency opportunities.
Camp V will take existing “junk” on the property and repurpose it into art. For example, an old water tank will likely become home to an art installation inside, or some scrap metal might evolve into a sculpture.
“We want to make sure we don’t create something that doesn’t tie in with the local environment,” she said. “It’s sort of more funky and fun and uses natural materials.”
Binder wants the West End community to be proud of Camp V and feel like they can afford to stay there. There will be different price points available.
At the same time, she said the beauty of the environment, combined with the accommodations, might attract people from farther away who might desire solitude.
“We’d like to bring awareness to rural America, with the mines closing and the power plants. … We hope we can attract an absolute mix of people,” she said.
Another one of Binder’s goals is to inspire others to invest in the West End, as she’d like to show people that businesses can thrive there.
“I’m super excited to get this built, and I’m open to possibilities,” she said. “It’s going to be fun … a place where people want to come together and have conversation and connect and feel inspired and get away — or disconnect, too.”