30 Jaw-Dropping Homes in the Mountain West

30 Jaw-Dropping Homes in the Mountain West

By Cullen Ormond
Behold some of the most magnificent homes perched in the western United States.

Home is where the heart is. It’s an aphorism that is generally irksome and overused—but when it comes to homes located in the western United States, it might just be true. In the Mountain West, expansive flatlands are punctuated by sprawling mountain ranges—and the region’s best homes rest lightly upon this dynamic landscape while celebrating its scenic vistas.

Arizona

1. A Historical Home

Built in 1975, the Ramada House is widely considered to be one of the most significant residences in the Grand Canyon State.  

Designed by award-winning firm Kendle Design Collaborative, the poetically named Dancing Light House in Paradise Valley, Arizona, celebrates the desert landscape. The home features striking, geometric shapes that mirror the surrounding mountains.

Lured to Phoenix by the promise of toasty weather and access to the great outdoors, former Montana residents Eric and Sondra McVeigh purchased a home on the outskirts of the city in 2007. "We bought the property for its proximity to hiking—there’s a trailhead two blocks away," says Eric.

The Coronado district near downtown Phoenix has an eclectic mix of home styles, ranging from 1930s Craftsman bungalows to modest brick colonials to small midcentury ranches. Lately, a growing number of glass-and-stucco minimalist newcomers are joining the mix—including several designed by Joel Contreras, a local real estate agent turned architectural designer whose family has lived in the area for five generations.

Approached by clients who wanted to simplify their lifestyle and reconnect with the landscape, Phoenix-based Wendell Burnette Architects designed the Hidden Valley Desert House as a "long pavilion for living."

Designed by Portland-based Skylab Architecture, the 4,200-square-foot Owl Creek Residence in Snowmass, Colorado, has an unusual, triangulated floor plan that responds to the height and slope constraints of the site.

When two high-end art consultants approached Studio B Architecture + Interiors to design a family home in Boulder, Colorado, they sought the simplicity of an art gallery and a strong connection to the outdoors.

Inspired by historic American farmhouses, this modern dwelling is sited at the base of the Rocky Mountain Foothills in West Boulder, Colorado. Designed by Surround Architecture, the 6,800-square-foot property features a unique layout that makes the best use of its one-acre site, while also responding to its long driveway access.

Every year for 14 years, Barry Doyle and Eve Becker-Doyle made the long trek north from their home in Dallas to stay at a friend’s vacation home on Log Hill Mesa, about 1,000 feet above the small town of Ridgway on Colorado’s Western Slope. They felt at home among the mountains and the indigenous wildlife, so when they began thinking about building a house where they would spend their retirement years together, it didn’t make sense to do it anywhere else.

This home’s owners wanted to build a series of yurt tents on the high desert plains in the western Colorado town of Fruita, but one look at the surrounding landscape and it became clear that nomadic notions would not hold up to nature's harsh elements. "The first time I visited the site, it was about 107 degrees outside. It felt like I was stepping into an oven," says architect Rick Dominick of Dominick Architects.

Situated in the skier’s paradise of Ketchum, Idaho, this penthouse overlooks the natural beauty of Mount Baldy and the majestic Sawtooth Mountains.

Walls of glass, horizontal roof planes, and a natural material palette enable this expansive home to feel like an extension of a dramatic boulder-strewn landscape in Idaho.

Idaho-based architect Susan Desko—previously a senior design architect for Frank Gehry—created a house built of untreated steel plate and glass that towers among the trees in Ketchum, Idaho.

For outdoor enthusiasts Bob and Pam Norton, the town of Big Sky, Montana, was a natural choice for the location of their second home. Having purchased a remote lot with views of Lone Peak, Pioneer Mountain, and Cedar Mountain, they envisioned a private, year-round retreat that integrated with the terrain. "We wanted to live in the view," says Pam. "We wanted the outdoors to come in."

Tapped by art collectors to design an inspirational residence in rural Montana, Jackson Hole–based Carney Logan Burke Architects crafted a modern house that frames the property’s extraordinary landscape views.

Located 18 miles south of Bozeman, Montana, this fire lookout on Garnet Mountain is one of the last remaining towers in the region. During the 1930s, fire lookouts were constructed all over the country by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of a broader public works initiative. Their primary function was to rapidly identify and report wildfires to the US Forest Service, but during World War II they also took on the additional role of enemy aircraft spotters.

Designed by Austin, Texas–based studio Andersson-Wise Architects, the 12,500-square-foot Stone Creek Camp is sited on a sloping hill whose topography guides visitors to discover the grounds slowly: from the gatehouse to the master house, main lodge, and guesthouse. The eco-friendly family retreat features a stacked wood facade that was built from fallen trees found on the site; a sod green roof that provides insulation; and regionally sourced construction materials—including stone, wood, windows, and doors.

Surrounded by sagebrush and wildflowers on a peak rising 1,000 feet above Reno, Nevada, the Stremmel House enjoys 360-degree views of the city to the east and the Sierra Mountains to the west. Designed by renowned architect Mark Mack, the residence was home to art gallery owners Peter and Turkey Stremmel from 1995 until now.

Forty-seven years ago, Peter and Turkey Stremmel opened Stremmel Gallery, one of the first fine-art showplaces in Reno. They went on to exhibit work there by such luminaries as Wolf Kahn, Charles Arnoldi, and Phyllis Shafer. The same architect who designed the gallery, Mark Mack, designed their home, a cluster of colorful cubes in the mountains above the city.    

Roger and Mary Downey’s 3,200-square-foot rammed-earth home seems to float next to the forest along the Rio Grande in Corrales, New Mexico. While the home’s design and materials nod to the neighboring adobe farmhouses and agricultural sheds, architect Efthimios Maniatis of Studio eM Design calls them an amalgam of "modern contemporary regionalism," governed by Roger’s strict mandate for minimalism.

Park City Design + Build created this indoor/outdoor, energy-efficient home for a Danish interior designer and her family.

In the land of large mountain lodge wannabes, two California natives tuck Utah’s first LEED for Homes–rated house onto the side of Emigration Canyon.

Located on a private, 20-acre mountain estate near Utah’s Uinta National Forest, the A-Frame Haus was built 30 years ago by owner and design-lover Kara’s grandfather, Frank. The retreat was meant to be a private sanctuary for making music while surrounded by nature.

In Salt Lake City, a place not renowned for progressive architecture, Brent Jespersen built a luminous canyon retreat—using his architect father and a famed Utah modernist as his guides.

Professional backcountry snowboarders Zach and Cindi Lou Grant modernized a run-down A-frame cabin outside of Park City, Utah, to help them access untracked powder and follow their dreams.

For the owners of the Jackson Residence—a retired couple with grown children—the completion of their contemporary rural home in Jackson, Wyoming, has been a long time coming. They acquired a sloped plot set amidst a dramatic landscape at the crest of the Gros Ventre Butte long ago—but they decided to wait until retirement before approaching Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to design and build their long-awaited forever abode.

Architect Eric Logan took minimalism to the max when he rebuilt his family cabin on a Wyoming mountainside.

After living in Jackson, Wyoming, for nearly two decades, writer and athlete Dina Mishev was ready to build her dream home. She invited her friends at Carney Logan Burke Architects to design an inexpensive residence that made strategic use of her landlocked, view-challenged property. The project’s tight budget (approximately $500,000 to build and furnish) prompted a simple rectangular frame. "We asked ourselves, ‘How do we make this box a beautiful box?’" principal Eric Logan says.

Finding a home in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming was easy for this well-traveled family. The tricky part was reimagining and renovating the space to match their desired aesthetic. But, after four years, the house was transformed into the family’s modern oasis.

20 years after a Phoenix-bred family purchased 180 acres of wild bush, they finally decided to build upon it. They built four structures and then this modern guesthouse. The floor-to-ceiling windows throughout bring the outside world into the interior of the home.

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