Elkhorn Lodge

Year Listed: 2010
County: Larimer County
Construction Date: 1874
Threat When Listed: Development

Considered to be the oldest, continuously operated hotel in Colorado, the Elkhorn Lodge is a terrific example of a late 19th century hunting lodge that was built to serve the burgeoning demand from tourists for an immersive “Rocky Mountain” experience. Originally comprising several thousand acres that have since been deeded to the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Lodge, which has structures dating back to the 1870s, now includes 65 acres and 35 buildings completed in the rustic style. The buildings include the main lodge, Estes Park’s first school building, the ranch house, the coach house that over time was both a stage stop and casino, a number of cabins, a horse barn, two dormitories and a small building in the rustic stick style known as the chapel. Elkhorn Lodge was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and was recently discovered to be the site of one of the first golf courses built in Colorado.

The Elkhorn Lodge faces substantial development pressure and is currently looking for a preservation minded buyer.  Since 2012, over $100,000 has been spent on upgrading the plumging and renovating the hotel rooms.  In 2013, the property suffered from flood damage to the stables and barns.  A State Historical Fund grant was received to save the barn after flooding.   Traditionally, the lodge has only been open seasonally, but in 2013 for the first time the lodge restaurant remained open through the winter.

In past years, a proposal would have resulted in the construction of an intensive mixed-use development that required demolishing many of the historic structures and destroying the stunning and character-defining setting that the Lodge now offers to visitors. High maintenance and utility costs caused the closure of several of the buildings. Estes Park’s need for growth put the future of the Lodge in serious jeopardy. The current operator of the Lodge is hoping to secure financing and grants so that he can purchase and rehabilitate the Lodge. Other ideas include working with a land conservation organization to protect and preserve the open space surrounding the Lodge in order to prevent unsympathetic development and updating the National Register nomination so that more of the buildings will be determined contributing.

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Featured Project

4 Bar 4 Ranch

Homesteaded in 1895 by Dick McQueary to provide a stop for the Georgetown Stage Line, the 320-acre 4 Bar 4 Ranch has strong ties to Grand County and Colorado's heritage. The Georgetown Stage Line traveled on the road through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch from Idaho Springs to Hot Sulphur Springs over Berthoud Pass. In 1895 a roadhouse and stage stop were constructed on the ranch. The hotel and barn were constructed using trees from the Ranch property, and the hotel remained open for travelers coming over Berthoud Pass by horseback and wagon until 1913. With the coming of the automobile, the roadway over Berthoud Pass and through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch was considered an integral part of the Trans-Continental “Midland Trail” highway. Following the closing of the stage line, the ranch continued to host travelers until 1912 or 1913 when it was purchased and converted into a Ford Motor Company . Ford vehicles were sold here until 1917, when Harry Larkin purchased the ranch site. Today emergency efforts are underway to ensure it survives through the winter. Donations are in need. To learn more, contact Jennifer Orrigo Charles at jorrigocharlges@coloradopreservation.org.

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