Monday – September 9, 2013
Holzwarth Trout Lodge Historic Site – Rocky Mountain National Park
We have spent the past five days just relaxing, here at the Stillwater Campground in the Arapaho National Recreation Area. This campground is adjacent to Grand Lake and located about eight miles from the west entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
This is our last day at the Rocky Mountain National Park. We have really enjoyed our visit to this beautiful park, since our arrival here on August 29, 2013. We decided we would spend our last day visiting the Holzwarth Trout Lodge Historic Site within the park. A half-mile trail takes the visitor back in time, to life as it was in the early 1900s, in the Kawuneeche Valley.
The earliest recorded visitors to the Kawuneeche Valley (Arapaho for "valley coyotes") were Ute Indians, who summered here, harvesting fish and game before returning to the western Rocky Mountain foothills in the fall. Later, the Arapaho Indians, driven westward by European settlement on the plains, competed with the Utes for the riches of the valley. By 1870, white settlement had supplanted any Native American presence in the valley.
By the 1880s, the nation was becoming aware of the region’s beauty. A popular mountaineering book described the high peaks between Grand Lake and Estes Park in rich detail. In time, subsistence ranchers found they could earn a reliable income by providing food and shelter to the steady trickle of adventurers who visited the area.
In 1917, the Holzwarth family – John, wife Sophia and their children - staked a homestead claim eight miles north of Grand Lake. They were German immigrants who arrived in America toward the end of the 19th century. By the 1920s, travelers came by wagon, Model A and Model T automobiles to enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. The Holzwarth’s provided accommodations and home-cooked meals to these travelers. It was Western guest ranching in its purest form – plain, primitive and delightful.
Located next to the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Holzwarth Trout Lodge slowly grew as mountain tourism increased over the years. In quick succession came an ice house, a woodshed, a taxidermy shop and additional guest cabins.
The heyday of the Tout Lodge spanned 10 years. As business prospered, the Holzwarths in 1929 began developing another guest ranch – the Neversummer Ranch – on their nearby property. By 1932 the Trout Lodge quarters served only as overflow. For another four decades, the family continued to operate the Neversummer Ranch. In 1973 the ranch was sold to The Nature Conservancy with the understanding that the land would be preserved as open space for the enjoyment of all people. Assuring that outcome, the National Park Service purchased the ranch in 1974.
After the property became part of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Neversummer Ranch buildings were removed to return the land to its natural state. But because it represented a distinctive way of life, the original Holzwarth homestead and Trout Lodge complex were retained to tell the story of early-day dude ranching in the Rockies.
Today, this historic site stands as a tribute to the Holzwarths and their fellow homesteaders who settled in the wilds of the Mountain West.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.