MacGregor Ranch Museum and Maude’s Mercantile – Founded in 1873, MacGregor Ranch is both the last remaining working cattle ranch in Estes Park and one of the few sites operating as both a working ranch and youth education center in the northern Colorado area. It is unique in that its historic collection and structures are original to the 1873 homestead family, and its collection is completely intact.
The original 1896 ranch house has been in operation as a museum since 1973. All three generations of MacGregors lived on the Ranch; and today, the museum hosts over 7,000 visitors – over half of which are school aged-children. Visit the Ranch Museum and Maude’s Mercantile Tuesday through Saturday from 10a – 4p. Call 970-586-3749 or visit http://www.macgregorranch.org/ for more information.
Mary’s Lake Lodge is on the State Register of Historic Properties thanks to the Jones family and their Rockdale Cottages which were originally located just south of Marys Lake. After the opening of Trail Ridge Road in 1920 enabled travelers to pass through Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time, Roe Emery, head of Rocky Mountain Parks Transportation Co., recognized the need for hotel accommodations and quickly began construction on the Grand Lake Lodge. This, along with the acquisition of Hot Springs Hotel in Idaho Springs, CO and the Mary’s Lake Chalet, made perfect components for the Scenic Circle Tour which allowed travelers to purchase a planned vacation package start from their home train station, to Denver, through the mountains, and back home. In 1923 Lewis sold the three hotels to Emery at which time he began major expansion projects on the Mary’s Lake Chalet; a south wing was added and the main lodge and north wing were expanded allowing up to 300 guests accommodations. Read more about the historic lodge at http://www.maryslakelodge.com/history or check out the history of Tavern 1929 at http://www.maryslakelodge.com/history-tavern-1929 where you will find an excellent selection of micro-brews and a delightful pub menu to enjoy on their mountainside veranda.
The Baldpate Inn began with newlyweds, Gordon and Ethel Mace, and Gordon’s two brothers, Charles and Stuart Mace. In 1911, while visiting Estes Park on their honeymoon, the Maces were so taken with the area’s beauty they decided to homestead the property upon which the Baldpate now stands. Initially only a small Homestead cabin was built on the land and rhubarb was planted to fulfill the requirements of the Homestead Act. In order to supplement their income, the Mace family built several small tourist cabins which proved popular and successful. To accommodate the overwhelming demand for hospitality, the family made plans to build an inn. With their homestead patent registered as complete on January 22, 1917, the family officially opened The Baldpate Inn.
The Inn is constructed from hand-hewn timber cut from the property. Massive stone fireplaces were built to provide warmth and hot water. The Baldpate opened boasting hot running water, electric lights, and indoor plumbing! Visit the on-site historic key room/museum where keys, stories and photos abound. Visit the “Key-thedral” Theater for an evening of entertainment under the stars. http://www.baldpateinn.com/index.php/?page_id=26
Elkhorn Lodge is a historic 1874 western ranch and lodge. Said to be one of the area’s most haunted hotels, some of the ghosts here are thought to be “original” residents of Estes Park. Considered to be the oldest, continuously operated hotel in Colorado, the Elkhorn Lodge is a terrific example of a late 19th century hunting lodge 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 property, 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.
Along with historic buildings and believe it or not, stuffed elk heads in the old lobby, the lodge now features a working livery and Cheesy Lee’s Pizza and Bakery.
The Estes Park Museum welcomes visitors Monday – Saturday from 10a to 5p and Sunday from 1p-5p. Exhibits include Call of the Wild in which visitors are challenged to identify local wildlife; return cattle to their ranches in Pursuing the Wealth of Land or examine a 1909 Stanley Steamer Runabout in Roads to Paradise. Guests can also visit the furnished 1908 Cobb-Macdonald cabin and the original National Park Service Headquarters Building. The museum also houses seasonal and temporary exhibits. For more information please visit https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/townofestespark/museum The museum is located at 200 Fourth Street. Phone: 970-586-6256
If you prefer to experience history in a romantic, relaxing, mountain dining room with lovely service and a delightful meal please visit Twin Owls Steakhouse (1929 Homestead) www.twinowls.net; The Dunraven Inn (Early 1930’s Homestead) www.dunraveninn.com; or The Rock Inn (1937) www.rockinnestes.com.