We visited the Holzwarth Historic Site at the end of August as we were driving the Trail Ridge Road through RMNP. We were driving the road in combination with the Old Fall River Road to see the scenery of the park as well as looking for wildlife. We stopped at the historic site parking area as this seemed as good a place as any to pause and hopefully see moose. No luck on the moose, but it turned out to be worthwhile stop for the history of the area.
We were not aware of the historic site when we started the drive, but we saw the sign for the site and decided to check it out. There is ample parking and a picnic area just off the Trail Ridge Road. Adjacent to the parking lot is a small cabin with a few artifacts. The cabin also marks the start of the dirt road that leads across the valley floor to the historic site. It is half-mile walk from the parking lot to the historic site; no elevation change. The road crosses a little creek; that creek is the mighty Colorado River (the head of the river is about 10 miles north of this point).
It is a scenic walk to the historic site. As you get near the site you will pass old fencing and a few derelict pieces of farm equipment. The site itself has a few of the original buildings; the main one being Mama’s House, which was the focal point of the ranch.
Here’s a little background on the site: in 1916 John Holzwarth moved from Denver and established a ranch on the site. The ranch did not work out, but Holzwarth was able to capitalize on the growing number of tourists and transformed the ranch into a trout lodge and later a dude ranch. The dude ranch operated into the 1970s, but the site has been restored to reflect the site as it stood in the 1920s. There is a LOT more to it than just this, but I’ll let you learn the details during your visit.
What really made visiting the Holzwarth Historic Site a memorable event were the volunteers at the site. They were excellent! Extremely friendly and unbelievably well versed in the history of the area. They seemed to continuously have tours going through Mama’s House. The details and interpretation that the volunteers provide really made the visit to the site much more enjoyable and also very educational.
So, the site is easy to access from the Trail Ridge Road, it is an easy, flat, half-mile walk from the parking area and the total time investment is only about an hour, so not a lot of effort to learn a bit of the history of the area.
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