Are you searching for fun, adventure, and a unique experience in one of the Estes Park hotels?
Come stay at the Elkhorn Lodge & Guest Ranch – the first hotel in Estes Park!
You are always welcome at the Elkhorn Lodge & Guest Ranch, which is the oldest and first hotel in Estes Park. Not only is the Elkhorn Lodge the oldest hotel in Estes Park, but it is also home to the first Estes Park school house (built in 1886), the first Estes Park church (built in 1890), and the original stage terminal – the Coach House. All of these rustic structures still stand on the property; you can even choose to stay in one of them!
The hotel received its first guests in 1874; prior to that, it consisted of an old lodge and a barn. In fact, the ‘old main lodge’ dates back to 1871 and is still in use. It’s the oldest continually occupied structure in Estes Park, CO. Originally, the James family started a cattle ranch, but determined that lodging for Estes Park visitors was more profitable.
For thousands of years, Estes Park, CO was a hunting, fishing & mountain climbing paradise. Bushels of trout were caught from the Fall River prior to 1900 where the Elkhorn’s guests would order their menu requests in the morning for their dinner that evening (these were the pre-refrigeration days). As the trout populations declined, the Elkhorn started Colorado’s second fish hatchery in the 1890’s, in the area once occupied by the Elkhorn’s private trout pond. The State of Colorado then operated the hatchery and subsequently moved it.
The Elkhorn Lodge’s hospitality was and still is recognized throughout the world. Prior to the start-up of the Stanley Hotel in 1909, the Elkhorn was the premier lodge in the area with a dining room seating over 200, which is now home to Cheesy Lee’s Amazing Pizza. The Elkhorn Lodge’s popularity was such that tents were erected each summer to accommodate guests when the Main Lodge was full.
Elkhorn Lodge’s guests came from around the world. One of the most prominent guests, Pieter Hondius, who was related to a royal European family, married a James daughter and from that time the Hondius name has become an institution within the Estes Valley. At one time, the Elkhorn’s land holdings increased and included more than 3,000 acres in the Horseshoe Park area which was transferred to the Rocky Mountain National Park in the 1930’s – that area is one of the more popular locations for wildlife viewing. Elkhorn’s guests would routinely ride horses from the Main Lodge to horseshoe Park over Deer Mountain for picnics and enjoy the views.
Today, doctoral history students visit the Elkhorn Lodge in order to experience the early life of Teddy Roosevelt, who visited and traveled the area and who started his own ranch named the Elkhorn many years later after his political life. In 1977, the Elkhorn Lodge & Guest Ranch was designated a National Historical District by the U.S. Congress.