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What it Means to be Part of History in Estes Park, CO

Estes Park, CO is a delightful, historic town! Home to Rocky Mountain National Park headquarters, the town of Estes Park can be enjoyed year-round!

Records show that it has been enjoyed for about 12,000 years beginning with ancient inhabitants and then Native American Ute and Arapaho tribes. In the 1800s, explorers headed west and arrived in this special area of Colorado to explore and hunt.

Gold was discovered in the mid-1800s and more people made their way to beautiful Colorado. Adventurer Joel Estes arrived in 1859 and brought his wife and 13 children to live in what is known as Estes Valley. William Byers, owner and editor of the Rocky Mountain News, visited and named the area Estes Park in honor of Joel Estes.

The Golden Leaf Inn

Estes Park Lodging While many people arrived, and made their impact on the Estes Park, CO area, the town also enjoys many historic buildings – including The Golden Leaf Inn!

The Golden Leaf Inn is a beautiful and historic building. When we bought the inn, we were told it was originally constructed by Alfred Cobb who was part of the team who built the Stanley Hotel. Cobb built the house that is now home to our bed and breakfast as a wedding gift to his daughter, who married into the James family, and it stayed in that family until we purchased it in 2009.

Want to learn more about The Golden Leaf Inn? When you stay with us, we have a wonderful book on our history, located in our living room on the coffee table.

Elkhorn Lodge

Pioneer William Edwin James, like many others, fell in love with Estes Park during a visit. After building his first cabin, James swapped land and secured a piece of lush, meadow property along the Fall River, west of what would become Estes Park. He and his wife settled the property in the early 1870s and it was initially intended to be a base to raise cattle.

However, the James family found themselves with tourists stopping by asking to camp or for food. To accommodate these boarders, the James’s erected tents and then built a lodge, known as Elkhorn Lodge, and cabins for rent to these tourists. Their income from accommodating guests became more than they received from ranching! Over the years, Elkhorn Lodge has grown and undergone several major phases of reconstruction from its original small cottage.

The Baldpate Inn

The Baldpate Inn is yet another historic building in Estes Park, CO. Also falling for the beauty of the area, Gordon and Ethel Mace, and Gordon’s two brothers, homesteaded property in Estes Park in 1911. First building a small cabin, the Mace family then constructed tourist cabins. To address the demand for the area and the Mace hospitality, the family built and opened The Baldpate Inn in January 1917.

Because finances were slim at the time, the Mace family built the Inn from timber cut by themselves from their own property. A novelty at the time, The Baldpate Inn boasted electric lights, indoor plumbing, and hot water!

The property is named after a mystery novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate, written by Earl Derr Biggers. Until World War I, when metal prices rose, the family provided every guest with a key to Inn as an ode to the novel. When the family was no longer able to afford giving guests keys, loyal guests who returned to the Inn brought their own, and very extravagant, keys! As a result, the Inn now boasts one of the largest key collections in the world with more than 20,000 keys on display!

We hope you will plan your visit to Estes Park and The Golden Leaf Inn where you will be spoiled with plush bedrooms, inspiring views, personalized service, and gourmet food. We are sure you, too, will fall in love with beautiful Estes Park, CO and all its history!