Canyon Echoes: Bailey to Kenosha Pass
Platte Canyon has been a destination for visitors since gold strikes drew thousands of prospectors in the 1860s, followed by wagon trains from the East. After blasting its way through Platte Canyon in 1878, The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railway became a mighty engine of economic growth. At one point nearly 300 area residents were employed felling trees or tending 39 charcoal kilns in the Kenosha Pass area.
In 1920 this area was touted as "The most popular and attractive summer playground in the Rockies."Tourists rode the train to nine guest lodges for fishing, horseback riding and "clean mountain air." For more than thirty years “Fish Trains" hauled fishermen to their favorite holes along the South Platte River between Bailey and Grant. While many of the luxury hotels like Cassell's are barely recognizable today, others still provide a respite where "everybody is a 'goodfellow' and the spirit of congeniality (still) reigns."
Duration: 3 Days / 2 Nights
- McGraw Memorial Park in Bailey
- Glen Isle Resort
- Shawnee Historic District
- Ben Tyler Ranch & Homestead
- Guanella Pass Scenic & Historic Byway
- Hall Valley
- Kenosha Pass interpretive area
Day One: McGraw Park, Glen Isle and Shawnee
A good example of pioneer log construction, the 1864 Entriken Cabin (pictured) was built with hand hewn squared logs. Associated with early settlers, it is the only surviving building from the original town of Bailey. Along with the Shawnee School, a Keystone railroad bridge, and several other period artifacts from the local area, Entriken Cabin is preserved at McGraw Park in downtown Bailey. This outdoor museum is maintained by the Park County Historical Society.
Three miles west of Bailey is the historic Glen Isle Resort (pictured). Built in 1901, the lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been operated by the same family for more than 80 years. The lodge and rooms are decorated with period antiques and serve as a museum. The lodge is open June through mid-September.
The original 1860s settlement of Slaghts was a stage stop on the Denver-Leadville Stage Line. After the Post Office and Shawnee Lodge were built, the area became known as Shawnee. With several contributing properties, Shawnee is now a Park County Historic District. From their studio in the Shawnee Mountain Gallery (pictured), professional artists Vincent & Caroline Tolpo produce and exhibit jewelry, wrapped fiber wall art, metal wall art, sculpture, paintings and prints.
Listed on the State Register of Historic Properties, the Ben Tyler Homestead and ranch (pictured) are associated with the early settlement of Platte Canyon. The main house is on a parcel of land purchased by Ben Tyler in 1884. The adjacent land, on which the original homestead and other buildings are located, was part of the patent Tyler filed in 1898. The main house has been fully restored and now serves as a bed & breakfast inn near Shawnee.
Day Two: Guanella Pass Scenic & Historic Byway
Guanella Pass Scenic & Historic Byway follows an old wagon trail used by miners traveling between Georgetown and Grant. Gold lured miners and others to the area, but it was silver that brought prosperity to the valley. Today, visitors may explore this 22-mile historic route by car, or hike the many area trails. Interpretive pullouts along the pass provide several scenic and historic stops. For more information, please visit http://www.byways.org/explore/byways/2110/. Notable sites along the road include the following:
- Geneva Creek Canyon (bighorn sheep and Geneva Creek picnic area)
- Falls Hill (waterfalls)
- Geneva Park (Abyss and Burning Bear Trails)
- Geneva City Townsite (pictured)
- Duck Creek Wetland Overlook
- Duck Lake
- Guanella Pass Summit
Day Three: Kenosha Pass and Hall Valley
Listed on the State Register of Historic Properties, the Kenosha Pass Railroad Station site is important for its association with the D,SP&P railroad's crossing of Kenosha Pass. While detained for an hour at Kenosha Pass in 1896, Walt Whitman wrote: “At this immense height the South Park (pictured) stretches fifty miles before me. Mountainous chains and peaks in every variety of perspective, every hue of vista, fringe of view, in nearer, or middle, or far-dim distance, or fade on the horizon." Modern day travelers can visit the roadside exhibit on the east side of the road or walk the restored railbed and wye at this interpretive site. Also at the summit is a pond where migratory waterfowl can be viewed from a bird watching platform. Ducks, elk, deer and many other animals are drawn to this natural "watering hole" throughout summer and fall.
Founded in 1883 in what later became known as Hall Valley, the community of Dake produced charcoal to fuel ore smelters in Denver and Leadville. Nearly 300 area residents were employed felling trees or tending the 27 charcoal kilns. Another 12 charcoal kilns lined the railroad tracks in Webster (pictured). Highway 285 has replaced the tracks and traces of the charcoal kilns are difficult to find in Hall Valley, west of Grant. In 1898 William Watts Hooper was appointed forest ranger after the forest in Hall Valley was nearly stripped bare. With proper management by Mr. Hooper and his successors, the forest in this area is completely regenerated.
A variety of visitor services are available in the Platte Canyon corridor. Loding options include the following:
- Bailey Lodge: 866-538-2450 or www.baileylodge.com
- Ben Tyler Homestead B&B: 303-838-0477 or www.btfishingcabins.com
- Glen Isle Resort: 303-838-5461
- Lynwood Park Bed & Breakfast: 303-838-4243 or www.lynwoodparkbailey.com
- North Fork Guest Ranch: 800-843-7895 or www.northforkranch.com
- Tumbling River Guest Ranch: 800-654-8770 or www.tumblingriver.com.
Please see "Visitor Resources" for a complete description of all lodging options in the Platte Canyon area.