The Holzwarth Historic Site is one of the more interesting stops along Trail Ridge Road. The trail tells an interesting personal story of settlers in the Kawuneeche Valley before it became part of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1975. Buildings are open for tours daily from 10:30am to 4:30pm during summer. They’re closed the rest of the year, but visitors can still see them from the outside.
The first part of the trail takes you past a miner’s cabin owned by homesteader Joseph Fleshuts. In 1902, he acquired 160 acres of land with the intent of living on it for at least five years. The cabin was abandoned in 1911 and Fleshuts was never heard from again.
The next part of the trail goes through part of the Kawuneeche Valley. From 1929 to 1974, many cabins once part of the Never Summer Ranch once stood there. The cabins hosted guests from all over who came to the ranch to fish, hunt, and go horseback riding. They were part of the Holzwarth Homestead, which I’ll talk about shortly.
Just a short walk away is a small river. This is the Colorado River, which is born only 10 miles upstream. Looking at the water quietly flowing past makes it hard to believe that this same river cuts through the vast Grand Canyon or flows through much of the incredible parkland in Utah.
The final part of the trail reaches the Holzwarth Homestead. In 1917, German immigrants John and Sophie Holzwarth homesteaded this land and in 1920, they built the Holzwarth Trout Lodge. This vacation ranch consisted of about 11 buildings used as cabins, a taxidermy shop, an icehouse, and the Mama Cabin, where Sophie served up traditional German cuisine fused with western food. These cabins were used until 1929, when the Holzwarths built the more modern Never Summer Ranch.