Home » About Us » History
History
Marys Lake Lodge has enjoyed decades of tourists passing through its rustic lobby. The memories captured in its walls live in the hearts of people all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have spent the night, enjoyed a great meal, and taken pleasure in the roaring fire in the lobby. The building has earned its place on the State Register of Historic Properties for its unique character.

Over one hundred years ago, visitors first started coming to the property when the John Jones family opened their homestead to travelers. The Jones family moved to the Estes Valley in 1896, and soon after built the Rockdale Cottages on their land just south of Marys Lake. After creating a lucrative business for their family, the Jones' sold the Rockdale Cottages to their son-in-law, Charles Robbins. The Rockdale Hotel opened Friday, September 13, 1913, as a two-story lodge.

In the spring of 1919 a large windstorm blew through the valley and nearly destroyed the entire building. A.D. Lewis, who owned the Lewiston Hotel as well as several other establishments in town, bought the hotel. The rustic Lewiston Chalet was constructed around the remaining hotel structure, including a dining room, a spacious lobby, as well as two dozen sleeping rooms on the second floor. A separate building to the north of the Chalet was built to accommodate even more guests, and balconies ran across the front of each building offering visitors a breathtaking view of the Mummy Range towering over Marys Lake.

In 1920 Trail Ridge Road opened, allowing passage through Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time. At that time, Roe Emery, head of the Rocky Mountain Parks Transportation Company, was offering bus tours of the Rocky Mountains. These very popular tours were missing one thing in the Rocky Mountain National Park area - hotel accommodations for the weary travelers. Roe Emery approached Lewis to coordinate their efforts to house the fast-growing tour groups.


In 1920, A.D. Lewis purchased a piece of land in the Rocky Mountain National Park and began construction on the Grand Lake Lodge. In 1921, he purchased the Hot Springs Hotel in Idaho Springs. These two hotels, along with the Chalet, were the perfect components for the Scenic Circle Tour offered by Roe Emery through Rocky Mountain National Park. Now travelers could purchase a vacation package and have their entire trip planned for them from their home train station, to Denver, through the mountains, and back home.

At the beginning of the 1923 season, Emery bought the three hotels from Lewis. Emery began a major construction project on the Chalet - a south wing was added and the main lodge and north wing were expanded. The Lewiston Chalet became the Estes Park Chalet and could now accommodate up to 300 guests lodging in Estes Park. Roe Emery ran the Lodge as a very successful business for twenty-eight years.

In 1951, he sold the Estes Park Chalet to Gene Holmes, president of Gray Line Bus, Inc. Then, in 1953, Ike and Ted James, in the Colorado bussing business, purchased the Lodge. The James family also ran the Trail Ridge Store and the Hidden Valley Ski Area; both located inside the Rocky Mountain National Park. The Scenic Circle Tour eventually came to an end, since travelers were now seeing the country through the windshield of their own automobiles. The James family concentrated their efforts on the operation of the Chalet and Grand Lake Lodge. They still own and operate Grand Lake Lodge.

Arthur Hyde, an investor from Maryland, purchased The Chalet in 1969. Then, after just three years, in 1972, Omar Wesley Box acquired the Lodge and modernized the building with shag carpet and wood paneling. Mr. Box offered a unique concept for real estate investment he called "the condotel". These tiny condominiums were sold as weekend getaways. The 160 units were insulated, and the Chalet provided Estes Park lodging year round for the first time.


On July 6, 1978, a huge fire broke out in the south wing of the structure. The mid-day fire completelyengulfed the South Wing, and smoke could be seen for miles. Members of the Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department stood atop the second floor balcony of the main lodge, fought the fire from the north, and managed to stop the fire before it entered the main building. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no hope of rebuilding, so the condominium owners packed their belongings and left.

In 1983, Udiyam Maitreya Kosha, a Buddhist organization from Denver, bought the site for religious retreats. After several years of minimum maintenance and repairs, the group could no longer see it being the center they had hoped. A partnership was formed by six of the individuals from the Buddhist organization, and with financial backing from the Town of Estes Park, they opened the newly renamed Marys Lake Lodge. The renovated North Wing offered affordable housing to seasonal employees who were employed by several businesses in town. After five years of operation, the partners realized their dreams of renovating the entire Lodge would not be fulfilled, and decided to sell.

Ron Noble and Frank Theis purchased Marys Lake Lodge in the summer of 1999 and immediately began the renovation process. After sitting empty for over twenty years, the Chalet at Marys Lake Lodge has been fully restored in its original rustic architectural style. The South Wing, which burned in 1978, has been rebuilt to its former glory. The resort now features a variety of lodging options, from restored lodge rooms in the original building to newly constructed and beautifully appointed condominiums. The property features two distinct restaurants featuring the offerings of our award winning chefs. The ambiance of Marys Lake Lodge brings about a sense of serenity and feeling of nostalgia for a bygone era while offering the comforts and amenities of an upscale resort.


News & Events