The Rattlesnake Gulch trail in Eldorado Canyon offers great views of the canyon entrance and Denver in the background to the east, the Continental Divide and peaks to the west, and the ruins of the Crags Hotel. You can also hike a short bit off trail up to the railroad tracks which travel from Denver up through Moffat Tunnel to Winter Park and beyond.
You can park down by the main entrance and hike the road up to the trail, or if you get there early (before 8am) you may be able to find parking at the trail head. The path heads east and then turns back west.
Crags Boulevard / Moffat Road
The trail you walk was actually the road up to the hotel. As you hike up you’ll wonder how the hell they drove cars up what is now a rocky path.
About a mile up the trail you’ll arrive at the ruins of the hotel which is introduced with a sign. The original Crags Hotel was built pre-1900 and then expanded in 1908 and operated until it burned down in November, 1913.
Wealthy people from around the country came to stay. The hotel had telephone service (although no electricity), and a room cost $2 / night.
In addition to driving Crags Blvd / Moffat Road, there were two additional ways to get to the hotel. You could take the train stop above and walk down.
Or, you could pay to take the funicular up. I love that word. Funicular.
The cause of the fire was never determined, although there was speculation that it was intentionally set to collect insurance money. It was never rebuilt.
There isn’t much there anymore – only a bit of foundation, and the remnants of a large fireplace.
You can also see the empty bowl of the old fountain.
Northwestern & Pacific Railway
After another mile you’ll hit the top of the trail and a short offshoot to the railway, which is now called the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Views up there are quite stunning.
Thanks to the Boulder Public Library, Carnegie Branch for access to a recording of a wonderful lady, Helen Kneale, who grew up in Eldorado Springs and shared her pictures and history before she passed away in 2013.