Rattlesnake Gulch, Eldorado Springs, CO

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.

starting out on Rattlesnake Gulch
starting out on Rattlesnake Gulch

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.

Crags Boulevard
Crags Boulevard
how did they drive up here?
how did they drive up here?
looking north from Crags Blvd
looking north from Crags Blvd
Crags Blvd
Crags Blvd

Crags Hotel

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.  

original Crags Hotel with fountain, circa 1900
original Crags Hotel with fountain, circa 1900
expanded Crags Hotel and Mountain Resort, circa 1910
expanded Crags Hotel and Mountain Resort, circa 1910

Wealthy people from around the country came to stay.  The hotel had telephone service (although no electricity), and a room cost $2 / night.

upscale room with private bath
upscale room with private bath
main dining room
main dining room
on the veranda
on the veranda

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.

Crags Hotel from the railway above
Crags Hotel from the railway above
heading down from the railway above
heading down from the railway above

Or, you could pay to take the funicular up.  I love that word.  Funicular.  

entry to funicular below
entry to funicular below
full funicular to hotel
full funicular to hotel

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.

fireplace remnants, circa 1925
fireplace remnants, circa 1925
fireplace remnants, circa 2017
fireplace remnants, circa 2017

You can also see the empty bowl of the old fountain.

Crags Hotel remains
Crags Hotel remains
fountain bowl
fountain bowl

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.

tunnel to west
tunnel to west
tracks going east and down to Denver
tracks going east and down to Denver
another tunnel to the east
another tunnel to the east

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.

Gallery

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