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.
History of the LodgeIn 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.