The 4UR Ranch’s Reputation in the Early 20th Century

Anglers Fish the Rio Grande in the Early 20th Century


     The 4UR Ranch has a reputation of being an excellent destination for anglers looking to test the waters of Goose Creek. It also offers a luxurious experience to its guest looking to take advantage of the natural hot springs situated on the property. Furthermore it provides the highest quality meals thanks to its elite kitchen staff. Finally, its landscape provides boundless adventures and views around mountains through horseback rides, hikes and mountain biking. However, was it always this way?

Early Photo of the Wagon Wheel Gap


     The short answer is YES! General Palmer opened the ranch in 1883 after his railroad system that spanned all over the country reached the Wagon Wheel gap. The Hot Springs Resort at Wagon Wheel Gap became a popular and notorious destination for travelers; a large reason for this was General Palmer’s Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. The D&RG’s rails were narrow gauge and allowed Palmer to build along the narrow, steep and windy landscape of southwest Colorado. This made The Hot Springs Resort convenient, desirable and easily accessible. But its reputation was only growing.    


The Early Structures of the Ranch Seen From the East; Note the Original Lodge

     The resort took a large step forward in the early 20th century when Palmer invested over $100,000 to improve his resort with vast amounts of new construction. Additionally, many of those same structures still exist today. The most notable addition to the ranch at this time was the Bathhouse that featured separate male and female indoor bathing facilities that were fed from the little medicine hot springs. The bathhouse even featured private bedrooms that included personal baths for its guest. The healing powers of the mineral rich waters were documented by early 20th author, Ernest Ingersoll who wrote:


“There are accounts of men brought here utterly helpless and full of agony from inflammatory rheumatism or neuralgia who in a week are able to walk about and help themselves, in a fortnight, were strolling about the valley perfectly erect and comfortable.”


     Today, those same hot springs and the power they posses are still available to guest of the 4UR. Furthermore, the ranch also features a geothermal pool kept above 80°F adjacent to the hot spring spa.

Early Postcard of the Hot Springs Bathhouse

      The reputation the 4UR holds with anglers today was even present during the earliest days of the resort. An article from Western Field featured in its February 1906 edition boast that “At few places in Colorado is there better trout fishing than at Wagon Wheel Gap…the speckled beauties are plentiful.” The article also states that there is good fishing everywhere along the 6-mile stretch of Goose Creek.   Additional information about the fishing conditions can be found in the Denver Times from 1901. A reader wrote to the editor in regards to the fishing stating “Away with your Newport! Away with your ocean breezes and delicious salt air! Give us some Wagon Wheel Gap.” The 4UR today still features the same great fishing experience, if not better. The ranch features over 15 stations along Goose Creek and the Rio Grande that offers each angler ample room to themselves and the trout.

Fly fishing on Goose Creek.

Anglers Along Goose Creek


     The 4UR today is honored to carry on the traditions established over 100 years ago. Although it no longer features the 1908 rates of $4 a day and $21 a week, it takes the utmost pride in ensuring every one of its guest receive the best experience possible on the creek, in the hot springs and in the dining room.  



Early Advertisement for the Ranch



Frazier, Deborah “Colorado’s Hot Springs” WestWinds Press: Portland Oregon 2014


Denver Times, 1901, Letter the Editor


Western Field “Wagon Wheel Gap, Colorado” February 1906: page 443 Article found here


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