The Trail River Ranch is rich with Rocky Mountain history. Native Americans visited the area for thousands of years before the ranch existed, hunting, fishing, and foraging the fertile land of the Kawuneeche Valley.
The ranch itself is a sterling example of the history of the American West. The ranch was first established in 1914, when farmers and ranchers homesteaded the property. Area miners were also known to stay at the Trail River Ranch, as the property is within hiking distance of the historic mining sites of Gaskill and Teller City, now ghost towns.
The ranch property consists of a main cabin, located at the confluence of the Bowen and Baker Creeks and the Colorado River. A guest cabin and outbuilding are also on the property, as is the Little Buckaroo Barn. Built in 1942, the Little Buckaroo Barn is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The ranch’s last owners, Fred and Betty Dick, were the last inhabitants of the property. The Dicks resided there under a 25-year contract with the U.S. Park Service. Betty outlived Fred, and Betty received permission from Congress to continue living at the ranch when the contract expired in 2005. When Betty passed away in 2006, the ranch was turned over to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Since 2006, local citizens and park ambassadors continue working to establish Trail River Ranch as a special-use site for education classes, artist-in-residence programs, and community events. Trail River Ranch is the only facility of its kind on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.