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A Holiday Look Back: The History of Rawah Ranch

Photo of antique car at Rawah Ranch

Since the beginning, Rawah Ranch has been a place for guests to experience the unspoiled beauty of the Colorado wilderness. A place where you can participate in authentic western activities, stay in comfortable accommodations, and enjoy delicious meals. A place where you arrive as guests and leave as part of the Rawah family. Over seventy years later, the vision of our ranch remains the same. Today we would like to highlight the history of our ranch, paying homage to the past and the people that have made Rawah what it is today.

The Beginning of Our Historic Rawah Ranch

It all started in 1935 when a man by the name of Ralph Jordan bought the land that is now Rawah Ranch. There were originally three parcels of land, one for the guest ranch, the other for grazing horses and cattle, and the third for growing produce and grain. Rawah Ranch opened its doors to the public in 1952 as a place for travelers to rest, relax, and take in the natural beauty that the region has to offer.

An excerpt from This Rawah (Wilderness) 

by Margaret Williams

This wilderness is felt

As well as seen;

A wilderness of quiet, 

Clouds and green.

The Wilderness Act

Our ranch even has a connection to President Theodore Roosevelt when he signed the deed of trust as part of a land acquisition agreement with the railroad companies. One of the most significant events of our history is the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. The act is one of our country’s most outstanding conservation achievements and designated over 100 million acres of wilderness as protected land. This act included our Rawah Wilderness Area that remains preserved and unspoiled today. This land preservation allows us to continually deliver an authentic western experience that would not be possible without Ralph Jordan and the Wilderness Act.

Commitment to Conservation

At Rawah Ranch, we are proud to continue the tradition of conservation and preservation of the natural environment around us. As Ralph Jordan stated, “We are surrounded by Roosevelt National Forest. Since this is, so we feel a deep obligation to the public to help keep its national forests the way they want it kept- as free as possible from clutter and man-made devices.”

Today, we partner with the Colorado Tourism Office and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to educate tourists to travel responsibly. Responsible tourism can help keep our wilderness wild and preserved for generations to come. As centuries-old stewards of our natural resources, we are dedicated to caring for the outdoors and sharing our commitment to conservation with every Rawah guest.

Historic Cabins

Even though our cabins have been updated with modern conveniences, the history of these structures remains. The Mackward cabin was built in 1937, and the original wood cookstove can still be used by guests today. When the Kunz family took over the ranch in the ’90s, these cabins were remodeled and renovated. Floors were sanded to bring new life to the old hardwood, and amenities like baths and fireplaces were added. The cabins at Rawah still have that homey harmonious appeal that Ralph Jordan started.

The Rawah Ranch Legacy Today

Rawah Ranch seeks to capture the original vision by welcoming guests from across the country to our historic mountain escape. As Ralph Jordan stated in 1953, “Rawah Ranch is proudest of its guests,” and that could not be more true today.

Due to the commitment of the owners, Ron and Lucia, Rawah continues to be a place for people to gather year after year in the beauty of the Northern Colorado wilderness. Their passion for sharing nature ensures a memorable and unique experience every time you stay with us. When guests make memories at our ranch, they contribute to a longstanding legacy of history and tradition. Join us at Rawah Ranch and help us continue the legacy; we can’t wait to welcome you home!

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