This is the place to see!

New Ownership of Coulters!
Call Russ or Susan Papke at (303) 625-1473  or 1-800-858-3046 for more information. They are the new owners of Coulter Lake Guest Ranch as of 1999. They tell me that they intend to keep the place as did the Coulters, Kelly and Lucy Anderson, and Sue and Norm Benzinger. This is great news! This also means that you will have the continued serenity and beauty preserved!


Notes and History

For the past 50 years of my life, I have been going to Coulter Lake Guest Ranch. I am continually drawn to the great beauty of the place. One cannot imagine that driving along Interstate 70 West from Denver, the most spectacular scenery in the US is approaching the little town of Rifle, Colorado. Yes, everyone is drawn to Glenwood Springs, noted for its warm and soothing sulfated waters, or to Aspen, which is the ski capital and summer music center for the Midwest. So when you approach Rifle, you ask, "Why should I disembark from the Interstate in this desert-like environment?" The answer is that you are about to find the most beautiful spot in the entire contiguous 48 states!

Map to Coulters (overview) )

A more detailed Map

Now, let me give you a brief description of the drive up to Coulter Lake. First stop and get some picnic supplies so you can enjoy a pleasant hike with an afternoon break. Plan to spend one full day on this side trip. As you leave Rifle on #789, you will see a giant shale mountain in the distance to your left. This shale rock actually has as much oil in it as most of the US oil reserves, I am told. The only problem is that it is too costly to remove the oil from the shale rock. I do remember placing the shale rock in the fireplace, and the rocks will flame for a short while.

Enough wandering from the most important thing. Be on the lookout for #325 to your right which will take you first to the Rifle Golf Range. It is one of the most interesting golfing experiences. Kelly Anderson (from Pampa, Texas) who owned Coulter Lake Guest Ranch earlier, lives near this point. Now continue on to the Rifle Reservoir. As you approach this interesting man-made lake, you will turn right and go over the dam. Take a look back into the giant valley, and notice the gain in altitude. Next, will go past the Colorado State Trout Hatchery, one of the largest trout hacheries in the world. Obviously, the streams around this area are loaded with beautiful rainbow trout, and so is Coulter Lake (more on that later!)

You will next approach Big Box Canyon, and now the road will change to a DIRT road. It also change to # 217. You will now see some very interesting narrow canyon scenery. You will then go through Little Box Canyon, and there you will come upon the ICE CAVES. Stop and see this very interesting cave. Mr. Coulter and his wife, Claudine, used to gather all the ice they would need in the summer for making ice cream and keeping their "ice box" cold. This cave is a fantastic insulator for keeping the winter's ice through the summer months.

Leaving the Ice Caves, you will now come upon some Colorado Blue Spruce and Aspen trees. You are approaching an altitutude of about 7500 feet. You will come upon Forest Road #832 which will begin to take you up almost to the Ranch. You are now deep in the White River National Forest, one of the most pristine and isolated areas in Colorado. If you do not believe this, take a look at the map and find the nearest town or village north and west of this point (where are they?). OK, now you will come to a T-junction. If you want to see something really interesting, go left and continue on # 832 to the top of Coulter Mesa which tops out about 10,000 feet. You can have a fantastic picnic in an aspen thicket, and more than likely, you will see deer and elk which are abundant in this region. Just after you top the mesa, you can look down and see Coulter Lake. What a view. To your right, you can see Mt. Elbert in the distance more than 100 miles away.

After your picnic, return back to the T-junction and then travel on county road # 273 up to the Ranch. Toping off the journey, you will arrive immediately below the Lake, and to your right you will see the barn which will more than likely have lots of interesting horses. When we were kids, we used to ride horses, and the same high quality quarter horse stock is available for really cool rides into the great White River National Forest Wilderness.

OK, here is what I really want to show you! This is a rather large panoramic photo of Coulter Lake taken across the waters from the cabins. Truly beautiful! This photo was made from a horse trail which also leads to a picnic area on the eastern side of the lake. Thre are numerous hiking trails you can enjoy. Beever dams and lots of wonderful wildlife abound in this region. For the botanically inclined, you will encounter numerous Calypso bulbosa the wild mountain orchid, under blue spruce, early in the summer (first or second week in June). Also, there are vast fields of dog toothed violets, and the Colorado columbine is excellent in mid-to late summer. This is a photographer's and videographer's paradise! The serenity of this place, combined with isolation and great natural beauty, make it difficult to comprehend. I can truly testify to all of this after having traveled over much of the earth. Coulter Lake is still one of the most beautiful spots I have ever encountered.

Click Here for an enlarged View
of Coulter Lake 170 KB

Next, I would like to show you a montage of various events at Coulters. The former owners Norm and Sue Benzinger are marvelous people and really have enjoyed what they do. Both came from California and decided to buy the Ranch after having been guests there. They are continuing the tradition started by Mr. and Mrs. Coulter and maintained by Kelly Anderson. Now we have Russ and Susan Papke as the new owners who have told me that they intend to keep the traditions embedded by the past owners. Wonderful!

Click Here for an enlarged View of the montage 180 KB

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little trip to such a beautiful spot. Please let me know about it if you take this trip. The nature, geology, biology, and people are great. Have a great trip! 



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Modified March 3, 1999