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Flooding At The River Forks Inn In Drake, CO

River-Forks-Drake-floodStory by: Nina Kunze

Drake, Colorado is one of the places that took the brunt of the raging floodwaters that rushed through our Colorado mountain canyons last month. The River Forks Inn sits at the confluence of the Big Thompson River and the North Fork of the Big Thompson on Highway 34 in Drake. Both rivers rose, washing away the RV Park, several outbuildings, burying or washing away several cars, and invading the inn, leaving behind about eight inches of heavy, wet mud throughout the building. The river carved a new path about 50 yards north of where it used to be. The outdoor spaces are all ruined: the charming riverside campsites with full hookups, and the outdoor event center and stage that hosted numerous concerts, weddings, barbeques and parties. Indoors, the deep, heavy mud remains, since there has been very limited access to Drake since the flood. The family is just beginning to organize volunteers to help with cleanup.

river-forks-drake-flood2Bill and Ann Jones are the owners of the River Forks. They bought the property nine years ago as a “retirement” project. They have remodeled much of the building, paved the parking lot, added full hookups to the campsites, built the outdoor stage and event center, and made many other improvements, sinking their life savings into the property. Bill and Ann have been a friend to many of the locals over the years. Now in their eighties, the prospect of rebuilding is more than they bargained for.

The River Forks Inn and Stage Stop has a long and colorful history. Beginning in 1905, it hosted travelers on the way to Estes Park. In the early years, it was a stagecoach stop where travelers had a meal or stayed overnight while horses were fed and watered or changed out during the journey. In more recent years, the River Forks has been known for a great place to camp by the river, stay overnight in one of their western-p rooms, or enjoy a burger and beer.

 Bill’s destroyed Yukon on Highway 34, with what remains of the River Forks campground behind it.

Bill’s destroyed Yukon on Highway 34, with what remains of the River Forks campground behind it.

Rebuilding the River Forks is important for the town of Drake and the residents of Storm Mountain and the Big Thompson Canyon, as well as to Bill and Ann and their family. A landmark for over 100 years, it still stands, but will need major work after the devastation, a highly expensive undertaking. Bill and Ann, like many canyon folks, were not insured for such a loss.

The family has established a website for donations at


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