Those who visit Evergreen, Colorado enjoy mountain views, small-town charm, and outdoor activities. All while still being close to the amenities of a big city. The character that makes Evergreen special is thanks in part to the rich history of this region. There are historical sites to see and intriguing stories that shape the present-day community. So, how did it all begin?
Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitants in the Colorado foothills as far back as 4,000 BC. Pre-historic structures are being studied at the Magic Mountain Archaeological site near Golden. By the 16th century, Native Americans hunted a healthy elk, deer, and bison population in and around Evergreen. The Utes lived in teepees and wickiups while hunting and gathering in the same meadows we hike through today. Eventually, the Arapaho and Cheyenne people arrived competing for territory. They often migrated between the mountains and plains with the seasons.
The gold rush of the 1850s brought miners and their families to the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, the rapid growth of the American west had an ugly side that included war with Native Americans. According to the Colorado Encyclopedia, the U.S. government created a reservation on the western slope and sought to relocate the indigenous people. Interaction between the tribes and settlers was not always negative. Some early pioneers recount stories of sharing recipes and trading goods with their indigenous neighbors. The county attempts to honor the Native American influence in various ways including monuments and museums.
By the late 1800s, the foothills of the Rocky Mountains developed with ranches and the lumber industry. The Evergreen post office was established in 1876 and the community of ranchers and loggers expanded to include summer homes for Denver residents. The town increased in popularity after damming the creek to create Evergreen Lake in 1928. Outdoor recreation and mild summer weather attracted more people to establish the town we know today.
There are lots of ways to learn more about Evergreen and to get a glimpse of the past. Check out some of our favorites below.
Visit the Hiwan Heritage Park and Museum
Visitors can step back in time at this homestead which dates back to 1893. Originally called Camp Neosho, the impressive home was hand-built using local materials. It served as a summer camp and residence for the Douglas family. The original structure expanded over the years until the Buchanan family purchased the land for a cattle ranch in 1938.
Today visitors can relax in the park under massive ponderosa trees and view photos and artifacts inside the restored home. Thanks to the Mountain Area Historical Society the museum offers fun and interactive learning opportunities.
Located less than 5 minutes from the Alpen Way Chalet, this park is ideal for children and history buffs alike.
Tour Downtown Evergreen landmarks
Blended with new buildings, modern restaurants, and shops, are several historical landmarks. Walking distance from our lodge, plan an afternoon stroll and imagine what life was like for the settlers who established the town.
At the east end of downtown, you will find the Church of the Transfiguration and surrounding buildings known as the Evergreen Conference District. Several of these structures were built in the late 1800s and served as a hotel, bunkhouse, and sawmill before becoming the church and campus you see today. Don’t miss the large bell tower that was built in 1911 and still rings when couples get married here.
Continue down Main street to enjoy coffee at the Muddy Buck Cafe or a beer at the Little Bear Saloon. These buildings were also built in the late 1800s and underwent many transformations. The current coffee shop has exposed rock perfect for the “ice house” that it once was, providing refrigeration for the town. Surprisingly, the rowdy bar next door was once a church before becoming a legendary music venue.
Plan a hike and picnic at a historical park
Evergreen is known for its abundance of outdoor activities and beautiful scenery. Many of the parks and trails we enjoy today were hunting grounds for Native Americans until they became ranching and logging operations for homesteaders in the 1800s. Pack a picnic lunch and try a hiking or biking trail located a short drive from the Alpen Way Chalet Mountain Lodge.
This nearby park with impressive rock outcroppings and more than 15 miles of trails is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. There is a variety of scenery ranging from forest to meadows and the Alderfer Ranch House and Barn historic landmark add to the picture-perfect setting.
Together, these three parks cover nearly 1,400 acres of open space that is ideal for hiking and biking. Bear Creek runs through Corwina and O’fallon and you can visit shelters that were built in the early 1900s along the trail system.
Located on the north end of town, these two parks are great for picnics. They each have impressive stone shelters that were designed by Denver architect JJ.B. Benedict more than 100 years ago and short walking trails.
Though technically not an Evergreen address, it’s worth the 20-minute drive to get to this park. There are spectacular views of Denver and a relatively easy day hike brings you to the Walker Mansion Ruins. This fascinating landmark shows the remains of millionaire John Brisbane Walker’s castle-like residence he built in 1909 which later burned in 1918.
It’s easy to see why Native Americans, pioneers, and present-day families chose Evergreen as their home. We invite you to visit us and learn more about this mountain town.
The Alpen Way Chalet is located in the heart of Evergreen with easy access to the historic downtown, Evergreen Lake, and countless hiking trails. Each room at the lodge is full of character and guests are just steps away from Little Cub Creek where you can relax and watch for wildlife. After a historic tour of the town, check out the present day music and nightlife in our mountain town.
Contact us today for reservations.