Piney River Ranch to celebrate its 150th anniversary
Special to the Daily
History books contain little about the Vail Valley from the 19th century, but this September marks the 150th anniversary of a visit from one of America’s foremost explorers — John Wesley Powell. In 1867, Major Powell, a Civil War veteran, explorer and geology professor, left Illinois to begin his journey to travel down the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. His route West was through northern Colorado, and along the way, Powell would pause to climb neighboring peaks. In September 1868, while the main group had settled at the Yampa River, Powell and two others began the climb the highest peak in the Gore Range, the mountain that would later be named Mount Powell.
The team at Piney River Ranch will celebrate the sesquicentennial of this climbing with a barbecue, music and a guided hike up the base of Mount Powell on Friday, Sept. 21. The celebration will be both a recognition of Major Powell’s contribution to the exploration of the West and the continuing stewardship and conservation of the Gore Range.
Piney River Ranch offers a broad front of activities such as hiking, fishing, camping and exploring Piney Falls, lake and river as it flows towards the Colorado River, the final destination of Major Powell in 1868. At Piney River Ranch, guests can relax in the lodge, canoe, fish, ride horses, spend the night in cabins or celebrate weddings and family reunions.
Piney Lake also serves a historic function, as a means of preserving a window on both the natural and historic development of the state of Colorado. The Gore Range climbed by Major Powell in1868 was still largely unexplored wilderness. Although Major Powell saw himself as more of an explorer than a conservationist, the pathways that he opened then are today’s wilderness that every resident and visitor to the Vail Valley can visit and explore.
Matthew McKenna is a former Senior Advisor to Secretary Vilsack at the United States Department of Agriculture. Monique Busold is the General Manager of Piney River Ranch. Both McKenna and Busold are partners in the group managing Piney River Ranch.