Drake, Colorado is one of the places that took the brunt of the raging floodwaters that rushed through the Big Thompson Canyon on September 12 and 13, 2013. The River Forks Inn sits at the confluence of the North Fork of the Big Thompson River and the Big Thompson River in Drake. Both rivers rose and dumped 2-3 feet of water, debris and mud into the inn. The owners Bill and Ann were evacuated by helicopter and unable to take anything with them. Now that the water has receded, a foot of heavy, wet mud remains throughout the building, and there is a lot of damage. The outdoor spaces are now ruined: the charming riverside campsites with full hookups, the shady beer garden, and the outdoor stage and lawn that hosted numerous concerts, weddings, barbeques and parties.
The River Forks Inn and Stage Stop has a long and colorful history. Beginning in 1905, the River Forks hosted travelers on the way to Estes Park. In the early years, it was a stage 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-themed rooms, or enjoy a burger and beer. Many memorable weddings and concerts were held in the event center behind the inn, next to the river. Are you one who has enjoyed a beer while listening to live music at the bar, or outside on a lovely summer’s evening in the event center? Or maybe you came for the Karaoke, or to warm yourself by the fire, or for a Halloween or Christmas party. Maybe you’ve attended a summer wedding in the outdoor grassy area next to the river while you admired the spectacular surroundings.
Bill and Ann Jones purchased the River Forks in 2004 as a “retirement” project. They refurbished the building, remodeled the entire second story, paved the parking lot, drilled a new well, added full hookups to the campsites, and made many other improvements over the last nine years. The River Forks is the hub of Drake, and Bill and Ann have been a friend to many of the locals over the years.
Rebuilding the River Forks is important to 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.
Please help us rebuild the historic River Forks Inn and Stage Stop! Your donations are much appreciated!
If you prefer to pay by check, make checks payable to the "River Forks Inn Rebuilding Fund" and mail to Bill and Ann Jones, 2938 N Madison, Loveland, CO 80538.