El Rancho

Address29260 US Hwy 40, Golden 80401
QuadEvergreen, 1965 (1979)
SectionS16, T4S, R71W
SourceEl Rancho Lodge Brochure; National Historic Registry Application, Dorothy Reed; "City and Mountain Views;" Lomond, "Mt. Vernon Canyon Past to Present."
Initialdate1995-03-15 00:00:00-07
Latestdate2012-11-28 00:00:00-07
HistoryA landmark restaurant, mountain lodge and conference center that has become known as a location on Interstate Highway 70. It began as a log restaurant built in 1947 by the Jahnke family. In 1953, it was purchased by Ray and Mildred Zipprich who added a banquet business, gift shop, and established a contract station for the U.S. Post Office. In 1958 it became a "Mom and Pop" operation managed by their daughter, Donna, and son-in-law, Paul McEnroe. The restaurant became a landmark for tourists and was also popular with local mountain residents. When Interstate 70 was being built in the mid-1960s, McEnroe convinced the highway department to name the exit to Evergreen "El Rancho." El Rancho is said to have the most photographed view of the Continental Divide in America. It was selected by many national and international magazines as one of "America's Favorite" restaurants. The McEnroes offered free meeting space for local community organizations and served on many county boards and commissions. They established a Southwestern gift shop in the restaurant in 1972, a Visitor Information Center in 1975, and an RTD parking area next to the restaurant in 1987. The McEnroes sold it in 1988 to Skip Rousch who established hotel rooms on the upper level. Rousch sold it to Mark McKenna in 1995. McKenna sold some of the 10.5 acres for development of a hotel in 1998.