It should be peak season at Glen Echo Resort, about 30 miles up the Poudre Canyon from Ted’s Place. The campsites should be full, the restaurant packed with hungry families and the gift shop bustling with tourists looking for that perfect postcard.
But the High Park Fire has changed that. Since the state’s second-largest wildfire started burning on June 9, Highway 14 has been closed at Ted’s Place at the mouth of the canyon, meaning the usual flood of travelers eager to escape the summer heat has dwindled to a trickle. More important, most of the summer regulars who would stay the summer have packed up and left, either scared by the reports of the fire moving west or just coughing and hacking from the constant smoke hanging low in the valley.
“The High Park smoke bothered a lot of the campers,” said Gail Rowe, who’s owned Glen Echo for 13 years with husband Lloyd. “Then you add the heat we’ve had the last week with the smoke and that was pretty hard for folks to take.”
Still, 50 of the 72 available camping spots at the resort are occupied. But Rowe is discouraged by the flood of cancellations — 40 in all — for the rest of the camping season. On top of that, only 2-3 people per day stop for meals in the 25-table dining room.
Although firefighters have pitched in by stopping and buying fuel and snacks at the general store, business is so bad that 20 of the 27 full-time employees have left to find work elsewhere.
“I don’t blame them,” said Rowe. “There just isn’t the business to support more than a few employees.”
Rowe did offer some advice to homeowners who’ve lost homes in the fire. The Glen Echo Resort restaurant and general store burned to the ground in 2002 after mice escaping the winter cold chewed electrical wiring and caused a short and subsequent fire.
“Be strong and have faith and by all means rebuild — because there’s no better place to be,” said Rowe. “This fire’s been a challenge for all of us in this canyon. We’ve had other struggles before this and we all made it through it.”