Archeological & Horticultural Preserve

Retreat Center & Lodging


Kelly Place

Kelly Place! No apostrophe. (Can not be possessed).

Located in the extreme southwestern corner of Colorado, McElmo Canyon has been until recently terra incognita except for the native peoples and early settlers. Thousands of years ago a dense population occupied these rocky outcroppings and unique canyons leading to fertile valleys, leaving remnants of their everyday lives: deserted rock mounds, arrow heads, pottery sherds of exquisite design, and sacred chambers below ground know as Kiva, a story of dwelling and departure unwritten and imperfectly deciphered. "Deep blue skies, beautiful sunset effects blending color and tints, a brilliancy of stars, the clear atmosphere, rugged cliffs and distant snowy peaks, a creek running through...all are here with an impressiveness that can not be exaggerated. "*

Enter renouned Western States horticulturist George Kelly, landscape designer, scout, arborist extradinaire with a vision to create an oasis in the desert, a garden, a retirement project...

Thus begins the George Kelly legacy and namesake of this place along with his gentle, intelligent, lovely wife Sue, and her award winning roses. The Kelly's provided education for youth about native plants, indigenous arts and survival techniques, and of course archeology as Kelly Place has 25 documented prehistoric sites on the land. 


A place of contrasts and moods, the spirit of the canyon is notably pioneer in essence if not a good part outlaw, whether it be experimental gardens, world class wines, horse back archeology,  



Changes are afoot at Kelly Place!

We are two women of spirit who bought Kelly Place in January of 2021. Foregoing a pilgrimage last September on the Camino de Santiago in Spain due to Covid, we decided to meander instead the American Southwest. Hailing from Montana where we lived along the Gallatin River near Bozeman, our return homeward took us to what we thought would be a simple one night stay at Kelly Place. We had heard about the ancient Puebloan sites and the horticutural legacy but nothing prepared us for the jewel that we found. As we wound through McElmo Canyon at dusk we were astounded by the lush beauty that unveiled herself past vineyards and orchards nested among the red rocks, both picturesque and infinitely wild. One night of camping turned to several and unwittingly we found ourselves called to take a leap of faith. Sitting in the unrestored kiva, we dedicated ourselves to this place, decided to buy it! went directly home, sold everything we had and more and turned our lives over to this journey. 


Filled with presence of the ancients and existing outside of Time, we are called to live in integrity here with all that surrounds. We are called to this place as both our sacred and ordinary home, living as we might wish to live, inviting others to come be with us intimately in our home space which encompasses 36 acres of exceptional land, bordering Canyon of The Ancients National Monument


As Terry Tempest Williams writes:

This is what we can promise the future: a legacy of care. That we will be good stewards and not take too much or give back too little, that we will recognize wild nature for what it is, in all its magnificent and complex history - an unfathomable wealth that should be consciously saved, not ruthlessly spent. Privilege is what we inherit by our status as Homo sapiens living on this planet. This is the privilege of imagination. What we choose to do with our privilege as a species is up to each of us."


Our hope is to create an oasis for reflection about our place in a radically shifting world, a place of sanctuary to resource our being with natural and cosmic codes, while preserving our water, our land and the ancient Puebloan story of everyday life that persists here, and to enjoy the horticultural legacy of George and Sue Kelly who sought to "retire" in the stunning McElmo Canyon, only to vigorously cultivate award winning roses, return native Colorado plants of the region to relevancy, and reintroduce the apple industry that thrives to this day.

We are challenged, enchanted and looking forward to welcoming guests both old and new.

Allison and Cindy

Cindy Leavitt

Allison Troxel

What's New & Different


THE LODGE: We are currently renovating The Lodge, the original stucco hacienda designed by Jared Morse for George and Sue Kelly as their retirement home. We are rebuilding the kitchen in the lodge, creating a small, functional commercial open space kitchen, and building a simple but elegant bar which will feature select local beer, wine and cider. We are also updating the ground floor public lodge area, adding a full library room with internet station. THE LODGE will be open in early September to include 4 rooms with double occupancy with one family lodge room for four. The lodge has a beautiful public patio. open to all visitors. 

Speaking of INTERNET: We are shifting our service to a simpler Starlink service. Internet in the canyon remains sparse but there will be service in The Lodge and a free long distance guest phone. Please be advised that we have limited bandwidth and hope folks will enjoy the tech reprieve. We don't have a TV but we think the best movie is what's happening outside. 

BREAKFAST: We are changing how we serve breakfast here at Kelly Place. We no longer include breakfast in the room price. Instead we will offer a cafe style breakfast in the Lodge as our kitchen develops to include a variety of options with as much local fare as we can, at reasonable pricing. This choice at this time also helps us with considerations regarding Covid safety. We are building a cob pizza oven and will be offering other interesting amuse bouche in the evenings during check in time. We both love to cook!

RV's: Unfortunately RV's are hard on the bridge, land and septic systems so we have retired our previous spots. We are no longer hosting RV but are happy to refer you to some other good situations nearby. We have a whole other idea about camping...


What's Available

We will open bookings the first week in June 20121 for limited lodging and camping. 

Please fill out the form below so we can notify you when our bookings are open.

We will send out our reservation links, also available on this site. 


A 2 bedroom suite with full kitchen, occupies one side of an older, well established modular home. Great views of Sleeping Ute Mountain. New, comfy beds, good linens and excellent amenities.  Private with covered deck.  


We have done some partial renovations on our duplex casitas located near the cliffside with great views. These are some of our nicer (for now) rooms featuring new queen sized beds, full bathrooms with showers and small kitchenette. These double occupancy rooms are quiet, cool genuine adobe brick with a shared porch for lounging, simple artwork and great linens. We offer basic coffee and tea set-up while affording you a place to cook. Charcoal grills on-site.



Camping here is quite special. We have a number of spots.

Please go to our booking site at Hipcamp to schedule. 

Subscribe to Our Site for updates!

Thanks for submitting!

phone 970-565-3125