Archeological & Horticultural Preserve
Retreat Center & Lodging
Located in the extreme southwestern corner of Colorado on The Colorado Plateau, 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 known 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
Kelly Place ( soon to be renamed Ancient Echoes @ Kelly Place) nestled at the base of the north wall of McElmo Canyon is the namesake of renouned Western States horticulturist George Kelly, landscape designer, arborist, first acting director of The Denver Botanical Garden and prolific writer who along with his wife Sue Kelly aspired to create an oasis here. In 1963 The Kelly's built a one story hacienda designed by Jared Morse. Over the years 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.
The tradition of education ( Road Scholar had it's origins here) continued with Rodney and Christie Carriker who added dorms to the hacienda and several other dwellings to facilitate larger groups (Elderhostel) and a bed and breakfast. Continued on by Marc and Jerene, over the years the place has facilitated Vision Quest, Buddhist retreats, plein air painters, visiting artists and writers, birding enthusiasts, gatherings and weddings (what a chapel!),
Our vision for the place brings some changes. A softer footprint, quality amenities, curated experiences, an emphasis on the rich local food scene, outdoor cooking in the tradition of the ancients ( fire, clay, coals), smaller groups, a writer in residence program.
Working tenaciously and creatively over the past year we have renovated room by room using as much ecological, sustainable and recycled materials as we can, and ta da! we are going solar this year! Tree pruning, fire mitigation and cleaning up the arroyo, planting the open field with drought resistant grasses, and moving to save water in all the ways we can. And we are just getting started!
We are right at home in a canyon community whose spirit is notably pioneer in essence (if not good part outlaw!) be it experimental gardens, world class wines (Sutcliffe Vineyard just 4 miles up the road), horse back archeology with Canyon Trails Ranch and adventurers drawn to the rugged beauty of a place full of contrasts and moods.
We are located near Mesa Verde and Hovenweep, just next to Sand Canyon Trail with some of the most spectacular hiking in the area, an hour from Durango and the San Juan mountains...the list goes on...and on.