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Magic in the Mountains

How Mary Ruth and Greg Vincent Are Restoring Glen Isle Resort to Its Original Glory

Article by Kati Cahill and Joan Dameron

Photography by Jeni Fleck

Originally published in Parker City Lifestyle

“I feel like Glen Isle is its own spirit and we are along for the ride.” Mary Ruth Vincent

Topophilia, or love of place, is often thought to be lost in modern society. A place that elicits these strong emotions involves a sacred space and scenic qualities. Like any special relationship, intense love of a place is worth nurturing and can strengthen a family’s social fabric.

Mary Ruth Vincent developed this emotional attachment with a place that was both sacred and scenic when she was growing up. Her family traveled from Texas to Glen Isle Resort near Bailey each summer and it became part of her being. As Mary Ruth recalled her childhood trips the memories flooded back. It was that magical place they returned to year after year where the children could play and explore the forested mountains and the river. Campfires, outdoor movies and live music, the old playground and chuckwagon dinners were all part of the charm. When Mary Ruth married Greg, she shared her dream of someday owning Glen Isle.

Glen Isle is a story steeped in history. Founded on old Indian camping grounds, the resort was originally built to attract upper-class Denverites with its proximity to the city and breathtaking location along the Platte River. The resort opened as a fishing lodge and golf, tennis and fishing were the main pastimes in those early days. An excerpt from an article titled The Last Resort by Betty Moynihan in the May 1979 issue of the High Timber Times described it like this.

When the Colorado and Southern Railroad wound its way through mountain forests and table lands early in the 1900’s, many summer resorts and vacation hotels sprang up along its route.  When the railroad pulled up stakes in 1937, most of these resorts folded.  Glen Isle is one of the exceptions.  It has been a vacation retreat since 1901 and is still catering to guests.

Just under an hour from most locations in the Denver area and right off of Highway 285, which used to be the railroad, Glen Isle Resort is so close yet a world away. The rounded front of the lodge follows the lines of the old tree it was built around. The level below the main floor housed the rec room and a bat habitat occupied the upper level of the lodge – a natural way to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay. The furniture in the 14 guest rooms upstairs in the lodge all have original furniture. Explore the grounds and see the portal or framing trees that the Native Americans manipulated, signified by the ligatures that caused the branches to grow in a different direction, to let spirits in or out or to frame a view such as a magnificent mountain peak.

Barbara Tripp was gifted the property by her parents in the 1940s and when she passed away in 2012, her children decided to sell Glen Isle. Mary Ruth’s dream was about to come true. It was the deep love of this place that kept Mary Ruth and Greg grounded with a vision that was sometimes even hard for them to see. When they purchased the property almost five years ago on July 21, 2017, obstacles presented themselves from the very beginning. From obtaining financing to the pandemic that sidelined weddings and navigating the proper legal channels to begin building their own home on the property after living in the various rooms in the lodge, it has been an uphill climb. Their commitment to preserving and sharing Glen Isle kept them doggedly focused.

Today guests have overnight options ranging from peaceful campsites to spacious cabins with fireplaces (one even has a hot tub!), patios, grills and fully equipped kitchens and everything in between. Bring your own food and you will never have to leave. Weddings at Glen Isle are both intimate and breathtaking. Further back on the property a meadow is the perfect setting for ceremonies and a clearing along the Platte River surrounded by pines is where Mary Ruth and Greg string twinkling lights in the trees for receptions. Walk down to the Platte to fish (a fishing license is required), play disc golf, and hike some of the trails that begin right where the 150 acres property ends. Larger groups can stay together in the lodge and 16 of the 18 cabins have been painstakingly renovated to provide modern conveniences while still embracing a rustic ambiance.

The resident horses are eager to be loved by guests and will never turn down a treat of a carrot or an apple. Trail rides aren't available on the property because most of the friendly horses are rescues. Stables are nearby in Conifer and Fairplay. The resort is dog-friendly, and kids and canines will both have a wonderful time in the fresh mountain air.

The lodge has been cleaned up in the last five years yet crossing the bridge and walking into the historic building centered around the ancient tree is like stepping back in time. It hasn’t changed much since the first guests debarked from the train and walked up the path with their luggage in tow. The quaint gift shop offers souvenirs and gift items. An unexpected gift is when families that have been coming to Glen Isle for years (children now bringing their children and grandchildren) find black and white photos of grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles in the many worn scrapbooks that have been kept over the years.

Barbara Tripp loved collections of all kinds, and prior to her death, had purchased some Native American artifacts, some dating back as far as 1000 AD. Now, Mary Ruth and Greg are partnering with Denver University to research the cradleboards and artifacts from various tribes that grace the walls in the main part of the lodge.

Mary Ruth and Greg Vincent are stewards of this historic place. They are preserving and enhancing the buildings and grounds while maintaining the history. It is a love affair that is so palpable that you can feel it when you visit. Now the couples’ dream is to see one of their sons take over this legacy they are building.

Visit Glen Isle for the beauty and experience the magic. “I feel like Glen Isle is its own spirit and we are along for the ride,” Mary Ruth says.

  • Native American Framing Tree