THE HISTORY OF DAO HOUSE
From a homestead to a guest ranch to a retreat center, Dao House has an interesting history.
The land Dao House sets on was once a gathering place of peace for local rival Native American tribes.
The property of Dao House, formerly Aspen Lodge Resort & Spa, dates back to one of the first settlers in the Tahosa Valley, Elkanah Lamb, who was a minister. In 1875 Lamb cut the first road known as Lamb’s Hill, which stretched to Tahosa Valley from Estes Park. The road enabled Lamb to move his household goods by wagon to his homestead site of 160 acres near the present Wind River Ranch. The Lambs sold their property to Bessie Henderson Gay from Chicago around 1902. Ms. Gay developed the Wind River Ranch, and in 1936 deeded part of the property to a good friend, Harry Walden. The deeded property is the present day site of Dao House.
Harry Walden married the cook from the Long’s Peak Inn and built their home, now known as the Executive Haus, in 1915. This is the oldest building on the property and is located next to the restaurant. They operated a fox farm and trapped beavers, spreading cages around the few outbuildings, cabins and property. In 1933, the Swiss Chalet cabin was built and used as a pelt room to store the furs from the animals the Waldens trapped.
The Waldens sold their land to David and Bernice Lennox in 1945, who in turn sold it to John and Stella LaCoke in 1949. The original lodge was built during this time (1948) where the current restaurant is today, with only four guest rooms on the second floor. As a result of ill health, the LaCokes sold the lodge to Elanore and Joseph Droeser and Carl Schuster in 1951. Mr. LaCoke died a few days after the sale. During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s most of the cabins and current suites were erected, and the Lodge began to operate as a guest ranch. On January 31, 1964, the lodge burned to the ground yet was rebuilt and opened by June of that year.
In September 1984, ground was broken to build the current lodge, which at the time would be the largest log structure in Colorado: a 30,000 square foot conference center, which opened in June 1985. The expansion also included the tennis courts and the sports center.
In 1987, the Michelsons operated the lodge from San Antonio, Texas with the help of onsite managers. From 1988 until April 1992 the Lodge was operated by various financial institutions. Then, in April 1992 the Lodge was purchased by a partnership of three families from the Atlanta area, the Weavers, Dills and Halls. This partnership continued until the property was purchased by the Stangers. This family formed Estes Valley Resorts, consisting of the newly constructed Lake Shore Lodge, now known as The Estes Park Resort, Lake Estes Inn and Suites, which is currently known as Econolodge, and the Aspen Lodge, now Dao House.
In 2012, Master Yun Xiang Tseng (Chen) purchased the property, continuing the traditions of the West, yet introducing and teaching the ancient wisdom of the East. During the floods of September 2013, the lodge was hit by a landslide and consequently closed for 9 months, reopening by summer of 2014.
2015 brings more change; with a new face and a direction, the retreat center known as Dao House emerged, bridging the boundaries between East and West