Following the establishing of Rocky Mountain National Park, and continuing for the next decade, visitors to the north part of the Kawuneeche Valley and Grand Lake, CO. often stayed at the tent resort located on the North Fork of the Colorado River, which was owned and operated by Robert L. Wheeler, also known as “Squeaky Bob” because of his falsetto voice.
“Camp Wheeler”, which also known as ‘Hotel de Hardscrabble’, was the destination of guide Shep Husted, who brought visitors across the Continental Divide, and reportedly counted among his charges was Theodore Roosevelt.
“Squeaky Bob” Wheeler came to Colorado in 1885 to visit his brother’s cattle ranch in North Park, CO., and decided to stay. In 1900, following service in the Spanish – American War and an attempt to strike it rich as a miner, he decided living on a 160-acre homestead was more to his liking. He acquired land on the west end of Milner Pass, where he trapped, ran cattle, and attempted to once more prospect. None of them satisfied him, and in 1908 he made a career change into the resort business.
His property featured not only his two-room log cabin but four tent houses. Initially he catered to hunters and fishermen, but found success with summer tourists. His success allowed him to build a total of twenty tent houses. But health issues required him to sell – which he did in 1926, for $24,000. The new owner renovated and enlarged the offerings, and added a new name: The Phantom Valley Ranch.
In the early 1960 The National Park Service acquired the property, removing all the buildings, and returning the site to meadowlands where elk and deer now graze.