The Lagarita Club


"La Garita Ranch was a second home to four generations of the Phipps Family. The original homestead facilities were expanded to include a first-class main lodge, recreation hall, heated swimming pool, sauna, spa, and three rustic cabins. Each of the Ranch's improvements preserves the homestead's historic feel and traditions while they provide quality accommodations for members and their guests.

In the spring of 1908, Pennsylvania industrialist, Lawrence C. Phipps, took a vacation trip to Wagon Wheel Gap that would change his life. What he hoped for was a chance to enjoy some good trout fishing. What he discovered was the magic of La Garita. Ducked down below the dike of the third lake, this mustached man with a passion for trout fishing was astounded by the enormous strike on his first cast, and by the ensuing battle to land what turned out to be a five-pound rainbow on the lead fly and a three-pound brook on the dropper. However that had happened - call it La Garita magic - he made up his mind on the spot to buy the place from the widow Thorpe. The year was 1908, and the young executive from Denver with a background in steel, Lawrence Phipps, fell hook, line, and sinker in love with La Garita Ranch. The beginnings were modest - a rambling log-cabin ranch house with a leaky roof, a few sheds, a handful of short-horn milkers, six ditches, four lakes, and eight quarter sections of land at the confluence of Bellows Creek and the Rio Grande. The Phipps family's commitment to quality is a La Garita tradition. Over the first 30 years, the original homestead on 1,300 acres grew to include 2,400 acres on both sides of the river." Over time additional cabins and facilities were added in a fashion that preserved the rustic flavor of the ranch.

The Trip

Bill Marx, a club member, arranged for four anglers to stay at one of the guest cabins after the regular season for five great days of fishing. The setting was truly spectacular.

In addition to Rio Grande, Bellows and Senator Creeks are available to fish, not to mention the ponds which had rainbows, browns, and brookies
The Browns in parts of the river were on the redds.
The fishing on the Rio Grande was spotty but we found great action in the creeks with some occasional dry fly action. My best fish of the trip was a 23-inch rainbow taken out of Senator Creek on a red Cooper John. I worked on this fish for almost an hour before he finely took one of my offerings.

It was a great experience and if you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend it.

Paul Prentiss