In the middle of a suburban Denver neighborhood is a cave that once provided solace for a prominent Ute chief and his family.
Before the European settlers went west, people of the Ute, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and other nations roamed the mountains and plains of Colorado. Although a lot of the evidence of their existence has been destroyed or lost, some sites still remain.
In a Denver, Colorado, suburb, you’ll find one of these fascinating historic sites: a cave once frequented by a man named Colorow.
Colorow was born to the Comanche Nation in the early 1800s, but was kidnapped by Muache Utes as a boy. As a young man, his new family began migrating from northern New Mexico up to northern Colorado, where he later married three sisters, Recha, Siah, and Poopa. After marrying, he became a prominent Ute leader and had 13 children.
He led his people to hunt and camp in the west Denver area between present-day Morrison and Golden along the Dakota Hogback ridge. When in the area, they would stay in a cave in what’s now the neighborhood of Willowbrook in Morrison. It’s also said that he sought solace in the cave during hard times in order to reflect.
Although relations with settlers started amicably, they deteriorated quickly. On September 2, 1878, his son Tabernash was killed by a member of a sheriff’s party. When the United States government began falling short on their promises, Colorow did not forget. His people were involved in the Meeker Massacre and the Battle of Milk Creek. It all came to a head in Colorow’s War of 1887, the final conflict between the first peoples’ of Colorado and ever-encroaching settlers. After Colorow and his people were forced off their land and onto reservations, he died in 1888 of depression and pneumonia.
Colorow’s cave is a little slice of beauty and peace. With the surrounding mountains, meadows, and creeks, it’s no wonder Colorow had such an affinity for the area. With the cave open to the sky and it’s warm, protecting sandstone walls, you can understand how Colorow could have found peace there in such difficult times.
Know Before You Go
The cave has gone through several name changes which makes it difficult to find, it is also known as the Willowbrook Event Center, Willowbrook Amphitheater, and Colorow Amphitheater. The Cave is situated on private grounds accessible only to members of the Willowbrook community in Morrison, Colorado. Trespassing is not permitted.
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