Ariel Schnee is the Program Manager of the Public Lands History Center at Colorado State University and holds a Master's degree in Public History. Her research addresses the complex histories of American public lands and the ways in which they intersect with race and gender. When not writing or researching about public lands, she enjoys cycling, hiking, and skiing on them.
Generations of Jewish Coloradans have spent summer days at Camp Shwayder and the JCC Ranch Camp. Colorado’s mountains have provided the ideal setting for distinctly western Jewish American experiences. Ariel Schnee examines this lesser-known side of Jewish identity in Colorado.
When temperatures soared in cramped, noisy cities, Colorado’s higher elevations promised chilly nights and mild days spent fishing, camping, and hiking under shady pine trees. Unlike their white counterparts, however, African Americans could not head just anywhere in the mountains. Not far outside of Denver, Lincoln Hills, a vacation community developed for Black people, represented both an escape from the city and an escape from segregation.
One cold blue August morning, I opened the door of my tiny cabin at the Continental Divide Research Learning Center’s McGraw Ranch in Rocky Mountain National Park. I listened to the burbling of Cow Creek and gazed to the mountains, drenched in gold from the rising sun. The value of McGraw Ranch, however, is more than scenic. Its enduring physical presence tells histories that interweave the environment, race, and leisure in Colorado.