The fun is on hold at Fun Valley Family Resort.
The 55-year-old southern Colorado private resort, owned and operated by Hood County residents Melba Bruner and her husband Randy Bruner, had a mandatory evacuation by authorities late Thursday afternoon because of the massive wildfires continuing in that area of the Rocky Mountains.
That’s according to Annette Fain, who along with husband R.L. Fain has worked for the Bruners for 17 years.
The Fains were among several employees who were gathered at a parking lot away from the danger area to wait for an official update on the fire. At the time, the blaze was near the summit of Wolf Creek Pass. Fun Valley is on the eastern slope, she explained.
On Monday afternoon, Melba’s brother Benny Henson spoke to the Hood County News by phone and said that firefighting efforts were basically at a standoff, with officials dumping water from helicopters and hoping for better weather conditions. He said that Fun Valley, which he and the rest of the family helped build, has never been threatened by a fire this close before.
“It’s about a mile and a half from Fun Valley – maybe closer,” Henson said of the flames, which as of Monday had burned about 76,000 acres according to the Denver Post. “If the wind don’t shift, they might be all right. Nobody can really tell you anything. It’s all a waiting game.”
Fun Valley, 14 miles east of the Continental Divide on U.S. Highway 160, was opened in 1958 by Mack and Jean Henson, parents of Melba Bruner and Henson.
Henson said his sister and the family stands to lose a lot if the fire destroys their longstanding legacy at Fun Valley.
“If you were fixing to lose everything you’ve worked for all your life, you’d be pretty worried,” said Henson, who owns and operates the Cowboy Market Place as well as The Downtown Store on the square with his wife Debbie. “As a family, we built (Fun Valley). They’re scared to death, I’m sure.”
Henson said it has been a few days since he spoke to his sister over the phone, and didn’t expect to hear from her unless the situation becomes much worse. The Bruners and many of the Fun Valley employees are temporarily staying about 50 miles away, in Alamosa, Colo., Henson said.
Fun Valley can accommodate about 2,000 people per night, Henson said, with 500-plus RV spaces available.
“They were probably full, I’m sure,” he said, noting that even if the flames don’t damage Fun Valley itself, getting all of the part-time staff members and the campers back in place will be a chore.
But, he added, “Fun Valley’s a place that no matter what happens, they show up.”
Fun Valley gained the nickname “Little Texas” over the years because so many from the Lone Star State made the trip to the resort, which is normally open May 23 through Sept. 14. It’s about a four-hour drive southwest of Denver, Fain said.
In addition to the Bruners and the Fains, Melba’s son Kyle Drushel and daughter Molly Drushel, also work at Fun Valley along with still more Hood County residents – Bobby and Betty Weddle. The Fains live in Pecan Plantation. Fain works year-round in the office for Melba, and part of her duties includes arranging reservations. Her husband works in purchasing. Bobby works as an electrician and with HV/AC maintenance, while Betty works in a gift shop.
There are about 100 current employees, Fain said, adding, “We’re just one large family.”
There is one factor in Colorado that doesn’t match Texas.
“It’s nice to come up and spend cool summers here, when it’s 110 degrees in Granbury,” Fain noted.
The resort features fishing, miniature golf, hiking, bikes, horseback riding, tubing, paddle boats, square dancing, a playground, country music theater and recreation hall. For those without an RV, there are kitchenette motels and mobile homes that can be rented.
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