SOUTH FORK— Dave Bates and his wife have spent the last year and a half working to bring a new business to the South Fork area.
It began last August when the couple opened the only year-round campground in the region, using innovative engineering to ensure the grounds were up to facing the cold, sometimes snowy area in South Fork. “We over engineered everything. If you are going to have a campground in the winter, you have to have exceptional plumbing, a heated water system and state of the art electrical system to withstand the harsh winters here,” said Bates.
The campground opened in August of 2015 and has since made a name for itself with sold out days during the summer and an average of about 20 campers who stay throughout the winter. Bates and his wife spent most of their lives traveling with their family at least once a month, visiting 28 states and throughout the years become RV park experts. “My wife said to me one day, ‘Why don’t we buy a place and make a park of our own?’, and so that is what we did. We looked all over Colorado for the perfect spot before coming to South Fork. We knew immediately that this was the place the minute we saw it,” explained Bates.
While building the new campground, Bates made sure to use local contractors, workers and materials, keeping the money local and has plans to expand his park in the near future. “We want to add a pavilion this year and are looking for a local engineer to help us with that project. We want this to be the place to come; I mean, look at those views,” said Bates as he pointed to the snow-covered peaks and wilderness that surround the park. “We are doing alright in the winter, but we needed something to supplement our income and wanted to offer something to the community, so we opened the Peacock Saloon,” said Hicks.
The saloon is tucked away against the north side of the campground, facing Beaver Peak creating a comfortable, welcoming setting for a good time. The small building is a refurbished 61-year-old structure that was originally meant to be a community building for campground guests. “In the summer time, it will revert back to a community building. Last season, it was very popular with our guests and we don’t want to take it away, but wanted to offer a place for the working class of South Fork to come and enjoy some drinks, games and live entertainment in the winter months,” explained Bates.
The saloon offers all of the amenities of a small-town sports bar including foosball tables, shuffle board and darts as well as a big screen TV equipped with the NFL package that allows for patrons to see any NFL game available. Bates plans to have special events like Karaoke, lady’s night and live entertainment at least once a week while they are open. “We are also a licensed restaurant and we plan to expand our kitchen soon, so we can offer more than just bar snacks. We want to be a place were people can come after work to wind down, have something to eat and meet with their friends,” said Bates.
The new establishment and campground employees five employees in the winter and seven employees in the summer. Bates travels between his home in Dallas, Texas to South Fork about once a month and is proud to state that he has the up most faith in his employees and managers while he is away. “We have great people here. Its not often you find employees that mesh with what you are looking for. We have that here,” stated Bates.
The saloon opened on Dec. 28 and was greeted with an eager crowd. “We were packed. We have been well received by the community and that was great.” Bates plans to have the saloon open Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. until close, with the option to open more often if the need arises. “We love it here and hope to offer something that will bring people to the area. We want to support our fellow business owners and be part of the community,” said Bates.
The campground offers a dog run, nature trail along private land next to the Rio Grande River and is a family friendly environment.