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Ben Lowe's Roubideau Cabin

A real Colorado cowboy hideout!

My wife Christine and I rode Shadow and Shiloh to Ben Lowe's Roubideau Canyon Cabin, which was his hideout. The trail was challenging in places and we chose to play it safe and walk them in those sections. We probably walked them less than a mile total but still rode some tough trails. Our horses did very well in some very rough country. Shadow and Shiloh were good boys!

Photo: On top of the Roubideau Rim about to start the ride. Camel Back is the butte over Shadow's head. Our ride took us deep into the canyon below it.

The trail begins at the Camel Back Loop Trailhead on the Roubideau Rim Road, west of Olathe, Colorado. We trailered to the trailhead, saddled up, and descended to the bottom of Roubideau Canyon, deep in the Camel Back Wilderness Study Area. Once we reached Roubideau Creek at the canyons bottom, we rode south on the Ben Lowe Trail to the hideout cabin site.

This section of the Ben Lowe Trail is on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and is an extension of the US Forest Service Ben Lowe Trail #109, which can also be used to reach the cabin hideout from the Uncompahgre Plateau. Its rough wild country and route finding was a challenge in places due to beavers actively changing Roubideau Creek.

There are no improved campsites, but open dispersed camping is allowed on BLM ground. It would be primitive camping on Roubideau Rim and not big rig friendly. We do pull our six-horse stock trailer to the trailhead, but I wouldn’t want anything larger...

But, of all the places Christine and I have taken horses this is perhaps my favorite of all...

Ben Lowe was born in 1868 and was one of eight sons of Reverend William Lowe. That's right... he was a preacher's kid! Born in Kentucky and raised in Missouri, His parents made sure he had a proper education in school and as a southern gentleman. And he was already a talented horseman with notable skill by the time he came to western Colorado in 1892.

Photo: Christine and Shadow are ready to descend the trail for the first time.

Ben was a smooth, courtly man on the dance floor and in the saddle, and it was also reported that he liked to blow off a little steam in the saloons in Delta, Colorado from time to time...

When leaving town, he would often partake in his trademark of "shooting up the street lamps" while riding at a dead run out of town at night. He was an excellent marksman, to say the least.

Ben finally settled into a life of horse and cattle ranching, but still ran a little on the wrong side of the law in both endeavors. At one point he was taken to court for horse thieving... but beat the charges.

Photo: Bill and Shiloh on the Roubideau Rim.

Shortly after that he married Ruby, the daughter of "Spud" Hutchinson, who happened to be one of the wealthiest farmers in Delta County.

Ruby was petite, very pretty and could have had her choice of any number of young men but It was Ben that swept her off her feet.

By all accounts, Ben was a loving, devoted husband and father with fierce loyalty to family and friends. Ruby was loving and fiercely loyal to Ben as well. They had five children.

Photo: Below Roubideau Rim

They had a ranch south of Delta and a thriving livery stable in town. After a run-in with the Delta city fathers, who made their stable against the law, they bought a place in Escalante Canyon that is still known as "The Lowe" to this day.

Ben also built his Roubideau cabin as a hideout and horse ranch for the times he needed to be out of the lawman's reach.

The Roubideau canyon is named after Antione Roubideau, a trapper of note who married the daughter of the mayor of St. Louis, Missouri. But that’s a whole other story for another day…

Photo: What’s left of the stock gate on the way to the hideout.

In the canyon near The Lowe, there is “Table Rock”, an 80' tall pillar of Entrada sandstone with a 10' square cap rock top. It is a 6' to 8' jump from the rim out onto the table. Ben was known to jump his dappled white gelding, Cloud, out onto Table Rock and back... A feat only possible with a horse that has total trust in his rider and abilities! Ben chiseled his brand into the rocks at the same location, using his rifle and bullets as the tools.

Photo: Bill and Shiloh passing the stock gate.

Ben Lowe was a legend in these parts and why Hollywood never made a movie of his and Ruby's life I can't figure. Maybe they didn’t like the tragic ending and would rather have had a different one…

Ben's life came to an abrupt end during a gunfight on June 9th, 1917 in Escalante Canyon. It's not well understood what his differences were with Mr. Cash Sampson, a former lawman and state brand inspector. It probably had to do with the Delta County sheep war - Ben made it very clear he was not fond of sheep men.

Either way, what is known is they killed each other during the gunfight.

Photo: Winter Mesa on the skyline. Camel Back between Winter Mesa and us.

The number of shots fired from Sampson's pistol was once, which caught Ben Lowe in the back. Lowe's pistol had been fired four times, one hitting Cash Sampson with an instantly fatal shot to the head.

Ben was still alive when his two boys reached him, but he passed on minutes later, without saying what had happened... You can draw your own conclusions as to who fired first and last.

-The Ben Lowe and Cash Sampson shootout is among the greatest of legends in Colorado cowboy history-

Cassius C. "Cash" Sampson was Colorado’s very first brand inspector and a former sheriff with an impeccable reputation.

Benjamin Albert Lowe, on the other hand, wasn’t always on the good side of the law when it came to sheep growers or keeping just his own brand - but he was never known to have pulled a gun on another person before the shootout. He was also known to simply drop off a quarter of beef at a family home where there were hungry kids to feed… he was known to have a good heart.

-Only the canyon walls know what truly happened on that 9th day in June 1917-

If you like the story so far, follow along as we continue our ride to the hideout - the trail gets tough real quick...

We chose to be safe and walk the boys through these ledges and switchbacks.

The lower bench and Roubideau Creek coming into view.

Shiloh & I navigating one of the many switchbacks.

This picture does not do justice to the BIG ledge - It's about 4' straight off!

Stopping for a nice drink of water for the boys at Roubideau Creek with the Entrada as a backdrop.

We're now on the homesteaded ground with the cabin just ahead!

Our first view of Ben Lowe's cabin, also known as his hideout...

Someone hung the old headboard and footboard in the tree on the east side of the cabin. It's rather touching to see the hearts in the ironwork - a rough tribute to Ben and his devoted wife Ruby Lowe.

Looking south from the cabin at the corrals.

Many of the cedar posts are still standing within the sage, including a round pen corral to the right, a reminder of the legendary horseman that Ben Lowe was.

Christine & I are pointing to the fireplace mantle where "BEN" is chiseled into the rock. Unfortunately, the "LOWE" broke off.

Bill & Shiloh

Christine & Shadow

Standing in front of Ben Lowe's cabin.

With miles of bushwhacking ahead and Roubideau Rim almost a 1000' climb out, it's time to head back!

Shiloh & I climbing up and up, directly under "Dad's Point", with two switchbacks to go!

Shadow looking back at where we'd been!

There are many other stories about Ben Lowe, and I can't begin to tell them all, but it was a great ride to his hideout and one I hope that you can make someday!

William (Bill) Dean is a current HTCAA Foundation member, married to his best friend and riding partner Christine. They live and work in the heart of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, employed by Telluride’s Town of Mountain Village, working on the Telluride Gondola. They ride almost every week, where they enjoy nearby red rock desert trails in the winter and Colorado’s magnificent high country during the summer. In the past 4 years, they’ve ridden into 18 wilderness areas to date, covering ground from South Dakota to Arizona. Bill and Christine are blessed with a passion to share the glory of God’s creation with others through their horseback adventures.


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