The history of the lodge began in 1911, when the property had been declared an administrative site by the U.S. Forest Service to protect a spring and provide additional pasture for its horses and mules in Greer. The ranger at the time, David I. Penrod, issued a long-term lease on a portion of the site to James Willard Schultz under a government program that encouraged citizens to “develop” public land.
The lodge was built of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir logs in 1913 by local carpenters John Butler (the husband of “Aunt Molly” of Molly Butler’s Lodge fame and father of Vince Butler, longtime Round Valley cattleman) and Cleve Wiltbank. Its main room and a bedroom were completed in time for Schultz to take possession in January of 1914. In the 1920s, Schultz gave the lodge to his son, Lone Wolf, who added an artist’s studio and a large kitchen.
When the lease expired upon the death of Lone Wolf in 1970, the Forest Service took possession of the lodge and used it for a time to house firefighters and store equipment. In 1990, under the direction of Nick McDonough, then supervisor of the Apache National Forest, the Forest Service applied for and was granted listing of the Butterfly Lodge on the National Register of Historic Places.