By Amiee White Beazley
The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs is one of the most revered hotels in the world and one of only four five-star, five-diamond properties in the Centennial State.
The Broadmoor is the longest consecutive recipient of both awards in the world. But lesser known are The Broadmoor's all-inclusive Wilderness Collection properties, smaller, cozier, and more rooted in their collective surroundings.
These include Fly Fishing Camp along a five-mile stretch of Colorado's famed Tarryall River, the Ranch at Emerald Valley, and Cloud Camp in Pike National Forest near Colorado Springs.
We began our family adventure by spending two days at the Ranch at Emerald Valley, the original men's club hideaway frequented by The Broadmoor founder Spenser Penrose and his friends. Today the Ranch is a luxury resort that has achieved a level of charm and Colorado authenticity that quickly wins over guests who bond over meals or an afternoon drink. Being at the Ranch feels like old friends have gathered for a long weekend, flyfishing, practicing archery, and taking trail rides.
The Ranch offers a Cattle Drive in one of Colorado's most pristine canyons. Elk Glade Ranch, owned by the Johnson family, and Broadmoor partners, was founded in 1888 along 3,200 acres of pristine land in nearby East Beaver Valley, noted by the Sierra Club as the largest canyon without roads from Wyoming to New Mexico. Situated on the slopes of Pikes Peak, the area is covered by wildflowers, crisscrossed by mountain streams, and bordered by soaring granite cliffs.
Because of their proximity, guests often spend a few days at the Ranch at Emerald Valley and Cloud Camp, The Broadmoor's extraordinary mountain top getaway. Guests can connect between the two properties via luxury SUV, mule (semi-retired from the Grand Canyon!), or as any self-respecting Coloradoan would do – via a steep but rewarding hike on the MacNeil Trail.
We woke in the morning, enjoyed a cup of cowboy coffee around the fire, and caught up with the dozens of hummingbirds who call The Ranch home. After a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, and house-made pastries, we were dropped at the trailhead (our luggage had the easier route via transfer.)
The MacNeil Trail starts on Old Stage Road and leads up the west side of Cheyenne Mountain to its shoulder, just short of The Horns. The 3.2-mile route skirts and climbs approximately 1,500 feet with excellent views of Mount Rosa and past infrastructure built during the mining days. Finally, as we approached the summit, the kids enjoyed a gander at the adjacent Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station before summitting at Cloud Camp, where cold towels, fresh water, and turkey clubs were waiting for us.
Cloud Camp sits at 9,300 feet like a beacon atop Cheyenne Mountain, where Penrose once build the original Cheyenne Lodge. So steeped in Colorado history, one could spend days admiring the lodge's timber architecture, browsing its museum-quality private collection of Native American artifacts, historic photographs, and clothing, or linger over the 360-degree view, including Pikes Peak in the distance. Cloud Camp sits above the clouds on the mountain, and when they disperse, the resulting birds-eye view of the Springs is breathtaking.
Cloud Camp has 15 one- and two-bedroom cabins (the latter perfect for a small family) and rooms in the lodge. All are private and beautiful, but the unique room must be the Fire Tower Suite. Balancing high on a rocky perch at the end of the property, this two-story unit was built on the foundation of a building once used as a fire tower by the USFS. To reach the suite, guests climb 145 wooden steps that wind up through a forested hillside, past old pines, and giant boulders. The suite consists of one bedroom with a double bed, plenty of windows for nighttime stargazing, and a private hot tub. Directly above the bedroom and accessed via an exterior staircase is a private observation room furnished with a chair, desk, and telescope.
That night we sat down at a long dinner table, big enough for 50 people, where we dined on, among other dishes, produce grown at the Broadmoor Farms, Maine Lobster bisque, Rocky Mountain Red Trout, and a cherry pie for dessert. The night ended with a campfire and s'mores for the kids before returning to our cabin tired and happy, feeling as though we'd just had the ultimate Colorado mountain experience.