Adventuring with Broadmoor Outfitters

For the third year in a row, we were able to return to The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs for Hadley’s birthday. As I was going through my pictures, I realized I never posted about our previous trip–waaaaaaay back in February when I was asked to write a story for their magazine about Broadmoor Outfitters, their onsite outdoor adventure company.

The funny thing is, we had better weather in February than we did over Memorial Day weekend. OK, it’s not that funny. We’ve had a month of non-stop rain, a real rarity in Denver. And though I’d much rather have inclement weather than 100-degree days, I’m ready for my trails to dry out.

During our visit a few months ago, we did it all:  Geocaching at The Broadmoor, a snowy hike and geocache up North Cheyenne Cañon, a mountain bike ride down Gold Camp Road, topped off by rock climbing Garden of the Gods.


It started with our leisurely treasure hunt around the grounds….

From there, we drove up North Cheyenne Cañon, grabbed our GPS units and hiked up Gold Camp Road, a former narrow gauged railroad bed that hauled ore from Cripple Creek to Colorado Springs. There were occasional patches of snow but when we crossed North Cheyenne Creek to start hiking the Seven Bridges Trail, I could have sworn we’d passed through an antique wardrobe into a frosty Narnia forest of ice demons, fairies and a snow queen.

We traversed a couple of the hike’s seven bridges before our GPS unit alerted us we were close to our cache…but then the arrow pointed us off-piste. And way up.

“Wait, we’re supposed to ditch the trail and hike straight up this steep slope?” I queried.

Audacious Hadley didn’t wait for the answer as she and our guide Kurt forged up the mountain in knee-deep snow. Bode and I (the more cautious ones) applauded their progress from the trail while Jamie (maybe the smartest of us all) rested on a boulder. 

And yep, that’s my kid in a T-shirt. She’s half-Canadian.

Mountain Biking

From there, we grabbed our mountain bikes. Though the pitch was moderate, the serpentine, mucky road’s precipitous cliffs and snowy patches still thrilled. I nervously barreled through pitch-black Tunnels 1 and 2 and I vowed to have my eyes checked after my blind foray with the dark side. 

At one point, Kurt pulled off the road, stashed his bike and beckoned us to follow him down the Columbine Trail, a route which leads all the way to the Starsmore Discovery Center at the base of North Cheyenne Cañon. We only hiked a couple of minutes but earned the view of a thousand hours of exertion. The canyon was a staggering cacophony of glimmering snow, velvet-green forests and Pikes Peak Granites’ milky and smoky quartz, pink feldspar and black mica.

From our perch, we could see where the mountains met the foothills and plains with The Broadmoor in the epicenter of it all.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is not my outdoor-loving family’s forté but I knew if we were to be successful, it would be with Broadmoor Outfitters.  We were given our choice of four main routes and I opted for the easiest with nothing to prove beyond having a positive experience and staying alive. Our guide climbed up and built an anchor off the bolts that are secured into the sandstone, gave us some final safety instructions and Hadley generously volunteered me as the guinea pig. Gingerly, I shouted “on belay” and started climbing.

Unlike North Cheyenne Cañon’s granite, Garden of the God’s blush-colored sandstone felt more forgiving with plenty of ledges to rest and “flakes” to grab onto. It didn’t take long before I summited and dizzy with excitement, I marveled at the expansive red-rock sea that had been created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago.

The rappel down was my favorite part and I was greeted by a shocked Bode. “You didn’t think I could do it, did you?”

“I gave you about a 50-50 chance.” He looked ill with anxiety. Vertical rock climbing walls are the nemesis of a judicious kid.

Jamie at the summit

Jamie and Hadley easily reached the top but Hadley froze during the rappel and it took a while to coax her down. And then there was Bode. To combat his apprehension, he had been bouldering at the base envisioning himself as the first American Ninja Kid Warrior. When it was his turn, he tore up and down faster than anyone and was dumbfounded when his feet touched down.

I see a future for him on Mount Midoriyama.

Valentine’s Day Weekend

It was Valentine’s Day and after a full day playing in the outdoors, we were thrilled to have our first 5-star dining experience at The Broadmoor’s Penrose Room. The whole evening is a blur–from the moment we stepped off the elevator and Bode exclaimed, “this is faaaaaaancy,” to the Caesar salad they prepped right at our table to dancing to a live band with mortified Bode (Hadley was equally embarrassed to be swung around with her father) and being so proud of them for their good manners.

Of course, it helped that we had schooled them for a month about proper etiquette, threatening any lapse would be not “Penrose Worthy.”

I think it’s important to expose the kids to different beliefs so we opted to go to a non-denominational service at the Pauline Memorial Chapel located on property. The founder’s wife Julie Penrose oversaw its construction in 1919 and between the considerable collection of religious art and artifacts from Europe, dramatic bell tower and high high buttressed walls,  it reminded me of the early Christian basilicas. It was such a beautiful, moving experience!

The Broadmoor’s famous brunch wasn’t too bad, either. Unless you’ve spent the entire weekend stuffing your face with gourmet food.

At one point, Bode put down his fork, let out a big sigh and said, “I’m not full but my mouth is tired from having so much delicious food in it.”

First World Problems at The Broadmoor.









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