Colorado Springs: Fat Giraffes and a Cheyenne Canyon hike all my own

The Broadmoor is a AAA Five-diamond resort that has all the makings of a perfect family vacation with gourmet food, superb service, breathtaking grounds, a fun pool and waterslide and so much more. But during our visit over Memorial Day weekend, the weather did not only fail to cooperate, it was downright irascible (think clouds, heavy rain and hail in the afternoons/evening) and we had to alter our activities.

So, instead of lazily lounging poolside the entire time, we actually left the resort to explore Colorado Springs.

Which isn’t a bad thing.

We hopped on the resort’s complimentary shuttle and headed to nearby Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. As the United States’ only mountain-side zoo, this translates into some steep walking to see the 550 animals but who am I to complain about hiking with views like this?

Their new Encounter Africa exhibit is top-notch and I love that the exhibits at this zoo are really experiential. From the Budgie Buddies Exhibit where you can purchase seed to feed the birds….

…to their famous giraffe exhibit where you can actually feed them and yep, their tongues are kind of creepy.

Side note: The giraffes have gone “green.” The last time we were at the zoo, we fed them crackers but it turned out they were getting too fat so now the zoo sells lettuce.

On Memorial Day, we hopped on The Broadmoor’s complimentary shuttle to Starsmore Discovery Center at the mouth of Cheyenne Canyon.  I regularly hike this area (remember my recent adventures with the bear and the gun-toting Tennessean?) and it is truly one of my favorites. Denver has a lot of great urban hikes but nothing even compares to the Columbine Trail.

I was completely alone at dawn (a rarity on a holiday weekend) and convinced  the family they needed to return with me later that morning to explore. The kids enjoyed the Starsmore Discovery Center’s interesting dioramas, hands-on nature exhibits and programs and I was fascinated by the flood relief efforts (much of the area was badly damaged).

There are three trailheads (lower, mid and upper) that are accessible from the main road up Cheyenne Canyon. Lower Columbine Trail is perfect for families as it moderately winds along North Cheyenne Creek in a red rock evergreen wonderland.

I spy Hadley scaling a precipitous mountain

Hadley won’t go near a rock-climbing wall (I hate them, too) but if there is a rock wall to be free-climbed, she is there. Because really, who needs safety precautions like harnesses and ropes?

Apparently not Hadley. Above is a picture of her mid-climb. A few minutes later, I made her turn back because, though she was doing a great job shimmying up the steep wall, I foresaw big trouble trying to get down.

Basically, I was just trying to save my own hide. And assure she made it to her 11th birthday.

Stay tuned tomorrow for all our fun 10th birthday festivities at The Broadmoor!


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