Cowboy Up: Three Denver Desk Jockeys Go Cowboy

Settin’ Up Glamp

When you can’t decide between a Western or five-star getaway, the rustic luxury of The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley is the best of both worlds.

by Lesley Kennedy

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Courtesy The Broadmoor

“Put me on the horse you give 8-year-olds.”

This wasn’t so much a request as a polite command I gave the patient horse wrangler at The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley (REV) as I walked up to the stables. “Would you like a helmet?” she asked without a hint of snark. After seriously considering it, I decided, no; I had to draw the line at risking fashion dorkiness.

But as soon as I climbed atop gentle Gypsy (who had, in fact, been saddled up for a small child on his previous ride) the nerves began to dissipate as quickly as those summer afternoon Colorado rain clouds, and I spent the next hour and half feeling like Dale Evans—or at least Debra Winger from “Urban Cowboy”—had she swapped her Stetson for a trucker hat and her strappy tank for a Patagonia baselayer.

As I peppered the guide (let’s just call him “Bud”), who was new to the state from Phoenix, with questions— Do you always ride the same horse (no)? Do you live on the property (yes)? Desert or mountains (mountains)? Don’t you get lonely at night with no WiFi (sometimes)?—I began to relax as Gypsy led the way up the trail that wound across a bridge, through aspen stands, past a waterfall and had only a couple of turns that made me close my eyes and wish I was at Gilly’s learning to line-dance (sorry, last “Urban Cowboy” reference).

Of course, horseback riding is just one of the activities offered at this idyllic ranch, about a 45-minute windy, dirt-road chauffeured drive up Cheyenne Mountain and just 10 miles from The Broadmoor down below in Colorado Springs. But make no mistake—this is about as luxurious as ranch life can get.

With 10 one-, two- and three-bedroom log cabins, two cedar-lined hot tubs, a gazebo, an impeccably manicured lawn, two pristine lakes, horse stables, a fire pit and a cozy main lodge, the REV is nestled upon 16 acres in the heart of Pike National Forest at 8,200 feet. It made its debut as part of The Broadmoor’s Wilderness Experience (which also includes Cloud Camp and Fly Fishing Camp) in 2014, but the property dates back to the late 1800s, and has served as a saw mill, then a church retreat, then a Girl Scouts of America cabin before Spencer Penrose, founder of The Broadmoor, bought it in 1923 as a summer vacation spot for him and his pals.

But, of course, things have come a long way in the last century. Yes, you’re in the wilderness, but there’s WiFi so you can make your friends jealous with your Instagram posts (no cellular service, though). And you best leave the diets at home: The Broadmoor’s world-class chefs and staff prepare three made-to-order meals daily that you will not be able to refuse, no matter how full you still may be from the last. (Just a few options from one dinner menu: grilled Maine lobster scampi, mesquite grilled venison tenderloin, Rocky Mountain red trout with herb garlic butter, Eagle’s Nest Ranch Wagyu cote de boeuf). On Wednesday and Saturday nights, you’ll want to wear your best elastic-waist pants for the special cookout. On the buffet we tackled: venison, prime rib, lobster tails, salmon, trout, barbecue chicken, corn on the cob, cheddar biscuits, a slew of salads and sides and ice box lemon pies.

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Courtesy The Broadmoor

And then there’s the service and amenities (think robes, slippers and sandals, hair dryers, in-room Keurigs or cowboy coffee at the fire pit, fireplaces in all the cabins, cookies, snacks and sunscreen in the lodge). As my husband and I caught trout after trout in the stocked lakes, a smiling staffer brought us not only another round of beers, but a basket brimming with fresh-from-the-kitchen peach-filled doughnut holes. “Would you like one?” she asked. “Why, yes. Yes, I would.” If every day included a delivery of beer and those doughnut holes, I believe world peace would not be far behind.

To burn off at least a fraction of those calories, you’ll want to book a guided hike or go on your own (feel free to take a walkie-talkie just in case), sign up for a horseback ride, spend a few hours fly-fishing (they’ll happily give you a quick lesson), paddle canoes across the lake, play lawn games like horse shoes, corn hole or badminton, try your aim at a little archery or borrow a bike to go mountain biking. When it’s time for sleep, sink into the comfy bed and a deep, deep slumber thanks to pure silence and darkness. When you rise, grab a cup of cowboy coffee (that’s the strong stuff made with no filter) and sit a spell in the rocking chair on your front porch before you do it all again.

After dinner on our first night, we ran outside to view one of the prettiest double rainbows I’ve ever seen. “You ordered that up just for us, didn’t you?” I joked with the ranch manager. But knowing The Broadmoor’s attention to detail, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out that, in fact, he had.

THE BROADMOOR’S THE RANCH AT EMERALD VALLEY
LOCATION: Colorado Springs
ACCOMMODATIONS: One-, two-, and three-bedroom modern log cabins with fireplaces, daily maid service
ACTIVITIES: Horseback riding, hiking, fly-fishing, canoeing, archery, mountain biking, lawn games, hot tubs and more
FINE DINING: Three daily made-to-order meals, plus snacks and open bar
RATES: Now through October 28, all-inclusive pricing starts at $975 per night per cabin (double occupancy)
INFO: broadmoor.com/thewilderness-experiences

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