"Glamping" at Cloud Camp
"Glamping" at Cloud Camp
I live for the get-away. No, not the bank robbery kind, but the ‘call a girlfriend and go somewhere' kind. In 2009, my BFF of 40+ years and I booked a week at the Lake Hotel in Yellowstone. We went early in the season to avoid the crowds, and it was the best vacation of my life. For me it was the realization that traveling with girlfriends is a way to truly relax, let my hair down, take a mental health break, and simply have fun.
Since then, I’ve watched the sunset from atop the largest flat top mountain in the world, laughed at the interaction of baby mountain goats and their mothers at 14,000 feet, been kissed by wolves, and sat in the dirt under pinions in the high desert while curious wild horses came too close to photograph. I’ve seen moose in their natural habitat , enjoyed high tea in beautiful and historical hotels, and had superb meals amid eccentric and interesting people, even in places with names like ‘Grumpy’s’. Every memory filled trip was with girlfriends, and on the way home from each one we were planning the next adventure, whether it be somewhere scenic/warm/cold/rustic or exclusive.
One of the most iconic locations in Colorado is the historical AAA 5 Diamond rated Broadmoor Hotel. The Broadmoor was purchased by Phillip Anshutz in 2011. With his hand on the pulse of the desires of his guests, his vision for change has brought new meaning to the term ‘luxury hotel’. Having decided we’d earned some time sitting in the lap of luxury, my friend Karen and I made plans for our next get away. Destination: Cloud Camp.
Not a man to sit on his laurels, when Spencer Penrose imagined a lodge and restaurant high atop Cheyenne Mountain overlooking the city of Colorado Springs below, it didn’t take him long to bring his vision to fruition. In 1925, at a cost of $1 million dollars, he built what he called the Cheyenne Mountain Highway, after which he began construction on the Cheyenne Mountain Lodge. The lodge was also known as the Honeymoon Lodge and quickly became a public favorite. Abandoned many years later, the lodge was demolished in the 1970’s.
Phillip Anschutz, current owner of the Broadmoor, has brought Penrose’s vision back to life on the same foundation with Cloud Camp, the Broadmoor’s newest Wilderness Experience. The 8,000 square foot timber lodge and accompanying cabins at Cloud Camp sit atop Cheyenne Mountain, poised to encompass expansive views of Colorado Springs, the eastern plains, Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountain Range.
We settled in to one of 11 super comfy and beautifully appointed cabins on the property, and went to explore the lodge.
This is summer camp on steroids. Decorated with museum quality artifacts and artwork obtained from private collections and auction, the log and beam interior of the lodge is so warm and welcoming I didn’t know whether to be outside on the deck taking in the view, or inside admiring the feather and bead shirt Kevin Costner wore in Dances With Wolves. The decision would have been easier had he still been wearing it.
Chef Alex’s choice of Roast Long Island Duckling or Lobster Thermidor was served at the 40 foot communal dining table in front of a blazing fire with guests from states such as Indiana and New York taking the opportunity to share stories about their favorite travel locations. We chose to enjoy breakfast and lunch outside on the patio, soaking in the view and looking for Colorado Springs landmarks such as the Broadmoor and Garden of the Gods far below.
As a photographer, I felt like a kid in a candy store. On a rock precipice above the camp, a former 2 story fire lookout tower was revamped into Cloud Camp’s most unique suite. I wanted to photograph the view from up there. “No problem,” said Skylar, one of the camp rangers, “let’s go!” Scrambling up a steep grade and over and around boulders, (at the time of my visit, the Fire Tower revamp wasn’t completed, and it was the only way up), he led us to the Fire Tower. Wow. The old phrase, “a bird’s eye view” suddenly had new meaning.
There’s a reason they call this Cloud Camp. Camp Ranger Kelly told us that sunrise often brought a layer of soft clouds over the city and the best place from which to view and photograph the scene is from the flag platform below the lodge that still exists from Spencer Penrose’s day.
Rising before the sun, we followed the path and climbed the rock stairway to the flag pole, set up the tripod, and waited for the show to begin. In the quiet of the morning and as the sun began to rise and color the promised clouds in gold and pink, we heard reveille floating up from Fort Carson Army Base below us to the south. Suddenly, this was more than just a stunning view. I realized that while it may be possible to capture the image, it would not be possible to capture the combined feeling of humbleness and pride the moment invoked.
Cloud Camp, the epitome of glamour camping, or ‘glamping’ as the camp rangers refer to it, is a magical, peaceful place to rejuvenate, unwind, and reconnect.
My wedding anniversary is coming up in a couple of months. You've just solved the big question. Where will we go this year!! I can't wait!
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