Going on a retreat can sometimes be an expensive and over-scheduled adventure. If you’re looking to find solace and solitude on a budget this spring, try an unexpected destination: a monastery. At these five Colorado retreat centers, you’ll find the space, simple meals, and peace and quiet you need to reflect and renew. Religious affiliation is not required, but reservations are. All fees are suggested contributions and most facilities will work within your financial needs or offer volunteer opportunities in exchange for your stay.
Abbey of St. Walburga
Coined the “Nuns on the Ranch” by NPR, this community of Benedictine contemplative nuns live, pray, and farm on their land 35 miles north of Fort Collins. (Llamas act as security for their grass-fed cattle, water buffalo, chickens, and bees.) Join in during any of their seven daily prayer services or hike rugged terrain—keep an eye out for wildlife—as you reflect on your life.
Cost: $65 per night, includes three meals a day. Day use with lunch is also available for $20. Single rooms only, with private bathrooms.
Keep in Mind: Dress comfy. Jeans, tees, and hiking shoes are appropriate. It’s not unusual to see the nuns in Carhartt gear. (But please no shorts, skirts above the knees, or tank tops.)
Visit: 1029 Benedictine Way, Virginia Dale, 970-472-0612, walburga.org
Benet Hill Monastery
Twenty-some sisters of this Benedictine ministry live on Benet Hill’s 44-acre Black Forest property. With 10 designated meditation spots, including a built-into-the-forest labyrinth, a Zen garden, and a Ute prayer tree, guests have plenty of opportunities for contemplation.
Cost: $90 per night, includes three meals a day; $62.50 without meals; $25 day pass, no meals. Single occupancy only, with private bathrooms.
Keep in Mind: The library here is stocked from floor to ceiling. Plan to spend some time perusing the titles and snuggled up reading.
Visit: 3190 Benet Lane, Colorado Springs, 719-633-0655, benethillmonastery.org
Run by the mixed-gender Spiritual Life Institute with roots in the Carmelite contemplative tradition, Nada Hermitage is tucked at 8,000 feet at the base of the Sangre de Christo mountains near Crestone. A monk host will meet with you upon arrival, and you can participate in mass or prayers, but the real appeal here is reflection while hiking amid stunning surroundings.
Cost: Single occupancy: $60 for the first night, $55 for additional nights; double occupancy: $70 for the first night, $65 for additional nights. Wood stove, basic cooking facilities, toilet, linens, and food (fresh vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese, and canned goods) provided.
Keep in Mind: Many spiritual communities call the town of Crestone home, and there are opportunities nearby for bodywork and alternative health treatments.
Visit: 1 Carmelite Way, Crestone, 719-256-4778, spirituallifeinstitute.org/Nada.html
Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House
The Jesuit Sacred Heart institution follows Ignatian tradition, meaning all retreats are silent on their 280-acre property. A Eucharist celebration occurs once a day if you’re so inclined to participate (it’s not silent), but otherwise plan to focus inward—think, meditate, pray, walk, read, and relax.
Cost: $90 per night, includes three meals a day. Snacks and beverages always available. Linens provided. Shared bathroom and shower facilities. Prayer days are also available for a $50 contribution.
Keep in Mind: The grounds are simple and lovely; seek out and spend some time at the lily pond.
Visit: 4801 N. Highway 67, Sedalia, 303-688-4198, sacredheartretreat.org
St. Benedict’s Retreat House
The Cistercian Trappist monastic order that runs St. Benedict’s Retreat House consists of about 15 monks. Their community might be small, but their property, with its working ranch and views of Mt. Sopris, is majestic—especially the soaring ceiling of the prayer hall. Attend the 4:30 a.m., 7 a.m., or 7 p.m. open-to-the-public services, or keep to yourself (in silence or not). The choice is yours.
Cost: Single occupancy: $60 per night; double occupancy: $80 per night. Guests are responsible for bringing and preparing their own food. Each space has a fully equipped kitchen and private bath. Linens, towels, soap, coffee, and basic spices are provided.
Keep in Mind: Cookies. (Yes, really.) The monks run a bakery, and we hear their products are quite delicious.
Visit: 1012 Monastery Rd., Snowmass, 970-927-1162, stbenedictsretreat.com
—Photo courtesy of Edith OSB / Flickr