The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley
Anyone who’s lived in Colorado for longer than five minutes understands the Broadmoor holds a hallowed place in the state’s history. Built in 1918 by gold and copper magnate Spencer Penrose, the salmon-hued Grand Dame of the Rockies has long been known as an escape for the wealthy and a bastion of opulent decor, elegant service, and well-regarded amenities such as tennis courts, golf courses, restaurants, art galleries, and a spa. But until 10 months ago, the AAA five-diamond resort was not known as a place where you could throw on a pair of hiking boots and get (a little) dirty.
Enter the Ranch at Emerald Valley. Tucked nearly 10 miles up Cheyenne Mountain behind the Broadmoor, the 16-acre, century-old ranch property was once Penrose’s personal getaway. The land has changed hands a few times since Penrose and his family used the area’s eight log structures, but just a handful of months after Denver financier Philip Anschutz purchased the Broadmoor in 2011, he bought the ranch as well. This time, however, the wooded valley cut by babbling streams would not be the exclusive domain of the owner. Instead, beginning in late 2012, the Broadmoor set about restoring the original buildings to create 10 cabins and a main lodge. Construction also included a set of horse stables, a pair of hot tubs, two small lakes, a gazebo, and an outdoor fire pit. The resulting mountain retreat opens for its first full summer of operations this July.
While Anschutz—who has always been captivated by the beauty of the American West and owns a 45,000-acre personal ranch northeast of Denver—wanted to create an outdoorsy experience for the Broadmoor’s clientele, the Ranch at Emerald Valley isn’t what you might call rustic. The ranch sleeps 32 people in remodeled cabins with wood-burning fireplaces, king-size beds with high-thread-count linens, raindrop showerheads, spa-quality bath products, Wi-Fi, and decks with nap-inducing rocking chairs. The surrounding grounds are perfectly manicured (not a blade of grass out of place and you won’t see a pile of manure anywhere); the small lakes are stocked with trout eager to bite a fisherman’s fly (you’ll almost start to feel bad after hooking so many); and there always seems to be an extremely attentive staff member ready to assist you (No, really, this glass of wine isn’t that heavy!). All of which is to say that the Ranch at Emerald Valley feels a little safe, which isn’t a bad thing—unless you were expecting a more earnest wilderness adventure. If you were, the Ranch will, of course, be happy to help you plan more audacious off-site escapades—jeep tours, white-water rafting, river-based fly-fishing—for an additional cost.
If, however, guided hikes on nearby moderate trails, easygoing horseback rides, soaks in lakeside hot tubs, morning cups of cowboy coffee by the fire pit, afternoon treats like house-made doughnut holes delivered to your cabin, and sublime meals thrice daily sound appealing, then the Ranch at Emerald Valley is the perfect kind of outdoor escape.
QUICK TIP: Secure the eight-person Hill Cabin for a small family reunion or a friends’ weekend away.
MINOR QUIBBLE: The historic building that houses the Piñon, Ponderosa, Cedar, and Aspen cabins is, not surprisingly, a little creaky with thin walls. Translation: You can hear your neighbors. If you’re a light sleeper, opt for the Copper, Bear Den, Fir, Pine, or Lakeside cabins.
COMING SOON: The Ranch at Emerald Valley will only be the Broadmoor’s newest offering until later this summer, when the resort plans to open Cloud Camp, another wilderness retreat on Cheyenne Mountain that will consist of an 8,000-square-foot lodge with six guest rooms and a honeymoon suite and 11 nearby guest cabins. broadmoor.com
RATES: All-inclusive rates at REV start at $500 per person per night; Pike National Forest, Colorado Springs, 1-866-334-3693, broadmoor.com/ranch
5280.com Exclusive: Try this recipe for the Ranch at Emerald Valley's signature Palisade Peach Doughnut Holes.