I’ve stayed in some really cool lodging over the years – from rustic yurts to upscale cabins to sprawling suites. But none compares to the supremely unique Fire Tower Suite at The Broadmoor Cloud Camp. The intimate, two-story, one-bedroom unit built on the foundation of a building that was once used as a fire tower is perched on the top of a mountain. It is accessed only by climbing an incredible 145 steps and is easily the most romantic locale I’ve ever experienced – I think the most romantic in Colorado. Its cozy double bed, secluded location and darling little private cedar hot tub surrounded by high-alpine trees all combine for a remarkable experience at 9,200 feet in elevation above Colorado Springs.
Cloud Camp is part of The Broadmoor Wilderness Experience, introduced in recent years. The Broadmoor is a stately, historic, upscale resort property with award-winning golf courses on beautifully landscaped grounds that dates back to 1918. In contrast, Cloud Camp opened in 2014 with 11 freestanding cabins and seven lodge rooms (plus the Fire Tower Suite) to offer guests a more rustic experience in nature, but with all of the excellent cuisine and stellar hospitality The Broadmoor has long been known for.
To reach the remote property, guests take a 30-minute shuttle ride up Cheyenne Mountain; guests can also hike 3.2 miles or ride a mule up the hill. As needed, guests are shuttled back down (through the Cheyenne Zoo, past the awesome giraffe exhibit!) for spa treatments or golf tee-times. Otherwise, visitors generally stay on the mountain for hiking, bird watching, Frisbee golf, and/or a whole lot of rest and relaxation.
I think a couple of nights at the posh Broadmoor property, combined with two nights at Cloud Camp would make an incredible combo vacation for Colorado visitors who appreciate the finer things in life, as well as a chance to experience easy access to nature. The Broadmoor caters to families, for sure, but I believe a Broadmoor/Cloud Camp combo would be especially appealing to celebrate a grown-ups-only anniversary or birthday. A fancy meal in The Broadmoor’s Five-Star, Five-Diamond Penrose Room and access to the outdoor pool for one night, followed by the privacy of the mountain-top suite in the middle of “nowhere” spells romance, for sure. That said, I spent the night in what I’m calling “the most romantic room in Colorado” all by myself. It’s equally an amazing spot to spend solo for reflection and repose, so don’t feel too sorry for me on my own; I made the most of it!
One quality you must have to spend the night in Cloud Camp’s Fire Tower Suite is a level of physical fitness to climb the steep 145 steps to reach it. I live at 7,000 feet in elevation and consider myself in pretty good shape, and I still found myself huffing and puffing a bit as I ascended the stairs. I also planned my descents strategically during my stay at Cloud Camp; you don’t want to forget something in you room and have to return up those stairs unnecessarily.
But, overall, I think the steep climb is well worth the effort. The little room is charmingly decorated with colorful textiles, historic photos (including one of Smokey the Bear), and dark-wood log furniture. The second level accessed via another exterior staircase is designed to look in part like a working fire tower might back in the day. In addition to a telescope it has a small desk as well as a traditional Osborne Fire Finder typically used to find a directional bearing to smoke in wildland fires. Cowhide chairs are a whimsical addition, but make perfect sense in the overall Western decor.
Most spectacular are the 360-degree views from the Fire Tower Suite. From side corner, you can look down on the main lodge as well sprawling Colorado Springs. And from a seat in a pair of rocking chairs, the scenic vista is of the “back side” of Pikes Peak, as well as wooded forest and rolling hills far as the eye can see. It’s peaceful and inspirational, especially when the clouds roll in and you find yourself actually above the clouds.
The Fire Tower Suite’s major selling point for me, however, was the private, cedar-lined hot tub. From this secluded spot, you are truly away from it all, surrounded by nature. I took a soak with a glass of wine after a lengthy afternoon hike before typical afternoon thunderstorms rolled in.
Regarding hikes, a trail map outlines some easy-to-moderate trails from the property that made for a great workout for me. Guided hikes take place each morning and afternoon for Cloud Camp guests, which bring outdoorsy types a bit further afield. Other activities that take place daily at Cloud Camp include: mule rides, archery instruction, camp crafts and cooking club . Of course, relaxing in the main lodge – decorated w/ Old West and Native American artifacts and paintings – in front of a roaring fireplace is a widely accepted activity, too!
Mealtimes are joyous affairs because, in true The Broadmoor fashion, the food is amazing. Breakfast is served buffet style in the lodge, where I thoroughly enjoyed a country scramble, sausage and bacon, and homemade cinnamon rolls (yogurt, fruit, cereal and pastries are also on hand). Lunch is also buffet style.
Dinner is at a set hour, typically 6:30pm — preceded by a social hour where guests mingle in front of the fireplace or on the expansive deck. Guests sit at a huge long table that seats up to 32. Now, you can choose to sit and eat privately, but I think getting to know other visitors is a highlight of Cloud Camp. I happened to overnight at Cloud Camp during a slow time, where the only other guests were a family of five from Texas and two gentlemen from Chicago, who were childhood friends. The eight of us found we had plenty to chat about over the course of our meal that includes a soup, main course, salad and dessert (pick from two or three offerings of each), plus a platter of food that is served family style; during my stay, it was soft shell crab and Creole vegetables. I also enjoyed Maine lobster bisque, roasted diver scallops, ambrosia salad and delectable blackberry pie a la mode.
All meals and drinks – including wine, beer and cocktails – are included in the price of your room rate, no matter if you have booked the Fire Tower suite, a lodge room or one of the other one- or two-bedroom cabins in the woods. Snacks are readily on hand in the main lodge in between meals. You will not go hungry or thirsty at Cloud Camp. (And on that note, flatlanders must remember to sip water throughout the day; staying hydrated is key to avoiding the symptoms of altitude sickness. You can also ask for a humidifier for your room to combat the dry air, and Advil is your friend if you find yourself with a high-altitude headache.)
Cloud Camp is all about rest and relaxation and enjoying the outdoors. Board games, horseshoes and hikes are how guests entertain themselves; you won’t find any bells and whistles here (no spa, no workout room, no TVs!) on site. So if you want the pool, a variety of restaurants and entertainment, then booking a room at The Broadmoor is for you. But, again, if you can finagle a stay at Cloud Camp, and are willing to pay the big bucks in an incredibly unique alternative to a typical luxury hotel stay.
And on that note, accommodations overall at Cloud Camp are not inexpensive: Lodge rooms cost $920/night in high season (double occupancy), with rooms at $750/night in May and from mid-September through October. The Fire Tower Suite for two rents for $1,400 in off season, and $1,620 in high season. Cloud Camp is closed November through April in the snowy months.
I also have a couple of caveats about the Fire Tower Suite, in particular: I found the double bed a bit on the soft side and if you like a lot of water pressure in your shower you may be disappointed. Water has to be pumped up the mountain, so it’s understandable that the pressure is lacking.
Still I found my short experience at Cloud Camp outstanding and can highly recommend for a back-to-nature luxe experience in the mountains of Colorado.
I received complimentary accommodations at Cloud Camp for purposes of editorial review.