A visit to The Broadmoor led to checking Mt. Rushmore off our list since it was only seven hours from Colorado Springs.
Country roads with vast cattle ranches evoke movie memories, leading to the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota where the 60-foot stone sculptures of Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt loom large, at the park.
Pictures cannot deliver the inspiring emotion of this magnificent and patriotic feat of artistry. They may also be glimpsed driving Needles Highway through Custer State Park with hairpin turns that test the nerves and with warnings of dangerous buffalo encounters. We dared not exit to photograph one that was wildly rutting a tree. Elk, deer, and bighorn sheep are also resident here as well as on numerous golf courses in the region.
Redrock Golf Club, celebrating 20 years, is awarded number one course in South Dakota with a unique layout. Putting skills are challenged on the undulating greens and tall grass lines the slanted fairways where “rattlesnakes on the move.”
At Hart Ranch Golf Club, the pro shop waves a couple rattles recently absconded from snakes battling on the 16th tee box. It remains a peaceful setting with cattle lowing across the road and wide open, straight forward fairways on the front, constructed in ’85 contrasting with higher elevations of the back, designed a decade later.
Hotels, camps and B&Bs abound in the surrounding western towns which deliver endless activities, museums, and sites for any age at affordable prices. Rapid City is the largest in the area with every president and significant native Americans sculpted on street corners. This is an historic American journey.
The main event in our western golf rodeo however was the Pikes Peak Region of Colorado anchored by The Broadmoor, where vacations reach new heights, literally.
The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is back in action after $100+m investment, chugging up the 8.9-mile incline through the woods passing bighorn sheep and yellow-bellied marmots with narration by the conductor, to the top of “America’s Mountain.” All Aboard for magnificent views that inspired Bates to write “America the Beautiful.”
The Broadmoor’s Seven Falls is a natural high to behold. Walk along the cascading stream, lined with lacy pastel wildflowers, to the 224 vertical steps beside the final falls. It’s not just the altitude that takes your breath away.
The pristine courses at The Broadmoor are a true test of golf with fairways bordered by a tricky first cut of grass. Colorado Golf Hall of Famer and Director, Russ Miller leads the team providing exceptional service. He boasts the best greens in the nation with speeds of 8 uphill and 14 down. They are impeccable and a challenge to master.
In the starter shack adorned with wildlife trophies, Linda was thrilled when Hale Irwin had just given her a hug.
Famous golfers, actors and international dignitaries line the Wall of Fame in The Broadmoor West Building while golf legends are displayed in the Heritage Hallway of the impressive golf clubhouse. Locker rooms, pro shop merchandise and culinary options in the grill exceed expectations.
The East Course is most famous for nine Championships including the Senior Open held every 6 years. The layout of the 18th hole with a lake before the green and iconic clubhouse behind is a culmination of pure golf pleasure.
The Broadmoor architecture is as majestic as the mountain views throughout the holes.
Beverage cart service on both courses is ever handy as well as halfway snack shacks and restrooms with historic golf murals.
We liked the character and play of the West Course as much. Between the most difficult yet short par 3 with a “Jesus’ ball” skipping four times across the lily padded pond for a par, and Moses, a groundskeeper returning missing sunglasses, and the chimes of Will Rogers’ Shrine high on a mountain above, golf at The Broadmoor was a religious experience we will never forget.
The shrine perches high above the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo which has a whole herd of engaging giraffes. Pass the zoo and the shrine to climb to The Broadmoor’s Cloud Camp, for a remote luxury cabin retreat on top of the world. Hike, soak in the outdoor tubs, play pickleball or simply commune with nature.
Main accommodations below encircle The Broadmoor Lake with graceful swans.
Exquisite western art catches the eye at every turn in the longest consecutive Forbes Five-star, AAA Five Diamond Resort in the World. Many restaurants with top notch chefs are aided by local gardens and Eagles Nest Ranch’s Wagyu whisperer for extraordinary beef cuts. Lots of shops, infinity pool, tennis, fly fishing, falconry, spa, and world class fitness facilities make this an affluent western city within itself.
The Broadmoor concierge arranges activities on property and off. Tour the Garden of the Gods and Trading Post over spiritual red rock terrain or drive to Royal Gorge to conquer your fear of heights above the 955-foot-deep canyon. Ride the gondola or walk the pedestrian bridge across the 1260-foot span. Grab a bite overlooking the edge with sounds from the rapids on the Arkansas River running far below or ride them with Echo Canyon River Expeditions.
Owner Andy Neimus has made a living as a self-proclaimed river dirtball for 30 years. From family floats with up to class 3 rapids or the extreme gorge run with class 5s, Andy’s guides deliver a splashing good time. Across from Echo Canyon Rafting, Andy also owns Royal Gorge Cabins, freshly built, and furnished with glamping tent alternatives for full immersion in canyon life with brilliant night stars.
To or from the Royal Gorge, the May Museum, is a seemingly strange recommendation. Featured in a Strange Inheritance episode, it is the largest bug collection, surprisingly fascinating and beautiful.
One of the best trip planning websites is www.pikes-peak.com with complete descriptions, videos, and details to help solve the conundrum of which adventures and sites to choose. From calm forest bathing hikes to the adrenalin rush of the Terror Dactyl ride dropping you 100 miles per hour over a deep canyon at Cave of the Winds, the Pikes Peak region has something for all.
Colorado Springs airport is small and efficient to maneuver with antelope grazing nearby, foretelling the nature to come, while The Broadmoor is where unmatched elegance meets western wilderness adventure and supreme Donald Ross golf.
See www.broadmoor.com for the historic timeline, unlimited golf packages and all that America’s Resort has to offer.
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