It is not the typical wide open ranch with vast prairies that might come to mind when you envision a ranch. High above Colorado Springs, The Ranch at Emerald Valley is tucked away in a valley of green in the shadow of mountains surrounded by 100,000 acres of the Pike National Forest. It was originally acquired in 1923 by Broadmoor founder Spencer Penrose as his personal getaway and sits at 8,200 feet in a picturesque setting.
Originally named Camp Vigil, after the granite sentinel towering over 10,000 feet in elevation, over the years the site has been used as a church retreat, corporate retreat, Girl Scouts camp, and dude ranch. Heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey once holed up at the ranch for a month to train. Supposedly his initials are carved into some rocks on Mount Vigil.
True to ranch life, I got up early to take in the sunrise and watch the glow of the sun illuminate Mount Vigil. It was a chilly early fall morning and I was ready for some coffee. Now, if you want regular coffee you can certainly get that on the ranch, but I decided to go the old-fashioned way with cowboy coffee out of a blue speckled kettle warming over the fire pit.
I kicked back in one of the chairs around the pit, warming up with the strong coffee and fire while chatting with some of the other early risers. I must have looked pretty comfortable with my boots kicked up and sipping coffee out of a tin mug, because June Bug, one of the ranch cats quickly jumped in my lap for a catnap by the fire.
If you get up early enough for the cowboy coffee, you might even get to savor the homemade cinnamon rolls that are worth every single calorie.
Here’s my Explore Colorado piece if you want to experience what it’s like to stay at the Ranch at Emerald Valley.
Want to see a little more? Here’s my iPhone movie of my stay at the ranch.