Seven Falls: Experiencing Nature, the Broadmoor Way

On Easter Sunday, I visited the Broadmoor’s Seven Falls on a photo assignment. When I was given a piece of candy by a person in a large squirrel suit, my initial thought was, “Wait, does the Broadmoor not have enough money to rent an Easter bunny suit?” Seven Falls has been privately owned and maintained with care since 1872. Owner John Hull, a conservationist-gone-businessman, has transformed this natural box canyon into a Disney Park-like experience, including the installation of a toll gate that restricts access to the area.

Photo by Anna Grigsby

When I arrived at the entrance to Seven Falls, an employee directed me to a Broadmoor parking lot five minutes away. From there, tourists like myself shuttled to the Seven Falls area. Once the shuttle dropped us off at the ticket stand, we waited in line to pay the $14 basic entrance fee. For an additional fee, visitors can ride the tram to the falls instead of walking a mile on the paved road. This allows increased accessibility for handicapped tourists, the elderly, the very young, or the exertion-challenged.

I opted to walk. The trail passes the Outpost Gift Shop, a picnic area, restrooms, the Seven Falls Shop, Restaurant 1858, and finally Seven Falls. The additional features were added after Seven Falls was purchased by the Broadmoor, an acquisition overseen by owner Philip Anschutz. After severe damage due to flooding in 2013, Anschutz purchased Seven Falls for an undisclosed amount of money and proceeded to spend $1 million on renovations to the park. What was once a natural box canyon has been transformed into a resort. This sliver of South Cheyenne Cañon illustrates yet another case of commoditizing nature. Although the falls are the final destination, they are preceded by several gift shops, a zip-line, an elevator for those who don’t want—or are not physically able—to climb the 224 stairs to the top of the falls, and an occasional giant rodent. Nature lovers cringe at the fate of the falls. But then again, the Broadmoor isn’t typically a haven for wilderness buffs.

Photo by Anna Grigsby

I climbed the stairs to the top of the falls between two families taking selfies. I noticed two hiking trails: a one-mile trail to a spot overlooking the falls, and a trail to Midnight Falls, a smaller falls that cascades into a creek that runs into Seven Falls. I took the latter trail. To my surprise, it was peaceful. Most people turned around at the top of the falls. According to the Broadmoor website, a “hundred years ago [Midnight Falls] was a favorite and secluded spot for Colorado College students to visit late at night,” to enjoy deep meaningful conversations by the water I’m sure. In the post-Hull era, students would have to jump the gates and evade security cameras to visit the falls after hours.

The Broadmoor Seven Falls is dubbed “Colorado’s most majestic waterfall.” There are 109 reviews of Seven Falls on Yelp and it gets an average of three stars. “I’m torn on this review,” wrote reviewer Michael G. “On one hand, the falls were beautiful. On the other hand, it’s kind of a commercialized circus. Another visitor reflected: “Beautiful! I came down here once in the winter, and once in the fall. If you’re visiting Colorado Springs I would definitely recommend a visit! You won’t be disappointed,” said Erin H. on Yelp, giving Seven Falls a full five stars.

The falls possess natural beauty that some may consider tainted by their commercialization. Regardless, South Cheyenne Cañon boasts tall rock walls and a creek that bubbles alongside the path to the falls. Ultimately, it depends on the experience that you desire. If you want to explore the wild outdoor world, you might consider a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. If it is a family-friendly excursion featuring natural beauty and luxurious add-ons you are searching for, Seven Falls is worth the trip.

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