Thinking about climbing The Broadmoor Seven Falls in Colorado Springs? Here’s everything you need to know.
How does a flatlander climb 224 steps at an elevation of 6,800 feet?
One at a time.
It was a chilly morning when we stepped off the shuttle at The Broadmoor Seven Falls – so chilly that the projected rain became snow. Tiny flakes fell all around us as we decided whether to take the $2 tram to the base of the falls from the ticket office. It was still warm enough the snow melted when it touched the asphalt.
We decided to walk. It was only eight tenths of a mile, even if we were at a much higher elevation than our normal 869 feet above sea level.
We could handle it – as long as we remembered to take it slow.
A stream to our left accompanied us as we followed the winding road through soaring red rocks to the end of a box canyon. Occasionally gravel paths split off from the asphalt and paralleled the road for a bit. We took every one, getting close to the burbling water without stepping in.
Disclaimer: our tickets to The Broadmoor Seven Falls were courtesy of Visit Colorado Springs and a Pikes Peak VIP Attraction Partner Pass, which provided free and discounted tickets to several area attractions.
For more information: visitcos.com and pikespeak.com
I couldn’t stop grinning. A few hours before that, we’d been driving through the high arid plains of eastern Colorado.
Read more about our Chicago to Denver road trip.
Now there we were, in the Front Range, being tourists in a destination that’s been inviting them since 1885.
We noted the landmarks as we walked: Pillars of Hercules, with their narrow gap of just forty-one feet; Washington’s profile, a reminder of our visit to Mount Rushmore four years before; the most scenic restrooms I’ve ever seen; and a picnic pavilion. Along the way, Jim spotted a deer. She stopped and stared. Yes, we knew; we were in her home.
We also stopped and stared, taking our time to get to the seven falls, which plummet, giant step by giant step, a 181-foot-drop to the canyon floor. Sometimes I stopped to catch my breath, but most often I stopped simply to absorb. Embrace. The sheer beauty of the canyon took my breath more than the elevation.
Although I hadn’t seen much of the state, I understood why the 1912 Ames Guide called South Cheyenne Canyon “The Grandest One Mile in Colorado.”
When that guide was published, it had been forty years since homesteader Nathan Colby purchased the canyon. Although Colby was the first person to own the land, he didn’t hold onto it for long, selling it to the Colorado Springs Land company in 1873. James Hull bought Seven Falls in 1882 because he was concerned that loggers would destroy its beauty.
Hull’s solution was to turn the canyon and the waterfalls at the end into a tourist attraction.
In 1883, he opened a toll road and charged ten cents. In 1904, according to Richardson’s tourists’ guide to Chicago, the West and the Lake Superior Country, admission was up to fifty cents, and it was “well worth the money.”
By that time, James Hull’s sons owned the place and had built stairs up the side of the falls.
The next year, the Hull brothers sold it to C.D. Weimer, who owned the canyon until 1946. Texas oilman Al Hill bought it, and it stayed in the Hill family until 2014.
The year before, significant rains caused a flood that destroyed the park. Seven Falls has been attracting tourists at that point for one hundred and thirty years.
The Broadmoor, a luxurious resort at the eastern base of Cheyenne Mountain that opened in 1918, stepped in and purchased the canyon and waterfalls from the Hill family.
In August of 2015, The Broadmoor Seven Falls opened with a picnic pavilion, a zipline, and Restaurant 1858, among other attractions. They also built new stairs.
Let me tell you about those stairs.
Heights have never bothered me (see my pieces about Beartooth Highway and Zion National Park Canyon Overlook Trail), and yet as I looked at those 224 steps up the side of a mountain, I was suddenly afraid.
I also doubted I could actually climb them. It was our first day at high elevation, I’d already walked uphill for nearly a mile, and I’m not in the best shape (I have been working on it).
I was concerned enough that four words I abhor actually came out of my mouth: Is it worth it?
The woman I asked responded with a vigorous “Yes,” but as soon as I uttered that dreaded phrase I knew I’d made my own decision.
I would climb to the top of Seven Falls.
And I did.
The first steps were harrowing as I looked through the risers to the canyon wall and the streaming water below. I apologized to the people behind us, and they told me not to worry, to take my time.
So I did.
As soon as I could after the stream of people descending passed us, I used both rails. The higher I got, the more comfortable I felt. By the time we reached the platform at the halfway point, I was pooped. Would I make it the rest of the way?
Darn right I would.
We took our time. I stopped every ten steps, then as we neared the top I kept going. There was a bench and I sat down.
I’d done it. We’d done it (although I had no doubt my Montana Man would make it). We had climbed 224 steps to the top of this magnificent series of waterfalls.
We hiked a little further, marveling at South Cheyenne Creek, the peaceful stream that had carved the box canyon. We found a shelter and breathed in the Ponderosa pine before heading down.
Going down was easy. It was especially easy because I felt the pure elation of accomplishment. I had pushed through my fears and self-doubts and seen something absolutely remarkable.
Before leaving, we took the elevator up to Eagles Nest. Al Hill built the observation platform, which provides an eagle’s eye view of the seven falls, after the war. It had its own set of stairs, but by 1949, a funicular provided easier access than the 185 steps. The incline cable car operated until 1985.
In 1992, the Hill family carved a tunnel and elevator into the mountain. Even if you choose to take those steps, it’s worth entering the tunnel to read the many interpretive signs in cases along the walls.
The sun came out and blue skies appeared as we followed the winding asphalt back to the entrance of South Cheyenne Canyon Road.
It was a fitting end to a glorious morning experiencing one of Colorado’s natural wonders.
By easy slope to west as if it had
No thought, when first its soaring was begun,
Except to look devoutly to the sun,
It rises, and has risen, until, glad,
With light as with a garment, it is clad,
Each dawn, before the tardy plains have won
One ray; and after day has long been done
For us, the light doth cling reluctant, sad
To leave its brow.Helen Hunt Jackson
The Hull Brothers used Jackson’s poem in their promotional book for Seven Falls, In South Cheyenne Cañon with pen and camera, published in the 1890s.
Visiting The Broadmoor Seven Falls in Colorado Springs
Broadmoor’s Seven Falls is located less than a mile from the resort on the southwest side of Colorado Springs.
It’s called the Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado for good reason. The 1,250-foot-wall box canyon is filled with things to see at every turn.
Seven Falls is claimed to be the only waterfall in Colorado on National Geographic’s list of International Waterfalls, but I couldn’t find that list anywhere. I’m still looking!
Things to do at The Broadmoor Seven Falls
There are multiple things to do at Seven Falls:
- Walk or take the tram along South Cheyenne Canyon Road to the base of the falls
- Climb to the top of Seven Falls
- Hike the two hiking trails
- Take the elevator or the 185 steps to Eagles Nest observation platform
- Learn the history of Seven Falls in the tunnel to the elevator
- Shop for minerals and fossils at Rockhounds at the Eagles Nest
- Buy souvenirs, apparel, and snacks at The Seven Falls Shop
- Ride Soaring Adventure, ten zip-lines that range from 300 to 1800 feet. There’s moderate hiking, rope bridges, and the adventure ends with a controlled rappel.
- Eat at 1858 Restaurant, named for the year gold was discovered in the Colorado Territory.
Hiking Trails at The Broadmoor Seven Falls
If you’ve got the energy after climbing those steps, there are two hiking trails at the top of Seven Falls.
Midnight Falls Trail is a short .7 mile loop that’ll take about twenty to thirty minutes. It leads to (spoiler alert) Midnight Falls.
Inspiration Point Trail is a longer, 1.5 mile trail to the former burial site of author and poet Helen Hunt Jackson. She requested that spot and was buried in 1885, but so many people visited the grave she was moved to Colorado Spring’s Evergreen Cemetery in 1891.
What are the Seven Falls?
From top to bottom the seven waterfalls of Seven Falls are:
- Ramona: named for Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel.
- Feather: for the type of waterfall
- Bridal Veil: same
- Shorty: same
- Hull: named for James Hull, the man who turned Seven Falls into a tourist attraction.
- Weimer: named for the second owner of the park.
- Hill: named for the third, and longest, owner of Seven Falls
Things to know about The Broadmoor Seven Falls
- No outside food or beverages are permitted.
- However, you can bring water bottles.
- Which is a good thing, because you should drink plenty of water, especially if you want to stave off altitude sickness.
- Bringing your dog? Only on a leash, please.
- And be sure to pick up after your dog. There are dog waste stations throughout the park.
- No rock climbing or scrambling anywhere.
- Stay on the trails. For one thing, poison ivy and oak grow in the canyon.
- No wading in South Cheyenne Creek.
- You can feed the fish in the trout pond. Food is available near the gift shop.
- Trails close at dusk.
- Lightning in the canyon can happen. There will be an alarm.
- Wear the right shoes.
- Wear layers – weather can change quickly.
- No smoking.
- No drones.
- Trash containers are bear-proof for a reason.
- The Broadmoor Seven Falls is accessible, except for the Falls Stairs and the hiking trails.
- TAKE IT SLOW! It’s worth it.
How much is The Broadmoor Seven Falls?
Tickets to The Broadmoor Seven Falls must be purchased at the gate and there are no advance reservations.
Tickets for Soaring Adventure zipline can only be purchased online or at the kiosk across the street from the Golden Bee in Colorado Springs.
- Entrance Fee for Adults: Ages 13+ years – $17
- Entrance Fee for Seniors and Military (with ID) – $14.25
- Entrance Fee for Children: Ages 2 – 12 years – $11
- Children under 2 years of age are FREE
The optional tram is $2 for unlimited rides. It’s free for seniors.
Soaring Adventure prices range from ~$200 for the Woods Course to ~$350 for the Woods-Fins Combo course.
When is The Broadmoor Seven Falls open?
The Broadmoor Seven Falls is open seasonally. Check their website for current days and hours. We visited in late April and the park was only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Getting to The Broadmoor Seven Falls
There is no parking at The Broadmoor Seven Falls. Instead, there’s a free shuttle from Norris Penrose Event Center, 1045 Lower Gold Camp Road, Colorado Springs, CO. If you’re staying at the resort, there’s a free shuttle. Just let the bellhops know.