Image: Mennonite Church USA Archives, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons.
The Pikes Peak Hill Climb may have already taken place this year, but there are other reasons to visit the famed 14,000-foot-tall peak. Barr Camp, a high mountain cabin located just above 10,000 feet on the slopes of Pikes Peak, is an excellent destination to escape to any time of year (yes, even in winter).
Image of Fred Barr, circa 1919.
Barr Camp was constructed in the early 1900s by Fred Barr, an entrepreneur who operated a business offering mule rides to the summit of Pikes Peak. His project began with the construction of the Barr Trail (between the years of 1914 and 1921), a route specifically created for his mules, extending high above the Manitou Incline to the summit of the mountain. He then opened Barr Camp in 1922, finalizing its construction in 1924. The high mountain cabin was a refuge for his customers and provided shelter so that the mule trip could be broken up into multiple days.
When Barr passed away in 1940, the business continued to operate without him. However, the Forest Service eventually opted against renewing the operating contract, and the camp was forced to close. The camp that Barr had constructed changed hands multiple times, and although it was vandalized while in disuse, it was eventually restored and reopened in 1981 as a year-round hostel. Barr Camp then became a non-profit organization in 1998. Through volunteer efforts and donations, it saw major infrastructure improvements, including the addition of solar power and composting toilets.
Staying Overnight at Barr Camp
These days, you don’t need to ride a mule to get to Barr Camp, but you will need to do some hiking. Here are two options:
Hikefrom the Barr trailhead in Manitou Springs, Colorado (13 miles round-trip, 3,500 feet elevation gain, strenuous).
Ride the cog railway to Mountainview and hike from there (3 miles round-trip over rolling terrain, easy).
Photo by Christian Murdock, Courtesy of The Gazette.
As you may imagine, getting to Barr Camp is just part of the challenge. Because it is a popular overnight stay, you’ll need to make reservations ahead of time. Visit the reservation request page on the Barr Camp website to start planning your trip.
Barr Camp Accommodations & Amenities
There are a few different options for accommodations when staying at Barr Camp, including the Upper Cabin (up to 12 people in bunk beds), lean-to shelters (room for three adults), or traditional tent camping. If you spring for the cabin or lean-tos, you’ll enjoy a roof over your head as well as a mattress. But even if you choose a tent site, all reservations include breakfast and access to the restrooms (composting toilets). A prepared dinner is optional for all guests but must be selected and paid for when making your reservation.
For more information about staying at Barr Camp, including what to bring and how to book your stay, visit Barrcamp.com
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