you hear the rod singing" -- with a trout on
the line -- "it's the gods celebrating all your
hard work," says guide Steve Gossange.
GEORGE, Colo. ó "If youíve tried three flies and
still havenít hooked one of these guys," said Scott
Tarrant, wading farther out into the Tarryall River,
"remember what the old timers say. Foam is home.
Follow the bubbles."
like a beer drinkerís election slogan to me," said
Josh, the groupís self-appointed comedian, peering into
the ripples swirling around a fallen tree trunk.
they werenít fly fishermen, either," said Scott,
camp manager at Fishing Camp, a fishing lodge in Coloradoís
South Park, three hours from Denver. "Fishermen would
know that a line of bubbles is where two currents meet. Itís
like a conveyor belt sweeping fish and floating insects
the river that morning, off for an early run in the Lost
Creek Wilderness, I was thinking more about Kit Carson and
Jim Bridger than I was about trout. Best-known of the fur
trappers and mountain men that explored the Rocky
Mountains in the early decades of the 1800s, Carson and
Bridger camped in the "mountain paradise" they
called South Park and knew it well.
if it hadnít been for an invitation to a wedding at the
historic Broadmoor Hotel, in Colorado Springs, I wouldnít
have been at Fishing Camp at all. Without my dad along,
hiking to our favorite mountain streams, learning which
fly to use and how to spot the eddies where the trout
lurked, fishing wasnít the same.
memorable were his stories, full of boyhood recollections
about lake fishing in Wisconsin. There was the time he
struggled to haul a bass into the rowboat and a
mean-looking snapping turtle suddenly lunged up and
grabbed it, nearly taking off his finger. Or the one about
the raccoon family that poached the pail of bluegills heíd
left outside for no more than ten minutes.
he was gone, the rods and reels went back in the closet
for good. Five years later the wedding invitation arrived.
And with it came two nights at the legendary Broadmoor, at
the foot of the Rocky Mountains, a luxury vacation
destination popular since the hotel opened, in 1918.
is where I learned about the Broadmoorís newest venture,
three back-country camps inspired by the hotelís new
owner, Philip Anschutz, a student and admirer of western
traditions and history. With the Rocky Mountains right
there in the hotelís back yard, the time was ripe for
offering the kind of authentic wilderness and ranch
experiences that adventuresome travelers say they want.
the Ranch at Emerald Valley, a cowboy-style outfit at
8,200 feet in the Pike National Forest, was the first to
open, in 2013. Cloud Camp, at 9,200 feet on Cheyenne
Mountain, opened the following year, in 2014. But for
Anschutz, who told me he discovered Colorado during the
summer vacations his parents organized, the idea of
recreating an old-time fishing lodge, with a big front
porch, pine plank floors, rustic log cabins to bunk in and
family-style dinners, must have been percolating.
there it remained, according to a spokesman in Anschutzís
office, until the he was out for a drive and spotted an
abandoned log cabin on a former homestead in South Park,
the grassy valley that western scholar and author Bernard
DeVoto called a mountain manís "paradise, the last
place in the mountains where the old life could be lived
to the full." When a little digging indicated that
the cabin, on 76 acres, was not only next to one of
Coloradoís top-rated trout streams but that five miles
of the river frontage was private land, Fishing Camp
became a reality.
all its connections with the Broadmoor, Fishing Camp is
wonderfully rustic, the kind of place where everyone feels
at home. But spartan it isnít. The main lodge,
originally a homesteaderís cabin, is now restored,
rebuilt, re-chinked, reroofed, enlarged and insulated. The
lighting and electricity have been upgraded to current
standards. Bigger windows let in light and an improved
pine board floor resists muddy boots.
Navajo rugs hang on the walls, surrounded by last centuryís
western memorabilia: snowshoes, buckets, cowboy hats,
antlers, several mounted fish, a decoy ducks, period
lanterns, antique fishing rods, a collection of woven
wicker creels and a canoe and paddle, the last propped
overhead on the rafters.
small log cabins, each different and sleeping two to eight
guests, have also been updated, with new chinking and
insulation. The door frames are old, the doors and screens
are new. The rooms were small; the new rooms have been
rearranged to add more space. Upgraded lighting, comfy
sofas and chairs and framed 1930s magazine ads, promoting
rods and reels, continue the theme. Some cabins have
private baths; three of the smallest Ė like so many
1950s and Ď60s wilderness camps Ė share a single bath
house. As for the wood frame screen door on my cabin, it
swung shut with a comfortable "thunk."
a limit of 22 guests at any one time, Fishing Campís
isolation, at the foot of the Lost Creek Wilderness, and
its private stretch of river frontage really is "your
fatherís fishing stream." You could spend all day
walking along the bank, soaking up the scenery and the
solitude. The fact is that the proliferation of highways,
public parks, campgrounds and tourist trails have made
distant trout streams more accessible, and therefore more
experts, the Taryallís turns and twists offer enough
eddies, pools, snags and white water to challenge any
skill level. And though Tarrant and his guides are
catch-and-release sportsmen by choice, "Fishing Camp
is a stream-to-table resort," he says. If you yearn
for that old-time taste of wild rainbow trout, just caught
and fried in butter, just ask.
for eager beginners, you wonít be bored holding a rod
and watching a fishing line that never wiggles. Tarrant,
who can snare a trout nearly on command, is a repository
of facts about the climate, stream action, native insects
and when they fly, and what a trout thinks as it rests in
a quiet eddy. Even after all these years, I learned how to
cast more effectively with less effort (and without
throwing out my shoulder) and to pay attention to whatís
hatching that day.
luring a fighting rainbow onto a hook is what Fishing Camp
is all about. But donít stay away just because you donít
fish. Bring the family fisherman along, and while he/she
is catching dinner, take the car and explore South Park.
you donít want to hike, ask about four-wheel jeep trails
into the Lost Creek Wilderness, where a network of trails
go from one photo op to the next: arresting rock
formations, eaglesí nests, marshy meadows, sage-covered
sunny slopes and half-ruined pioneer cabin sites. Wannabe
cowboys can take a guided horseback ride at Tarryall River
Ranch, just off the highway, three miles south of Fishing
in the vicinity is a classic one-room school house, built
in 1921, standing on the same site where its predecessor,
built in 1898, once stood. Painted bright white, it
perches on a small rise, a voice from a vanished age, like
the fur trappers and like Ma and Pa in The Little House
series of books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For the stories
that paved the way for the Ingalls pioneering years, read
Kit Carson and Jim Bridgerís diaries, tales of South
Park and beyond.
NITTY GRITTY: South Park is a region consisting of a
series of meadows, streams and low peaks west of the Front
Range of the Rocky Mountains and east of the Sawatch Range
and Collegiate Peaks. Linked by river valleys to Middle
Park and North Park, also it Colorado, it provided a
thoroughfare for fur trappers traveling from Taos, New
Mexico to Wyoming and Utah.
Camp, open April 1-Oct. 31, is located on Highway 77 in
Park County, Colorado, between Jefferson and Lake George,
3.5 miles south of Tarryall Reservoir. Rates per night for
two in a cabin start at about $800 and include lodging,
chef-prepared meals, snacks, coffee and tea, wine and
alcoholic beverages, all guiding services and use of all
fishing gear. Half day and full-day rates are also
available. Book reservations at the Broadmoor Hotel, at
(719)623-5112, or (844)602-3343, or go to