Elevating the Barr/ Popular 80-year-old camp modernized – just a bit –

Deb Acord

It’s a miracle that runners in each year’s Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent make it to the summit.

It’s a wonder that the AdAmAn Club has the will to continue uphill each New Year’s Eve.

After all, everyone who travels the Barr Trail has to pass by Barr Camp. And most of those who pass by, stop and rest. That’s where the problem lies.

Sit for a moment on the sun-warmed deck of this remote cabin and you’ll find yourself melting into submission. Lean back and close your eyes, and you’re probably there for the day. Lie down on one of the wooden benches and you’ve joined the lazy dog club. Members Kiva, Tika and Rascal, all permanent Barr Camp residents, have already perfected the Barr Camp sprawl.

Barr Camp is a small enclave of cabins and shelters that sits at 10,200 feet just off the Barr Trail. Miner and entrepreneur Fred Barr, who built the Barr Trail, also built the camp more than 80 years ago as a rest stop in the burro rides he led to the summit of Pikes Peak.

The cabin and other buildings have changed little, beckoning as many as 20,000 hikers, runners and bike riders each year.

In recent years, the camp began to show its age. The roof leaked. There was no foundation, so the logs that had contact with the ground rotted and the floor sagged. The small propane-fueled freezer was aging. So was the wood stove that heated the main cabin. And the pit toilets that sat a short walk from the cabin were something to be avoided.

Those who loved the camp feared for its survival. So in 1998, a nonprofit foundation was formed, with a board of directors and a plan to ensure a future for Barr Camp.

That plan included a fund-raising campaign called Project 2000, which called for nearly $180,000 in repairs and upgrades.

The directors were hopeful but still were surprised when they met their fund-raising goal. They wasted no time in upgrading the camp.

First on the agenda: a new pit toilet, this time a state-of-the- art solar composting model, installed in 2001 after it was flown onto the mountainside by a Chinook helicopter. Working off photovoltaic cells, it’s still the talk of the camp, where amenities like clean bathroom facilities are appreciated.

Solar power is needed to run the composting toilet, so a huge solar panel was installed on a hillside above the camp. Looking startlingly high-tech in this backwoods environment, it stands like a stark silver and blue sculpture among the fir and pine trees.

From the outside, the cabin doesn’t look different, but it sits on a new foundation that will help keep its walls from crumbling. It has a new heavy-duty metal roof, built to stave off the constant threat of forest fires. Inside, a new, more-efficient wood-burning stove heats the small main room.

Behind the main cabin, a deck is finished. Soon, it will be the platform for a yurt, which will serve as private quarters for the caretaker.

For years, the camp’s main cabin was the gathering place for visitors as well as the private residence for the caretaker. On some busy summer days, as many as 600 people have stopped by.

But for all the improvements at the camp, its essence hasn’t changed. Aside from the solar equipment, technology is discouraged. In fact, a sign on the cabin door warns that cell phones aren’t allowed inside.

And don’t look for lots of modern conveniences. “We didn’t add televisions or hair dryers, and we still like Coleman lanterns,” Dennison says.


Stephanie Dennison is the caretaker at Barr Camp. She lives at the camp full-time – except for brief stints away. She makes a pancake breakfast and spaghetti dinner each day for guests.

What she can cook really well: pancakes, spaghetti.

What she doesn’t like to eat any more: pancakes, spaghetti.

Most people she’s seen on one day at the camp: about 600, on a busy summer weekend.

Longest time she’s been alone at the camp, without anyone stopping by: three weeks in winter.

Amount of time it took her to get used to being alone on the mountain: a few days.

When she began missing people: about two weeks out.

What she does when she’s not living at Barr Camp: supervises a veterinary office.

Worst thing about living at Barr Camp: no privacy.

Best thing about living at Barr Camp: the people she meets.

Hopes for the camp’s future: would like to develop nature programs for kids and be known for that.


Getting there: The camp is 6.8 miles up from the trailhead for Barr Trail in Manitou Springs.

Hike it – Park at the trailhead just beyond the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway lot.

Ride it, then hike it – Take the cog, either half-way up to Mountain View Station or all the way to the summit, and walk down. If you choose Mountain View, it’s a 1.5-mile hike to Barr Camp (and then you’ll have to hike the 6.8 miles back down). If you choose the summit, it’s 5.9 miles from the top to the camp.

Staying there:

Cabin – A main cabin has 15 bunks ($15 a night, per person); a second cabin can be rented as a whole unit privately and sleeps 10 ($100 a night for the cabin).

Lean-tos – Open-face wooden shelters, each sleeps two to four ($15 a night, per person).

Tent sites – Reservations not necessary. $5-$10 per person donation suggested.

Cook stoves, cooking and eating utensils, mattresses and filtered drinking water supplied; bring personal equipment, including bedding. Reservations are required for the cabins and lean-tos; call 264-1489 or e-mail barrcampinc@earthlink.net

For basic information about the camp, check www.barrcamp.com

Copyright 2002

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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