Camp St. Malo in Allenspark is one of Colorado’s most famous and beautiful retreat sites. Until 2011, the site boasted three main structures: the St. Catherine of Siena Chapel, completed in 1953 and affectionately referred to as the Chapel on the Rock, the St. Williams Lodge, constructed as the first building on the site in 1921, and the Malo Conference and Retreat Center, developed in the mid-1980s. Camp St. Malo is the third most photographed place in Colorado, and Michael Six, the director of St. Malo, says it’s the beauty of the site which draws people there.
“They stop because it’s beautiful,” he said. “Beauty has drawn them there. Beauty is one of the names of God, so he’s drawn them there. Just by stopping, they’ve responded to his call through beauty.”
However, a fire in 2011 destroyed most of the Malo Conference and Retreat Center, leaving only the Chapel and the lodge standing. Plans to rebuild the Retreat Center on the same site were initiated shortly after the fire, but these plans were thwarted when a treacherous flood in 2013 devastated much of the land and the infrastructure needed to rebuild it. The unpredictable conditions of the land and the possibility of future sediment flows and mudslides led to a decision by the Archdiocese of Denver not to build on the original site and to tear down the remnants of the retreat center that remained standing.
While plans to build a new Catholic retreat center at another location are still in the preliminary stages, the Denver Catholic is pleased to announce that plans to renovate the still-standing St. Williams Lodge at Camp St. Malo and transform it into a beautiful visitor and heritage center are well underway, as are other site improvements.
These renovations are currently slated to begin this winter. Additional plans include cosmetic and functional additions to the chapel, adding more spaces for parking, installation of handicapped-accessible access ramps and transforming St. William’s Lodge into a visitor and heritage center, complete with bathrooms, a gift shop and a museum highlighting the history of Camp St. Malo.
“We want to to tell the story of Camp St. Malo,” Six said.
There are also plans to add a new memorial walk that’s meant to pay homage to the path Pope Saint John Paul II hiked during his visit to Camp St. Malo in 1993. Much of the original path he walked on was destroyed during the floods in 2013.
John Paul II’s visit to Camp St. Malo is but a snippet of the camp’s rich history. Originally intended as a boy’s camp, the site was founded in 1916 and it blossomed into the location it is today. This is merely the next chapter for this renowned mountain haven, and Six hopes the renovations will draw people closer to Christ, or at least begin to spark more conversation.
“Everybody needs to draw closer to Christ, so no matter where you are, this is an opportunity to start asking some deep questions that in daily life, you tend to gloss over,” Six said. “The idea is this is where the New Evangelization happens.”
To make a donation to the renovation efforts, or for more information on Camp St. Malo, visit http://campstmalo.org.