New Steamboat Springs business challenges you to break out of jail |

New Steamboat Springs business challenges you to break out of jail

The Steamboat Today crew broke out of the Hahn's Peak Jail in less than an hour. Can you?

— It wasn’t easy breaking out of the Hahn’s Peak Jail.

With only five minutes until the authorities were due to pick up me and my band of outlaws and take us to a more secure facility in Aspen, it seemed as though we were doomed to a life behind bars.

My heart rate went up a little when it seemed likely that the authorities would be opening the locked door and telling us we had failed.

Perhaps we never should have stolen those cows or robbed that stagecoach.

Luckily, our group of outlaws was able to work together as a team, solve the last puzzle and escape just in the nick of time.

Will you be so lucky? I highly recommend you give it a try.

The Crooked Key is unlike any other business in Steamboat Springs. And it offers a fun form of entertainment to the Steamboat resident or visitor who is looking to do a new activity together that doesn’t involve skiing, soaking in a hot tub or outdoor recreation.

The premise is that you are locked inside a room with a group of friends, co-workers or strangers and must work together to solve riddles and puzzles to escape in less than an hour.

The escape room has a theme, and with a little imagination, it’s easy to get immersed in the experience.

The inaugural game is called Escape from the Old West, and it couldn’t be more fitting for Steamboat.

It is loosely based on the actual story of Harry Tracy and David Lant, who managed to escape the Hahn’s Peak Jail by beating the sheriff and locking him in their cell.

My one beef is that Tracy and Lant had weeks to figure out how to escape the cell, while we only had an hour.

For this challenge, I brought along members of the Steamboat Today news team.

It was a blast working together and scouring the room to find the clues we needed to make our way from the cell to the exit of the jail.

Each member of the group has their own strengths.

I pity the group that goes into the jail without veteran reporter Tom Ross and his knowledge of Routt County history and geography, which actually comes in handy in this jailbreak.

If you get stuck on a puzzle, a clue is delivered into the room to give you subtle hints about what you need to do to advance.

The claustrophobic don’t need to fear escape rooms because the door through which you entered the room is always unlocked.

I don’t want to spoil the fun, but I will say there are a few moments where you feel like a genius when you figure out how to get through the locked doors and advance in the game.

And the elaborate set makes you forget you’re actually right next to Mahogany Ridge in downtown Steamboat.

“This has been a great creative outlet for us,” Crooked Key founders Paul and Nicole DeCrette said this week on their opening day.

The DeCrettes decided to create their own escape rooms after experiencing them in other cities around the country.

Our group of seven escaped from the Hahn’s Peak Jail set in 57 minutes, 15 seconds. The current record holders did it in 37 minutes, 11 seconds.

The Crooked Key would be a great experience for families as well.

The DeCrettes say kids have a knack for noticing the clues that adults will miss.

In addition to Escape from the Old West, the Crooked Key also has an escape room that lets players imagine they are a Steamboat Springs firefighter dispatched on a call.

“This is the call that firefighters will talk about for years to come,” the teaser for the game reads.

The DeCrettes plan to open a third escape room sometime in the summer.

Reserve your jailbreak adventure at

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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