It’s an annual tradition in my family, heading out to Anderson Farms in Erie in October to enjoy a pumpkin patch and, of course, a huge corn maze. What’s a corn maze, you ask? Well, imagine you have a big field of corn that’s past its prime for the season. Acres upon acres of dried brown stalks that are 6-8 feet high. Now plow through it with a small bulldozer and you can make a walkable maze that is way more fun than a classic labyrinth.
Anderson Farms doesn’t just make a rectangular maze, however, they create remarkable patterns and pictures and have both a big maze and little maze. The big one is 30 acres — 30 * 43,560 square feet, if you’re curious — and the little one is a couple of acres too, both connected by a walkway and small bridge over their drainage stream.
This year the large maze includes a huge “DENVER” and a Denver Bronco’s mascot, while the smaller maze is a state flag and the farm’s name in huge, walk-through letters, both of which you can see in the maze punch card:
Since we didn’t want to get lost for hours – which we’ve done before! – we opted for the smaller maze this year. Look very closely at the picture above and you’ll see tiny red dots with an even tinier number adjacent. Each of those represents a “punch station” and we decided we’d just hit every punch on the upper maze, 13-18. Sound easy? It’s not.
While you are supposed to stay on the official paths, like many kids, my girls did occasionally veer off course and find their own shortcuts through the rows of dead corn:
Eventually we oriented ourselves, figured out the pathways (for the most part) and found our punch stations.
Here’s my daughter and her pal psyched that they found station #16 and ready to punch their cards, both the standard maze card shown earlier and a new kid’s mystery also tied to finding the punch stations and deducing clues based on what’s shown on each:
If you haven’t gone through a corn maze before, know that you can’t actually cheat and punch every number on your card at a single station because… they’ve thought of that! Each station has a different shape punch so it’s immediately obvious if you’re trying to take a shortcut here.
Look, here’s a closer view at the 13-18 punches on our card:
See what I mean about them each being a different shape? Yeah, so you can see where the full maze can be quite a task, with 12 punches spanning a maze that’s literally miles long. My suspicion is that it’s a rare person who gets every single punch, but corn mazes are actually some of the best fun of the season!
Which isn’t to say that we didn’t do lots of other things. In fact, my crew for the day was my two daughters, 20 and 13, along with my older girl’s boyfriend and younger girl’s bff. And we started out our adventure at Anderson Farms with the Mine Car Tractor Ride, which was pretty amusing and oh, so darn bumpy!
It’s a good way to get a sense of how big the area is: all the corn to our right is part of the main maze, and it extends to where you can see the pumpkin atop one of their grain silos in the far distance. That’s just one edge of the 30 acre maze. It’s big!
While lots of things are geared to little people and didn’t much appeal to my worldly teens and young adults, they couldn’t resist the food on site. We started with a huge bag of freshly cooked kettle corn:
The girl in the blue jacket is my younger daughter and the girl with the pink bandanna on her hair is my older. The latter of whom loved the popcorn so much, I’ll add, she spent much of the afternoon munching happily on it as we explored the corn maze!
We also tried a pulled pork sandwich – delicious! – some cotton candy (I abstained) and a big handful of flavored honey sticks, which got rather mixed reviews from the 13yo girls. The Farms have a massive pumpkin patch where you can pick out and purchase a pumpkin or five, but it’s a tractor ride to get to it on the far side of the maze where they’re spread through the field and we opted not to queue up for that. Their prices are super reasonable, though, way cheaper than the local supermarket. Then again, it’s offset with the admission price for going to Anderson Farms in the first place, so it’s all a balance.
We also picked a perfect autumn afternoon for our visit, along with a lot of other people. It was busy busy, I’d estimate at least 500 cars in the parking lot (well, “parking field” might be more accurate). Lots of people, but lots of things to do and a huge maze so we didn’t feel too overcrowded. Lines definitely moved quickly.
Had we have stayed for the evening there are two really fun extra activities: Terror in the Corn, where actors and animatronics lurk in the dark maze and scare you witless, and Zombie Paintball. My older daughter went to Terror in the Corn a few years ago and said it was really fun and only a bit traumatizing. You’ve been warned! 🙂
We were a bit disappointed that this year the Farms have changed from the gourd launching (a huge slingshot) to guns that shoot orange balls instead. There was something very satisfying about figuring out the massive slingshot and watching your little pumpkins fly far into a field and splatter! Maybe those will be back next year, we’ll have to see.
And finally, we were having so much fun that even getting back to the car involved some hijinks and lots of laughter:
My guess is that the Farms don’t recommend tossing multiple people into a pumpkin wheelbarrow, but, hey, no-one got hurt so it’s all good, right?
In any case, it was a very fun afternoon and a classic fall activity, corn mazes and pumpkin patches. If you haven’t been and there’s one near you, check it out, and if you’re local to the Denver/Loveland area, Anderson Farms is pretty darn convenient, just off I-25 and a straight shot from Boulder and Longmont too!
Cost: Fall Fest tickets range from $10-$16 per person, depending on day, and Zombie Paintball and Terror in the Corn tickets are $22-$25 per person and only run on weekends. Check their online calendar (and buy your tickets online too; you’ll avoid having to stand in the long on-site purchase queue!).
Disclosure: I was given admission tickets for myself and my family in return for writing this review. My opinions are, of course, my own.