Vacationland: Glenwood Springs
Whether it’s on the ground, on or in the water, or up in the air, Glenwood Springs offers visitors year-round opportunities for adventure, relaxation, or maybe a little bit of both.
The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool draws weary motorists off of Interstate 70 and into its healing waters. Or, visitors are called into the mountains for a day discovering Sunlight Mountain Resort.
But once in Glenwood, visitors discover a wide range of activities available, including rafting and kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, biking, spelunking, thrill rides, and even paragliding and skydiving.
There are a variety of lodging options, from budget to luxurious, and most major attractions and restaurants are within walking distance in the compact downtown area. Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, notes that as of last summer, the sidewalk on Seventh Street near the south side of the Colorado River was widened and area restaurants began offering outdoor seating, which has become a hit during the warmer months. Glenwood Springs, which was voted “America’s Most Fun Town” by Rand McNally and USA Today in 2011, prides itself on being the most family- friendly and affordable resort community in Colorado.
One of Glenwood Springs’ notable attractions, from a historical as well as relaxation point of view, is the hot springs.
The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is the largest mineral hot springs in the world. The pool opened July 4, 1888. It boasts a full-service spa, athletic club and water slides. The 107 guest rooms available at the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge were renovated in 2011. (970-947-2955, hotspringspool.com) Those in search of a warm, soothing dip will have another option when the Iron Mountain Hot Springs opens along the Colorado River, something projected to happen early this summer. It will feature 16 mineral hot springs soaking pools and a freshwater family pool. It’s co-owned by Steve and Jeanne Beckley, the owners of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. (ironmountainhotsprings.com) For those not interested in going for a soak, there are plenty of summertime activities available at Sunlight Mountain Resort, even after the snow has melted from its more than 680 acres of terrain.
The resort offers bike rentals and tour shuttles through the Sunlight Ski and Bike Shop in downtown Glenwood Springs, as well as horseback riding options. (sunlightmtn.com) As of last fall, Glenwood Springs offered yet another new, not to mention breathtaking, tourism option, when Roaring Fork Skydivers opened for business. It offers tandem jumps, as well as training and services for experienced skydivers. (970-364-3737, roaringforkskydivers.com) “To be able to look down on the (Roaring Fork and Colorado) rivers, I just think that’s outstanding — to be able to see from a bird’s-eye view,” Langer said.
It’s just the latest way of getting to enjoy that avian perspective. Glenwood Springs also is home to Adventure Paragliding & Expeditions, which for years has offered tandem flights from the mountaintops above the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers. (970-274-1619, adventureparagliding.com) For ideas on getting to know Glenwood Springs and the many activities the area offers, go to visitglenwood. com.
— Richie Ann Ashcraft contributed to this story.
Natural wonder: One of the biggest attractions in the Glenwood Springs area is Hanging Lake, a sapphire gem nestled high above Glenwood Canyon.
The hike is only a little more than a mile long but is fairly steep and arduous.
The reward comes when you arrive at the lake and falls at the top. Be aware that this is one of Colorado’s most popular hikes, so it is typically crowded during the summertime, especially on weekends, making weekday visits in the early mornings and late afternoons advisable. Officials are cracking down on illegal parking. So if the parking lot is full, would-be visitors will have to return another time, or park elsewhere in the canyon and access the trailhead by bike. No dogs are allowed on the trail, and they shouldn’t be left in cars on warm days. (visitglenwood.com/ hanging-lake)
Pedal around: Glenwood offers two spectacular biking trails that are relatively flat and easy, making them a great activity for family.
. The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path begins in Dotsero but can be accessed at several points along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, including the rest stops of No Name, Grizzly Creek and Bair Ranch. This path winds 16.2 miles through Glenwood Canyon, often on the edge of the Colorado River.
. The newer Rio Grande Trail is popular with locals. It follows the Roaring Fork River from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. Tip: Take a RFTA bus to Aspen for an easier downhill glide.
(Maps and other tips: Traillink.com)
Zippity doo dah: Zoom on a zipline across the Colorado River or challenge yourself on a ropes course, just two of the exciting activities offered by Glenwood Canyon Zipline Adventures at the No Name exit of Interstate 70 just east of Glenwood Springs. (888-494-7386, glenwoodcanyonzipline.com) Therapeutic heat: The Yampah Spa, The Hot Springs Vapor Caves, 709 E.
Sixth St., offers a steamy place to relax in an underground thermal sauna.
Typical temperature in the natural caves is 110–112 degrees. (970-945-0667, yampahspa.com)
Fruit festival: Since 1897, Glenwood has celebrated the start of summer with Strawberry Days. It takes place June 19–21 in Sayre (Strawberry) Park, 1702 Grand Ave. (Animals not allowed.) There are vendors, arts and crafts, a carnival, parade and live entertainment. (970-945-6589, strawberrydaysfestival.ning.com)
For funny bones: A truly hysterical experience, the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, 915 Grand Ave., is a dinner and comedy show starring professional talent. Reservations required. (970-945-9699, gvrshow.com)
Thrills and stalactites: The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, 51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, offers numerous long standing and newer attractions. The Glenwood Canyon Flyer opened in 2014, and swings riders up and around, until they’re soaring 1,400 feet above the Colorado River.
Other thrill rides include the Giant Canyon Swing, Soaring Eagle Zip Ride, the Alpine Coaster and Cliffhanger Roller Coaster.
At the center of the park, though, are the caverns themselves, with incredible underground sights and geologic features. Guided walking tours are available daily. A Wild Tour will take you on a down-and-dirty spelunking adventure.
The park is accessed via a gondola.
Hit the water: With two rivers and a whitewater park, Glenwood Springs has an abundance of outfitters willing to help you get on the water. Go to visitglenwood.
com/rafting for a list of options.