Glenwood Springs, Colorado has a lot to offer visitors. From learning more about the rich history of the town to hiking trails and an adventure park, there is plenty to keep you busy during your three days in Glenwood Springs. We were invited by Visit Glenwood to experience all this first hand.
Glenwood Springs is about two and a half hours from Denver down I-70. As you make the drive, you see many of the small mountain towns. There are not a ton of places to stop for food or restroom breaks, so make sure you stop when you see an exit. At least one of the rest stops was closed at the time we made the trip. As we drove to Glenwood Springs, we were amazed at all the different changes in landscape and weather. We even hit some snow on the return trip. At the end of May!
Day One – Arrive and Imbibe
When you arrive in Glenwood Springs and are all checked in to your hotel, head out for an evening in the downtown area. On recommendation of the front desk of our hotel, we headed straight for the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub on 7th Street. You can see the restaurant from the road and parking is relatively easy. You might have to walk a little bit from your car but it isn’t as far as it seems. Both street parking and small public lots are available for use.
Glenwood Canyon Brewpub has handcrafted beers and tasty pub fare. We decided to share a pitcher of the homemade rootbeer. The whole family decided it was one of the best we had tried. I didn’t try any beer but next time we are there, I am going to be sure to try the Grizzly Creek Rasberry Wheat. While we waited for our meals, we tried the pretzel appetizer that was well worth the $5 spent. It was delicious and held our hungry children over until their meal came. The kids meals are served on frisbees. I had the Mahi tacos (minus the pickled cabbage) and they were wonderful. Since moving to Colorado from the Gulf Coast, I have had a hard time finding a good seafood meal. These tacos fit the bill.
Day Two – Hot Springs, Hiking and Treats
Get an early start to your day with a visit to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. These hot mineral springs have been thought to have healing powers and have been visited by people seeking that out for 125 years. Though the Glenwood Hot Springs might look different now than it did back then, it still draws tourists and locals. There are three pool areas: a small wading pool for children, a therapy pool that is kept at 104 degrees and a large pool kept at about 90 degrees. During our visit, the pool was celebrating the 125th anniversary. It was very crowded but the pools are large enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Visiting the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is just like visiting your local public pool. You pay an entrance fee, grab a lawn chair and enjoy some downtime. We visited in the middle of May so there was no snow on the ground but it was still a bit chilly. Jumping into the 90 degree water while you face felt the cold breeze was something else. I would love to return to the hot springs in the dead of winter just to experience it with snow surrounding me.
When you are thoroughly pruned by the water and ready for lunch, there is a lawn to enjoy a picnic lunch. You can bring food into the springs, you can purchase food from their grill, or you can leave and take a short walk to the nearby restaurants. We opted to wander to a nearby restaurant called Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse. Before leaving the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, get your hand stamped for re-entry. Entrance to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool adds up (especially during peak season days) so this hand stamp will allow you back in on the same day. This will help you make the most of your day at the pool. Start the day early, head out at lunch to do something else and then go back to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool later in the evening if you want.
After our lunch, we decided to go on a hike. There are a number of hikes nearby but we decided to do the Doc Holliday Trail. The famous Doc Holliday was laid to rest somewhere in Linwood Cemetery. His resting location is not known but you can see a memorial created for him. The hike begins at 12th and Bennett. It is a quick half mile hike but is pretty rigorous because it is straight up hill. Keep your children close because there are a lot of drop offs. We had hoped to hike the famous Hanging Lake trail but the weather just wouldn’t hold for us while we were there.
When we finished with the hike, we headed to Chocolate Moose Ice Cream Parlor for a treat. Two ice cream cones for less than $5 helped to fill up hungry tummies after a hike. My children loved the saddle stools.
Day Three – Amusement Park on Top of the Mountains
As we wandered around Glenwood Springs, we would occasionally get a glimpse of a roller coaster hanging off the edge of the mountain. On Day 3 of our weekend, we were finally going to get to see it up close and personal. The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located at the top of the mountain. Literally. You have to take a tram or bus ride up to the adventure park. The tram entrance and ticket office is next to Hotel Glenwood Springs.
We stayed two nights at Hotel Glenwood Springs. Our room was spacious and clean. The hotel has a small water park with a pool, a little lazy river and a slide. The hotel was a nice base for our family of four but it did have one downside. Unfortunately, we had to get in the car every time we wanted to go somewhere (other than the Adventure Park). It wasn’t really within walking distance of the majority of the restaurants and shops.
We started day three early by checking out of our hotel, loading the car and walking over to the tram ride. We took the tram up to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and the kids headed straight for the Alpine Coaster. This alpine coaster is the longest in Colorado and it lives up to its reputation. We had a great time zipping around the turns and laughing out loud. The adventure park has a number of activities and rides as well as cavern tours.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers an all day pass or tickets to individual activities. If you have the whole day, the best way to make the most of your trip is to purchase the all day Summer Funday Pass. The tickets will add up for a family of four – $48 per adult and $43 per child – but by the time you tally up the tickets for each activity you want to do, you will probably be close to that number anyway. By purchasing the all day pass, you can stay as long as you want and ride each ride as many times as you want. Before purchasing the all day pass, be sure to read up on height and weight requirements for each ride. Many rides require children of a certain height to ride with an adult.
Our favorites were the Alpine Coaster and the Soaring Eagle Zipline. We also enjoyed the Historic Fairy Cave Tour where we learned more about the caverns in the mountains. The tour also has one of the best views around. My son has been learning about minerals and gems in school so he has not stopped talking about the limestone in the caves. I am also glad that I spent the $7 each for a bucket of dirt. The kids were able to head to the sluicebox and pan for gems. They each got a bag of gems to take home where they are still sorting and labeling them.
The weather blew in right as we were getting ready to leave so the tram had to be shut down. We got to see firsthand the efficient process to get people down the mountain when the tram is closed. While in line, we were given a bus pass that would hold our spot on the next bus down. We were to wait until they moved us to the loading spot. After about fifteen minutes, the weather had passed, tests were run and the tram was opened back up. We were able to ride the tram down and skip the bus ride.
After we got back down to the hotel, we loaded up the car and headed home. It was a lovely weekend getaway and we are already planning a train ride back up for another weekend visit.
*Thank you to Visit Glenwood for hosting some of the costs of our visit. All opinions are mine and mine alone.