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Fall 2016

Mountain Springs Thrills and Chills

There are no troubled waters in the mountain paradise of Glenwood Springs, Colorado—the town boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool, a waterfall splashing into a turquoise lake, and a stretch of the rapid Colorado River.

The waters of the hot spring, lake, and river all spell relaxation for a weekend getaway. However, Glenwood Springs offers more than just a therapeutic stay—it is a town rich with history and adventure, including the supposedly haunted Hotel Colorado, a myriad of outdoor activities, and an amusement park on top of a mountain.

Visiting Glenwood Springs for a restorative and healing experience is a tradition long in the making. Early Native Americans visited the natural hot springs for therapeutic purposes. The Ute tribe referred to the springs as Yampah, meaning “Big Medicine.” The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool itself has been around since 1888 when, with an entrepreneurial spirit, James Devereux and Walter Horace harnessed the power of Glenwood’s nearby natural hot springs. Three million gallons of mineral water are produced from the spring daily, steaming at 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Nowadays, the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool actually has two pools—a large recreational pool (with waters cooled to 90 degrees) and a smaller therapy pool. Fees to access the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool range from $10.75 to $21.00 depending on the time of year and the day of the week.

Another popular water-based activity in Glenwood Springs is a hike to Hanging Lake. A marvel of natural architecture, Hanging Lake has sparkling waterfalls that cascade over the cliffs of Glenwood Canyon into a beautiful and clear lake. The hike to see the lake is a one-mile trek through the canyon. Though it is a short hike, the trail is steep and rocky. Visitors should set aside plenty of time to complete the worthwhile hike.

As for visiting the Colorado River, there are various activities available. Those who seek aquatic adventures can go kayaking, canoeing, or rafting. However, the river can also be enjoyed by bike—the Glenwood Canyon Recreational Trail runs alongside the Colorado River for sixteen miles and is a popular spot for cyclists. Regardless of how it’s experienced, the tumbling Colorado River is framed by canyon cliffs on both sides, which makes for a breathtaking panorama.

For those seeking thrill and adventure rather than relaxation, a visit to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park should do the trick. Not the average amusement park, this mountaintop park has a variety of rides, including an alpine roller coaster, a seated zip line, and a giant swing that launches the brave of heart out over the canyon, 1,300 feet above the ground. Visitors to the park can also tour Glenwood’s various caverns.

The park offers two 40–minute walking tours through the Historic Fairy Caves and the King’s Row Cave. These caves have various rooms with reflection pools, light shows, brilliant colors, 50-foot-high ceilings, and amazing stalactites and stalagmites. Entrance to the park for adults is $15, or $27, if tours to the caves are included.

The historic Hotel Colorado’s red and orange bricks pop in the mountain canyon. Photo by Loco Steve. cc

The creation of the hot springs pool in 1888 drew many iconic figures to this mountain town, and the Hotel Colorado opened in 1893 as a luxurious place to house these guests. It remains one of the oldest hotels in Colorado today. In its earlier days, it hosted US presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. It also welcomed visitors like Molly Brown and the legendary Doc Holliday.

Because of the hotel’s age, rumors abound about eerie supernatural activities that have occurred in the hotel. Guests and staff alike have noticed elevators moving on their own and strange knocks on the walls. However, the hotel has charmed and enchanted guests for 121 years, regardless of any ghosts hanging around.

Glenwood Springs is the perfect place for a getaway. This mountain paradise has it all—from calming aquatics to outdoor thrills to lurking ghosts. Whether you come for the water, the adventure, or the history, Glenwood Springs is a great place to dip your toes in for a memorable weekend.

Denya Palmer
Featured image courtesy of Max and Dee Bernt. cc