A family-friendly mountain resort, Glenwood Springs is nestled along the Colorado River about 150 miles from Denver. Visitors have been coming to this area for centuries; Ute Indians visited the therapeutic mineral springs, and the first white man came through the area in 1860. By the latter part of the 19th century, Glenwood was established as the “Spa in the Rockies,” playing host to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, along with Colorado’s own “Unsinkable” Molly Brown (of Titanic fame) and gangster Al Capone. Now-historic hotels were built, and rail lines ran through the canyon. These days, Amtrak and CDOT offer low-stress travel options from downtown Denver into the heart of town, within walking distance of the hot springs, along with numerous hotels, restaurants and shops.
Stay: The Hotel Denver, celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2015, is just steps from the train station, in the heart of downtown Glenwood. Recipient of Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence, the hotel embodies a style reminiscent of the 1920s. Modern conveniences, cozy quilts and Western antiques are a hallmark of the hotel, which also features outstanding customer service. The Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company on the hotel’s first floor serves up craft-brewed beers along with casual, tasty food. Nearby, The Hotel Colorado, built in 1893, is another of Colorado’s grand dame hotels, offering luxurious accommodations overlooking the hot springs pool. The town offers nearly 1,800 guest rooms, with something for every price range.
Eat: Glenwood’s dining scene is hot, with a number of delicious offerings, many located in and around downtown. Here, guests can enjoy everything from upscale steakhouses to down-home barbecue, wine dinners, seafood and more. The warm weather months bring patio dining, with many restaurants offering heated patios to extend the season. Don’t miss CO Ranch House for a western-inspired meal in a friendly atmosphere; Smoke Modern Barbeque for upscale barbecue and Juicy Lucy’s for outstanding steaks.
Play: Located on the banks of the Colorado River, Iron Mountain Hot Springs is Glenwood’s newest offering. In a town known for its hot springs, Iron Mountain offers 16 small-group-sized pools ranging from 98 to 108 degrees, snacks, riverside firepits and poolside drink service.
Nearby Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is over two city blocks long, and is billed as the largest outdoor hot springs pool in the world. The property includes an adjacent Hot Springs Lodge, an athletic club and the Spa of the Rockies. The nearby Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves are natural underground steam baths; descending a rough-cut stone pathway into the caves, you know you are in for something special.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is an ever-expanding attraction reached by a quick gondola ride from the center of town, which deposits visitors at the mountaintop facility. Here, cave tours depart regularly, and range from a 45-minute walking tour to a rugged, muddy adventure, complete with coveralls and headlamps. Warm weather brings a giant canyon swing, an alpine coaster, laser tag, zipline and more; inside, you’ll find a decent restaurant with a stunning view of the valley, along with the obligatory gift shop. The venue is open year-round, weather permitting, and with an elevation of just under 6,000 feet, good weather abounds in the area.
For those who visit during autumn, a ghost walk is a great way to spend an evening. This annual fundraiser for the Glenwood Historical Society takes place on weekends leading up to Halloween. It’s held at the Linwood Pioneer cemetery, which includes the final resting place of Doc Holliday, a sometime-Glenwood resident and survivor of the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral. After a short but strenuous hike up a dirt path to the hilltop cemetery, we were led on a winding path through the dark gravesites to hear tales from re-enactors of famous, and not-so-famous, residents. Doc Holliday’s booming voice and clinking spurs brings chills down my spine, and the story related by a mother who lost her infant and husband before succumbing to illness was a poignant reminder of the realities of pioneer life.
Glenwood is a true year-round destination. Summer brings hiking and biking and plenty of water recreation on the Colorado River, along with camping, horseback riding and golf. For winter fun, Sunlight Mountain Resort is a 10-minute drive out of town; the ski area offers a 2,000-foot vertical drop and 250 inches of annual snowfall. Snowmobiling and snowcat tours are also on the agenda, along with ice skating at the outdoor, NHL-sized rink at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
When the weekend draws to a close, it’s time to tuck in for the three-hour shuffle along I-70 back to Denver—unless you choose the rail option. In either case, seeing Glenwood Springs in the rearview mirror is always a little bittersweet.
• Hotel Denver: www.thehoteldenver.com
• Hotel Colorado: www.hotelcolorado.com
• Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park: www.glenwoodcaverns.com
• Iron Mountain Hot Springs: www.ironmountainhotsprings.com
• Glenwood Hot Springs Pool: www.hotspringspool.com
• Frontier Historical Society Ghost Walk: www.glenwoodhistory.com
• CO Ranch House: www.facebook.com/coranchhouse
• Smoke Modern Barbeque: www.smokemodernbbq.com
• Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse: www.juicylucyssteakhouse.com
• Glenwood Springs is a three-hour drive west of Denver on I-70.
• Amtrak offers daily service to Glenwood; visit www.amtrak.com.
• The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) offers Monday-Friday roundtrip transportation from Denver to Glenwood Springs with Bustang. For more information or reservations, visit www.codot.gov/travel/bustang.
• Go to www.visitglenwood.com or call 888-445-3696 for more information about Glenwood Springs.
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