Glenwood Springs has all the ingredients of an unforgettable Colorado vacation. Whether you’re searching for a relaxing mountain getaway, thrill-seeking excitement or pure family fun, you’ll find it here. Two of the most popular attractions in town can get you started on all fronts — Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Iron Mountain Hot Springs.
Insider’s tip: Both the park and hot springs are open year-round, but you’ll want to check their websites for seasonal rates, hours and ride status.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
The country’s only mountain-top theme park offers high-altitude fun and adventure for kids and adults alike. Make the most of your visit with a Funday Pass, which covers your ride on the scenic Glenwood Gondola as well as unlimited turns on attractions.
Warning: Thrills Ahead. For an adrenaline rush like no other, the park has three rides perched on the edge of suspense — or Glenwood Canyon, rather — some 1,300 feet above the roaring Colorado River. Fly high on the Giant Canyon Swing at speeds of 50 mph or dare to soar through the alpine air on the Glenwood Canyon Flyer. If you’re brave enough to open your eyes, you’ll catch amazing vistas of the canyon’s colorful sandstone walls. And that’s not all: The Cliffhanger, the highest-elevation, full-sized roller coaster in the country, awaits you. Set on the side of Iron Mountain at 7,160 feet, the coaster is filled with heart-stopping drop-offs and exhilarating curves.
Ever wonder what it’s like to fly like a bird? Find out on the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride, where you’ll be lifted 600 feet in the air to whoosh over the stunning high-country landscape. For something completely different, take a plunge with The Haunted Mine Drop, the world’s only underground drop ride. You’ll plummet 110 feet inside Iron Mountain, leaving your heart racing and your stomach turning flips. Or get in the driver’s seat when racing down 3,400 feet of bumps, waves and tight turns on the Alpine Coaster, named “one of the 10 best roller coaster rides of your life” by USA Today.
Fun for Mountaineers of All Ages. The family-friendly park has plenty of excitement for younger visitors. Littler ones can climb aboard the Wild West Express coaster or catch amazing mountain views from the Mine Wheel. Channel the spirit of the Old West with a laser-tag shootout or by panning for precious gemstones at the park’s sluice. And don’t leave without catching a show in the 4D motion theater, which packs a wild ride with moving seats, surround sound and special effects.
Underground Adventures. True to its name, the park is home to a living cave system that USA Today named “one of the top 10 places to go underground.” Take a quarter-mile guided trek through the winding Historic Fairy Cave, which leads to a gasp-worthy panoramic view of the Roaring Fork Valley at an opening called Exclamation Point. On the King’s Row Cave Tour, you’ll find a massive room bedecked in geological formations like stalagmites, stalactites and soda straws. Thrill-seekers can don a lighted helmet and gear to earn spelunker status shimmying through the Wild Cave system. The reward is well worth the effort: This cave boasts amazing formations that few people ever get to see.
Insider’s tip: Read up on the caves before choosing your adventure, as some tours have age restrictions and physical demands that you should consider.
Concerts & Seasonal Delights. Music on the Mountain — one of the largest music events on the Western Slope — takes place every Saturday, from June to mid-September. Bring a donation of canned goods and your admission is free! From late November to February, you’ll find the park decked out in more than a half million dazzling bulbs for Winter on the Mountain. Cozy up next to your family and loved ones to roast s’mores over a fire pit and let the giant Christmas tree — adorned with lights that twinkle to music — get you in the holiday spirit.
Just down the road from the excitement of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Colorado’s newest hot springs are an oasis of relaxation.
Soaking Pools for Days. Iron Mountain Hot Springs is home to not one, not two, but an amazing 16 all-natural soaking pools! Relax, unwind and let your cares dissolve in the 100 percent pure, thermal mineral water as you gaze at the surrounding sandstone ridges and mountaintops. Each pool is unique in size, shape and temperature — ranging from 98 to 108 degrees — but all offer incredible opportunities to enjoy some of Colorado’s best natural treasures.
Get changed in the beautifully appointed bathhouse, then hop in and out of the pools to find your favorite. When you need to cool down in the summer, stop by the outdoor showers at the Rejuvenation Station. Or, take a dip in the 93-degree freshwater family pool, which has gently sloping accessibility ramps, making it perfect for everyone in your crew. There’s also an elevated jetted spa, which is ideal for keeping an eye out on the kids while ensuring your relaxation stays maxed.
Snacks & Sundries. When hunger strikes, you won’t have to travel far to quiet those tummy rumblings. The poolside Sopris Café serves up a menu that caters to the entire family. If the springs’ spa-like vibe has you craving healthy options, you’ll find crisp salads, light wraps and energy-boosting smoothies, while kiddos can revel in fun vacation treats like pizzas, ice cream and hot cocoa. And the poolside Sand Bar has an assortment of alcoholic beverages and concessions, so you can soak in rejuvenating waters with a cold beer or glass of wine in hand.
Hikes to Hanging Lake. Hiking and hot springs soaks go together like green chilies and huevos rancheros. And you’re in luck because Hanging Lake — a National Natural Landmark — is a short drive (and hike) from Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Book your permit and catch the shuttle to the trailhead, where a steep and rocky 1.2-mile hike will lead you to waterfalls gently tickling Hanging Lake’s vibrant blue-green surface. The lake — with shores formed when limestone was deposited by some of the area’s many springs — is a geological marvel, made all the better by its striking cyan waters, surrounding natural hanging plant gardens and cliffside location. While you can’t swim in the lake, the sight is well worth the hike, especially when you know you’ll be returning to Iron Mountain Hot Springs’ many soothing pools.