Once known as “Defiance”, Glenwood Springs is still HOT, HOT, HOT
There are butterflies in my stomach. My palms are sweating. My heart is beating superfast.
How did I get myself into this?!
It’s not even 8 a.m. and I am strapped into a seat on The Haunted Mine Drop at Glenwood Springs Adventure Park in Colorado. This is the first drop ride in the world to go underground, dropping riders 110 feet down inside Iron Mountain.
The ride supervisor Tommy checks my seatbelt to make sure we’re good to go and I squeeze Dre’s hand so hard I think I might actually break it. He is laughing, of course. But nervously, I suspect.
Here we go. The whole experience starts with a quick greeting and backstory from one of the mine’s resident ghosts and before I know it…. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
Down we go! Laughing and screaming all the way.
Okay, it’s awesome. And I now see why USA TODAY named The Haunted Mine Drop the Best New Amusement Park Attraction of 2017!!
We exit the ride feeling exhilarated from the adrenaline rush. No coffee necessary now. And our adventure in Glenwood Springs is just getting started.
Next up, is the Alpine Coaster. On the way we stop to snap selfies to post on Instagram. Glenwood Springs Adventure Park is located on top of a mountain and the views down into the Valley are incredible.
The Park’s Alpine Coaster is definitely less nerve-wracking than the mine drop, but it’s speedy and the hairpin turns are particularly exciting. Zipping along the track, soaking in the views was a fun way to take the edge off our adrenaline rush.
Still, after that, I tell Dre I need something more… chill. So we head over for a guided tour of the historic “Fairy Caves”—now known as Glenwood Caverns.
This 40-minute guided walking tour explains the discovery and development of the Fairy Caves, with very cool lighting effects. It includes a stop at Exclamation Point overlooking the Roaring Fork Valley. I loved the rich colors on the ceiling of the Register Room and the pendants, boxwork formations, reflecting pools and stalactites covered in cave popcorn… but my absolute favorite feature was the Giant Glowing Cheeto formation—named by a 5th grader who visited the caverns on a school field trip. Literally—it looks like a massive Cheeto. I started getting hungry… it was time for lunch!
We jumped on the gondola and headed down from Iron Mountain into the Roaring Fork Valley and into downtown Glenwood Springs. During the 10-minute descent I pulled up Yelp and found us a lunch spot…
Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company is located on the first floor of the historic Hotel Denver in downtown Glenwood Springs—just steps from the Colorado River. The Brewpub’s website tells us that in the 1800’s the town was actually called “Defiance” and the riverfront street where the hotel and brewery stand today was just a crude assembly of tents and dugouts. Most of the businesses on the block were saloons and brothels that served miners in the area.
In 1904 the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad built a depot on the riverfront, bringing travelers and increasing the need for hotels, restaurants, and merchants… slowly but surely the town became more… genteel.
Today, Glenwood Springs is a super cool little town located midway between Vail and Aspen, and makes a great day trip or long weekend destination. It boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool and offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking at Sunlight Mountain, fishing, rafting, and kayaking on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers—plus hiking, camping, biking, and four-wheeling in the White River National Forest.
But let’s get back to the brewpub. Bottom line? This place has it all—historic character, great food, solid service and, yes, fantastic BEER!!! We ordered a ‘flight’ so we could sample a number of the award-winning brews on offer—like Grizzly Creek Raspberry Wheat, Hanging Lake Honey Ale, Vapor Cave IPA, and No Name Nut Brown Ale. Our flight paired nicely with some wings and nachos and we were good to go…
Where next? Iron Mountain Hot Springs, of course. Also located on the banks of the Colorado River, this place has 16 mineral hot springs soaking pools!! Not enough? There’s also a freshwater pool with a jetted spa. But let’s face it, the 16 hot springs are the main attraction. Filled with thermal mineral waters that range in temperature from 98 to 108°F, these pools really soothe mind and body. After an action-packed morning it just felt so right. Not that we ever sit still for very long. We grabbed waterproof cases from the gift shop on our way in… so our phones came with us and we could Snapchat and Facetime with the folks at home while we enjoyed our soak. Suffice it to say, they were all pretty jealous.