My boss, Darla Kennedy, was in a foul mood. Probably from the flat tire she endured coming into work in the rain. I guess it wasn’t the best time to hit her up for a raise but I thought I would see if I could work it in. “Morning boss, I heard you had a little mishap coming into work.” “Yeah, somebody left a nail in the roadway and I had to fix a flat in cold, freezing rain…just look at my hair!” “Just a little mussed, but looks fine to me,” I said. “By the way, you know I have had my eye on a nice little pair of loafers and I was wondering….” I was cut off mid sentence–“Forget it Stern, I know where you are headed and if anyone deserves a raise around here it’s me!” But I do have a nice little assignment for you. Grab your gear, your going to Glenwood Springs. ” “Glenwood Springs? Where’s that, I muttered,” still cheesed about her attitude towards giving me more green. “Colorado….DUH!” “I want you to check out the major attractions and restaurants. I also heard that Teddy Roosevelt stayed there at the Hotel Colorado so put that on your list as well.” I did an about face and was about to leave when in her sweetest voice and feigned smile she said, “Stern dear, don’t forget to bring me back a little something from the Rockies.” I’d like to bring her something all right..how about a few pieces of granite for her Christmas stocking?
Well anyway, here’s my report:
Nestled midway between the mountain communities of Vail and Grand Junction lies the charming little town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Just 2.5 hours west of Denver, this city is rich in history, natural beauty, and healthy living. Home to the world’s largest outdoor mineral hot springs, it was given the name of Yampah, meaning “big medicine,” by the Ute Indians. They believed that the healing waters made them better hunters. Today, it is simply known as the Glenwood Hot Springs and it attracts people from all over the world who come to “take the waters” for relaxation or to improve their health. I overheard the story of one man who came here every year for the condition scleroderma. It was said that the springs extended his life for another 10 years. Maybe it has something to do with the content of the waters rich in 17 minerals and originating from a spring producing a daily flow of over 3,500,000 gallons. There are two pools which are kept at temperatures of 90 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit– just the cure to melt away those aches and pains from shopping, skiing, and sightseeing around town. The cost for a daily pass is $16.75 for adults and $10.75 for children, ages 3-12 years.
Just across the street from the hot springs is the Hotel Colorado. Operating for more than 100 years, this historic marvel has been home to both the famous and infamous. In 1905 it served as the “Little White House of the United States” when Theodore Roosevelt paid them a visit.
Besides visiting presidents like Roosevelt and Taft, the Colorado Hotel had other famous guests. Tom Mix, the actor, stayed there as did Molly Brown, the Mayo Brothers, and one less than respectable gangster by the name of Al Capone.
No trip to this area would be complete without a visit to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and historic Fairy Caves. Discovered by accident in the 1880’s, the Fairy Caves were dubbed by Charles Darrow as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” alongside the pyramids of Egypt and the Colossus of Rhodes. Although the details are sketchy as to how the caves derived their name, it may have been because the fishtail-like formations on the roof of the caverns reminded Darrow of fairy wings. These were the first caves in the world to be illuminated by electricity.
World War I abruptly put an end to public tours and the caves remained closed until 1999 when the new owners once again reopened them. The current tours include new sections of the caverns including “The Barn,” a five-story room with unusual crystalline formations and stalactites. The guided two-hour family tour is available during the winter from November though March. Tickets including entrance to the park and cave tour are $22 for adults and $18 for children, ages 3-12.
One of the walking tours in Glenwood takes you on a brisk half-mile walk up a serious incline that will lead you to Pioneer Cemetery and the final resting place of Doc Holliday. Friend of Wyatt Earp and survivor of the OK Corral gunfight, Holliday came to Glenwood Springs in hopes that the waters could cure his consumption (tuberculosis). Unfortunately, his disease got the better of him and he died at the Glenwood Hotel in November 1887. Although nobody really knows the exact location of his grave, a headstone marks the probably spot.
The Hotel Glenwood Springs offers affordable family accommodations that also happens to be conveniently located near the Iron Mountain Tram with access to the Adventure Park and the Glenwood Caverns. They also offer the only indoor water park in Glenwood including a waterslide and splash pool for the kids.
Just across the pedestrian bridge is the Riviera Restaurant and one of my favorite places to eat. Try their signature salad made with Romaine lettuce, smoky ranch dressing, and gorgonzola cheese and topped with bacon bits—amazing!
If you are looking for a great Colorado getaway that is not hard to reach, then put Glenwood Springs on the top of your list. It is easily accessible by air via Denver International Airport and then a short ride east on I-70. It will certainly be a place that you and your family will want to visit year after year.
(Note: Accommodations for this story were provided with the assistance of the Hotel Colorado and access to the Adventure Park was provided by the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Cuisine provided with the assistance of the Riviera Restaurant).
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association
1102 Grand Avenue, Glenwood Springs (970) 945 6589
Glenwood Hot Springs
(970) 945 6571
526 Pine Street, Glenwood Springs (800) 544 3998
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
508 Pine Street, Glenwood Springs (800) 530 1635
The Hotel Glenwood Springs
52000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs 888-411-8188
702 Grand Ave. Glenwood Springs