Glenwood Springs’ Adventure Park On Top of a Mountain

Take the world’s largest outdoor mineral hot springs pool, add an adventure park built on top of a mountain, sprinkle in the Roaring Fork Valley’s crimson rocks and emerald forests and what do you have?

Glenwood Springs’ matchless Shangri-La.

Conveniently located off I-70 between Vail and Aspen, my family has driven through Glenwood Springs multiple times and often marveled at the tram that appeared to go nowhere. Turns out, the Iron Mountain Tramway soars 4,300 feet up Iron Mountain to a big ol’ somewhere: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

The 135-acre park features guided tours of Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves, an alpine coaster, 4-dimensional theater, a laser tag arena, a climbing wall, gemstone sluice box mining, bungee trampolines, a simulated Conestoga wagon ride and more. New this year: The Giant Canyon Swing that launches riders over Glenwood Canyon, 1,300 feet above the Colorado River.

A few of my family’s favorite activities included:

Laser Tag

It was raining when we arrived at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park so we introduced our delighted cowboys to an indoor pursuit: laser tag. This new-fangled shoot-out in an old West setting uses the latest in wireless laser tag technology. With every death announcement, “Nice shot,” our vests would vibrate and my children came one step closer to unleashing their pent-up parental aggressions. For my husband and me, it was all about payback for our many sleepless nights.

Family laser tag is a win-win situation for everyone.

4-dimensional ride theater

I can’t say I’ve seen many movies in 3-D so I was unsure of what to expect at Colorado’s only 4-dimensional ride theater. We were given goofy 3-D glasses, and had the option of watching three short films (Haunted Mine Ride, Snow Ride or TurtleVision) whilst sitting in interactive seats that had us yelping and giggling at every turn whenever we were sprayed or jolted.

Prior to watching each film, we received a safety briefing. Ours was from a staffer whose arm was in a cumbersome cast. He claimed it was from longboarding; I suspect he fell out of his magical 4-D chair.

Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves

Glenwood Caverns was named one of “The 10 Great Places to Go Underground” by USA Today. Despite such acclaim, I was hesitant to take my 3 and 5 year old on the 70-minute guided walking tour because any lengthy amount of time in an enclosed space with them is asking for trouble.

Turns out, they loved the tour and my son Bode (the youngest in the group) was given sole control of the hallowed flashlight. Our entertaining guide let our imaginations run wild as he expounded upon formations such as moonmilk, cave clouds, soda straws, cave bacon, stalactites, stalagmites. At one point, he had us stop and listen to the walls of the cave. When we heard nothing, he joked we had just experienced “Hard Rock.”

Evidently, cave tour guides need to have some kind of comic relief.

My two favorite stops were King’s Row, a gigantic room deep in the earth with the most other-wordly cave I’ve ever seen, and “Exclamation Point,” a cliff-side balcony with panoramic views of the Glenwood Canyon and the Colorado River.

Fort WhereAmI Maze

I’ll admit it: I’m not a maze person because when you’re directionally-challenged, the last thing you need are hundreds of options. But my family loved weaving our way through the labyrinth of twists and turns in this fort-style maze. Instead of just trying to find the exit, there was a fun twist to the challenge: we raced against the clock for fun prizes and had to punch our card at each of the four towers, which offered breathtaking views of Mt. Sopris and the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Canyon Flyer

My kids could not get enough of Park City Mountain Resort’s alpine coaster last winter but at $20 a pop, less was definitely more. At Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, riding Colorado’s only alpine coaster is included in the cost of the day pass so we gave our children unlimited access.

And they took full advantage by repeatedly dragging us down the mountain.

The individual cars on tracks race 3,400 feet through the trees and can carry two visitors in comfort. The great thing about the alpine coaster is you can control your speed over the bumps, waves and hairpin turns. Not that it mattered. Both kids demanded we go full-throttle so I screamed like a girl the entire way down.

Good thing I am one.


Sure, there are plenty of lodging options in Glenwood Springs but why stay anywhere else than the Glenwood Hot Springs’ 107-room flagship? Lodge and pool packages start at $139 per room per night and include a room with two queen-size beds, unlimited swimming and continental breakfast.

Just across the street, the Glenwood Hot Springs is the largest mineral hot springs pool in the world and the two pools measure roughly as long as two city blocks. If that is not impressive enough, the hot springs also has two water slides, inner tubes, diving boards and bubble chairs.

I’ve always envied the people sunning themselves around the pool when I’ve zoomed past on I-70. My family went early-May when it was cold, rainy and the lifeguards were wearing winter jackets.

But it didn’t matter. Instead of being on the outside looking in, we melted our worries away in the 104-degree therapy pool, relishing our time in Glenwood Springs’ quintessential cut of Colorado.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Prices: Day pass for an adult is $39, children are $34. See their Web site for Tram-only rates and information about their various cave tours. Go to for information on the hot springs and lodging.

Professional photo credit: Visit Glenwood. Crummy iPhone pictures: Yours truly. Special thanks to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Glenwood Hot Springs for hosting my family.

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