Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Glenwood Springs in Colorado was the first stop on our Colorado and Utah Parks Exploration Trip. This was our first stop on this 16 day, 1,533 mile road trip. Nestled amidst the picturesque Rocky Mountains, Glenwood Springs is a charming Colorado town renowned for its natural wonders and recreational offerings. Boasting the world's largest mineral hot springs pool, visitors can relax in its healing waters while soaking in the stunning surroundings. The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers an exhilarating experience with cave tours and thrilling amusement rides perched atop Iron Mountain. The Colorado River flows through the town, providing opportunities for rafting, kayaking, and fishing. Hiking enthusiasts are drawn to the extensive trails that lead to panoramic viewpoints, such as Hanging Lake, a turquoise gem suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon. With a vibrant downtown, visitors can explore boutiques, galleries, and eateries. Glenwood Springs seamlessly combines outdoor exploration with relaxation, making it a popular destination for those seeking a blend of natural beauty and recreational excitement.
We selected Glenwood Springs because it was within a reasonable driving distance from Denver and put us close to the Colorado National Monument and Utah. We didn’t have any expectations before we arrived other than that we wanted to see what the western Colorado rockies were like. We knew that we wanted to visit Doc Holiday’s gravesite and the Aspen area out of curiosity because we used to do a lot of skiing and never reached Aspen. What we found when we arrived in Glenwood Springs was a pleasant small western Colorado town with a lot of character.
Glenwood Springs is not a large town, the current population is 10,048 (in 2020). One main street and the commercial area of downtown is small and walkable. The altitude is similar to Denver at 5,761 feet above sea level (Denver is 5,279 feet). It is surrounded by the White River National Forest and the last 20 miles of I-70 traverses a spectacular canyon; Glenwood Canyon. Its walls climb as high as 1,300 feet above the Colorado River. It is the largest such canyon on the Upper Colorado.
Glenwood Springs is 188 miles from the Denver Airport on the north western side of Colorado. The directions can’t get much easier just take I-70 from Denver all the way. The scenery can’t be beat as you travel across the Rocky Mountains. Glenwood Springs is surrounded by the White River National Forest and the last 20 miles of I-70 traverses a spectacular canyon; Glenwood Canyon. Its walls climb as high as 1,300 feet above the Colorado River. It is the largest such canyon on the Upper Colorado.
It’s 105.7 miles to the Colorado National Monument which was on our list of things to see and about 198 miles to Moab, Utah which was our next stop.
Glenwood Springs has many things to do. It is an outdoor lover's paradise with white water rafting, biking, and hiking. There are numerous hot springs in the area for relaxing aching bodies after a busy day and the downtown area has numerous shops and restaurants to explore.
- Biking: The Glenwood Springs River trail is a beautiful paved bike path that parallels the river which is perfect for road bikes and ebikes. The forest is loaded with mountain biking and hiking trails. There are numerous bike rental companies in the area.
- Hiking: taking a hike to one of the many overlooks in the area will allow you to see the town of Glenwood
Springs from a different vantage point. The
visit Glenwood Springs page shows a number of trails in the area if
you are interested in hiking.
- White Water Rafting:There are several companies that provide white water rafting on either the Colorado River or the Roaring Fork River;
- Visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park - The Glenwood Springs official site has more information and inspiration for your visit.
- Iron Mountain Hot Springs
- Visit to the Hotel Colorado
- Hike to Doc Holiday’s gravesite
- Daytrip to Aspen (31 miles)
- Daytrip to Snowmass Village (39 miles)
- Daytrip to Colorado National Monument (106 miles)
- Google Search Results list for "things to do in Glenwood Springs, CO"
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Glenwood Springs Iron Mountain hot springs was a very relaxing way to unwind and enjoy a beautiful afternoon; there are signs in front of each hot pool and then you select the temperature of the pool you want to relax in, and you jump in. They do serve drinks and offer towels and a small store with t-shirts, etc. To view Iron Mountain Hot Springs prices & hours, click here.
As we entered the Iron Mountain Hot Springs, we're greeted by a warm and friendly atmosphere. The entire area is thoughtfully designed with relaxation in mind. There are 16 naturally heated mineral pools, each boasting varying temperatures (signs display each pool's temperature) and therapeutic qualities. We quickly slip into our bathing suits and eagerly dip our toes into the first pool, feeling the soothing warmth envelop us.
The mineral-rich waters of Iron Mountain Hot Springs are said to have healing properties that aid in easing stress, soothing sore muscles, and promoting overall well-being. As we submerged ourselves into several of the pools, we couldn't help but feel our worries melt away. With each passing moment, we become one with nature, surrounded by the lush vegetation and the calming sound of the nearby Colorado River.
After dinner (at the Grind) on our way back to our hotel, we decided to visit the Hotel Colorado. This hotel was built by the famous silver magnate Walter Devereux starting in 1891. The hotel’s design was based upon the Villa Medici in the Borghese Gardens Rome, Italy. The Hotel Colorado had some famous visitors, including Theodore Roosevelt, William Henry Taft, Herbert Hoover and Tom Mix the early Western Cowboy actor who was here to film a movie. The hotel’s glory days might be over, but it is a beautiful building with an interesting history.
The Hotel Colorado was constructed starting in 1891 with a design based upon the Villa Medici in the Borghese Gardens in Rome, Italy. Take a look at the Wikipedia article and you will definitely see the resemblance between the two buildings.
The Hotel Colorado has had some famous visitors, including Theodore Roosevelt, William Henry Taft, Herbert Hoover and Tom Mix the early Western Cowboy actor who was here to film a movie. The hotel’s glory days might be over, but it is a beautiful building with an interesting history.
In 1942, the hotel was leased to the United States Navy for use as a hospital. The U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital was commissioned on July 5, 1943 and served over 6,500 patients by the end of 1945. The hospital was decommissioned in 1946.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn, because it was close to the center of town and near various restaurants. Hilton Hotels are almost always comfortable, cleaner than most others and they are almost always located in a convenient location. Your mileage may vary, but we use Hilton nearly all the time and have never had cause to complain.
If you want a complete list of hotels & motels, then click here for a Google Search Results List.
Please bear in mind that we did not (and obviously could not) have eaten at every possible restaurant in Glenwood Springs, but the following places are in fact, places we ate at and can vouch for. If you want a complete list of restaurants, then click here for a Google List.
For our first full day in Glenwood Springs, we decided to try the Doc Holiday Trail up to the cemetery where he may be buried (there is a certain amount of conjecture about where he is really buried).
After breakfast, we drove to the Doc Holiday Trailhead , so we could hike up to the cemetery. It is a short hike (approximately a half mile) but the views of the valley below are quite good, providing a number of photo opportunities.
Half-way up the trail, we found Annie’s Wishing Tree; a tree full of ribbons started by Annie Zancanella while she went through cancer treatments. The tree has ribbons tied to it with written wishes, dreams, prayers, and names. Please be respectful of the tree and items left at this spot. Annie has a Facebook page where she describes her thoughts about what she went through.
Having been a fan of western movies, novels and history - it was interesting to be able to visit the grave of Doc Holliday. If you saw the Kurt Russell movie "Tombstone" you saw that Wyatt Earp & Doc Holliday came to Colorado (from Tombstone, AZ) in hopes that Doc's tuberculosis would benefit from the mountain air and the thermal hot springs. Doc did not benefit and he passed away on 11/8/1887 and was buried in the Glenwood Springs, CO cemetery. We hiked up to the cemetery to visit Doc’s grave, as the cemetery sits on a hill high above the city. For those of you who might be interested, Wyatt Earp had an amazing set of adventures and eventually wound up in Los Angeles where he worked as a technical adviser for a company that created western movies.
Wyat Earp died in 1929 leaving behind his common law wife Josephine Marcus who he met in Tombstone in 1881.
It should be noted that there are other graves in the Pioneer Cemetery, including that of “Kid Curry” a member of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid's "Hole in the Wall" Gang. If you saw the movie , you may remember Harvey Logan which was Kid Curry’s real name. I'll give you a hint; Harvey Logan and Butch Cassidy had a knife fight.
After our hike to see Doc Holiday’s grave, we drove to Snowmass and Aspen - primarily because we had looked at these areas for skiing on numerous prior occasions and wondered what they were like. Snowmass Village is 40 miles from Glenwood Springs and Aspen is only 8 miles further.
We stopped in Snowmass first, and had initially wanted to eat lunch there, but Snowmass was totally closed down for the season. Unlike Aspen, Snowmass does not reside next to a community, it is a self-contained area where people come to recreate on the snow, have some meals, and then depart for home. Aspen, Breckenridge, etc are ski areas that reside next to a city. So we pushed on to Aspen, as we wanted to explore it and maybe get some lunch too.
It was a beautiful day and we were really impressed with the Aspen area. The town of Aspen has numerous shopping opportunities and pay parking all around the town. It was quiet in May but we imagined it being a bustling location in the winter time.
Below are some of the links we utilized to create our own plan for our visit to Glenwood Springs. Because it is almost impossible for a single website to provide information about any location that would include all aspects that you might be interested in, you need to use multiple sites to create a good "visit plan".
- Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
- Visit Glenwood Springs Website
- Hotel Colorado Website
- 11 Top-Rated things to do in Glenwood Springs, CO on the "Planetware" site
- 15 Best Things to Do in Glenwood Springs, CO on the "Crazy Tourist" site
- Google Search Results list for "restaurants in Glenwood Springs, CO"
- Google Search Results list for "accommodations in Glenwood Springs, CO"
- Google Search Results list for "hiking in the Glenwood Springs, CO area"
- Amazon Search Results list for "Glenwood Springs, CO"
- Youtube Search Results list for "Glenwood Springs, CO"
- Google Images set for Glenwood Springs
- Visit our Youtube Channel
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