GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Many longtime residents have long suspected that their home is, in fact, the most fun town in the nation.
With the release of its 2013 atlas, though, the renowned map-making company Rand McNally has banished any doubt.
The atlas, which hit shelves recently wherever maps are sold, features a short essay on Glenwood Springs in its opening pages, and details a few of the town's various attractions and amenities, from the Hot Springs Pool to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
"The town is rich with natural history and offers a breathtaking scenic landscape," reads the atlas. "... The town also offers a wide range of outdoor activities including rafting, kayaking, fishing, mountain biking and golf."
Taken together, these features make Glenwood Springs the "Most Fun Town in America," by Rand McNally's standards.
The town earned the distinction by beating out five other towns in a contest sponsored by the company: Myrtle Beach, S.C., Yellow Springs, Ohio, Santa Claus, Ind., Park City, Utah, and Vacaville, Calif.
"I think it reinforces that Glenwood Springs is a fun place to visit," said Mandy Gauldin of Peak Communications, which handles PR for the Glenwood Caverns and many other local businesses.
It was Gauldin who first caught wind of the Rand McNally contest and nominated Glenwood Springs on the company's website.
"I started posting it and tweeting as much as I could," she said. Before long, the town had enough votes to be a finalist.
Then, over Fourth of July weekend in 2011, a Rand McNally "Best of the Road" rally team visited the town. Joan Broste, 62, and Juliana Broste, 28, are a mother-daughter duo who had earned the right to tour all six "most fun town" finalists by winning a separate Rand McNally competition.
Over 48 hours in Glenwood Springs, the Brostes visited the Glenwood Caverns and the Hot Springs Pool, rode ATVs, went rafting, attended the Glenwood Vaudeville Review, and even went paragliding.
"We found good, reasonably priced restaurants and friendly locals happy to give you advice on where to go and what to do," reads an entry the duo published in the 2013 atlas.
To nominate Glenwood Springs as the winner in the "most fun town" category, the pair produced a promotional video, which can be viewed at www.visitglenwood.com/videos.
"The goal was to show the variety of things that you can do here," said Gauldin, who helped organize the Brostes' itinerary along with Lindsay Lewis, formerly of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, and Vicky Nash of Resort Trends, a local public relations firm.
Although the visit packed enough of a punch for Juliana Broste to later complain of a "fun hangover," Nash said there were still plenty of attractions in Glenwood Springs that the Brostes didn't get to visit.
"They didn't get to do anything at the whitewater park, or to Sunlight," she said, referencing the ski area. "We could have crammed in another whole day easily."
Nash said she's confident that the prominent placement of Glenwood Springs' name in the new atlas will attract additional tourism to the town.
"People still like to have a hard copy of a map even though everyone has GPS these days," she said. "And if you're sitting in a car on a road trip, it's going to be easy to flip to page 4 of the atlas."
In addition to the "most fun town" award, the 2013 atlas also features winners of the "Most Beautiful" (Sand Point, Idaho), "Most Patriotic" (Rapid City, S.D.), "Best for Food" (Lafayette, La.), and "Friendliest" (Walla Walla, Wash.) towns in the U.S.