Winter on the Mountain returns to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Editor’s note: This article contained a wrong price of gondola tickets and didn’t have the Nov. 18 Santa visit.
The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, the only mountaintop theme park in the U.S., is turning into Winter on the Mountain, an event they’ve been doing since 2015.
Nancy Heard, general manager of the Adventure Park, said everyone is welcome to bundle up and come enjoy the Caverns’ annual holiday celebration.
“Our annual Winter on the Mountain celebration is now underway and runs through January 7th! During this joyful event, Glenwood Caverns transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with a half-million magical lights, ice sculptures, rides, attractions, live music and festive food and drinks, as well as the occasional visit from Santa,” she said.
From Nov. 10 to Jan. 7, the park is adorned in half a million lights and some of them were set to decorate a 26-foot tall Christmas tree. The tree is said to be choreographed, the lights dancing to music.
The Adventure Park will provide s’mores kits by the fire pits and marshmallows to roast. New items on the menu include hot chocolate, cider, and adult versions of them as well.
One of the most important parts of the Winter on the Mountain event are visits from Santa. A part of the park will be turned into the North Pole to help Santa feel at home. Santa will visit from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 18, Nov. 25, Dec 2, Dec. 9, Dec. 16, and Dec. 23.
A secret about Santa is that, if children say they’re going to the park to see Santa, their admission fee will be waived; however, the adult accompanying them must still pay their own fee.
Another great thing about the Adventure Park’s Winter on the Mountain is that they’re active at night. Not only that, but the Alpine Coaster will be running after the sun goes down as well — the track will be lined with lights and the carts will have headlights on them. Remember, the faster you go, the safer you are.
Additionally, the Adventure Park will have musicians playing at the Lookout Grille from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday nights. Some of the caverns get spruced up with lights and finally, the Park has ice sculptures for children to run around and play on.
In addition to Winter on the Mountain, the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park likes to find ways
to give back to the community and one of those ways is something they call Gondola Giving.
“In the last few years we’ve had the opportunity to help our community with the Gondola Giving program and our nonprofit partner, LiftUp – a local food bank that works to help individuals and families who face food insecurity,” Heard said. “From November 10-22, park visitors who bring in a $25 City Market or Natural Grocers gift card for LiftUp will be gifted four gondola tickets from the Caverns for their generosity. The gondola tickets are worth $120 and can be used through February. This long standing partnership is a win-win-win for our guests, for our community and for LiftUp.”
The Adventure Park also holds other events to give back to the community, like Music on the Mountain, collecting over 20,000 in charitable donations for nonprofits and supporting local youth groups. These tickets are only for the gondola, which are usually $30 each. Take the opportunity to not only turn four tickets into the price of one, but to help the community of Glenwood Springs. More information can be found here: https://www.glenwoodcaverns.com/.
2023 rafting season shining following record winter in Roaring Fork Valley
Following a record winter in the Roaring Fork Valley, the 2023 rafting season has shaped into prime condition for those looking to get out onto the water.
A season that has allowed for those looking for different types of adventure to have the opportunity to do so, the spring season’s runoff has been one that has been unheard of in recent years.
With the Roaring Fork Valley experiencing water levels that have seemed ageless in recent memory, this year’s rivers have provided raft-goers the experience of both soothing waters and the fierce rapids that have made Glenwood Springs and the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley a staple for thrill-seekers and even-tempered explorers alike.
A winter season that produced a record-breaking snowpack in the western region, where those living in the valley saw a 200% increase in median snowpack, according to the United States Natural Resources Conservation Service, Defiance Rafting Owner Gregory Cowan said this year’s conditions are more than he could ask for.
“It’s been a wonderful start to the season,” e said. “The weather broke at the right time when we started at the beginning of May, and it has made it possible for any level rafter to have the opportunity to enjoy the waters.”
Dealing with a state-wide drought that has lasted a number of years, Middle Colorado Watershed Council Executive Director Paula Stepp said this year’s water levels could very well be considered an anomaly.
“I have lived in this valley a long time, and I haven’t seen these types of water levels since the ’80s,” she said. “Having a great year is amazing to see but by no means does it mean that this drought is over.”
With the high waters surrounding the Roaring Fork Valley, Glenwood Adventure Company CEO Ken Murphy said that this year’s water levels will make for a long season for those looking to indulge in whitewater rafting to have the chance to do so.
“What has made Glenwood Springs so popular for white water rafting is the variety that those looking to participate have been given,” he said. “With these high water levels, we are looking at having a good chance at having a longer season for people to enjoy this community’s waters, but it really depends on how the rest of the summer season shapes out.”
While this season’s high waters continue to look promising for the industry, he says it’s not up to those in control of booking trips.
“It’s a contemplating industry,” he said. “Mother Nature is our boss during the summer season, and so we have to hope everything goes in our favor for the continuation of this season.”
With all of the added snow, some may wonder if Sunlight Mountain Resort will be open during the week next week.
The bad news is, they’re not planning to be open during the week next week. But the good news is, Primo lift will be open this weekend, according to Troy Hawks, the communications director at Sunlight.
Changes of hitting some fresh powder sound like they will be high too.
“Saturday into Sunday and maybe through Monday, there’s sporadic chances of snowfall throughout that time,” Grand Junction-based National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Stearns said in a report earlier this week.
The season opening is only a week away. Be ready for it Dec. 9.
One way to help them maintain steady hours and get a free ski pass is to apply for a job, or inquire about jobs at firstname.lastname@example.org. The mountain is hiring and excited to get some new fresh faces at the lifts. Additional updates can be found on the website or on their Facebook page.
Top tips on how to do Carbondale Mountain Fair
Longtime Carbondale Mountain Fair volunteer and partaker Jeff Dickinson offers two ways to do the fair if you want to maximize the number of old friends you bump into or new people to meet — which, let’s face it, is a good bit of what Mountain Fair is about.
“You can either stay in one spot and let everyone come to you, or you can move around and try to see everybody who’s staying in one spot,” says Dickinson, who these days helps run the Cantina.
Speaking of which, the Cantina, with its array of beer selections and drink specialties, is a good place for reunions and making a new acquaintance or two.
There’s also the food vendor lines, the dancing area in front of the gazebo stage, and of course that chance meeting on Main Street.
However you choose to do Mountain Fair, though, get ready to have fun, take your mind off things and see and hear some stuff you don’t see and hear too often.
If you go…
Carbondale Mountain Fair Select Events
Noon — All vendors open
4 p.m. — Opening blessing and community drum circle
5:15 p.m. — Music: Red Hill Rollers
6:45 p.m. — Sopris Soarers aerial dance
7:45 p.m. — Music: Death by Dub
7 a.m. — Mt. Sopris Runoff (14 mile) and 4 Mile to the Fair runs
10 a.m. — Vendors open, performance by Crystal River Ballet
10:30 a.m. — Fly casting competition
11 a.m. — Pie baking competition
11:30 a.m. — Music: Queen Bees
Noon — Singles horseshoes (Glassier Park)
1 p.m. — Adult limbo contest
2:15 p.m. — Carbondale Police vs. Fire Department Tug-O-War
2:30 p.m. — Music: Elk Range Bluegrass Band
4 p.m. — Womens Wood Splitting competition; Salsa dance lesson at the Makers’ Park
5 p.m. — Sopris Soarers tribute to mothers
5:15 p.m. — Music: Los Mocochetes
6 p.m. — Potters Throwdown Relay, judging canopy
7:45 p.m. — Music: Magic Bean
9:30 p.m. — Dance of the Sacred Fire fire dancers
8 a.m. — Porcupine Loop mountain bike race and costume contest
8:30 a.m. — Group yoga in Sopris Park
10 a.m. — Vendors open
11 a.m. — Music: Tarell Martin and C2 Mass Choir Gospel; Cake baking competition
*For the full schedule of events, visit carbondalearts.com/mountain-fair, or pick up a hard copy at the gate
For those first-timers wondering how best to take in Mountain Fair — the three-day arts performance and visual arts spectacle that takes place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Sopris Park — just ask the many locals who help make it happen year after year for some sound advice.
Here are five things to consider to make your Mountain Fair experience the best it can be.
If you live in Carbondale, or happen to be staying in town for the weekend, your best transportation bet is to walk or bike.
Vehicle parking is limited, though there are some good options for those who arrive early in the day, and at least one good paid option for a good cause — the Mt. Sopris Nordic Council parking lot at the Colorado Mountain College Lappala Center at Seventh Street and Colorado Avenue.
“Bike is the No. 1 best way to get there,” said Bob Schultz, another longtime Mountain Fair volunteer. “Even if you drive, if you have a bike rack, bring the bike.”
Bike corrals are located off of Seventh Street near the town pool and on Weant Boulevard behind the Forest Service building, noted Sarah Overbeck, communications director for Carbondale Arts, which puts on Mountain Fair.
Those coming from out of town also should consider taking a RFTA bus to Carbondale.
“Especially if you plan to be partaking in the Cantina offerings, I’d say take the bus,” Dickinson said.
As was the case last year, the Mountain Fair footprint expands onto Main Street again this year, meaning the downtown section will be closed between Fourth and Seventh streets starting at 8 a.m. Friday until 9 p.m. Sunday.
Also, leave dogs and other pets at home, not in your car, and definitely don’t bring them to the park. Dogs and glass containers are not allowed in the park.
Bring water in your own bottle, too. There are water filling stations located throughout the park.
While Mountain Fair doesn’t have a “tarp run” when the gates open like big music festivals, there is a little bit of jockeying for position to get the prime “hang out spot” in front of the gazebo.
“It is a day-by-day thing,” said longtime Mountain Fair Director Amy Kimberly. “We don’t allow tarps or blankets to stay overnight, so those have to be removed at the end of the day.”
Fair goers can set out blankets and low-profile chairs (not the high-back variety) and umbrellas starting at 3 p.m. Friday, but keep in mind you’ll need to leave room for the community drum circle at 4 p.m.
Mountain Fair no longer has a shade tent lottery, but a community shade tent is provided on the Euclid Avenue side of the park.
“Afternoon is when the sun is most direct, so that’s usually the hottest part of the day,” Schultz said. “But there is a nice row of big trees on the west side of the park that provide some nice shade later in the afternoon.
“If you do go over to the shade tent, be nice and give up a seat for someone who may need it more than you,” he also advised.
Dickinson suggested volunteering to help out with one of the many duties necessary to keep the fair running smoothly.
Again, there’s always a little jockeying for position to get the prime spots to watch the most popular Mountain Fair contests, especially men’s and women’s wood splitting and limbo.
New to the contest lineup this year is the Potters Relay Throwdown at 6 p.m. Saturday in the judging canopy, where teams of clay workers will try to be the fastest to work the potting wheel.
Timing is everything to head over to the open space for the big contests before whatever band is playing wraps up, or maybe draw straws to dispatch someone to head over and grab a patch of grass.
“People are pretty good about letting little kids wiggle up front to watch,” said Schultz, offering another piece of etiquette advice — short people up front, tall people in back.
“If you really want to see the wood splitting, get there early and hang out for a while,” Dickinson said. “It’s good to pick which bands and contests you really want to see, and plan accordingly.”
It’s also important to take breaks from the heat, he said.
“Hydrate and have plenty of sunscreen handy,” Dickinson said. “Even if you don’t feel like you’re doing much, just wandering around the park takes a lot out of you.”
A reprieve to a downtown restaurant or watering hole is also a good way to get out of the weather, be it sunshine or rain, he suggested.
Community radio station KDNK also broadcasts live from the park all weekend, so it’s possible to listen to the music from the comfort of your home for a spell before heading back out.
The arts and crafts and food vendors open at noon on Friday, before the rest of the fair gets going in earnest.
Smart shoppers know that’s the best time to hit the many arts and crafts vendors that will be on hand for Mountain Fair.
“That’s the best time to shop, because the park is still relatively quiet,” Kimberly said. “Anytime during the weekend is also good to go by the Carbondale Arts silent auction booth for some of the best deals.”
Saturday and Sunday mornings are also popular times to do some serious shopping before the crowds come out and before the heat or rain storms hit.
Last year, organizers made the decision to space the booths apart a little farther and to place some out on Main Street and Weant Boulevard. That also helped people feel more comfortable given pandemic concerns.
As Schultz puts it, “We may be done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us. It’s still good to spread out so the people who want a little space can still come to the fair.”
Vendors can also be found in the Makers Park at Main and Sixth streets, which is also where the silent auction and the valley artists booths are located.
Mountain Fair is known for having a good mix of favorite festival food and some unique eats to keep the taste buds happy and the energy level up.
The most popular booths tend to have long lines, especially later in the day around supper time.
“If the line for your favorite fair food is long, try something a little out of your comfort zone,” Dickinson suggested. “You might just learn about a food you didn’t know you liked.”
Those lines can be a great place to meet and chat with people, too, Schultz said.
“It’s actually a pretty social time,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of new people in town and people visiting from out of town just waiting for my food.”
For those wanting to enjoy a beer or other alcoholic drink with their food, Dickinson suggests hitting the Cantina first and sipping the drink while in the food line, instead of the other way around.
Also, if you don’t want to lose track of the kids for long stretches of time, give them only a little bit of money for food, snacks, games and such at a time.
“That way they’ll always come back and find you,” he said.
Mountain Fair is also big on using compostable plates and utensils to minimize waste.
“So we need people to be mindful of sorting your waste at the trash stations,” Overbeck added.
The Cantina is also run by different community nonprofit organizations that get to keep a portion of the proceeds from their shifts. Beverages are all sourced from Colorado.
Creole Stomp brings Bayou flavors to Summer of Music Wednesday night
Arts & Entertainment briefs for the weekend of June 24
Music on the Mountain series begins
The Saturday Music on the Mountain series kicks off Saturday at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, featuring a performance by Dance of the Sacred Fire and music from the Gasoline Lollipops.
Music takes place from 6-9 p.m. every Saturday (except July 2 and Sept. 3) through Sept. 17 for the enjoyment of park visitors who purchase a daily or seasonal pass.
More information at glenwoodcaverns.com/events/music-on-the-mountain.
Children’s chorale performs June 25-26 in Glenwood
The Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale is celebrating its 45th anniversary year with a concert tour, including two free performances at the First Presbyterian Church in Glenwood Springs, at 7 p.m. Saturday and during 10 a.m. Sunday worship.
The renowned choir features 38 elementary, middle and high school student singers.
The concert is free, but donations to support the chorale and First Presbyterian Church’s local outreach programs are welcome.
The Pullman offers ‘family meal’ tradition, to go, for service-industry employees
Mark Fischer wants to keep a service-industry tradition intact, even if it requires a few modifications.
For as long as The Pullman’s owner and chef can remember, the restaurant’s hosts, servers, bartenders, cooks and dishwashers have always enjoyed a pre-shift meal together before working the dinner rush.
“It’s a tradition that most restaurants share,” Fischer said. “Even though we can’t all sit down together this weekend, we can at least make food for people to take.”
On Tuesday, a state public health order forced restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters and casinos to close for 30 days in an effort to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
Food and beverage establishments, however, can still offer takeout and delivery during the mandatory closure period.
On March 21 and 22, The Pullman will provide a “family meal” to restaurant, bar and hotel workers whose industry — like so many others — has been significantly impacted by the pandemic.
While the original intent of the family meal was to provide a semblance of the tradition to service-industry workers, Fischer said The Pullman would help anyone in need.
“I think that most people that work in this business know what family is and what it means,” Fischer said.
People can pick up a family meal at The Pullman’s side door on the corner of Seventh Street and Cooper Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs from 2-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“I’ve got a full walk-in (refrigerator) and a bunch of people that we’re trying to keep busy,” Fischer said. “This might be a good way to manage both.”
Fischer said The Pullman was adhering to the state’s public health order and asked those picking up food to do the same.
Pasta with a side of soup or salad was the tentative plan for this weekend’s family meal.
People picking up food can also leave a $5 donation that will go toward future installments of the tradition.
However, Fischer said the family meal would be free for those who needed it to be.
Additionally, a gofundme page has been created for community members that would like to help keep the tradition intact.
As of Friday morning, the gofundme had already raised $1,325 of its $5,000 goal.
The Pullman, like many other restaurants and drinking establishments, will still offer curbside pickup and delivery too.
“There are people that need to eat and we have food that I would really like to make tasty,” Fischer said.
Local restaurants hoping to get by with takeout and delivery
For the next 30 days, though, breaking bread at eateries across the state has been put on hold in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
On Monday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a public health order, which forced restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms and casinos to close, with a few exceptions.
Those establishments may still sell food and beverages but must do so by utilizing either “delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service or drive-up service” according to the public health order that went into effect Tuesday morning.
Sarah Martinez, who helps run her family’s restaurant — Spanglish Mexican American Kitchen — in Glenwood Springs said the transition from sit-down service to only carryout and delivery was difficult but manageable.
“This great community is willing to support and help each other and that makes me feel really good,” Martinez said. “We will make it through.”
Spanglish Mexican American Kitchen, like many other Glenwood eateries, has partnered with KraveKar to offer delivery.
Courtney Madden, who launched KraveKar last year, said the local food delivery service offers a “no contact delivery” option.
“We put (deliveries) on someone’s porch or we can put it wherever they ask us to put it,” Madden said. “Then we can call and say the food is there.”
Similar to the services provided by DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub in larger cities, KraveKar offers delivery to the Glenwood Springs area.
KraveKar makes deliveries daily between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Customers can also place orders in advance on kravekar.com or through the KraveKar app.
“Every month we go up 20 or 30 orders. This month we went up about 65 orders,” Madden said.
Tuesday, the Pour House in Carbondale was still busy preparing corned beef and cabbage to-go orders for St. Patrick’s Day.
“We’ve sold a few, maybe about 30,” bartender Tim O’Rourke said around 3:30 p.m. as word was just getting around as to which restaurants were offering takeout.
Across the street, Batch, the Roaring Fork Beer Co.’s tap house, was selling growlers of beer out the front door.
“Because we don’t serve food, and only have beer, luckily we’re able to do this,” Owner Aly Sanguily said, adding how other brewers and distillers would have the same option.
“Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to do anything,” Sanguily said.
At Miner’s Claim in Silt, owner Christian Harra pledged to include a roll of toilet paper in each of the restaurant’s to-go orders, as supplies last.
“I ordered five cases of toilet paper, which is about 500 rolls,” Harra said. “Angel Soft.”
Harra’s original intent was to give rolls to dine-in customers on St. Patrick’s Day.
However, with dine-in service no longer on the table, Harra will place a roll in each to-go order instead.
According to Harra, Miner’s Claim did over 50 to-go orders on Monday night.
“My staff is amazing. I’ve got employees here that have been with me 17 years,” Harra said. “We’re like a big family and we’re all pulling together.”
Glenwood Springs Post Independent Senior Reporter John Stroud contributed to this report.
Discounted tickets could be offered to school groups wanting to visit Hanging Lake
Pending approval from Glenwood Springs City Council, teachers will be able to bring their classes to Hanging Lake for a reduced rate of $3 per student beginning in May.
The discount won’t apply to individual students wanting to visit the national natural landmark just east of Glenwood Springs on their own, but rather classes as a whole.
“Hanging Lake has so many different educational components,” said Ken Murphy, H2O Ventures co-owner. “It’s teaching about protecting a resource, the geology of Glenwood Canyon and the uniqueness of the public-private partnership.”
Last year, the U.S. Forest Service and city of Glenwood Springs awarded H2O Ventures the contract to run the Hanging Lake shuttle service, which launched May 1.
The seasonal shuttle service was part of a larger permit-reservation system, which capped the number of visitors to Hanging Lake to 615-people per day.
The price for a peak-season reservation from May 1 – Oct. 31 costs $12 per person and includes a shuttle to the trailhead. An off-peak reservation from Nov. 1 – Apr. 30 costs $10 per person.
According to Murphy, the discounted rate would apply to elementary school classes all the way up to students pursuing a higher-education degree.
The reduced rate will be available to classes Monday through Friday during May, September and October.
“Anytime we can reduce barriers for children to be able to experience the outdoors and a natural wonder like Hanging Lake, we should take it,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said.
Based on the number of visitors to Hanging Lake during the 2019 peak season, Murphy was confident the trail could accommodate the additional field trips.
According to Murphy, in May 2019 the trail had a daily average of 327 hikers. Additionally, during September and October the trail had a daily average of 357 and 217 hikers respectively.
“I support the discount,” Councilor Charlie Willman said. “I think it’s good and am glad we are able to offer it.”
According to the contract, in order for educators to be able to utilize the student discount, the field trip must have an educational component.
Additionally, student discount tickets must be purchased through the school hosting the trip and may not be purchased online.
“Nobody is generating revenue from these school groups or these educational components,” Murphy said. “Part of that $3 also goes back into the resource.”
‘Art you can drink:’ Ball Brewing gets rolling in Glenwood Springs
After working as a sport fishing boat captain for the last 15-years, Bobby Ball decided it was time to change course.
“I got paid to fish,” Ball said. “If I can get paid to drink beer I feel like I’m doing pretty good.”
On Super Bowl Sunday, the 37-year-old brewer opened Ball Brewing at 7025 Highway 82 in south Glenwood Springs in the former Habitat for Humanity ReStore location next to Anytime Fitness.
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven-days-a-week, Ball Brewing sports a handful of big-screen TVs, “Pirates of the Caribbean” pinball, foosball, shuffleboard and other games.
“The skee ball machine, actually, if you get 400 points it’ll give you a ticket for a free pint of beer,” Ball said.
A lover of both domestic and craft beers, Ball set out to offer suds with a slightly lower alcohol content without compromising flavor or aroma.
“What I’m doing is brewing beer that I like and that’s easy to drink,” Ball said. “It fits the bill with the domestic crowd and the people getting into craft beer.”
Currently, Ball Brewing has several beers and hard seltzers on tap.
From the tropical pale ale Captain Ron to the single-hop IPA Amarillo By Morning, if it’s on Ball Brewing’s beer list, it was brewed in-house.
“I want people to be able to have my beer when it’s 90 degrees outside and they’re working or during the wintertime when it’s cold,” Ball said.
Ball Brewing does not offer food at the moment, but customers can purchase growlers and six-packs to go.
Additionally, Ball Brewing carries the necessary supplies for those interested in learning how to brew their own beer or wine at home.
“That’s how I started,” Ball said of home brewing. “We want to promote people learning to do it themselves, also.”
According to Ball, in the near future Ball Brewing will offer classes centered on home brewing a few weekends each month.
It was also Ball’s hope that his brewery, taproom and homebrew supply store would function less as a “traditional bar” and more as a social gathering spot for the community at large.
From of-age college students in need of wi-fi to basketball fans eager for March Madness, whatever the occasion Ball said he had a libation for it.
“Beer is art you can drink,” said Ball. “There’s a beer for every occasion and I feel like there is a beer for every person.”