Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park to celebrate 1999 milestone Saturday
Two decades ago, Steve and Jeanne Beckley were putting the final touches on the projects that made it possible to open the Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves to the public for the first time in 82 years.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary, the Adventure Park is throwing a ‘Party Like It’s 1999’ celebration, 5:30–10 p.m. on Saturday.
Prince tribute act, Paizley Park, will take the stage from 7–9 p.m.
With Phillip Lamar Jordan as Prince, the tribute band is said to bring a high-energy show, featuring the music of Prince, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Sheila E. and more.
Guests who wear purple to the event can get a free drink at the Lookout Grille — a purple Icee for kids and a special “Purple Rain” adult beverage.
There will be a photo booth with props to help guests create free souvenir photos.
CaveSim, a crawl-through electronic cave simulator with 60 feet of passage to explore, will also be at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Regular admission rates apply for this event.
More information about the park can be found at GlenwoodCaverns.com and Facebook.com/GlenwoodCaverns.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Working with volunteers, the Beckleys spent the months grading and graveling a road up Iron Mountain to the cave entrance, clearing debris that had collected over the decades.
According to a press release, they rewired and added new lighting, carved a new tunnel into the mountain, and installed two airtight doors to form an airlock, which protects the temperature and humidity inside the cave.
Their first tour on Memorial Weekend in 1999 was the realization of dream 18 years in the making.
Steve Beckley, a petroleum engineer and graduate of the Colorado School of Mines, read about the Fairy Caves in 1982 in an out-of-print book about Colorado caves. He wrote to Pete Prebble, the owner at that time, and expressed his interest in visiting the closed cave for 11 years before he and then-girlfriend Jeanne were allowed in.
“It was such a remarkable experience that they spent the next six years persuading him to lease the property and then, after quitting their jobs in Denver and moving to Glenwood Springs with their newborn son, spent a year preparing to open,” the release went on to state.
“I remember telling Jeanne at the time that we’d give cave tours during the summer and then relax, ski and play the rest of the year,” Beckley, who co-owns the park with wife Jeanne, explains. “Well, that’s not exactly how it went. Jeanne knows ‘I have an idea’ is probably my favorite phrase, and that I say it a lot.”
More than 33,000 people toured the cave in five months that year.
The company had to close during the rest of the year due to the winding road being impassible in the winter and spring months.
Trying to find a way to improve the transportation system, to keep the tours open year-round, Steve went to work, and in 2003 the Iron Mountain Tramway opened, and with that the company changed its name to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Since then, it has grown to include thrill rides, family-friendly attractions, live music, shopping and dining.
Earlier this year the new high-speed Glenwood Gondola replaced the old Iron Mountain Tram. The new gondola can transport 1,000 people per hour up and down the mountain.
“We never imagined that 20 years later we’d be operating the only mountain-top theme park in America, with roller coasters and a giant swing and concerts under the stars,” Jeanne Beckley said in the release. “It’s been such an incredible process. Our boys have grown up here, and the park has become this special place where families can have fun, learn about nature, experience this spectacular cave and create memories together.”
Education was a primary goal of the Beckleys when they first opened the cave in 1999.
According to Steve, “We were, and still are, so overwhelmed by the beauty of this world beneath our feet that we wanted to share it with as many people as possible while still protecting the natural resource. Teaching our guests about the history and geology of the area, the life forms within the cave, and the importance of conservation have always been at the forefront of our business.”
Since that first tour, more than a million people have toured Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves.
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