Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s tram marks 15 years
Depending on where you stand in town, you might catch a glimpse of the Giant Canyon Swing or the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster. But the most iconic symbol of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is easily visible from downtown Glenwood Springs: the park’s Mountain Tramway.
The tram recently marked its 15th anniversary, and it’s carried 2.2 million park visitors since its April 26, 2003, opening. In the park’s first four years, it relied on a bus to transport visitors to the top of the mountain. Upon arrival, they would tour the cave before taking a bus ride back down Iron Mountain. Adding the tram meant the park could stay open year-round.
“As soon as we started bringing guests up on the tram, the lines for the cave tours grew to two or three hours. Our guests were just sitting in the plaza waiting for their turn,” owner Steve Beckley said in a press release. “We decided that we should give them something to do while they waited. In early 2005 we added the Alpine Coaster, a zip ride, the climbing wall and the Swing Shot — the Giant Canyon Swing’s predecessor. That started the ball rolling, and we’ve continued to add to and improve the park each year.”
Alexander Tucker, 10, was among the first guests to ride the tram, along with his brother, Andrew, and owner Jeanne Beckley. Tucker is now a tram operator at the park.
“I started working at the Caverns in May 2014 as an attractions attendant. I ended up staying past the summer and into the fall. Near the end of the season I saw a job opening at the base for tram operator and applied for it.
I wanted to work for Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park because I thought it would be a fun and interesting place to work. Needless to say, it was a nice change of pace from what I was doing then. I’ve worked year-round since I started working here. What keeps me going is what brought me here: Two days are almost never alike. I especially enjoy those more challenging days that put me to the test.
I am a theme park/roller coaster enthusiast, to say the least. A few years ago, I did a trip from Cedar Point in Ohio all the way to Kings Dominion in Virginia, stopping at Kings Island, Holiday World, Dollywood and Carowinds as well, all within six days. I have been to one of our inspiration parks as well, Silver Dollar City, which started out like us with just cave tours, as well as numerous Six Flags parks to which I still have a pass. I’ve ridden the world’s tallest coaster (Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure), three of the world’s four giga coasters (which are between 300 and 399 feet tall) and probably have ridden more than 100 coasters.
In the end, it is more about having fun and the experience you have. I always try to bring somebody along for the ride. (Pun intended.) Some people are hardcore counters of how many coasters they have ridden on. I simply prefer to have a fun and relaxing day as much as possible.
I have a fascination with lifts and this job has me certainly learning more. In fact, I’m very much into transportation. I think everyone in some form has a fascination with lifts, especially ours since there are so few. Leitner Poma, who built our gondola and is also doing our upgrade, is my favorite manufacturer, and I’m excited they are working on this project. Even though we are going detachable, there are still some unique things that are happening. That being said, I am certainly sad that we will be bidding adieu to the tram, especially being one of the first on it with the Beckleys with my brother on opening day. I’ve learned a lot over the years from both Poma and our inspectors and look forward to new knowledge. You could say I’ve literally come full circle.”
— Alexander Tucker, as told to Mandy Gauldin