Glenwood Springs is the best | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood Springs is the best

This week, Glenwood Springs was in the fight for its life.

OK, that might be a bit overdramatic. But the mountain city famous for Doc Holliday lore and the world’s largest hot spring pool did put up the big fight in the second round of Outside Magazine’s America’s Best Towns online contest. The magazine says it built its single-elimination tournament by choosing places with ideal trail access to public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods and a good beer scene.

I’m positive the IPA at Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co. played a key role here.

In the first round, No. 13-seed Glenwood Springs defeated No. 4-seed Victor, Idaho, with 72.08 percent of the vote, winning safely 14,514 to 5,623. After a heated second-round battle that came to the wire at midnight Thursday morning, Glenwood beat out No. 5-seed Whitefish, Montana, in the west category by a narrow margin. Capturing 50.18 percent of the vote, Glenwood prevailed with 9,994 votes to Whitefish’s 9,922.

Don’t ever let anyone say your vote doesn’t count.

I’ve never been to Whitefish, but a quick Internet search yields several results regarding tourism. It’s conveniently located near Glacier national Park, one of many national treasures on my bucket list, and once home to the Blackfoot, of which my ancestry extends. And there’s skiing at Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort, and who doesn’t love a hometown mountain?

We have that in the Colorado gem Sunlight Mountain Resort.

Now that Glenwood has made it to the third round, it’s fun to see a national spotlight on this slice of paradise in a mountain valley I called home for more than a decade. Carbondale is often on Outside’s radar, ranking on the top 10 list of great places to be and gracing its cover. I’m proud our area is such a desirable location to want to work and live in and visit.

I understand wanting to keep it a bit of a secret, too.

The funny thing about me landing in Glenwood Springs more than a decade ago — technically I first lived in Carbondale, then Glenwood, then Carbondale again — is my parents came here first. They found Glenwood after driving through Aspen several years ago. They are big fans of traveling and love the west, visiting many spots I aspire to visit, including Royal Gorge near Canon City and Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My mom has a special connection to one of her favorite places: Taos, New Mexico.

I think she would live in an art colony if she could.

When I moved from Indianapolis to the valley, I had been to Colorado just once. I visited with friends on a ski trip to Breckenridge. I didn’t know that on the other side of Vail Pass sat a section of the country that would eventually become my home and a magical place where my life would most change.

Especially during all those fun years spent on the river.

As I first drove through Glenwood Canyon, I had trouble keeping my eyes on the road. I had really not seen anything like it. I could feel the majesty of the canyon walls taking me in like a mother embraces a child. The sight has stayed with me always, and the feeling of amazement rushes over me like a spring run-off rapid anytime I return to the canyon.

One of the reasons I believe Glenwood Springs is America’s best town.

Rafting and biking through he canyon are just the beginning. Glenwood has a personality all its own. There are the big attractions such as the pool and the caverns we love to call our own.

But it’s really the people that make Glenwood Springs America’s best town. Glenwood is a melting pot of different personalities and varied walks of life. From locals born at Valley View who learned to ski as soon as they could walk to flatlanders like me who came to the mountains to reinvent themselves, the faces of Glenwood are distinctive. There are the former residents who leave and then slowly return home — a phenomenon called the Sopris Curse. That’s based on the idea that anyone who leaves the valley can never find happiness anywhere else but at the base of our beloved hometown mountain.

The curse tugs at me often.

There also are the tourists who visit during high-traffic seasons, maybe as skiers or kayakers, and don’t want to go. They fall in love with Glenwood Springs much like I did when I first took my reporter job at the Post Independent. They decide maybe they don’t want to leave the crisp mountain air and bluebird skies or the wonder Glenwood Canyon’s majesty brings.

And the feeling that just maybe they’ve found the best town in America.

April E. Clark encourages everyone to vote for Glenwood Springs over Port Angeles, Washington, at http://www.outsideonline.com/1972941/best-towns-2015. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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