Adventure park goes beyond caverns
The caverns at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park could soon be playing second fiddle to everything else happening at the top of Iron Mountain. In May Glenwood Caverns is planning to unveil four new attractions and one new cave tour, co-owner Steve Beckley told the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association on Thursday. Visitors will be able to take a 1,000-foot-long zip line from the top of Iron Mountain above Glenwood Caverns plaza, take a “giant swing” over the edge of a 1,200-foot cliff, rock climb on a 32-foot wall, or ride 3,400 feet of track on an alpine coaster, Beckley said. Glenwood Caverns will also add the “Adventure Tour” to its list of cave tours, which is a bit more exciting than its traditional tour but not quite as intense as the “Wild Tour,” he said.To serve all of these new attractions, Glenwood Caverns will add four new tram cars, increasing the tram’s capacity from 200 to 300 people per hour. All those changes should coincide with the parking lot at the base of Iron Mountain being paved, lined and lighted by May. The biggest of the new projects is the alpine coaster, which will run down the side of Iron Mountain. An alpine coaster is often compared to an alpine slide – popular during the summer at some ski areas – except that instead of a concrete, bobsled-like track, the coaster uses metal rails. The coaster car is also attached to the track, unlike an alpine slide’s sled, Beckley said.The zip line will start about 800 feet up Iron Mountain from the Glenwood Caverns plaza. Four passengers will sit in roller coaster-style seats, and travel above the treetops at up to 50 mph. “That’s a good one,” he said. Another good one “that is just going to scare people to death” Beckley said, is the giant swing. Glenwood Caverns will construct two towers overlooking Glenwood Cavern with a system to lift people up before letting them swing out over a 1,200-foot cliff. The climbing wall, which should arrive this month, has five different routes and an auto-belay system, he said. Some in Glenwood Springs criticized Glenwood Caverns when it was going through permitting and approval in 2002 for not doing enough to protect the view of hillsides and ridgelines it occupied. All of the new attractions are being built to reduce impacts to the environment and save the view of Iron Mountain, Beckley said. No trees will be cut to make way for the alpine coaster; most of the towers for the swing and zip line won’t be visible from town and will be painted to match the environment. The towers at the top of the zip line will be visible from town, but will line up with radio and cellular towers already at the top of Iron Mountain, he said. Though there will certainly be much more to do at the top of Iron Mountain than a tour through the caves, the new attractions shouldn’t take away from the caves but will add to the adventure theme at the park, said Ken Murphy, Glenwood Caverns operations manager. “All the attractions that are coming in were picked because they could fit into the environment,” said Murphy. “It’s going to be a nice change,” he said.
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.