Escape rooms offer team-based puzzles in Glenwood | PostIndependent.com

Escape rooms offer team-based puzzles in Glenwood

Ryan Summerlin
rsummerlin@postindependent.com
Becky Levin, left, Carla Jean Whitley and friends pore over clues in one of the Glenwood Escape Rooms, in a team-based game coming to Glenwood Springs after soaring in popularity nationwide. The Post Independent was invited to help test out one of the three escape rooms, which are opening to the public Monday.
Ryan Summerlin / Post Independent |

A new sort of fun is coming to Glenwood Springs to test your problem-solving skills, ingenuity and teamwork in a mystery-adventure setting akin to Indiana Jones or the Da Vinci Code.

A set of team-based games called “escape rooms,” whose popularity has spread from overseas to the East and West coasts, are now popping up by the hundreds across the country.

As of Monday, that includes three escape rooms in Glenwood Springs.

Glenwood Escape Rooms, at 918 Grand Ave., is the creation of Ken Murphy, owner of Glenwood Adventure Co., and his partner Logan Bartek, also operations manager at Glenwood Adventure Co.

“We love seeing the intensity of the last 10 to 15 minutes, the urgency of the people scrambling to find the final way out.”Ken Murphyco-owner, Glenwood Escape Rooms

Compared with the physical adventures in whitewater rafts, on horseback or four-wheeling, the escape rooms offer a more cerebral challenge.

Glenwood Escape Rooms features three themed rooms: the Egypt Tomb Escape, Casino Heist and Aunt Edna’s Condo.

Before opening, the team has been bringing in groups to test its rooms for a couple of weeks, trying to strike the right balance between good, challenging puzzles and not going way over the players’ heads.

Some Post Independent staffers and friends recently helped test the Egyptian tomb-themed escape room.

You and your team have one hour to discover clues, test out theories and master puzzles to escape. You’ll have to search for clues in locked chests, in enigmatic journal entries and, most deceptively, in plain sight.

None of these rooms requires any outside knowledge to complete, said Murphy. It all depends on your powers of observation, your ability to connect the dots and pursue a hunch on where clues are leading. These puzzles will also test your memory as you’ll likely have more than one mystery to solve at a time.

This is a nonlinear puzzle; there’s not simply one way to get from one phase to the next, said Bartek, a mechanical engineer whose lent his expertise to rigging up the rooms with hidden compartments and plenty of surprises.

While you’re picking your way through the items and clues you’ve discovered in the room, the game masters will be watching your progress and can give you a limited number of hints if you’re stuck.

“The goal of these rooms is fun, not frustration,” said Murphy.

The Post Independent’s team scoured the room and brainstormed through the puzzles with plenty of eureka moments until the clock was ticking into the last minutes and the team was stumped on the very last puzzle — beaten only seconds before the team would have figured it out, of course.

“We love seeing the intensity of the last 10 to 15 minutes, the urgency of the people scrambling to find the final way out,” said Murphy.

Despite the final struggle, everyone came out smiling and had plenty to discuss in retrospect.

The escape rooms have been in the U.S. only since about 2011, said Murphy. He came across the idea through his river guides last summer, who kept asking him for time off to do the escape rooms in Grand Junction and Denver.

Colorado now also has escape rooms in Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Frisco, Avon, several in Denver and likely in many other places.

Murphy’s family went to try some out in the fall, then, “realizing how awesome they are for groups and families,” decided that Glenwood needs to get in on the action. Murphy said three big markets are drawn to the escape rooms: young professionals, corporate teams looking for a good team-building event and families.

“This activity should appeal to wide range of demographics visiting Glenwood.”

The escape rooms will be a test of your problem-solving abilities, but importantly, it will also test your group’s ability to work as a team.

The testing groups have already shown Glenwood Escape Rooms that the experience heavily depends on what kind of group dynamic you have. Some go in and immediately select a team leader or break into working groups. Some work as one whole team. “We’ve seen a wide range of approaches, so it’s really open to possibilities for how you play,” said Murphy.

“In groups with young children, already we’ve seen the kids are the ones who figure out a puzzle, but the family doesn’t listen. So pay attention to your kids,” he said.

In some other escape rooms that Murphy visited the creators clearly hadn’t put enough energy into aesthetics, he said.

So his crew has focused on creating an immersive experience inside the rooms, paying attention to details of props and decoration that really add to the experience.

“We focused on making it feel like you really are in a tomb or a tent or the casino office.”

Throughout the game the door isn’t actually locked, Murphy added. So escape players can get out in case of an emergency.

Murphy recommended a group of four to eight people. Some of the rooms can accommodate up to 10 people, while a group of six to eight will be better in others. There won’t be an enforced minimum number of people; couples are welcome. A minimum age of 10 is also recommended.

Glenwood Escape Rooms will operate seven days per week, open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Walk-in are welcome, though reservations are recommended. The cost will be $25 per person. Visit glenwoodescape.com for more information.


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