Far adventures to make park far out
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Steve Beckley is going out of his way to be sure he buys the right alpine coaster for the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park – far out of his way. Beckley, who owns the park with his wife, Jeanne, is touring countries in eastern Europe to look at alpine slides and trying to figure out which slide would be the best for the park. “As we speak, Steve is either in Hungary, Slovenia or Austria checking out alpine slides,” Jeanne Beckley said on Wednesday. She said she most likely won’t know which slide they’ll buy until Steve gets back from his trip. The couple is also awaiting word on the funding for the park’s new attractions. “We’re still working on contracts and financing,” she said. Along with the alpine slide, the Beckleys are looking at installing a zipline, a giant swing and a climbing wall, all of which have received Garfield County approval.”The goal, if everything went well, is to have the contracts signed by early November, then start construction shortly after that,” she said.Four new tram cars could also be added this coming summer to accommodate more visitors and give them a shorter wait during the busy season. Sometime in the future, the couple also plans to install a 100-seat amphitheater for bird shows and other events. The coming attractions are part of the phased plan to bring more guests up to the park. In all, Garfield County Commission granted 17 requests earlier this year that include the aforementioned items, as well as a new snack bar, an Indian education center, a ropes course, a mini-golf course and expanded hours that would allow the park to stay open until 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.The alpine coaster, which the Beckleys hope opens before the 2005 summer season, is similar to an alpine slide, but instead of racing down a slide on a wheeled sled, the cars would be permanently attached to the track, which is made of tubes. The rider would be buckled in, so there’s no danger of falling out and getting hurt, a problem sometimes associated with alpine slides. The coasters also will be equipped with an automatic braking system so the rider can just sit down and start coasting.According to the preliminary plans for the coaster, riders would get into a one-person car at the ride’s starting point behind the gift shop, coast down the side of the mountain, hit two switchbacks as they go, then glide down the rest of the track. Once the ride is over, they’d be pulled back up to the top mechanically. One of the other attractions, called a zip line, basically would consist of two towers and a cable with a three-person seat on which riders would slide down the cable above the trees. That ride would also bring the riders back up as they overlook the Colorado and Roaring Fork River valleys. Other amenities included in the master plan are a ropes challenge course and a climbing wall. The county approved the amphitheater, which would host science and falconry shows, as well as concerts. It would be built just below the main entrance of the caverns above Exclamation Point (the geological feature, not the restaurant) with stadium seating and a stage that would be built just above the steep northern wall of Glenwood Canyon. “If we can get it all in place, we’ll be ready to rock,” Jeanne Beckley said.
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