One family makes the most of their inaugural trip to Glenwood Springs
For the Post Independent
In 2020, my little family stayed home.
We live in rural southeastern Wyoming, and by spring break 2021, we were ready to travel again, thanks to COVID-19 vaccines and what seemed to be a downward trend in regional infections. With an 8-year-old daughter, a 6-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, we weren’t ready to brave an airport, but wanted to visit a place that offered plenty of fun activities for children — and within driving distance of home.
Glenwood Springs was perfect, and we began planning a two-night stay at The Hotel Glenwood Springs.
We arrived in town on a chilly spring evening in time to reserve a spot in the hotel waterpark pool for our three kids. We changed quickly, and for the first time in a year, my kids splashed happily in a waterpark, enjoying both the toddler-sized slide and the indoor waterslide for our older two children. Once tired, we put them to bed in our ground-level, pet-friendly room with a bunk bed for the kids.
The next morning, I got up before my family to do what has become one of my favorite vacation traditions: Explore the area on my own, on foot, in the early morning. With our golden retriever at my side, I took the footbridge to Two Rivers Park at the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers and ran 3 miles along the Glenwood Springs River Trail.
It was early enough that I caught the first glimpse of sunlight inching into the canyon, and a few hardy anglers were wade-fishing in the Roaring Fork despite the lingering chill of winter. I catalogued a couple of nice playgrounds for future use, and turned back in time to see sunlight sparkling on the gondola windows leading up to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, knowing I’d be on one of the little orange trams with my family later that day.
After gathering my family from the hotel, we walked to the Adventure Park entrance, where we opted for four Funday passes, including admission on the Glenwood Gondola, a possibility for two walking cave tours and unlimited rides on the attractions at the top. Our children were too short for many of the rides, but the older two were able to do the Haunted Mine Drop with their dad. They returned from the ride stunned and a little shaken from the 150 mph drop down a simulated mine shaft. While the more adventurous of my family tried the Mine Drop, my 2-year-old and I waited in a short line for the King’s Row Cave Tour, which at the time was limited to 25 people with face coverings due to COVID-19.
Inside the cave, we traveled 150 feet down from the surface into the cave’s passages to the King’s Row, a spot our tour guide told us is the most highly decorated cave room in Colorado, featuring stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and “cave bacon.” He also mentioned a cave monster, but my son, after only a moment’s pause, assured me the guide was only joking.
Once back above ground, we took turns taking the children to various rides and activities. My daughters and I took another ride on the gondola — our 2-year-old’s choice — while the boys rode the Alpine Coaster twice. It was our luck (or misfortune, depending on your fear of heights), to get stuck above the Alpine Coaster for nearly 15 minutes due to wind, but I was happy to see our boys speed by in a little car on the track dozens of feet below us.
My husband and I then switched children, and I took our son and younger daughter, who was too small for the coaster, to a short 4D show at the Adventure Park’s theater. Our older daughter took the Alpine Coaster with her dad, and they claimed to go even faster than the boys. We ended our day in the small laser tag studio, which was a welcome change from the colder activities outside — and one all five of us could do together. We stopped at the gift shop on the way down, and opted for the locally made coconut and peanut butter fudge for the gondola ride down to our hotel.
After another hour at the pool, we decided to venture downtown for dinner, where we found loads of family-friendly options. Feeling adventurous, we took the kids to Kedai Pho & Japanese Cuisine. The kids tried calamari, edamame, octopus, eel and filled up on two plates of fried rice with vegetables and udon noodles and chicken, which we split between all three kids. I was happy with my vegetable and tofu pho, and grateful for a wonderful day out with my family after a year full of unknowns and no travel at all.
As we left Glenwood Springs for home the next day, we all held our breath through the 4,000-foot Hanging Lake Tunnel on I-70, hoping for good luck and wishing to return to our new-found vacation spot before too long.
Carrie Haderlie is a freelance writer based in Wyoming who writes for several local and regional publications. She lives between Saratoga and Encampment, Wyoming, with her husband, three children and golden retriever.
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What: Oktoberfest at Sunlight