Top Ten

Donna Daniels
Post Independent Staff

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the Spa in the Rockies. Glenwood Springs has been gearing up for the expected wave of tourists. For those of you here for a weekend getaway or locals looking for something to do close to home, here are our Top Ten picks for the best fun in Glenwood Springs.

1. The Hot Springs Pool

The Hot Springs Pool put Glenwood on the map. Well-known to Native Americans for its healing waters, it was recognized as a tourist magnet by the founders of the town who worked hard to bring the railroad here. Victorian ladies and gentlemen, Hollywood luminaries, even politicians such as Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman came for the hot springs and stayed for the ambience.

Built in 1888, this natural wonder is claimed to be the largest outdoor mineral hot springs pool in the world. The pool itself is over two blocks long by 100 feet wide. The therapy pool, the smaller pool at the east end, stays a constant 104 degrees Fahrenheit, while the large pool is between 90 and 93 degrees. It’s fed by a natural hot spring that bubbles out of the earth just east of the kiddie pool.

The pool is open daily year-round, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. during winter hours. On Memorial Day the summer hours kick in and the pool opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m.

Daily admission prices are $13 for adults and teens during peak season (May 23- Sept. 1) and $11 during value season (Sept. 2 – May 27). Children 3 to 11 are $8 and $7; children under 2 are free. After 9 p.m. adults and teens get in for $8, $7 value season; children $7 and $6. Swimsuits are available for rental as are towels and lounge chairs. The water slide admission is $4.25 for a four-ride ticket peak season and $4 during value; an eight-ride ticket is $5.50 peak and $5.25 value.

For more information call the pool at 945-6571.

2.Yampah Mountain Spa and Vapor Caves

A soothing alternative to the Hot Springs Pool is a relaxing visit to the Yampah Spa Vapor Caves just down the street from the pool. The caves are natural underground steam baths fed by hot mineral water that flows through the cave floor at 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Recline on one of the stone benches in the caverns and imagine you’re back in time when the Indians visited the caves for their healing power as the steam soothes away aches and pains.

Salon services offered by the spa pamper the body and spirit. Facial tonification combines the theories and principles of Oriental medicine with the latest advances in bioelectric technology. It’s a nonsurgical facelift that will improve circulation and strengthen muscle tone.

A full herbal facial is 50 minutes of bliss. It includes facial massage, herbal steam and scrub, a clay mask, a moisturizing mask and hand and foot massage. It leaves your skin feeling like a million dollars.

Or soak in a hot Jacuzzi bath, then wrap up in cotton blankets infused with a special herbal solution selected for its cleansing and rejuvenating properties. Finish up with a salt glow rub.

Prices include $25 for a manicure, $85 for an Aveda deep tone facial or $112 for a 100-minute, full-body massage. Monthly specials are also available.

The spa is located just off Interstate 70 at 709 E. 6th St. in Glenwood Springs. For information call 945-0667.

3. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is undoubtedly the second most popular attraction in Glenwood Springs after the Hot Springs Pool.

As a student at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Steve Beckley, who is also a cave explorer, had his sights set on the historic Fairy Caves in Glenwood Springs. Penetrating deep into the depths of Iron Mountain, the caves were opened to the public in 1895 but were shut down in 1917.

In 1992, owner Pete Prebble agreed to let Beckley into the caves. Steve saw a huge potential in the caves not just for die-hard cavers but for average folks who would be struck by the spectacular formations. In 1998, he leased the caves from Prebble and began to renovate the Fairy Caves and open up a cathedral-like space below the Fairy Caves.

This year Steve and wife Jeannie along with partner Chuck Peterson built a tramway up the side of Iron Mountain. It carries visitors to the top in eight gondolas. They also added a 4,000-square-foot adventure center that includes Exclamation Point Restaurant and outdoor decks with fantastic views of Glenwood and the surrounding mountains.

Visitors can take a one-hour walking tour with a guide who talks about the history and geology of the caves. It takes visitors along safe walkways with handrails and leads through the historic Fairy Caves to the cliffside balcony at Exclamation Point with panoramic views of the valley. The tour then goes down into the Barn and King’s Row, gigantic rooms deep in Iron Mountain with cave formations such as soda straws, cave bacon stalagmites and stalactites.

Summer hours for Cave Tours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Wild Tour is an exciting, get-dirty adventure tour of three hours that explores rarely visited sections of the Glenwood Caverns still in their natural state. Reservations are required.

Almost as much fun as the caves is getting there. The Iron Mountain Tramway runs 4,300 feet up the side of the mountain. The eight gondolas carry passengers up to the top in about seven and a half minutes.

Summer hours for tram rides are from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Roundtrip on the tramway with a Cave Tour is $15 for adults and teens, $13.50 for seniors and $10 for children. Roundtrip without the tour is $10 for adults and teens, $9 for seniors, $7 for children.

For information call 945-4228.

4. Whitewater rafting

Would it be too much to say that Glenwood Springs is outdoor recreation paradise? Not hardly. Some of the best whitewater rafting in the state takes place on the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers which converge at Glenwood Springs. Commercial rafting traditionally begins on Memorial Day. Popular one-day runs start either at the Shoshone Hydroelectric Plant or at the Grizzly Creek Rest Area in Glenwood Canyon and fetch up at Two Rivers Park in town.

There are plenty of reputable commercial rafting companies in town who offer safe, fun trips for everyone’s taste, from beginner to advanced.

One of the most popular raft trips begins at the Shoshone Power Plant in Glenwood Canyon. This time of year is especially fun with the river beginning to roar with snow melt. As soon as the boat hits the water it plunges into Shoshone Rapids, moving quickly to Tuttle’s Tumble, the Wall, Tombstone and Maneater. Once through the rapids it’s a relaxing float with time to look up at the sheer majestic faces of the canyon.

It’s all fun. Full day trips include lunch at a sandy beach in the canyon.

For information about rafting companies, call the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association at 945-6589.

5. Fishing

Glenwood Springs is central to some of the best fishing in the country. Possibly the universe. Located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers, and in easy driving distance to the Frying Pan River, Glenwood is a mecca for fly fishermen. Sections of both the Roaring Fork and Fryng Pan have been declared gold medal waters for their high water quality and monster trout.

Fishing guides and outfitters all run guided float trips in rafts and dories or wader fishing on all rivers. Most provide fishing instruction to the novice as well as rod, reel, waders, boats and transportation to and from the river. Full day trips include a streamside lunch. Guides are all experienced anglers who can offer the best advice on choice of flies. They know where the big fish are.

This is a great time of year to be fishing here. As the weather warms, snows high atop the surroundig mountains are melting, increasing the water volume in the rivers. The caddis and mayfly hatches are beginning and the trout are hungry.

For information about local fishing outfitters call the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association at 945-6589.

6. Hanging Lake

About 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs on Interstate 70 is a jewel of a natural wonder. Hanging Lake is suspended 1,000 feet above the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. The lake was formed by a geologic fault which caused it to drop away from the valley floor above. Water from Dead Horse Creek spills over Spouting Rock filling the emerald bowl than is Hanging Lake. Excess water spills over the edge of the lake to create Bridal Veil Falls.

A gold prospector is credited as the first white man to see the lake, sometime in the 19th century. It was a popular tourist atraction from the 1920s thanks to Thomas Bailey who built a resort at the foot of the trail and the city of Glenwood Springs which purchased the lake and the land around it for a city park in 1912. The lake is now maintained by the U.S. Forest Service.

It takes some doing to get there, however. The one and a half-mile trail ascends steeply up Dead Horse Creek. In the spring it’s wet in places and can be slippery. In a cool spring like we’re having now, there may also be remnant patches of snow and ice. But the climb is well worth it. There is a wooden boardwalk around the lake with benches for sitting and gazing into the limpid waters.

To get to the lake by car, take Interstate 70 from Glenwood Springs east and follow the signs for Hanging Lake. Better yet, ride a bike along the bike path through Glenwood Canyon. It’s a great way to see the canyon.

7. Glenwood Canyon Bike Path

Thank the Colorado Department of Transportation which built the four-lane suspended highway through Glenwood Canyon for one of the city’s best amenities. Along with the highway, CDOT constructed a bike path through the entire canyon. The paved path runs from Glenwood all the way to the east end of the canyon near Dotsero. It follows the river for the most part, giving hikers and bikers an untrammeled view of the river and the soaring limestone walls of Glenwood Canyon. Our own managing editor Heather McGregor penned a guide to the canyon that’s available in local book stores. It provides the natural history and geology of the canyon as well as fascinating stories of historic note.

To access the bike path on the Glenwood end, drive past the Hotel Colorado and the Hot Springs Pool on Sixth Street. Just past the Yampah Spa Vapor Caves is the entrance to the path. Look for the big horn sheep on this side of the No Name Tunnels. Enjoy.

8. Frontier Historical Museum

To learn the colorful history of Glenwood Springs, stop in to the Frontier Historical Museum at 1001 Colorado Ave. It’s in the former home of Glenwood pioneers John T. and Sarah Shumate, who settled there in 1886. Shumate was the attorney for the city from 1887 through the 1890s and served as district attorney and as a district judge. John died in 1947 at age 94. John’s son Churchill and Stella Shumate lived in the house until 1971and they bequeathed their home to the Frontier Historical Society.

The musuem now houses slices of Glenwood’s past including exhibits of its famous residents and visitors Doc Holliday and Teddy Roosevelt, and the town’s first inhabitants the Ute Indians, as well as a mineral collection and artifacts from the 1800s. The museum also sponsors field trips during the summer. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The museum will be closed Memorial Day.

9. Linwood Cemetery

Historic Linwood Cemetery is a museum in its own right with graves of historic figures, famous, infamous and unknown. It is the resting place of John Henry “Doc” Holiday, the gambler, gunslinger and friend of Wyatt Erp. Doc is believed to have spent his last days in Glenwood Springs in the 1880s, consoled by gambling and high living but who succumbed in the end to tuberculosis. Here too lie the remains of Jasper Ward, founder of New Castle. There are ladies of the night here and ladies of Glenwood’s foremost pioneer families. There are children taken before their time. And in unmarked graves set apart from the town’s prominent citizens are the people of color. Folks still troop up the hill on Memorial Day to place flowers on the gravestones and set flags to remember the veterans. The trailhead to the cemetery is at 12th Street and Palmer Ave. It’s a short walk up the hill.

10. Summer of Jazz

After a day at the pool, white water rafting or biking the canyon, relax with the sounds of cool jazz in Two Rivers Park. Glenwood’s premier concert series, Summer of Jazz, attracts loyal locals and visitors. This year the Wednesday night series begins June 4 at 6:30 p.m. with the Joey DeFrancesco Trio. Joey plies the Hammond organ and is considered one of the driving forces behind the rekindling of organ-driven jazz. He won the prestigious Philadelphia Jazz Society McCoy Tyner Scholarship while he was in high school. By the time he graduated he’d signed a contract with Columbia Records and was playing with Miles Davis. He’s collaborated with John McLaughlin, Kenney Garret, Stanly Turrentine, Grover Washington Jr. and John Scofield. On stage he’s effervescent and innovative.

Also on this summer’s lineup are the Irvin Mayfield Quintet, June 11; Ben Sidran Quartet, June 18; the Kenny Werner Trio, June 25; Benny Green and Russell Malone, July 2; the Rene Marie Trio, July 9; the Masters of Groove, July 16 and the Chuchito Valdez Afro-Cuban Ensemble, July 23.

There’s always good food available at the concerts. Bring a picnic but leave glass containers and dogs at home.

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