Weekend indicates city may be hot summer ticket

by Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – What a difference a year makes.

Last Memorial Day, a little more than a week before the Coal Seam Fire came to town, Glenwood Springs was dealing with hot, dry weather and just beginning a summer season of low water levels and drought.

This past weekend, with rivers up, boaters out, and attractions crowded, area businesses seemed to be reaping the rewards of a much greener entry into summer, both in terms of vegetation and dollars.

There wasn’t a parking space to be had in the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool’s lot on Monday afternoon. The pool, which can often be used as somewhat of a gauge of Glenwood’s economic health as far as tourism goes, was in the midst of a swimming-room-only crowd. In other words, there wasn’t a spare chaise lounge to be had.

“Memorial Day is typically one of our busiest holidays,” said Hot Springs Pool general manager Kjell Mitchell on Monday. “Our business office is closed for the weekend, so I don’t have exact numbers yet, but it looks like a lot of people have come here to escape the city.”

The warm weather over the weekend helped to make the pool a top destination choice for locals and visitors alike.

“We’re certainly glad Mother Nature decided to cooperate with us,” Mitchell said, with a smile.

Because of its long history and its reputation, the Hot Springs Pool is known among Front Range Coloradans as a popular spot in the mountains for a quick getaway. But with summer vacation season starting up, Mitchell said the pool gets a fair number of visitors who learn about it from brochures stocked at rest areas in Grand Junction from the west and Eagle from the east. He also said some people simply see what’s called the world’s largest hot springs pool as they pass by and make a point to check it out.

“We get a fair number of people who see it as they’re driving over the bridge,” Mitchell, said sitting outside the pool entrance with the Grand Avenue Bridge over his shoulder. “They see the big pool and tell us they had to stop and find out what it is.”

The Iron Mountain Tramway’s first Memorial Day weekend also proved to be a busy one for the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. On Monday, all the parking lots at the tramway base were filled nearly to capacity, and a couple dozen people were waiting for gondolas to take them to the on-mountain restaurant, shop and to the caverns’ entrance.

“It’s been busy,” said Lindsay Wizner, who is a base tram operator and cashier. “Even our overflow parking areas are full.”

Wizner said the weekend’s operations went “really smoothly. We’ve been able to get people in and out with no problems.”

She said a lot of people are just curious, and that’s how they are finding out about the tram.

“They’ll just come by and ask, `What is this?'” she said.

Wizner also said area hotels are offering discount coupons for the tram and that’s pulling people to the park.

Of the people she’s talked with, most seem to be coming from the “Denver-Aurora area,” and from Texas and Michigan.

She said crowds were steady on Monday with short waits to ride the tram. On Saturday and Sunday, the wait was from a half-hour to an hour.

“We had a line out to the road,” she said, pointing out the window. “People have been really good about the wait. We put a board out to let them know how long the wait is so they know what to expect.”

Wizner, a Glenwood High graduate who’s attending the nursing program at CMC before she transfers to a four-year school, said it’s really fun to work at the new attraction.

“People are so nice, and they just love getting up to the top and going to the restaurant or to the caves for a tour,” she said.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.