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7/19/24

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25 Years of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

America’s only mountaintop theme park in Glenwood Springs is turning 25 in 2024. To commemorate the milestone, the park plans to celebrate all season long, culminating with a “Party like it’s 1999,” salute featuring a Prince tribute band.

Two and a half decades ago, Steve and Jeanne Beckley embarked on a monumental journey, culminating in the realization of a dream nurtured over years of single-minded determination and hard work. It was in 1999 that the couple opened the Glenwood Caverns to the public, marking the end of a near-century closure. Little did they know then that their endeavor to bring the beauty of the caves to a larger audience would evolve into an iconic Colorado visitor destination, drawing thousands annually to explore the caves and experience thrill rides at what has become known as Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, America’s only mountaintop theme park.

Turning 25 and Partying Like It’s 1999

As Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park commemorates its 25th anniversary, festivities abound with a themed celebration, “Pary Like It’s 1999” planned for Saturday, May 18. The evening will kick off with BJ the DJ from 5 to 7 p.m. The highlight of the evening will be a performance by Paizley Park, a dynamic Prince tribute band that will take the stage from 7 to 9 p.m.

Phillip Lamar formed the band at the urging of his friends and fans who convinced him that his vocal and physical attributes were spot-on resemblances of “the Purple One.” Paizley Park is named for Prince’s home and studio in Minnesota. The band came together in January 2016, just four months before Prince’s death. Paizley Park is no stranger to Glenwood Caverns having played previous crowd-pleasing shows at the mountaintop venue. For the festivities this year, guests are encouraged to channel the spirit of the occasion by donning Prince’s signature color—every shade of purple!

Party-Day Perks

Glenwood GondolaAdding to the retro theme, when the tram opened the cost to ride was a mere ten bucks. To commemorate the 25th anniversary, the Adventure Park is offering guests a $10 throwback price to ride the Glenwood Gondola after 4 p.m. and join in the festivities. In addition to the gondola discount, party-goers will receive swag bags filled with goodies and there will also be raffle drawings for amazing prizes throughout the evening during band breaks.

Share the Memories & Ride for Free

Family at Glenwood CavernsTo remember this milestone moment in Glenwood Caverns’ history, the park is inviting past guests to share some of their favorite visitor memories and well as photos. From silly to heart-warming, we’re looking forward to seeing your smiles that date back to two and a half decades ago! In return for sharing, the Adventure Park will give participants four free Glenwood Gondola tickets to attend the festivities on May 18. To share your Glenwood Caverns’ memories use the QR code in this post.

How it Began

Steve and Jeanne BeckleyWhile the park is celebrating turning 25, the dream began long before opening day in 1999. In the early 1980s, Steve Beckley, a petroleum engineer and graduate of the Colorado School of Mines, stumbled upon a mention of the Fairy Caves in an out-of-print book about Colorado caves. His curiosity piqued, he wrote to Pete Prebble, the then-owner, expressing his fervent desire to explore the hidden wonders within. It took 11 years of persistence and cajoling before Steve and his then-girlfriend Jeanne were granted access to the closed-off cave.

For the next six years, the Beckleys tirelessly negotiated with Prebble, eventually securing a lease for the property. They bid farewell to their jobs in Denver and embraced a new chapter in Glenwood Springs with their newborn son. A year of meticulous preparation followed, leading to the long-awaited opening of the caves to the public during Memorial Weekend in 1999—a momentous occasion marking the realization of their 18-year-old dream.

Evolution into a Thriving Destination

  • Early History

Historic photo of two ladies in cave at Glenwood Caverns1.5 Million Years Ago: Caves form from a unique mixture of fresh and mineral water.

1896: Charles Darrow opens the Fairy Caves to the public.

1897: The Fairy Caves become one of the first caves in the U.S. to have electric lighting.

  • Past 25 Years

King's Row Cave Tour1999: Steve and Jeanne Beckley restored and reopened the Fairy Caves as Glenwood Caverns.

2003: Iron Mountain Tramway opens to transport visitors from the valley floor to the mountaintop park.

2005: Glenwood Caverns installs the Alpine Coaster, the park’s first thrill ride.

2013: The Fairy Caves expansion opens.

2019: The new, faster gondola replaces the tramway. Glenwood Caverns also becomes one of the first amusement parks to use 100-percent renewable electricity.

2023: Glenwood Caverns receives National Natural Landmark designation.

The Latest Big News

Glenwood Caverns has never been a place content to rest on its accomplishments. Always seeking new ways to improve the visitor experience, the Adventure Park added the Defiance roller coaster to its roster of adrenaline-pumping rides in 2022. The action-packed, 56-second thriller features a record-breaking 102.3-degree free-fall drop that keeps thrill-seekers returning for another hit of unbounded excitement. Look for this high-profile ride and other park thrill rides to open for the season in May.

Representative from Glenwood Caverns and Iron Mountain accepting NNL plaque from Governor Jared PolisIn 2023, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, along with its sister attraction, Iron Mountain Hot Springs was designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Glenwood Caverns was recognized due to treasures seen and unseen.  Thanks to the rare, natural processes that formed the caverns millions of years ago and are still active today visitors can experience stunning cave formations on cave tours. The designation also honors marvels hidden from view including diverse life forms and ecosystems unique to Glenwood Caverns.

Make Plans to Party Like It’s 1999

Since opening in 1999, the Adventure Park has become known for its family-friendly atmosphere that welcomes one and all to take fun to new heights. From roller coasters to giant swings and concerts under the stars to scenic gondola rides, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is a one-of-a-kind destination.

Twenty-fifth-anniversary celebrations will be ongoing, culminating in the party of the year on May 18, 2024. Make plans to visit and join in the festivities today. Learn more about all the activities and events planned at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park today!

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