Glenwood Caverns Hosts Caving Rescue Seminar

“The seminar is really to update cavers on how to rescue people,” said Ken Headrick, a tour guide at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and a volunteer during the seminar. “We spend one day at the community center with a classroom setting to learn about cave rescue, and then we actually perform a real rescue on the second day. They hide people in the cave, and the scenario this year was four lost people we had to find. It took a few hours, but it was overall the best rescue we’ve had.” This year’s seminar attracted 34 participants from around the state, in addition to 22 volunteers, ranging from locals such as Headrick to caving experts and speakers from the Front Range. A number of volunteers were also required to handle the logistics of the seminar, such as caving gear. One of the key areas of focus during the seminar was evacuations involving extreme injuries, such as broken backs, which prevent cavers from crawling out themselves. A large portion of the weekend was dedicated to packaging cavers onto litters, which were then carried out of the caves by other members of the group.

“For the search and rescue personnel, it gives them the experience to actually practice a cave rescue,” said Marty Reames, director of the CCRN as well as an instructor for the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC). “From the caver’s perspective, it provides an education on what it really takes to get someone out. We end up creating safer cavers by helping them realize the ramifications of getting hurt.”

The next major cave rescue seminar in Colorado will be held in May of 2014 in Divide, CO. This weeklong session will be an NCRC event.

New Cabin Cars For Glenwood Caverns Tram

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park will be adding new tram cabin cars to the existing tram cable system Monday April 29 through Wednesday May 1. The Park will be closed during that time. For more details on the project I spoke with the Park’s Tram Manager Wade Beattie.

Wade explained that he and a crew of four or five other Adventure Park staff will work together with a similar-sized team from Leitner-Poma of America to carry out the job at the Glenwood Caverns tram base in Glenwood Springs. Leitner-Poma, located in nearby Grand Junction, Colorado, and their parent company, Poma, is a world leader in tramways & chairlifts, with close to 8000 installed world-wide.

The tram line currently has four pods (groups) of three cabin cars per pod for a total of 12 cars attached to the tram cable. The new addition entails adding two more pods of 3 cars each, for six additional cars, which translates to a 50% increase in tram seating capacity.

Wade reported that the new cabin cars were shipped from Switzerland, and have been traveling towards the west coast via ocean freighter.

Tram cars at the Adventure Park Tram Base in Glenwood Springs. 

                                              photo by Doug Davis 

Wade added that there are some logistics involved with the new cabin car installation. Because the cabins are very sturdily built and are not lightweight, a small long-arm crane is required to support the cars while they are being attached to the cable line.

“When the work is completed an Acceptance Test will be performed by a registered professional engineer from the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board,” Wade states. “We do tram maintenance all the time, and the state does surprise inspections, so they’re a very safe form of transportation.”

“In the meantime we’ve been re-upholstering all the seats in the existing tram cars. We will also be polishing the cabin windows, and replacing some windows… in effect all tram cabins are getting a facelift. If all goes according to plan, the work should be completed and 6 new cabins will be installed by May 1.”

Seven Steps for a Fun Family Colorado Spring Break

Families who travel together reap a lot of benefits: better health, reduced stress, renewed bonds and shared memories. Whether travelling a long distance, looking to find affordable homes to relocate, an extended trip or staying closer to home for a long weekend, spring break is the perfect opportunity for families to escape their daily routines of work, school, homework, chores, practices and carpools, and have some good old-fashioned fun. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers families a sure-fire plan to get rid of the doldrums:

1. Gain a new perspective from Mother Nature: The Adventure Park is nestled in the Rocky Mountains above Glenwood Springs, Colorado. After a scenic 10-minute gondola ride with views of snow-capped mountains, two rivers and the Roaring Fork Valley, you will feel nature’s calming effect kick in.

2. Learn something new to spark creativity: A guided tour of Glenwood Caverns provides the chance to learn about the area’s rich history and geology in a beautiful underground setting. Who knows what ideas might be triggered by a visit to the most highly decorated cave room in Colorado, filled with glittering formations?

3. Pump up the adrenaline: Get the heart pumping with a race down the mountain on the state’s longest Alpine Coaster. Unlike most thrill rides, you control the speed and can fly screaming around the curves and over the bumps, or use the brakes and go at your own pace as you wind through the trees. You could even find a tennis coach for beginners if you’ve never given this sport a proper go before, you’ll all burn off some energy, and you might even have fun!

4. Yuck it up: Laughter really is the best medicine. Throw in a few surprises and a scream or two, and the 4D Motion Theater can be a real mood-changer. Featuring three films: “A Night at the Toy Store,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

5. Take out frustrations with a laser: A game of laser tag, that is. A little healthy competition in an Old West setting, using the latest in wireless laser tag technology, can help get everyone laughing again. Airsoft and BB guns are also a great way to have fun with your friends; equipment can be purchased at onlybbguns.

6. Break bread together: Talk about the day over a meal. What was each family member’s favorite part? What did they learn? What was the funniest thing that happened? An impromptu awards ceremony with silly photos can be turned into a memory book for the family to share.

7. Start planning: Now’s the time for a family time-out. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of travel: travelers rate their health higher while on vacation and report that they sleep better upon return; employees are more creative and productive after a vacation; and couples who travel together strengthen their relationships.* While having a vacation can have numerous health benefits and bring you closer with family and friends, there are still a few worries that come with it. Some people worry about their finances and whether or not they have enough to go abroad, this worry deepens if they decide they would like to visit for longer than the normal period or even live in a country like the US. There seems to be nothing worse than being in a country and not being able to access money to tide you over until you are ready to leave. Luckily, you can search online for a credit card for foreigners that may be able to help you while you are visiting. There are also vacation spots that offer affordable holidays to groups who are looking for a relaxing and fun time with the family.

Our mission is to make people smile – so our employees are dedicated to helping you have a good time. The Funday Pass this winter is just $30 per person and includes the gondola ride and unlimited access to the Alpine Coaster, Laser Tag Arena and 4D Motion Theater. Guests can add the guided Cave Tour for just $5 more.

The mountain-top Lookout Grille has a cozy fire and menu choices that include nachos, bratwursts, hot dogs, salads, soup, sandwiches, wraps, chili and Colorado-raised hormone-free burgers, ranging in price from $5.95 to $9.95. Kids can choose mac and cheese, a hot dog or a cheese quesadilla, with chips and a small drink for $5.95.

Conveniently located on I-70 midway between Aspen and Vail, the Adventure Park is close to many of Colorado’s top vacation destinations: three hours from Denver, four hours from Colorado Springs and 90 minutes from Grand Junction. Vail, Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Beaver Creek, Snowmass and Buttermilk are located within an hour of the park. Breckenridge, Winter Park, Powderhorn, Steamboat, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Ski Cooper and SolVista are within two hours.

Glenwood Springs features the world’s largest hot springs pool, hiking and biking trails, fishing, a vaudeville show, shopping, award-winning restaurants and affordable lodging options. The local Sunlight Mountain Resort offers downhill skiing and riding, trails for Nordic and snowshoeing, and snowmobile tours.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is currently open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Monday, but will extend its hours for spring. Beginning March 8, the park will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Follow us on Facebook for more information.

* More information about the benefits of travel is available from the U.S. Travel Association.

Learning from the Best

With shorter hours and smaller crowds during the late fall and early winter, the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park management team takes time each year for team building, professional development and celebrating! They traveled to California in November for a team-building trip and as a reward for another successful year.

The team met with executives at some of the world’s top theme parks: Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farms, Magic Mountain and Disney California Adventure — including the new Cars Land.

They spent two days with Disney executives, learning about guest services, safety, quality audits, hiring and training. Nancy Heard, mountain operations manager, was very impressed by Disney’s impeccably maintained facilities and guest services, but her biggest “wow” moment was learning that they not only wash the streets every night, they dry them! Special projects manager Shiela Kendall’s biggest surprise was seeing the crew washing and polishing the trash receptacles. As you can tell from the photo, business development manager Eric Brotherson really enjoyed the pancakes.

After taking rare behind-the-scenes tours, experiencing the rides and attractions, and having in-depth discussions about the parks’ operations and best practices, the team brought back lots of ideas to enhance the customer experience here in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This is the sort of trip families around the country dream of going on. While definitely one worth doing, it can be a costly experience. If you’re considering applying for credit to get out to California, make sure you get a free credit report from Creditkarma before you put money on the table.

Visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in historic Glenwood Springs, Colo., for a unique mountain-top adventure. Wholesome family fun, from kids’ activities and attractions to rides for die-hard thrill seekers, makes this the perfect vacation destination. Take a walking tour or an on-your-belly Wild Tour of Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves, one of the country’s leading show caves. Ride the longest alpine coaster in Colorado, with individual cars on tracks that race down the mountainside. Enjoy the highest elevation roller coaster in America, a 4D motion theater, a giant swing over Glenwood Canyon,  a zip ride, breathtaking views from the Iron Mountain Tramway, a climbing wall, sluice box gemstone mining, geode cutting, a Ferris wheel ride, a giant maze and more. The Lookout Grille serves lunch on the deck or inside by the fire, with a great kids’ menu. Perfect for parties, groups and reunions.

Cliffhanger Roller Coaster at Glenwood Caverns

The Cliffhanger at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the highest-elevation full-sized roller coaster in America! The highest part of the 50-foot-tall Cliffhanger Roller Coaster curves alongside the edge of Glenwood Canyon, more than 1,400 feet above the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys.

Located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, the Adventure Park, which brought the first Alpine Coaster to the U.S. in 2005, also offers thrill seekers the Giant Canyon Swing, which swings riders out 1,300 feet above the Colorado River in a pneumatically powered, zero-Gs thrill ride; the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride; and a wild, on-your-belly tour of Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves.

Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Colorado this Summer

Photo op from Exclamation Point
Photo op from Exclamation Point

Go jump off a cliff! Trekaroo, a popular family travel planning website, just released its list of the Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Colorado…and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is included! In the ever-popular Jump Off a Cliff category, written just for those thrill-seeking families out there, the Giant Canyon Swing is called out for “launching daring riders 1,300 feet out and over the Colorado River trailing below.”
The article also includes the Wild Tour, Alpine Coaster and Zip Ride, which when combined with the Bungee Jump and the new Cliffhanger Roller Coaster opening this spring, makes a pretty exciting day for adventurous families. Here’s how that day could play out this summer (many of these rides are seasonal, this is to help you plan your summer vacation) …

9 a.m. — Hop on board the Iron Mountain Tramway and enjoy a scenic ride to the Adventure Park, which is nestled in the mountains overlooking Glenwood Springs, Colorado, voted the Most Fun Town in America in the Rand McNally and USA Today Best of the Road program. Check out the park map during the ride so that you can hit the ground running when you get to the top.

9:30 — Ride the Alpine Coaster one or five times. It was the first in the U.S. and is still the longest Alpine Coaster in Colorado. You will love it. Kids at least eight years old and 56” tall can ride alone, kids three and older can ride with an adult.

10:15 — Ride the new Cliffhanger Roller Coaster! Located slightly above the rest of the park, sitting at 7,160 feet, you’ll get amazing views of the Roaring Fork Valley…if you can keep your eyes open as it whips you around the curve right along the edge of Glenwood Canyon.

11:00 — Head for the Giant Canyon Swing, which was featured on the Travel Channel and Good Morning America, and see what all the fuss is about. Watch it a time or two, then get strapped in for the ride of a lifetime. Make sure someone has the video camera going so you can prove that you rode it.

11:45 — Make your way to the Bungee Tower. You can try the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride first, which zips you down the mountain, over the Alpine Coaster, and then back up to the top again. If you’re really brave, it’s time to try the Bungee Jump. It’s 70 feet up; you can jump, free fall backwards, or dive head first. Again, make sure someone is taping it so you can share your screams with your friends later.

12:30 — Time for lunch. The Lookout Grille offers some of the best panoramic views in Colorado, and features burgers, salads, sandwiches, a great kids’ menu and more.

1:30 — While you’re in the building, head upstairs and try out the Laser Tag Arena. It was just repainted this year, and the kids will have a blast.

2:15 — Head back outside and take your pick: the new Mine Wheel or Wild West Express Coaster, perfect for the young ones in the group, or race through Fort WhereAmI, a giant Western-style human maze. Take your camera and snap some shots from the towers, the views are incredible.

3:00 — You might need a breather now, so grab a cold drink at the Snack Shack and try the gemstone sluice box mining, pick out a geode and have it cut, or see how good of a shot you are at the Mining Shaft Shootin’ Gallery. You can also get an old time photo taken at Silk’s Saloon.

4:00 — Take the guided 70-minute tour of Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves. It’s suitable for almost everyone, but there are 127 steps down and back up again, so be prepared to carry the little ones if needed. (Sign up at the base when you arrive in the morning, the tours can fill up during the summer.)

5:15 — Pick your favorite rides and try them again!

6:30 — Time for another cold drink on the deck at the Lookout Grille, and maybe a slice of pizza at the Snack Shack. If you can stay for the sunset, you won’t be disappointed.

If your family is not quite adventurous enough for the Giant Canyon Swing, and Cliffhanger Roller Coaster and Bungee Jump, never fear. You’ll find plenty to do. The park also features a sand pit fossil dig, climbing wall, Giddy Up Western Ride, Wild West Wagon ride, new Mine Wheel and Wild West Express Coaster.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located just off I-70, midway between Vail and Aspen. During the winter and spring, guests can enjoy the Iron Mountain Tramway, Alpine Coaster, Laser Tag, 4D Motion Theater and guided cave tours. The rest of the park’s attractions are scheduled to open by Memorial Weekend. For more information, visit glenwoodcaverns.com or call 800-530-1635, ext. 0.

Read the whole Trekaroo “Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Colorado” list.

Now, who’s ready for summer?

Glenwood Springs: Most Fun Town for a Colorado Spring Break

There’s a reason Glenwood Springs was named the Most Fun Town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today. It really is fun, and that makes it a great destination for spring breakers. Whether you live on the Front Range and need a staycation, or are coming from out-of-state for your Colorado ski trip, we hope you’ll consider Glenwood Springs.

During March and early April, here’s a look at what you can do in Glenwood Springs:

Spend a day with us! In the off-season, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has smaller crowds than you’ll find here in the summer. Our Winter Fun Pass will still be available, and it’s an incredible deal. For just $31 per person, you get a round-trip ride on the Iron Mountain Tramway, or a bus in inclement weather, a 70-minute guided Cave Tour, and unlimited access to the Alpine Coaster, 4D Motion Theater and Laser Tag Arena. You can add lunch at the Lookout Grille and spend around $160 for a family of four.

Ski or ride at one or more of the seven ski resorts located within an hour of Glenwood Springs, including Vail, Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Beaver Creek, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Sunlight Mountain Resort. That’s especially nice because the lodging in Glenwood Springs is significantly more affordable than in neighboring Aspen and Vail, and you are located right in the middle of these world-class resorts.

Play and relax at the Glenwood Hot Springs, the world’s largest hot springs pool, which is well known for its healing mineral waters. Weather permitting, the pool’s two water slides will be open the last two weeks of March, which adds even more fun to your swim. The pool is open until 10 p.m. every night, so you can spend the day with us, and then relax in the pool afterwards.

You can also laugh the night away at the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, get pampered at one of several spas in town, take a snowmobile tour, go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, choose from an amazing variety of restaurants and go shopping. With more than 100 stores, Glenwood Springs is the largest retail shopping area between Denver and Grand Junction.

You can learn more about visiting Glenwood Springs on our website. Hope we see you soon!

Glenwood Caverns’ First Employee Looks Back

Bob Koper knows a thing or two about being underground.
The longtime Glenwood Caverns tour guide has been sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge about the historic caves since 1999, the first year they were open to the public. Steve Beckley, Glenwood Caverns co-owner and operator, hired him on as the very first employee, as a manager and as the first tour guide.

Prior to joining the Caverns, Koper taught science at Rifle High School for 30 years. Among the many outdoor excursions he took his students on were field trips to the Fulford Caves, so he had some experience as a cave guide. After retiring from teaching, guiding cave tours at the Glenwood Caverns seemed like a natural position for someone who loved the outdoors and teaching. Koper wasn’t ready to give up working completely just yet and it helped generate more income. This definitely bucks the trend that we have seen lately of people preferring to seek Key’s equity release advice in order to raise money to enjoy in retirement instead. But Koper has never been one to follow the crowd.

Tour Guide manager Bob Koper in King’s Row at Glenwood Caverns
Kelly Cox photo

Twelve years later, he is still going strong as the Caverns’ most experienced tour guide, leading the Wild Tours as well as educational programs for both local and national school groups. He serves as a manager and trainer of new tour guides, and he also finds time to teach geology and astronomy at Colorado Mountain College. Clearly, Koper is really enjoying his job at the Glenwood Caverns. The company must really know a lot about the retention of employees for Koper to have been working there for 12 years, despite him being eligible for retirement. It seems that he is working happily, with no signs of wanting to leave the company or job. Keeping employees passionate about their role is becoming increasingly difficult for many employers these days, perhaps they should take a look at Glenwood Caverns and their long-serving staff members.

For Bob, the best part of the job has been watching the Caverns change and grow year after year. “Steve [Beckley] is so innovative. He is truly a visionary, and it has been so much fun to see the progression. Every year, there’s something new and exciting,” he says.

Koper’s enthusiasm for the park has spread to his family members. About two years ago, he brought his granddaughter Gabby, then nine years, to the Park with him. She wanted to ride the Giant Canyon Swing, so he left her in the capable hands of the swing attendants and went to do some work. Some time later, he realized that she had been gone for awhile, so he went back to the swing, and she was still on it. She had ridden it 47 times! And she wasn’t done, either. She ended up riding the swing 72 times that day.

Koper says that being a tour guide is a life changing experience. “You become more outgoing. You learn how to stand up in front of people and feel comfortable. You’re not afraid to speak and show your excitement. It really changes a person in that way,” he says.

For his day to day work as a tour guide, Koper is challenged to keep introducing an exciting experience for guests every day – but he doesn’t find it difficult. “It’s very rewarding to see people’s smiles and to share in their excitement,” he says. His enthusiasm and energy spreads to the guests, and vice versa, which keeps every day interesting and invigorating.

Koper’s dedication to teaching people about the caves and his camaraderie with his fellow employees keep him going year after year, and he is excited for the future of the park, which will continue to expand. He proudly mentioned that the caverns just had a good year, even in the rough economy. “Especially considering that people aren’t traveling as much, we’ve had a great year,” he says. That’s no accident, though…and a lot of credit goes to the passionate and hardworking employees, just like Bob Koper!