Spring Break is a Time to Spring Forward

Take a break at a family-friendly spot this year. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is a family favorite for spring break vacations. Learn more about spring break traditions around the country.

Spring break isn’t just for college kids. Your family can use a break—maybe from the winter cabin fever, maybe for that final sprint of the 

kids’ school year, surely for some getaway time together that will make more lifetime memories. After all, vacations aren’t just for summer.

Check out the hot spots online for college spring breaks. Then look somewhere else where you can find fun for the whole family. You probably don’t want to be competing with massive student groups for a spot on the beach or a table in a restaurant.

One nice thing about spring is that it’s still winter—snow season—in some parts of the country and summer—beach season—in others. You can find plenty of family-friendly resorts, pick breathtaking natural beauty, or explore the museums, shops, entertainment and fun in unexpected cities. Check out these lists for ideas:

  • Family Vacation Critic has found 14 desirable spots, from the mountains (Ogden, Utah) to the coast (Hilton Head, S.C.; Panama City, Titusville, and the Florida Keys) to the coast (Carlsbad, Calif) to the coast (the Caribbean and Mexico). They’ve also found fun family things to do in Indianapolis, New York City, and the Wisconsin Dells.
  • HGTV has a Top 10 that includes snow at Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont; sun in San Diego, Calif. and Captiva Island, Fla.; a dude ranch in Arizona; and a surfing school in Hawaii.
  • Good Housekeeping’s 15 recommendations include Lisbon and London; Banff, Canada, and Los Cabos, Mexico; Yosemite National Park and Hawaii.
  • Family Vacation Critic highlights out-of-the-way places such as Greenville, S.C., Blowing Rock and Beech Mountain, N.C., McCall, Idaho, and Blairsville, Ga., alongside the more familiar Punta Cana, Cancun, Mexico City, Quebec City, Montego Bay, and Palm Springs. It includes Glenwood Springs on a list focused on affordability.

Whatever your family’s interest—ski, swim, scuba, surf, big cities, small towns or back-to-nature, you can find the perfect spot for 2020 sightseeing. You’ll come home refreshed, renewed and ready for the rest of the years.

For a family spring break in Colorado, be sure to learn more about Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Smaller Theme Parks Provide Old-Fashioned Fun

Smaller theme parks maintain a family-feel with vintage and modern attractions.

Far from the madding crowd of big-name amusement parks, dozens of slower-paced, family-style and nostalgic operations dot America with enough charm and attractions to take home a lifetime of large memories. Derek Sailors of North Carolina, who has worked on the encyclopedic Roller Coaster DataBase for years, started his own Facebook page, to boost those sites, including Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and preserve the heritage (he also runs pages for zoos, road trips, and defunct amusement parks). Here are some of his top picks:

Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa. This family-owned operation founded in 1926 is a big park with a small-park Americana feel. Admission is free, with individual prices for each of more than 60 rides, including three wooden roller coasters, a 1913 Grand Carousel, two miniature railways, and a dark haunted house. The compound includes a swimming pool, golf course, campground and restaurants.

Canobie Lake Park, Salem, N.H. This smaller theme park was founded by the Hudson, Pelham & Salem Railways at the end of a new trolley line in 1902. Visitors in those days dressed up for a day of picnicking, sporting events, canoeing, the Penny Arcade, and a ride on the Circle Swing. Attractions today include thrill rides such as the Yankee Cannonball rollercoaster and spinning Ice Jet, family rides including a 1903 carousel and 40-foot pontoon boat, kids’ rides, water rides, arcade games and live shows.

Seabreeze, Rochester, N.Y. This park was founded in 1879 as the last stop on a steam train line with picnic grounds and a lakefront. Mechanical rides were added, including a carousel in 1900. In addition to the vintage 1920 Jack Rabbit rollercoaster, Seabreeze has modern thrill rides, family rides, kids’ rides, a water park, shows and games.

Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park, Iowa. Wesley Arnold bought land on the south shore of West Lake Okoboji in 1864 and started entertaining visitors on the Milwaukee Railroad in 1874. Community leaders raised $7.25 million in 1999 to save the park from demolition and build a Maritime Museum. In addition to a full range of rides, the park hosts concerts and shows and runs a large steamer ship, Queen II, on the lake.

Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park, Rossville, Ga. Lake Winnie opened in 1925, focused at first on water-related attraction. The Boat Chute, installed two years later, is the oldest still-operating mill chute water ride in the United States. The site also has a 1916 carousel, an open-air theater, a water park, and a Cannonball rollercoaster installed in 1967.

Achieve Your Vacation Goals in

With the world at your fingertips like never before, you can be sure to achieve your vacation goals—as long as you set those goals carefully. That requires some reflection and choices even before you start lining up specific plans.

Are you looking for a getaway from the routine? A chance to experience exotic cities or natural beauty? An enriching historical or cultural experience for your kids? A way to create treasured family memories? Ask not just where you want to go but why you want to go there. Once you’ve considered these questions, be sure to write down the answers—or, better yet, tell a friend about them. TheCompassIsCalling.com says that people who write down their goals are 42 percent more likely to achieve them while those who tell others are 78 percent more likely.

Gather Ideas

Once vacation goals are established, consider the best strategy for achieving them. Would one trip of two or three weeks be more appropriate or several long weekends throughout the year? What are the places where you are most likely to have the experience you want? A fast-growing tool for this kind of research is Instagram—carefully filtered to avoid marketers and to define your choices precisely, it can show you the real experiences that other ordinary people have had on their vacations in those places. Jenni Fink in a Newsweek article provides a guide.

 

Plan Ahead & Save Money

Once you’ve matched a location to your vacation goals, planning the trip will become an exciting, targeted activity, according to the blogger Ramit Sethi. You will be able to investigate the most effective uses of time and money in that particular place, and you may discover that the destination can be enjoyed more economically than you expected. Also, your pre-planning gives you an opportunity to find discounts, choose affordable seasons, and even set aside money in a savings account regularly to cover costs. The less you put on the credit card while you’re on vacation, the more you’ll enjoy the trip—and the return.

Enjoy your Vacation

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. When you take the time to set shared strategic goals and carry out a plan to achieve them, you’ll have the pleasure of a successful preparation as well as a successful trip.

For a Colorado vacation that checks the boxes for family-friendly, affordable, thrills and new experiences, make plans to visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

May your 2020 journeys and destinations be rewarding!

Theme Parks where it’s Always Christmas

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park gets all decked out just for the holiday season, but  at these theme parks it’s Christmas all year round!

Many theme parks dress up for Christmas—not only Disneyland and Universal but also smaller parks. Dollywood has its Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival, Sesame Place its Very Furry Christmas, Silver Dollar City its Old Time Christmas, Six Flags its Holiday in the Park, Lake Compounce its Holiday Lights, Cliffs its Cliff’s Magical Christmas, Hersheypark its Christmas Candy Lane. Knotts Berry Farm its Knotts Merry Farm, and more. These parks come as they are – they’re Christmas all year round (except for after-Christmas winter months when some close):

Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, N.Y., opened in 1949, six years ahead of Disneyland, and claims to be the forerunner of U.S. theme parks. The developer, Julian Reiss, had made up a story for his daughter about a baby bear who found Santa Claus and his workshop. The girl wanted to visit the place, so he built it. The park has child-oriented rids including Candy Cane Express train, a sleigh coaster, carousel, Ferris wheel and talking Christmas tree.

Santa’s Workshop in Cascade, Colo., opened in 1956, is a village where you can meet the North Pole crew from May through Christmas Eve. It has 28 rides, mostly geared toward children, including a high-altitude Ferris wheel, Peppermint Slide, and Candy Cane Coaster.

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari Water Park in Santa Claus, Ind., has separate holiday-themed areas for 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Many of the rides are geared toward children, but the park also has a Thunderbird roller coaster and two large waterslides, among other family and thrill rides.

Castle Noel in Medina, Ohio, is all indoors but includes a Blizzard Vortex tunnel, Santa’s Chimney Squeeze, and a 25-foot animated Christmas tree. Its major attraction is a huge collection of props from a dozen Hollywood Christmas movies and traditional Christmas displays from upscale New York department stores. You can even ride the red slide like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story.”

Santa’s Village in Jefferson, N.H. has 20 rides mostly geared toward children, including a Chimney Drop, Little Drummer Boy spinning ride, Little Elf Flying School sleighs, Yule Log Flume, Santa’s Express Train, Reindeer Carousel, and S.S. Peppermint Twist small roller coaster. Its Ho Ho H20 water park is open in the warmer month. The village has several coasters, a monorail, food, and entertainment.

Santa’s Enchanted Forest in Miami claims to be the world’s largest holiday theme park. It has more than 100 rides, shows, games, attractions, and a free carnival. In addition to the child-focused rides, the site has thrill rides and roller coasters for adults and families. The park is open from mid-October through early January.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park over the holidays and enjoy Winter on the Mountain which includes holiday festivities such as visits from Santa, fire pits for roasting s’mores, live music and entertainment, as well as theme park rides and family attractions, cave tours and more.

The World’s Most Bizarre Theme Parks

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located on top of a mountain which is pretty unusual, but nothing compared to these bizarre theme parks from around the world.

Want to go to a real hellish house of horrors this Halloween? You can choose Haw Par Villa in Singapore or Suoi Tien Amusement Park in Vietnam. If you’re more reality-inclined, you can re-enact life in a real Soviet bunker in Lithuania or attempt a scary simulated border crossing in Mexico. If you just prefer gross-out humor, take the kids to BonBon World in Denmark. You can find a theme for pretty much any amusement in parks around the world. Here are some of the most bizarre theme parks, just in time for Halloween!

Haw Par Villa, Singapore

This Asian cultural park, built in 1937 and once known as Tiger Balm Garden, features history, philosophy, traditional rituals and religion along a red brick road. You’ll find tigers, leopards, dragons, goats, pandas, rabbits, gorillas, lobsters and a crab-lady. You can also enter the Ten Courts of Hell for a preview of, say, what it takes to get dismembered and drowned in a pool of blood. Afterwards, you can contemplate life in a real coffin.

Suoi Tien Cultural Theme Park, Vietnam

Suoi Tien, Vietnamese for “Fairy Stream,” is devoted to Southeast Asian Buddhism’s animistic themes—instead of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, you’ll find the Dragon, the Unicorn, the Tortoise and the Phoenix, as well as workers in golden monkey outfits. There’s a huge golden dragon with a neon-lit shrine to Buddha, pillars shaped like elephant tusks and a giant rotating frog. The waterslides come from the beards of twelve Buddhist sages, and you can feed raw meat to 1,500 crocodiles in a pond. Don’t be fooled by the Palace of Unicorns name—inside is Buddhist hell, with a vivid display of how drug addicts, gamblers and adulterers will be tortured.

Soviet Bunker, Lithuania

This is an actual Soviet bunker, built in 1984, where you can relive life in those Communist-ruled days. Many of the staff to guide you through the three-hour “1984: Survival Drama in a Soviet Bunker” were Soviet guards. The space is about 20 feet underground, includes over 32,000 square feet of tunnels and rooms, and a roof designed to withstand a nuclear bomb. The aim is education as well as entertainment. Some people faint. While you’re in Lithuania, check out Grūtas Park, also known as Stalin’s World, a 50-acre sculpture garden of Soviet leaders designed to resemble a prison camp.

Parque EcoAlberto, Mexico

Along with its gorgeous views, rivers and mountains, this ecotourism park offers visitors a realistic simulation of what it’s like to attempt a border crossing into the United States. The four-hour nighttime hike led by an actor-coyote includes the tension and danger of the trip. The event was established by the Hñahñus, local Native Americans, to discourage border crossings, educate outsiders and boost the local economy so that leaving isn’t the only option.

BonBon Land, Denmark

A candy manufacturer who marketed his products as Seagull Droppings, Ear Wax, and Dog Fart made a killing with potty-joke lovers of all ages, so he opened a similarly-themed park in 1992. The bathroom humor extends to the rides and statues in a country with relaxed standards of lowbrow amusement and is considered family-friendly. Attractions include the Worm, the Stud, Seagull Blobs, Horses Bulbs, Fold Cod, Crow Trees, the Horse Dropping, the Crazy Turtle, Skid Mark, Dunce Cap, and Rubbish Dump. The most popular ride is the Dog Fart Switchback with a huge, and noisy, canine statue.

Thank goodness, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has good old scary thrill rides like the Haunted Mine Drop, Cliffhanger Roller Coaster and the Giant Canyon Swing—all plenty scream-worthy for Halloween! See you soon at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, a not so bizarre theme park!

Interior Decoration: Cave Features

Reflecting-Pool-at-Glenwood-Caverns-by-Ken-Headrick-sm

Caves are so much more than holes in the ground, they are rooms ornately arranged by Mother Nature. Check out the wide variety of cave features that form as water dissolves rock to make caves.

The long process by which water carves caves out of limestone leaves behind fascinating formations as the mineral-rich water flows, loses carbon dioxide or evaporates, and leaves the minerals shaped like flowers, bathtubs, cones, needles, rafts, shields, chandeliers, balloons, columns, or bells, among other things.

The most familiar cave features are stalactites reaching down from the ceiling and stalagmites reaching up from the floor, usually, but not always, in a conical shape. If the minerals are deposited rapidly, for example, some stalagmites develop as a thinner structure called a broomstick. You can distinguish them by remembering that stalactites hold tight to the ceiling while stalagmites might make it to the top. Sometimes, paired stalactites and stalagmites meet to form a column.

Cave Features at Glenwood Caverns:

Flowstone. Flowstone is usually calcite or other carbonate minerals that forms in sheets as water flows over the cave floors or walls. The layers are laid down so thin that they conform to the underlying rock at first, but they can become more rounded as they thicken. Other chemicals in the calcite can produce different colors of flowstone, such as iron that gives a red tint.

Cave Bacon. Cave bacon is a kind of drapery that forms as the water flows along the edge of an overhang and leaves a trail of calcite where surface tension suspends the water before it loses carbon dioxide and deposits the mineral. These often appear on the fringes of flowstone. The buildup reflects the ripples and flows of the first deposits and looks like fabric drapery. When the drapery formations have different bands of color or darkness because of materials in the water at different times, they are called cave bacon.

Soda Straws. Stalactites in their early stages are hollow, long translucent tubes hanging from the ceiling. These delicate structures can grow long – they have been found up to 30 feet—but they usually begin to have water flow on the outside that builds up in the more common icicle shape of stalactites.

Cave bacon:

Cave Popcorn. Cave popcorn, a fairly common formation, is one form of coralloids that resemble knobs, globes, buttons, or corral and form in air, usually from water that seeps out of rocks, or still cave pools. Unlike most other features, they form because the water evaporates rather than because it lost carbon dioxide.

See all these amazing cave features on the Adventure Park’s two cave tours—King’s Row and the Historic Fairy Caves. Learn more and make plans to go underground at www.glenwoodcaverns.com.

Ups and Downs of Roller Coasters

Cliffhanger Roller Coaster
Cliffhanger Roller Coaster

The Cliffhanger Roller Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the highest elevation coaster in North America. Check out these other record-breaking roller coasters.

 Fifty feet tall, perched at an altitude of 7,160 feet and hugging the side of Iron Mountain, the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster edges out all other coasters on the continent. A crowd-pleaser, its cliff-side curves and heart-stopping drop offs make it a must-ride attraction for coaster aficionados and thrill-seekers. From the ride’s pinnacle are views of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon, 1,450 feet below!

Amusement parks for decades have competed to build the tallest, fastest, longest, scariest coasters. The first coaster that reached 100 feet tall was Serpent of Fire at La Feria Chapultepec Magico in Mexico City in 1964. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, was the first to cross the 200-foot mark (Magnum XL-200, 201 feet in 1989), the 300-foot mark (Millennium Force, 310 feet in 2000, and the 400-foot mark (Top Thrill Dragster, 420 feet in 2003), but Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, set the current record at 456 feet in 2005. Kingda Ka also has the longest drop, at 418 feet, and the second-fastest speed, 128 mph, surpassed by Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Dubai in 2010 at 149.1 mph.

The longest steel roller coaster is Steel Dragon 2000, at 8,133 feet, built in 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan. The use of steel-tube rails for roller coasters, pioneered at Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds in 1959, accelerated development of twists, turns, and inversions. The record for inversions on a steel roller coaster is 14, set by The Smiler at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England, in 2013, while the record for inversions on a wooden roller coaster is three, reached by Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., in 2013 and tied by Wildfire at Bråviken bay, Norrköping, Sweden, in 2016.

Wildfire is also tied with T Express at Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, for the tallest wooden roller coaster at 183.8 feet. Goliath at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., holds the record for longest wooden rollercoaster drop, 180 feet, set in 2014. Lightning Rod at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., built in 2016, is the fastest wooden roller coaster, 73 mph. The Beast, built in 1979 at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, is the longest, 7,359 feet.

Shuttle roller coasters, which run back and forth instead of making a complete circuit, have not developed as rapidly in recent years. The tallest, 415-foot-tall Superman: Escape from Krypton, was built at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., and the fastest, 100-mph Tower of Terror at Dreamworld in Gold Coast, Australia, were both built in 1997. The longest, 1,480-foot-long Mr. Freeze, was built at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington in 1998.

The oldest still-operating rollercoaster is Leap-The-Dips, built at Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pa., in 1902. Other individual records for different styles of rollercoaster include:

  • Stand-Up – The Riddler’s Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain is the tallest, fastest, and longest (156-feet tall, 146-foot drop, 65 mph top speed, 4,370 feet long).
  • Inverted – Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is the tallest and fastest and has the largest drop (195-feet tall, 170-foot drop, 67 mph top speed), but the longest is Banshee at Kings Island (4,124 feet).
  • Flying – Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain is the tallest, fastest, and longest (170 feet high, 62 mph top speed, 3,602 feet long).
  • Floorless – Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas has the largest drop (168-feet) and is the fastest (70 mph). Dominator at King’s Dominion is the tallest (161 feet) and longest (4,210-feet long).
  • Largest Arrow Mega-Looper – Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain is the tallest and has the most inversions (188 feet tall, 7 inversions).

Ride the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and learn more about our other scream-worthy thrill rides at www.glenwoodcaverns.com.

Ten Cool Facts About Caves

We are fascinated by caves and continue to learn about, explore and map our own at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Every cave is unique and caves around the world and in the U.S. vary from place to place. If you’re curious about caves, check out these weird and interesting cave facts.

  1. While most caves are formed by the action of acidic water on karst, a landscape of limestone, dolomite, and gypsum, some are formed by lava tubes from volcanos or from meltwater in glaciers.
  2. In most caves, the dissolving of the karst takes more than 100,000 years to make enough space for one person.
  3. Ancient people were painting patterns and figures on cave walls more than 40,000 years ago. Scientists believe that Neanderthals might have painted on caves in the Iberian Peninsula up to 64,000 years ago and a figure of an animal on Borneo more than 40,000 years ago.
  4. Mayans built temples over caves or built them to look like caves because they believed that caves were the entrance to the underworld. Other ancient people also considered caves to be sacred spaces.
  5. Arthropods, fish, amphibians, and insects that have evolved to live in caves are called troglobites. The first troglobite identified, in the 1700s was the eyeless white amphibian called the olm. Some, such as the blind wolf spider of Hawaii, the Devil’s Hole pupfish of Death Valley, and the Texas Blind Salamander, are found in only one location.
  6. Sulfur is the basis of nearly all life forms in the Cuevo de Villa Luz in Mexico. Single-celled organisms called Snotties oxidize the sulfur from underground springs.
  7. Humans have used caves for shelter, food storage, mushroom farming, hideouts from the law, and many other activities. The Reed Flute Cave in China was an air-raid shelter during World War II.
  8. The caves in Paradise Glacier on Mt. Ranier in Washington were world-famous for most of the 20th The caves have disappeared as the glacier melted.
  9. Some of the largest natural crystals ever found were formed in the Cuervo de los Cristales 1,000 feet under Naica Mountain in Mexico. Translucent gypsum beams are up to 26 feet long and weigh up to 55 tons. Temperatures in the cave reach 138˚F. It has been re-flooded since exploration.
  10. Three million wrinkle-lipped freetail bats live in Deer Cave in Mulu National Park on the island of the Borneo, one of the world’s largest known cave passages.

Learn more about caves and explore them for yourself at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs. Make plans to visit today!

Altitude Illness: Into Thin Air

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located at 7,100 feet above sea level. A few precautions can prevent altitude illness.

Although altitude illness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), does not typically occur below 8,000 feet, some people experience symptoms at lower altitudes. An individual’s susceptibility to the illness is genetic, not related to personal fitness, although people older than 50 are somewhat less likely to experience it. There is no test for AMS, but a person’s previous experience is a guide. The symptoms quickly reverse when the person moves to lower elevations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published information about altitude illness as part of a chapter on self-treatable conditions for travelers. Differences in temperature, humidity, ultraviolet radiation and air pressure can affect health at high altitudes, but the lowered intake of oxygen, called hypoxia, is the greatest concern. A standard measurement of blood oxygen, from 20.9 at sea level to 6.9 at the top of Mt. Everest, measures 16.0 at 7,000 feet.

Day trips to higher elevations are less likely to trigger altitude illness than sleeping at those heights. A quarter of visitors who overnight above 8,000 feet in Colorado experience AMS, which resembles a hangover. Typical symptoms include headaches and sometimes fatigue, nausea and vomiting. More severe conditions, High-Altitude Cerebral Edema and High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema, are rare.

The CDC says that acetazolamide, sold as Diamox and other brands, can help visitors acclimate faster if the ascent must happen quickly. The center recommends avoiding alcohol and strenuous exercise for the first two days at higher elevations.

Medical personnel at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park are experienced and equipped to assist people who experience AMS. Visitors typically acclimate quickly. Knowing what to expect can help a person take precautions and manage the symptoms when they appear.