Scream Time vs. Screen Time

A family excursion to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park could be just what the doctor ordered for digital excess.

Parents, psychologists, and medical and educational professionals are increasingly concerned about the amount of time children are spending on digital media. Studies show that excess screen time can hamper the development of vital life qualities from social interaction and homework preparation to exercise and sleep.

One recent study in the United Kingdom even found a correlation between screen time and mental illness. The American Academy of Pediatrics last year issued new guidelines urging a Family Media Use Plan that puts consistent limits on media use for children older than 6 (younger children should spend at most an hour a day on the screen).

Rules and limits are important to curb the excess, but experts also advise real-life excursions that are irresistibly more enjoyable than all-day web surfing, video gaming, or texting. “Start with fun,” says Dr. Ann Steel, a video game and internet addiction specialist in Bellevue, Washington. “It can be more fun to add new activities into your children’s lives than limiting or taking away their technology. Often kids view their screens as the most pleasurable activity in their life, so we should start by offering healthy yet enticing options.” Also, let’s face it, parents who want to promote more positive behavior in their kids need to watch their own levels of digital interaction. “Your kids aren’t the only ones who need to turn the devices off and stop to smell the roses,” says Anna Hughes, an author at Screen Time Labs.

With our combination of nature features, thrill rides, and other attractions, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park can immerse your whole family in the real world with plenty of time for curiosity, exploration, conversation, and relaxation without needing a keyboard or screen at your fingertips. It’s a break from the digital, and the shared experience will keep on stimulating social interaction as you remember the beauty and excitement of the great outdoors. You’ll probably want to come back for more!

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park: What Our Visitors Say

Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Few accolades could mean more than this recent headline by Jamie Swartzendruber on her WineGlasSlipper blog, also published in Denverkids.com: “Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park: It doesn’t get more Colorado than this!”

“Voted one of USA Today’s 10 Best Caves, Glenwood Caverns is a must for your family summer fun list,” Jamie wrote. “Three cave tours offer varying levels of difficulty to suit the whole family! I have a little dare devil, so this year, we opted for the Wild Cave Tour (10-year age requirement AND we finally made the cut). What is it? Only the most extreme caving expedition a kiddo is permitted on, an adventure for the true thrill seeker.”

Our Giant Canyon Swing was more thrill than she bargained for, Jamie said. “With a scratchy voice and trembling hands, I exited the swing of terror, a theme park walk of shame, through the line of sweet little girls waiting to get on,” she wrote.  Wide eyed, they kindly asked if I was going to be alright. I may still have the occasional nightmare, but hey, check that one off my list…. Though I struggled with the Giant Canyon Swing, the kids LOVED it! They rode several times, throwing their hands in the air or striking nonchalant poses. I may have felt theme park envy. The Alpine Coaster was another top-pick. Scary enough to cling to the breaks but enjoyable enough for mom to survive. I’m sure the views are fantastic, but I’ll admit, my eyes were steady on the tracks and my heart was still jumpy.”

Summer fun on the Giant Canyon Swing

We get that a lot. People love the mountaintop experience here – exploring inside the caverns, taking in the view from the summit, screaming over the edge. Here’s a sampling of our online reviews from visitors who have come from across Colorado and the country.

From Iowa, on TripAdvisor, where we have a Certificate of Excellence: “The Alpine Coaster was a lot of fun. It was extremely fast if you want it to be, and you can control (the speed of) the actual sled you are riding on. I had never been on one before and it was my favorite thing to do at the Adventure Park. I rode it numerous times. You don’t have to worry, at the end a lift takes your sled back to the start of the ride and that is cool.”

From Longmont, on TripAdvisor: “By far the easiest way to go caving. Both the original Fairy Caves and King’s Row are easily accessible. The guides are experienced cavers and are a lot of fun. There’s nothing like these caves anywhere else in the US. The tram makes it easy to get to from town.”

From Florida, on TripAdvisor: “This place was fun! We come from the land of Disney and Busch Gardens, but this place dared you! We had a blast riding the Alpine Coaster and the zip line shot! I wish I could say I tried the swing, but I chickened out. I loved the caverns tour and caves. All this was on top of a mountain that you reach by taking a gondola. That was an adventure by itself!”

From Littleton, on Yelp: “A fun day of adventure for the kids and adults alike. We did the combo pass with Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Glad we came here on a sunny day. Tram ride is a great way to go and very scenic. Alpine Coaster was worth going on again and again.”

From our own Facebook page: “We loved everything: the gondola ride up, the incredible views, the rides and cave tours! Everyone was really nice! The Caverns tour guide was SO excited to tell us about the caves! He had lots of fun scientific and historical information! Just a really fun place to spend the day with the family! We also got some amazing pictures.”

Come see for yourself. And thanks, Jamie (We’re proud that it doesn’t get any more Colorado than this.)

Seven Years of Screams

Seven years after the Giant Canyon Swing opened at 1,300 feet above Colorado River, the thrill ride continues to attract international attention for its scenic beauty and sheer fright. As one French enthusiast posted with an online video of the experience: “Le Giant Canyon Swing du Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, dans le Colorado, est l’une des attractions les plus effrayantes au monde” – The Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, in Colorado, is one of the most scary attractions in the world.”

The swing has been featured in Sweden, Iran, Indonesia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, and other countries, listed among the top scare experiences anywhere. Imfromdenver.com ranked it No. 3 of 5 Of the Most Terrifying Things To Do In Colorado. Those who manage to open their eyes during the ride describe the lush green vistas below and Glenwood Springs in the distance as they travel a 112-degree arc back and forth across the cliff at up to 50 mph. The requirement of a signed waiver, the height minimum of four feet, and owner Steve Beckley’s refusal to ride his own creation more than once all enhance the appeal for extreme thrill-seekers.

Major news channels and travel networks have featured the attraction, with celebrity hosts sometimes even daring the swing like Good Morning America’s Sam Champion and the Travel Channel’s Bert the Conqueror. Others, like Crystal from Colorado Radio in April, admire from afar, posting about the swing but declining to ride after watching others’ videos. Business Insider posted a new video of the swing earlier this year.

EarthTripper named the Giant Canyon Swing one of the 10 Scariest Rides On The Planet. “One look at the Giant Canyon Swing in Colorado makes it easy to see why it made this list,” Simon Tingle wrote in a post updated in May. “The ride is precariously positioned right on the edge of a cliff and catapults passengers straight over the edge, with a 1,300 foot drop down to the Colorado River below!”

Benefits of a Family Vacation

Family at Glenwood Caverns
Glenwood Caverns is hiring

 

As ordinary life gets busier and busier, the benefits of taking a family vacation become more important for each member of the family as well as for the group as a whole. From the planning and travel to the experience and the memories, vacations promote a sense of connection, relaxation, adventure, excitement, spontaneity, and affection that lasts long after the return to the routine.

Parents remember the importance of vacations in their own lives and relationships. In a 2013 poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the U.S. Travel Association, nearly two-thirds of adults said family vacations form their earliest memories, even more than birthdays and school events. Two-thirds of the young people surveyed expect to have the same fond memories, and more than half said the experiences bring their family closer together. Bonus: when grandparents went along, more than three-fourths of the children reported enjoying quality time with the older generation.

Family-cave-tour-at-Glenwood-Caverns

Planning a vacation together, including research on destinations, provides a special opportunity for cooperative conversation, mutual responsibility, and shared expectations that boost the chances for a successful trip. Children and teenagers who feel included and respected, rather than told what to do, are less likely to complain if parts of the common plan aren’t as convenient or exciting as expected. Everyone is expected to exercise patience when the agreed-on road trip feels long.

Encountering new people, places, and experiences on a vacation is an important educational experience for children (adults too!). It expands their horizons, gives them new material for reflection and understanding, and even stimulates positive chemical reactions in the brain. Some recent neuroscience studies suggest that vacations can be an important way to develop the “play” and “seek” systems that release compounds associated with warm feelings and stress reduction.

Coaster Enthusiasts Celebrate 40th Gathering in June

American Coaster Enthusiasts, a 5,000-member international club that promotes and preserves roller coasters will hold its 40th Coaster Con June 18-22 in Texas. The group formed when coaster lovers found each other at a coaster-riding marathon in Virginia tied to the release of the movie Rollercoaster in 1977. They held their first convention the next year.

The all-volunteer not-for-profit has participated in refurbishing the oldest roller coaster in the world, Leap-the-Dips, built in Altoona, Penn., in 1902, and the Giant Dipper, built in San Diego in 1925, the wooden roller coaster heyday when some 2,000 operated in the United States. That figure has dropped to about 125. Overall, amusement parks have faced challenges across the generations, from competing forms of entertainment to spiraling land costs, and many have closed.

“While steel roller coasters seem to proliferate and a few new wooden roller coasters are built each year, the classic wooden roller coaster is still somewhat of an endangered species,” according to the organization’s website (aceonline.org). “ACE believes that wooden roller coasters are an integral part of the fabric that is Americana. The organization represents the talents of the most ardent park enthusiasts, amassing a collective historical perspective unmatched by any other group, anywhere. It is ACE’s goal to save or relocate endangered coasters through education, awareness, and promotion.”

The group launched the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives in 2001 to develop preservation and display space for its collection of thousands of historical items, including roller coaster cars, and donated items. It owns an 8,000-square-foot storage facility in Plainview, Texas, with plans to expand.

ACE publishes Guide to Ride, listing every operating roller coaster in North America with detailed statistics and lavish photographs, It also publishes the RollerCoaster! quarterly magazine and a bimonthly newsletter, ACE News. An ACE book series profiles important roller coaster designers.

The 2017 Coaster Con will be at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld San Antonio, both in San Antonio, and ZDT’s Amusement Park in Seguin, Tex. ACE also holds smaller events at various parks throughout the year, including special off-hour rides for club members only.

Beautiful Colorado Weather Will Rock Your Summer

Canyon Flyer - Glenwood Caverns

Summer in the Rockies offers ideal Colorado weather for healthy, fun, and memorable activities – pretty much anything except, of course, skiing. The high elevations and thinner air make for significant swings in temperature between day and night while keeping humidity low and letting in plenty of sunlight.

The climate numbers are all in your favor:

  • Sun. Days are bright with rare clouds. Brightest sunlight most shortwave solar energy reaching the ground) is June 17. Late June days enjoy almost 15 full hours of sunlight.
  • Rain. Likelihood of a rainout is low – about an inch a month in June and July, 1¼ inch in August. June 15 has the lowest chance of summer rain, 13 percent, but the highest chance is just 24 percent, on July 31.
  • Wind. Summer winds are from the west, almost never above 4 mph. Calmest is August 7 – 2.5 mph.
  • Thunderstorms. Weather in the Rockies can be unpredictable, but when afternoon thunderstorms do roll in, they move through quickly. We recommend taking shelter, either waiting it out or as an opportunity to experience our indoor attractions like the 4-D Theater and laser tag.
  • Average temperatures (Fahrenheit): June – high 84°, low 45°. July – high 89°, low 52°. August – high 87°, low 51°.

This means visitors should pack a variety of clothing in addition to the usual summertime shorts, short sleeves, and swimsuit – light jackets for some days, hiking attire if you’re hiking, warmer garb if you’re camping out. Also bring a hat for personal shade, plenty of sunscreen, and water, lip balm, and lotion to make up for the low moisture in the air.

Because safety is always our number one priority, we sometimes temporarily close the tram due to weather conditions like high winds or lightning. If that happens, we will provide alternate transportation to and from the Park via our new adventure vehicles.

To find out more about the weather in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and what to pack for a day at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.