It’s Game Time!

The big game is almost here! Whether you bleed Broncos orange and blue, will be rooting for the Carolina Panthers, or are just in it for the snacks, Sunday is a good chance to kick back, relax, and enjoy the day and catch up on some fantasy football news before the big game.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the spot to be for the Broncos-Panthers showdown! We’ll be offering appetizer specials, game-time drink specials for kids of all ages with a spinning drink wheel, and football face painting for the kids. Get a free tram ride to the top by printing off this coupon and bringing it with you (or showing it on your phone).

In celebration of the big day, here are a few random fun facts about this year’s game:

• Behind Thanksgiving, tomorrow will be the second-highest day for food consumption in the country. Americans will consume around one billion chicken wings, four million pizzas, and 325 million gallons of beer!

• For the Star Wars fans out there, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was once named by a Star Wars author as the NFL member “most likely to be a Jedi knight.” Additionally, his nickname with the Colts was R2D2!

• Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a pescatarian; he eats fish but not meat.

• This Sunday will mark the first time that two quarterbacks who were No. 1 overall draft picks will face off in the biggest football event of the year. Payton Manning was a No. 1 draft pick in 1998, and Cam Newton was a No. 1 draft pick in 2011, this would make anyone who had them picked for their fantasy football team (read more here https://www.draftkings.com/fantasy-football) very happy.

• Additionally, their age difference is a new record: at 39 years and 26 years respectively, Manning and Newton’s age gap is the largest ever between quarterbacks at the big game.

• Finally, a 30-second commercial spot during the game will cost advertisers a record-breaking $5 million dollars!

Sunday’s weather forecast in Glenwood Springs, CO is meant to be around 40 degrees and sunny; it’s downright balmy weather for February! It’s a great opportunity to come up and enjoy the Alpine Coaster and Soaring Eagle Zip Ride before the game starts at 4:30. Click here for more info on tickets and hours. Hope to see you up here for the big game!

Bluebird Finds New Nest

With more and more visitors discovering Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, it was time to add to the transportation options for bringing people up and down Iron Mountain. The tram is a fun and interesting way to make the trip, but in inclement weather or for large groups, another, reliable way to get around was becoming increasingly necessary.

A new bus was the obvious choice. It was agreed that the ideal model was a Bluebird. Bluebird buses are known to be strong and reliable, perfect for carrying people on Transfer Trail Road. The preferred model was one that is comfortable and accessible, with large, open windows and cushy seating. The problem was that this particular type of Bluebird bus was pretty rare, and the closest one they could find was in Las Vegas, Nevada. The staff decided to purchase it and have it wrapped with a large, colorful design created by their graphic designer, Alice Sjoberg.

The Lookout Grille | Away From It All

On a clear morning in early February, feeling cooped up but with work still to do, I decided to change up my routine and take the tram up to the Lookout Grille at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park for some coffee, a snack, and some views.  I boarded the tram, headed up, and marveled at the 360 degree view of Glenwood – you could see it all! The steam rising from the Hot Springs Pool, the winding Colorado River flowing westward through the valley, Iron Mountain in front of me, Coal Seam Mountain behind, Mount Sopris in the distance. Vehicles on 1-70 began to look more like toy cars as we ascended. Arriving at the top, I stepped out of the tram car and headed into the restaurant.

It was a quiet mid-morning, with a few visitors eating an early lunch and people coming in from their adventures, ready for a hot chocolate after a coaster ride or cave tour. The employees chatted warmly with the customers and each other. I found a quiet corner at one of the wooden tables. A hot cup of coffee and a stone fireplace kept me warm as I worked on my laptop, using the free wi-fi available in the restaurant. I broke occasionally to look out the large windows at the surrounding mountains and valley below.

An hour or so later, having had my fill of caffeine and work, I packed up and took the tram back down the mountain. It had started to snow lightly, and I as I descended I watched the flakes fall across Glenwood Springs, and felt lucky to live in such a beautiful place. With a pleasant respite from the “real world,” I felt ready to face whatever the rest of the day would bring!

Oyster Adventure Race 2011 in Glenwood Springs Returns to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Earlier in the year the Webmeister reviewed the 2010 Oyster Racing series in Glenwood Springs, speculating about whether racers would return to Glenwood Caverns for the 2011 race.

Fortunately (or unfortunately for racers starting out in 45 degrees F. and the rain!) they did return, with over 50 teams participating.

 

Runners exiting the Giant Maze with their ticket in hand

Climbing 32 ft on the wet wall proved challenging

This year, racers ran from Glenwood Springs Two Rivers Park to the Glenwood Caverns Tram Station for a gondola ride to the top of Iron Mountain, to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Prior to getting on the gondola, race teams were handed a math problem to solve during their ride to the top.

Teams unable to solve the problem during the ride up were sent to the math-skills-impaired table, where they had to keep working on the problem until they solved it!

Riders delivering the correct answer were send to the Giant Maze leg.

A damp Giant Canyon Swing ride through the swirling mist

Oyster racers returning from their Giant Canyon Swing ride
headed to the Alpine Coaster ride down the mountain

While negotiating the Giant Maze, contestants searched at each corner tower for a ticket which would send them to the maze entrance station for further instructions.

Depending on the color ticket retrieved, racers were sent next to either the Giant Canyon Swing, the 32 foot Climbing Wall, or the Mechanical Bull Ride.

Racers unhappy with their ticket choice (fear of heights, anyone?) had to run the maze a second time in order to receive a different ticket.

Upon completion of the Giant Swing, the Climbing Wall, or the Bull ride, racers headed to the Alpine Coaster station and rode partway down Iron Mountain on the gravity-powered coaster, braking as little as possible for maximum speed.

At the bottom of the tracked coaster ride, the runners made their way through the oak brush to the dirt road called Transfer Trail and ran two miles back to Two Rivers Park.

For more info: Oyster Racing Series

photo credits: race organizer Team Players Productions Inc, Kaylee Maresh photographer

2011 Local’s Choice Winners: Two Golds

There was standing room only Thursday evening, June 30th, when a packed crowd gathered at the Glenwood Masonic Lodge for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent 2011 Local’s Choice Awards Celebration. This year, in addition to food and drinks and other merriment, the announcements were followed by entertaining skits performed by the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park brought home two gold medals this year:
Best Locals’ Attraction
Best Place for a Children’s Birthday Party

THANK YOU to all our fans for helping us bring home the Gold!

Oyster Race Returns to Glenwood Springs…

But Will Racers Return to Glenwood Caverns?

The Oyster Off-Road Racing Series returns for its second year to Glenwood Springs, Colorado on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Teams of two and relays of four push their limits running (road and trail) and mountain biking.

2010 Oyster racers, pumping up Transfer Trail

racers ride Colorado’s first Alpine Coaster

There are additional adventures that each team may encounter including: canoeing/rafting/kayaking, orienteering/navigation/zip lines, climbing, eating, puzzles and other surprises.

Since the course is a secret, team members are given a “Passport” moments before the race begins.

Last year, in the first leg of the race, participants rode their mountain bikes, climbing approximately 800 vertical feet as they pumped up Transfer Trail to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park to reach their first check point.

Next they were directed into the caves, taking care to count the stair steps correctly in order to receive their next clue at the beautiful King’s Row formations viewing area.

 

After exiting the cave, teams rode two at a time part-way down the mountain on the Alpine Coaster, then grabbed their bikes again for their descent down Iron Mountain.

The big question is: will race organizers send racers back to Glenwood Caverns for the 2011 race?

And if they do, will racers be required to test their mettle on the new Giant Canyon Swing or take the 70 foot plunge on the new Bungee Jump?

Or maybe they’ll put on knee and shoulder pads and don lighted caving helmets and go on an extreme caving adventure?

Your guess is as good as mine. If you want to be one of the first to know, you’ll probably have to sign up for the race.

For more info: Oyster Racing Series

2010 racers counting steps inside Glenwood Caverns

National Speleological Society 2011 Convention

The National Speleological Society’s NSS 2011 Convention is coming to Glenwood Springs, Colorado,
July 18th – July 22nd. The convention will bring together cavers worldwide for a week of presentations, discussions, programs, socializing, and recreation.

Dave Lester, one of the principle NSS convention organizers, reports that Glenwood Springs should expect somewhere between 1000 and 1200 convention attendees.

Prior to the convention, NSS is planning community outreach events for Glenwood, which will include presentations to local service clubs and to schools. For schools, their Project Underground is a science-based curricula which teaches students about caving, how caves form, and other cave science topics.

About half the convention attendees will use a campground which will be set up between the high school and the Roaring Fork River, others opting for local lodging.

The NSS is encouraging a low-impact visit to Glenwood Springs. They are encouraging attendees to bring bicycles, which can be used on the bike path which runs in close proximity to the primary convention activities. NSS is also planning to bring loaner bikes for use by their members.

According to Lester, “members of the public are welcome to register for single day sessions or the entire week.”

Convention activities are still being planned, but a preview list includes:

  • An opening welcome dinner and dance party (aka “Howdy Party”) combined with the NSS 70th Anniversary Party, to be hosted by Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on top of Iron Mountain in Glenwood Springs
  • Trips to wild caves in Colorado during the convention, with both horizontal and vertical (technical climbing) caving trips
  • A decontamination station at the convention site – cavers participating in convention trips will be required to decontaminate their equipment
  • Geology Field Trip with cave stops. Beginning in Glenwood Springs, continuing to Redstone then Marble, then to El Jebel, before returning to Glenwood Springs
  • Convention sessions & workshops on a wide range of cave topics– exploration, biology, equipment, cave geology, cartography, archaeology, photography, paleontology, hydrology, karst management, ecology, and technological advances in communication and sensing equipment which aid in cave exploration
  • White Nose Syndrome (WNS in bats) presentations from cavers, land managers, and biologists on the issue of WNS in western states, for the purpose of improving communication and understanding
  • Vertical Climbing Workshop where students are given a basic overview of climbing equipment, techniques, and safety considerations. Covers knot tying, belaying, rappelling, and several ascending systems
  • Vertical Climbing Contests, 30 to 120 meters, for both men and women, separate age groups, and a team relay
  • Cave Art Salons, including cartographic, ballads, fine and cover art, video, multimedia, photographs, and t-shirt designs
  • NSS Board of Governors Meeting, and the Congress of Grottos meeting of the grottos, sections, regional associations, and surveys of the NSS
  • Kids activities, including trips for the Junior Speleological Society (JSS)
  • Convention auction/fundraiser for the NSS, supporting everything from Save the Caves to exploration
  • Campground Party at the Glenwood Springs High School, directly next to the campground, featuring the Terminal Syphons, a popular “caver band”
  • Public Session, featuring the IMAX adventure film Journey Into Amazing Caves. In this film, two accomplished cavers explore unusual caves, such as ice caves in Greenland and underwater caves in thejungles of Mexico, looking for important clues about the Earth’s past and microorganisms that inhabit its most extreme environments. (The film will be shown on a non-IMAX screen at the Glenwood Springs High School auditorium and is free to the public.) Two stars from the film will answer audience questions.

For more information, convention organizer Dave Lester recommends the following websites:

Newly Identified Species from Glenwood Springs, Colorado Cave

For years Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, has been abuzz with activity – excited riders whizzing down the alpine coaster, visitors hanging on to their seats in the 4D theater, tour groups going in and out of the caves all day.

And throughout it all, one group of little critters lived quietly, unnoticed. Hidden mostly in the darkness of the nooks and crannies of the Glenwood Caverns was a very unique pseudoscorpion, a rare arachnid that was not seen until 2000, and not officially categorized and named until ten years later.

Although pseudoscorpions have been found in other caves throughout the world, the kind found in the Caverns is a singular type that has never been discovered anywhere else.

The pseudoscorpions resemble small scorpions but are missing the long tail and the dreaded classic tail-end stinger. They are carnivorous, generally feeding on mites, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They have four eyes, eight legs, and two prominent front “arms” with crab-like pincers containing venom. But rest easy – at an average of 1/2 inch in length this arachnid is too small to be harmful to humans.

It took a trip halfway around the world and back for the creature to come into the light, as it were.

Cave biologist Dave Steinmann explores Glenwood Caverns
Ross Dinkelspiel photo

 

Dr. Mark Harvey University of Western Australia

Glenwood Caverns tour guide Micah Bell first noticed the pseudoscorpion while leading a public cave tour back in 2000.

He mentioned it to Dave Steinmann, a cave biologist who works with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He has been exploring Colorado caves for years.

It wasn’t easy for Steinmann to find the tiny insects who prefer to remain in the darkness. It took him over seven hours to find his first specimen, and then another ten trips to locate five samples of the creature.

“The Glenwood Caverns pseudoscorpion has probably been evolving in the cave for millions of years. It’s an amazing creature,” said Steinmann.

“It is unique to other species of its kind because of its reduced eye size, which makes it nearly blind, although it can detect light. Rather than using its eyes, the creature uses sensory receptors on its body to sense and locate its prey.”

Steinmann added, “it is also special because of its very long claws and pincers, the longest seen in a pseudoscorpion of this genus.”

Steinmann passed the specimens on to Dr. William Muchmore, a preeminent scientist and pseudoscorpion expert at the University of Rochester in New York, who first determined it was a new species.

Nearing retirement, Dr. Muchmore then forwarded the samples to Dr. Mark Harvey, an arachnologist and professor at the School of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia.

Dr. Harvey is also the Head of Terrestrial Zoology at the Western Australian Museum and maintains the Pseudoscorpions of the World database.

Dr. Harvey spent several years completing the extensive documentation process, and both scientists jointly authored the final paper that declared the Glenwood Caverns pseudoscorpion to be a new species and gave it a name.

To Steinmann’s surprise, it was named after…him!
Call it luck, call it hard work, call it: Cryptogreagris steinmanni.

Unique pseudoscorpion perched
on a cave rock in Glenwood Caverns

Tram Manager Wade Beattie Plays Crash-Test-Dummy

Thrill seekers everywhere can (literally) jump for joy. There’s a new attraction at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs that offers some of the most excitement in town: the Bungee Jump. This feature offers a breathtaking vertical drop off of a 70-foot tower.

Before the bungee jump opens to the public, it was road-tested by some of the Caverns employees, and the first to go was Wade Beattie, tram operator/manager extraordinaire. Wade is an outdoorsy kind of guy who has partaken in his fair share of adventure, but he admitted to being a tad apprehensive before the big drop. “I was a bit nervous about it, because I had never bungee-jumped before,” he said.

Wade had his harness fitted at the bottom of the tall tower, then headed up the winding stairs to the top. “I noticed my heart rate going up when I was climbing up the tower, because I knew that pretty soon I was going to launch off of it,” said Wade. Employees at the top double-checked his equipment and adjusted ropes. Wade said that most people face backwards when they jump, but he opted to face forwards. “My thought was, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to face it.”

After a few more minutes of adjustments, the operators told him: Jump.

“I didn’t wait,” said Wade. “I’m the kind of person who just wants to go.”

So, he stood up as tall as he could, put his arms in the air, and stepped off the ledge. It was something like a swan-dive, although he didn’t jump outwards so he wouldn’t swing too much. It was more of a swan-fall.

“The second I went off that thing, it was awesome. There is a free fall-moment where it feels like there’s nothing holding you. It was peaceful in a way,” said Wade.

“Once I jumped,” he said, “there was no fear left, only exultation.”

Wade bounced a few times in the air, then landed softly on a large (7 foot tall) air-filled cushion, which he easily walked off of. The jump took about 55 seconds in total. Wade said that watching from the ground, the jump looks short, but when you are the one doing it, it’s plenty long.

So, after it was over, did he want to do it again?

“Absolutely!”

Wade’s advice to people is not to let their nerves get in the way. “A lot of people are going to be nervous at first, but then happy they did it. It’s smooth, safe, and a lot of fun.”

There’s a country song that goes, “Funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’,” and that’s exactly what any brave-heart out there looking for an adrenaline rush will be singing after a turn on the bungee jump. Be sure to check it out when the ride opens at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park next spring.