Partnership with Colorado Mountain College

Partnership with Colorado Mountain College adds educational value to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is collaborating on an exciting project with Colorado Mountain College. In the next few months, the park will install a series of interpretive geology and biology panels, highlighting the natural wonders of the area.

Steve Beckley, who owns Glenwood Caverns with his wife Jeannie, is very pleased to be teaming up with the college. “We love to work with CMC. They are very professional and build a great product!” he says.

Garry Zabel, professor emeritus at CMC, has been instrumental in the creation of the geology panels. Zabel spent 29 years at the Spring Valley Campus as a professor of geology and math. Though retired, he continues to lead very popular field trips to study the geology of the Grand Canyon.

With a chuckle, Zabel credits his granddaughter with the initial creation of the geology panels: Zabel borrowed her colored pencils to create his sketches that were later turned into artwork for the panels. The sketches reveal the underlying geology of the entire Glenwood Springs valley as seen from the south side of the park (they will be installed on the Visitor Center Observation Deck and the Viewing Deck near the Giant Canyon Swing). Each layer of rock is labeled and detailed, and call-out points present interesting facts about the geological history of the area.

Panels that feature the Grand Hogback, Glenwood Canyon and Mt. Sopris are also being developed. Additionally, a series of artist’s renderings and descriptions of the local flora and fauna will be placed along the Nature Trail, which leads up to the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is committed to to the educational component of the park. From a scientific standpoint, Iron Mountain and Glenwood Springs are very distinct and the Beckleys are anxious to share some of the fascinating information behind the area’s beauty.

One of the geology panels that will be installed at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in the coming months.

“The geology of the surrounding area is stunning and unique,” points out Beth Zukowski, marketing specialist at CMC. “Geologists from all over the world visit Glenwood Canyon and the nearby edge of the Colorado Plateau to study its formations. Doing so helps them interpret the geologic history of other areas, notably the Grand Canyon. ”

Both Zukowski and Beckley agree that the main goal is for visitors to find added value in their time at the Caverns. “The new panels will heighten our guests’ awareness about all the wonderful natural features in the park,” says Beckley. Adds Zukowski, “We believe that the interpretive sign project will bring added educational value to the visitors of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. We hope that novices and experts alike will be able to discover something new from these signs!”

To learn more about Garry Zabel’s upcoming field trip course to Moab, go here. There are still spots available! For Glenwood Caverns’ winter and springtime hours, and other park information, visit park info.

One of the signs that will be placed along the Nature Trail features the Colorado Pinyon Pine and Pinyon Jay.

School Programs Combine Fun, Adventure and Learning

So, it’s the back to school season, you’ve just found some back to school coupons, you’re looking for a residential and new resources, and we’re going to add to that list. You want to make sure that the kids actually enjoy coming to your class, you want them to like you as a teacher. Doesn’t matter if you are a primary school teacher or a college professor, wouldn’t it be nice to get a gift at the end of the year just because your students loved your class so much? That feeling of appreciation would be totally worth it at the end of the school year. But now it’s only the beginning and there are a few things that you can do to make this a successful year. So, here we go…. Teachers, educators, parents, students…looking for a new field trip? Ready for a break from the classroom? Want geology, science and history lessons to come alive before your eyes? Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers school programs that will both educate and entertain.

Schools visiting the park get to explore the caves with guides who can keep the students interested by tailoring the experience to the age group. Kids also participate in an educational activity (gemstone panning for younger kids and a cave science lesson for older kids). They can also enjoy the rides and attractions, such as the alpine coaster and laser tag, for a special half-price school rate.

The school group program is available throughout the school year–if you feel like your class could use an adventure during the long winter months, Glenwood Caverns is ready to welcome you.

Vicki Douglas, a second grade teacher at Parkview Elementary in Rangeley, CO, has taken her class to the Park for the past several years. Here is what she had to say about the experience:

“The kids and adults love the trip. Most of the kids have never ridden on a tram so that experience is fun to witness on the way up to the caverns.

The guides we have had in the past have done an incredible job explaining everything on a 2nd grade level but making it interesting for the sponsors.

With a little prepping before making the trip the students learn so much about rocks, minerals and gems. Speaking of gems….the kids’ favorite part is always panning for gems! That addition to the park has really made a difference since the kids get to take home a prized souvenir.

As a teacher, my favorite part is the ease in planning the trip. I like the picnic area to eat sack lunches and the friendly staff. We are always made to feel welcome and the day is well organized. Even when we have brought two classes at once it was easy to split the group and keep everyone engaged while waiting their turn.

The giant sand box area is wonderful. The kids can unwind while waiting for the other groups to finish the tours.

This helps wear them out for the bus ride home!”

The school groups program really is a great experience for students and adults alike. Having fun and learning while you’re at it…what’s better than that? It’s great for parents to have somehwere educational to take their kids too. If your kids mean the world to you, get life insurance quotes from to see how you can make sure they’re always protected.
If kids play while they are being educated, they are sure to remember their experience for years to come. For more information, visit

Group photo on the big chair!

Night Plane Re-Release Offers Vintage Tracks and New Live Recordings

Today’s music scene can be disheartening. It’s often populated by electronica, DJs, and overproduced pop. If you’ve ever felt nostalgic for the good ol’ days of rock ‘n’ roll, when bands played self-written songs with real instruments, Night Plane’s recent re-release of their 1982 album (Night Plane) is just the cure (as is their upcoming show Saturday, June 8th, as part of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Parks’ Music on the Mountain concert series).

The album included a whopping ten musicians, and the resulting tunes are robust, diverse, and plain old fun. The title track, “Night Plane” is straight up rock, with Haden Gregg and Jim Dykann’s powerful vocals and bittersweet lyrics  (“At the station, feeling all alone/this is the time for another home”) complemented by vibrant electric guitar and piano.

Night Plane explores other genres too, with the reggae-inspired track “Tried Too Hard” and the bluesy tune “Line of Fire”(highlighting Bryan Savage’s saxaphone).

Where the album really shines, though, is in the last four bonus tracks, recordings from live performances. Mainly acoustic, the master guitar work on songs like “She’s a Runaway” is beautiful. Gregg and Dykann’s voices have aged well; they sound grittier and more soulful than in the earlier recordings. Their live performances showcase the band in their element–and the results are well worth a listen.

Be sure to catch Night Plane this Saturday at Music on the Mountain!

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.”

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.

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.

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!

Adventure Park Philanthropic Business of the Year

Glenwood Springs Chamber Names Adventure Park Philanthropic Business of the Year

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park was named Philanthropic Small Business of the Year at the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Annual Gala on April 21, 2011. Chris Ehlers was on hand to accept the award.

Giving back to the families in its community has been part of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s philosophy since Steve and Jeanne Beckley opened the caves to the public in 1999, and 2010 was no exception. In fact, the park ramped up its philanthropic efforts in recognition of the number of area families affected by the downturn in the economy.

In July, the Adventure Park hosted the kick-off party for YouthZone’s 20th Annual Kiss-n-Squeal Fundraiser. Approximately 150 people showed up to enjoy free tram rides and “pig out” at the fajita dinner buffet, and many took the opportunity to try out the park’s attractions. The park, a founding member of the Glenwood Springs based YouthZone Foundation, donated the dinner and a percentage of the day’s proceeds for a total contribution of nearly $4,000.

The park also supported nearly 500 organizations and events during 2010 through the donation of passes for fundraising. These recipients ranged from school groups and sports teams to non-profit organizations and fundraising events for local individuals battling the costs of medical expenses. If you attended a charitable event in the valley, odds are that passes to the Adventure Park were on the silent auction table or awarded as prizes.

The park’s biggest impact on the community, however, was helping to stock the LIFT-UP food pantry. Through the Music on the Mountain series, which began in the fall of 2009 with two concerts and expanded to seven during 2010, the park collected 5,787 items for LIFT-UP, including canned food, jars of peanut butter and packages of pasta. Guests were able to enjoy a free tram ride and live music in exchange for the donation of at least one food item for the food pantry. Due to the popularity of the series, the Adventure Park is expanding the Music on the Mountain to include nine events in Glenwood Springs during 2011 and hopes to collect even more food for the community.