Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is home to a mountaintop of thrill rides and amusements, but it’s the caverns that continue to draw and dazzle visitors year-round. A veteran cave tour guide tells us his top reasons to take a cave tour at the Adventure Park.Continue reading
Take kids on a field trip to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park where they can learn about and experience scientific concepts in physics, geology and microbiology—all while having a great time at America’s only mountain-top theme park.Continue reading
Cave ecosystems are delicate environments that require special cave care for their preservation. Learn more about how you can do your part to help caves stay healthy.Continue reading
Even as we all adjust to a new normal that includes face coverings and social distancing, you can continue to enjoy many of the activities you’ve always loved to do in Glenwood Springs. In addition to rides, attractions and cave tours at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, there’s rafting, biking, fishing, comedy shows, outdoor dining, hot springs and much more!Continue reading
Rocky Mountain PBS “Colorado Experience” Viewers’ Choice Episode about the Fairy Caves airs Thursday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m.; viewers outside of Colorado can watch at https://www.rmpbs.org/schedule/ at the same time.
Fairy Caves Wins Viewers’ Choice
This time last year, Colorado residents voted for “Fairy Caves” to be the 2020 Rocky Mountain PBS “Colorado Experience” Viewers’ Choice.
Every year, Colorado Experience conducts a Viewers’ Choice Award contest to let viewers decide what episode Rocky Mountain PBS will produce. According to producer Eric Hernandez, “For a few weeks, typically in March, there is a call for submissions when anyone can suggest episode ideas; we always get a long list of interesting and important topics. This year we had 360 submissions! We narrowed that down to six finalists from different regions and timeframes and opened the contest for voting.”
Getting the Vote Out
The team at Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves, which is part of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, pulled out all the stops to encourage people to vote. An initial email was sent to managers and supervisors asking them to share with their employees, friends and family members. A social media and email newsletter campaign started, and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association asked for support from the business community. It all came together with reminder emails and Facebook posts.
History in the Spotlight
“This show is so special to us as it chronicles the history of the Fairy Caves as well as Glenwood Springs, and the timing is wonderful because this year marks the 125th anniversary of the discovery of the cave. We got a sneak preview and it brought tears to my eyes,” admitted Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park co-owner Jeanne Beckley. “Although our local premiere has been postponed, we hope our community can tune in Thursday night.”
Episode Airs March 26
The Fairy Caves episode airs Thursday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m.; viewers outside of Colorado can watch at https://www.rmpbs.org/schedule/ at the same time. Filming primarily took place last May. Jeanne and husband and co-owner Steve Beckley are featured in the show along with general manager Nancy Heard, natural attractions manager Kathy Miller, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society Bill Knight, and cave historian and author of “Colorado Caves” Richard Rhinehart.
Learn the Fascinating Story of the Fairy Caves
“Colorado Experience: Fairy Caves” explores the magical Fairy Caves—once dubbed “The 8th Wonder of the World.” Hidden inside Glenwood Springs’ Iron Mountain, this living cave network inspires awe. But the caverns were nearly lost to time and were closed for more than 80 years—until an engineer who also happened to be a caver had a vision of how to return the magic to this fantastical place.
Add some big thrills to your romance with a visit to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The mountain-top theme park in Glenwood Springs is the perfect place for heart-warming and heart-pounding fun.
Give your romantic relationship a love booster shot. A spur-of-the-moment, micro-getaway that includes Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park could be just the remedy for the mid-winter amour doldrums. The Adventure Park checks all the boxes for a romantic good time and a great date.
- Snuggle on the Glenwood Gondola. The orange gondola cars will whisk you and your partner high above the humdrum of the ordinary. Get cozy under blankets that are provided in each cabin as you travel from the valley floor to the park entrance at the top of Iron Mountain. Consider it the grown up version of seven minutes in heaven!
- Face fears together on the Haunted Mine Drop. There’s nothing that can bring a twosome together faster than a good, old-fashioned scare. The Haunted Mine Drop will have your hearts pounding in exhilaration as you drop 110 feet into the darkness below ground.
- Plumb the depths. Explore new territory together. Cave tours offer couples a glimpse of a rare and magnificent underground landscape. See spectacular stalactites, stalagmites, showy aragonite crystals and more. The caverns have also been the site of more than a few marriage proposals and wedding ceremonies!
- Feel the need for speed on the Alpine Coaster. Sometimes you’ve just got to go a little wild. Let the throttle out on the Alpine Coaster. You determine your speed as you soar down the mountain. The cool mountain air and fast pace are guaranteed to awaken the senses.
- Be silly in the 4-D Theater. Love isn’t rational. You don’t need to be ten years old to enjoy these 15 minute animated shows. Grab a seat at this family-friendly attraction, put on your glasses and enjoy the surround sound, bumps and breezes of 4-D technology. By the end, no matter your age, you’ll feel like kids again.
- Unwind with libations. For a more mature pastime, head to the Lookout Grille for an adult beverage and some sustenance. The bar serves a selection of decadent cocktails, beer in bottles and on tap. Wine and a Bloody Mary bar are other options. You can also satisfy your partner’s appetite at the Lookout Grille. The restaurant has an extensive menu of delicious casual dining menu choices.
- Take in the views. To paraphrase Antoine de St. Exupéry, it not all about looking at each other; it’s looking in the same direction that matters. On your visit to the Adventure Park be sure to walk up to the Viewing Deck above the General Store for landscape views of the Roaring Fork Valley and Glenwood Springs. This is also the perfect spot for a romantic couple’s photo.
- Attend an intimate concert. Add a little night music to the mix with Friday Afternoon Club FAC features talented local bands and food and drink specials every Friday through February from 5 to 8:30 p.m. The Park’s FAC also includes a free gondola ride after 4 p.m. with a coupon that appears in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on Fridays. The small indoor venue is relaxed and laid back—perfect for a date night.
Love is a big, bold adventure. Add some thrills to your romance at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park!
When you’re skiing or snowboarding at the mountains of Aspen and Snowmass, Vail Resorts or Sunlight Mountain Resort, your Colorado ski vacation should be packed with peak experiences. Add even more high-elevation thrills with a day trip to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Skiing and riding the back bowls of Vail, down the face of Aspen Mountain, or a thigh-burner run on Ute at Sunlight Mountain Resort is the stuff of powder dreams come true. These Rocky Mountain resorts are part of the quintessential Colorado outdoor winter experience. While the bulk of your ski vacation will be spent slope-side, set just one day aside to explore adventuring options further afield.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs is located within easy driving distance of both Aspen area mountains and Vail Resorts. The proximity makes planning this day trip bunny-slope simple. As the highest elevation theme park in North America, the Adventure Park is as much an essential Colorado experience as first tracks in Blue Sky Basin on a powder day.
Other upsides of visiting Glenwood Springs include a respite for ski-fatigued bodies and the opportunity to relax in riverside hot springs.
Getting to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
- From Vail, follow I-70 west for 60 miles. As you approach Glenwood Springs you’ll travel through Glenwood Canyon, one of the most stunning stretches of highway in the western U.S. At Glenwood Springs, take exit 116. Bear left through the round-about, turning right onto Highway 6 and left at Devereux Road.
- Aspen is a short 40 miles away from Glenwood Springs; travel north via Highway 82 to Glenwood Springs. Continue through town, over the Grand Avenue Bridge. At the round-about turn right on Highway 6, then left at Devereux Road.
- From Sunlight Mountain Resort, take Four Mile Road approximately 10 miles to Glenwood Springs and follow the same directions as if coming from Aspen.
The Height of Fun
Just like your experience on the slopes, your Caverns adventure begins with a gondola ride. The bright orange Glenwood Gondola cabins will whisk you up to the mountain-top park entrance. Along the way, take in spectacular views of snow covered Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Valley below.
After you step off the gondola, explore all the Adventure Park has to offer. Winter Fun Passes are the best value and include your Gondola pass, as well as two cave tours and unlimited turns on rides and attractions. The Alpine Coaster lets you zoom down the mountainside at your own pace. Let out the throttle or take it easy; it’s up to you. As for the award-winning Haunted Mine Drop, it will leave you as breathless as the terrain at Aspen Highlands’ Steeplechase.
Cave tours are dazzling; chock-full of spectacular formations. Expert guides lead the way through the underground landscape imparting a custom blend of historical data, fun facts and engaging stories. Lighted displays show off the cave formations to their best advantage much like sculptural artwork in a high-end resort gallery.
Adventure Park visitors can also have fun at attractions like the laser tag arena, 4-D Theater and enjoy casual dining with a view in the Lookout Grille. Pick up some homemade fudge in the General Store to nibble on before heading back to ski towns.
While You’re In Glenwood Springs…
Plan to spend at least two to four hours enjoying Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Since Aspen, Vail and Sunlight Mountain Resort are all nearby, you’ll have time to relax with other Glenwood Springs activities as well. Ideas include:
- Soak in the geothermal soaking pools at Iron Mountain Hot Springs
- Attend a hilarious Glenwood Vaudeville Revue show
- Stroll and shop at boutiques in downtown Glenwood Springs
- Visit the Doc Holliday Museum in the basement level of Bullocks or hike to his grave marker in Linwood Cemetery
- Grab a Glenwood Springs-made craft beer at Casey’s Brewing Taproom and Glenwood Canyon Brewpub
- Sip a premium coffee or a signature cocktail at the historic Hotel Colorado
- Indulge in a soothing massage or body treatment at one of Glenwood’s many spas
Take your Vail, Aspen or Sunlight ski vacation to all-new heights. Plan your visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park today!
While many Colorado theme parks shut down for the winter months, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park remains open all winter long with seasonal rides, cave tours, dining and entertainment.
Elitch Gardens, the amusement park in Denver may have wrapped up its season, but Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs keeps the fun going strong all winter long with Winter on the Mountain, a wonder-filled season at the mountain-top theme park.
With plenty of chilly, but sunshine filled days ahead, visiting the Adventure Park in the off season has its perks. Visitors can look forward to fewer crowds and reduced off-season pricing, all while still enjoying many of the Park’s highlights including award-winning thrill rides, fun family attractions, two spectacular cave tours, dining with a view and live music entertainment.
What Not to Miss
Winter on the mountain is an ongoing celebration that shines bright on winter’s darkest nights with a dazzling display of more than a half million lights which can even be seen from Glenwood Springs. A giant Christmas tree with lights choreographed to holiday songs is a focal point in the plaza, where there are also fire pits for warming up and for roasting s’mores (purchase your s’mores kits from the General Store). And, throughout the time leading up to Christmas, Santa will be making regular stops to pose for photos with youngsters.
Fun & Games
Glenwood Caverns’ rides and attractions have season-spanning appeal and a knack for making kids of all ages smile from ear to ear. The Haunted Mine Drop, an indoor ride, is a scream and a visitor favorite. The Alpine Coaster, which features twinkly fairy lights after dark, provides a more controlled downward descent with a magical and relaxing tow back to the top. Winter guests can also shoot it out in the laser tag arena and watch one of four animated shows in the 4D motion theater.
Dining & Entertainment
The Lookout Grille is a picture-perfect setting for lunch or dinner. Along with a casual meal enjoy spectacular views of Glenwood Springs below, the Roaring Fork Valley to the south and the Colorado River Valley to the west. On Friday nights, from 5 to 8:30 p.m., don’t miss Friday Afternoon Club (FAC) with live music featuring talented local bands and food and drink specials. Gondola rides are free after 4 p.m. with a coupon that appears in the Post Independent each Friday. Each coupon is valid for up to four people.
Adventure Park Winter Hours
Winter on the Mountain at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park hours are as follows: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 29, 2020. The park is closed Monday through Thursday. During the holidays, it will be open daily Nov. 15 to Dec. 1, except for Thanksgiving Day, and Dec. 20 to Jan. 5, except for Christmas Day.
Don’t miss out on a mountain-full of adventure this winter! Plan to visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park today.
The Glenwood Springs Post Independent recently ran a feature story on our very own Cole Newton, cave tour supervisor at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Read Cole’s fascinating story and why he has a special affinity for all things caves.
Sunday profile: Glenwood Springs native seeks the undiscovered underground
by Josh Carney, [email protected]
When he was just 2 weeks old, Glenwood Springs native Cole Newton found himself deep underground with his parents, Ken Newton and Kathy Keeler, who met while caving. Since then, caving has been a way of life for the 26-year-old Newton.
At 7 years old, Newton became the youngest person to date to submerge to Sub 1 (submerge level 1 for scuba divers in the water flow) inside Spring Cave outside of Meeker.
That passion for caving has created a unique purpose for Newton’s life – educating the public on the wonders of caves, exploring new and exciting places within caves and working to preserve them for future generations.
To some, caves might just be holes in the ground. But for someone like Newton, who is so passionate about caves and all that they bring, he hopes his stories and knowledge as a caver opens people’s eyes to all that caves can offer. As the cave tour supervisor at Glenwood Caverns since 2014, Newton has had a chance to educate and explore with a number of tour guides each and every day during peak tour season on the mountain. Through his tours, Newton tries to educate and entertain within the cave in hopes of showing just how important cave systems are to the earth.
“I really hope we can continue to education people on why caves are important to our ecosystem on the surface and underground,” Newton said. “They can be a wonderful environment to study and protect. We don’t want to throw garbage into that hole, because that hole can lead to a city’s water supply and other things like that. It’s not a trash can just because it’s a hole in the ground; I want to change that perspective about caves for the general population because caves are important and special.”
Newton originally went to college to become a music teacher, but realizing that teaching in a classroom wasn’t his cup of tea, Newton went back to his passion of caving, which later led to him teaching (in a sense) tour guides all there is to know about the beautiful caves only a short trip away from Glenwood Springs.
Giving tour guides each and every day during peak season on the mountain seems like it could be a drain, but Newton attacks each tour with a uniqueness that can’t be found elsewhere.
“I don’t script my tour guides,” Newton said. “I try and read the tours and let the guests kind of feel me, in a way. It all depends on the makeup of the tours. If I have a bunch of little kids, I talk more about the dragons and the fairies within the caves; if I have a lot of adults, I’ll focus more on the science of things. I want them to get what they want out of the tour, so if I do that, every tour isn’t the same, which keeps it fresh.”
EXPANSION, PRESERVATION, AND EXPLORATION
When not giving tours through the cave systems on Iron Mountain, Newton is in charge of updating the new stairs within the cave system, leading the project to put in new concrete and steel, guiding concrete and steel workers on where to place the materials. On top of that, Newton has been mapping and navigating the new King’s Row Loop tour, playing an integral part in hoping the loop comes to fruition.
What Newton loves most though is traveling around the world to visit other cave systems in hopes of learning about the geological systems within the cave.
“A lot of times, I’m looking at the geological aspects, like how is this cave different from caves in the western U.S. versus the eastern U.S. or south U.S, etc.,” Newton said. “Because the way that geology works across the world is that every cave is a little different. They all have a little different influence on how the water would have formed the cave, or whether it was lava or water, things like that. They all create different features, which I find fascinating.”
Earlier this year, Newton traveled to the Frasassi Caves in Italy, which is Italy’s top cave system. The immense cave system was discovered in 1971, and part of the caverns was opened to visitors in 1974. The caverns can be visited only on guided tours, which Newton went on.
The huge rooms of the caverns are filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites, and highlights of the tour include the Ancona Abyss, a room so large that Milan’s Duomo (the world’s largest Gothic cathedral) could easily fit inside it, a crystallized lake, a Grand Canyon, and a room filled with formations that resemble candles.
“The stalagmites were just gorgeous,” Newton said. “They’re 30, 40 feet tall and have these amazing little cuts on the side of them, so instead of being flowy, they have these extra little features on them.”
Aside from educating himself on the geological systems within the caves he travels to see and explore, Newton also pays attention to the tour guides and how they’re structured as he’s always learning and looking to improve.
“It’s important for me to do that, because if I can learn from others and see how they’re running their own tour guides, I can bring something back from that to the Glenwood Caverns and try to make the tours I give the best possible experience they can be,” he said.
In the end though, the free exploration is what drives Newton. Moving deeper into caves is supposed to be fun for cavers, and without fun it’s not successful.
“There’s got to be some fun in it; you want to have fun,” Newton said. “That’s why you do it. That’s where you get your energy. If one person has that energy, it makes for a successful and fun trip for the group.”
That sense of fun and excitement continues to drive Newton today through his passionate daily tours of the Fairy Cave and King’s Row Cave, and during his free time caving on his own, discovering all there is to see deep beneath the earth’s surface.
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 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.