Media Buzz: Glenwood Caverns Named A Winner (Twice)

Even while closed for the winter season for the installation of its new, highly anticipated Glenwood Gondola which is scheduled to open to the public on March 16, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park continues to fascinate all kinds of people from natural history buffs to thrill-seeking daredevils.

Fairy Caves Edge Out Powell Expedition by a Slim Margin

First, Rocky Mountain PBS  sponsored a contest asking viewers to choose a topic for an episode of Colorado Experience, a documentary show dedicated to preserving and celebrating the people, events and places that shaped Colorado. In a hotly contested vote-off, viewers chose the Historic Fairy Caves in Glenwood Springs. Out of 4,700 votes cast, a record-breaking number, the Fairy Caves came out on top, beating out six other episodes with 1,646 votes and inching by second place finisher the Powell Expedition by a mere six votes!

The Fairy Caves are the historic portion of Glenwood Caverns; the newer section is called Kings Row and the Park offers tours of both.  Loaded with fantastical cave formations, the Fairy Caves have dazzled visitors to Glenwood Springs since they opened to the public in 1897. In fact, children today are as charmed as the tots from a century ago when they receive a “cave fairy kiss”— a drop of water falling from the cave ceiling. A highlight of the Fairy Cave tour is the historic lighting section called History Lane, which is illuminated with replica Edison and Marconi-style light bulbs. There are ticketing options that include just a gondola pass and cave tour or a complete FunDay Pass, the best-value, which bundles the Glenwood Gondola, cave tours and admission to all of the Park’s rides and attractions.

Tops for Drops: The Haunted Mine Drop

Another accolade came in a surprise announcement on March 5, when Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park learned that USA Today selected the Park’s Haunted Mine Drop as part of its feature story: The tallest drop tower rides in North America, from thrilling to scream-inducing. The Haunted Mine Drop is the country’s highest elevation drop tower ride and the first ride of its kind to plunge 110 feet underground.

According to the USA Today article by Arthur Levine, the concept of a drop-tower ride is simple: Vehicles carrying nerve-wracked passengers rise high in the air, pause for a few anxious moments and then — cue the screams — plummet to the ground. One of the most famous is Disney World’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The Haunted Mine Drop made the media outlet’s list of most fearsome drop rides in North America.

The Park’s first themed ride, the Haunted Mine Drop is housed in a structure that resembles an old mining building. Upon entering, visitors feel like they are arriving for their first day’s work at an old-time mining operation. Once inside, riders are seated, strapped-in and entertained as ghosts appear and tell tales of a mining tragedy from long ago. Without warning, the floor slides out and riders plummet down the “mine shaft.” More ghosts appear at the bottom to continue the tale while passengers clutch their hearts and recover their breath.

Spring Break Staycation

Update: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park & Glenwood Gondola Now Open!

After being closed for four and a half months for the construction of the new Glenwood Gondola, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park reopened just in time for spring break visitors. Beginning Saturday, March 16, the park’s winter attractions will be open—the Alpine Coaster, Haunted Mine Drop, both walking cave tours, the laser tag arena and 4D Motion Theater. The Lookout Grille and General Store gift shop will be open as well. An exciting ride on its own, the opening of the state-of-the-art Glenwood Gondola, ushers in a new era for Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Stay tuned for more information about it in upcoming posts.

Explore Showcaves of the Eastern U.S.

Take a cave tour on your visit to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

The geological history of the eastern United States has created dozens of caverns and cave systems, mostly along the Appalachian Mountains with some in the limestone and sandstone layers of Ohio and Kentucky.

Cavern.com has highlighted 13 of the 31 identified in the region as among America’s Best Showcaves.

  • Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves in Kinsman Notch, New Hampshire, was formed by glaciers after the last Ice Age. The river flows beneath the surface before it joins the Pemigewasset River. It was discovered by boys fishing in 1852 and bought by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests in 1912.
  • Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is the world’s longest cave system – more than 400 miles explored since it was rediscovered by Europeans in the late 1700s.
  • Diamond Cavern next to Mammoth Cave has illuminated the drapery deposits of naturally colorful calcite in its halls with state-of-the-art lighting. Tourists have visited the site since the late 19th
  • Ohio Caverns in West Liberty has more than two miles of surveyed passages from 30 feet to 103 feet under its 35-acre park.
  • Seneca Caverns in Bellevue, Ohio, was discovered in 1872 and opened for visitors in 1933 after previously-unknown passageways, rooms, and an underground river were discovered.
  • The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tenn., is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest underground lake in the United States. It is 4.5 acres at the surface, but more than 13 acres have been mapped and the work is incomplete.
  • Cumberland Caverns is a system of more than 32 miles of caves and underground passageways with rock formations, waterfalls, and pools in McMinnville, Tenn. It hosts headliner music events in the Volcano Room 333 feet below the surface.
  • Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee, named for the wife of Leo Lambert who in 1928 discovered the underground waterfall more than 1,120 feet under the surface of Lookout Mountain.
  • Raccoon Mountain Caverns, a cave system near Chattanooga, offers campsites and panning for gemstones in sight of Lookout Mountain and Raccoon Mountain.
  • Shenandoah Caverns in Virginia has an elevator for easy cavern exploration. It offers a one-hour guided tour of the geology including crystalline formations.
  • Luray Caverns in Virginia hosts the Geology Hall of Fame and offers guided tours on lighted, paved walkways through rooms 10 stories high. Its Great Stalacpipe Organ is the largest musical instrument in the world—tapping stalactites with rubber mallets across a 3.5-acre expanse.
  • Grand Caverns in Grottoes, Va., the oldest continually operated showcave in the United States, was discovered by a trapper in 1804 and opened to visitors in 1806. More than 200 Confederate and Union soldiers from nearby battles signed their names in the caverns.
  • DeSoto Caverns in Childersburg, Ala., was explored by Native Americans, mined by Confederate soldiers, and used to hide moonshining during Prohibition.

The National Caves Association divides the country’s showcaves into four regions: West, Mid-West, East and Off-Shore. The caves at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park are part of Western region.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is Hiring

Glenwood Caverns is hiring

Earn a paycheck and have fun at the same time! America’s only mountaintop theme park, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, is hiring now for seasonal spring and summer positions.

When opportunity knocks, it’s always a good idea to answer. Well, it’s knocking today! Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado is hiring seasonal positions for the upcoming spring and summer seasons.

While the balmy days of summer may seem far off, they’re not. Peak season at the Park is just around the corner. With the installation of the Glenwood Gondola underway and on schedule for completion next month, it won’t long before the Park reopens to the visiting public in mid-March. We’ll need a fully, trained staff to welcome and serve guests—“to make people smile”—our company mission.

If you are hard-working, reliable, friendly and teachable, we encourage you to apply. Working at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is a great way to build your resume and develop real-world marketable skills including increased confidence, public speaking, time management and problem solving.

We are looking for employees who share our six core values: guest service, enthusiasm, team player, passionate, adaptable and dedicated. If this sounds like you, we’d love you to be a part of the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park team in 2019. Now is the time to apply. To learn more about jobs, visit us at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

We are currently hiring for the following positions:

  • Restaurant Cashiers
  • Attraction Attendants
  • Gondola Cashiers
  • Gondola Operators
  • Gondola Attendants
  • Gift Shop Cashiers
  • CDL Drivers
  • Cooks for the Lookout Grille
  • Photography Cashiers
  • Restaurant Bussers
  • Janitors
  • Cave Tour Guides
  • Part-time Receptionists
  • Sluice Attendants
  • Retail Inventory Control Specialists

Restaurant bussers can be as young as 14; cashiers, 16 and up; minor attractions attendants must be at least 16 and major attractions operators, 18 and older.

Do you hear that knocking? Opportunities at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park abound, but they won’t last long. Get to work. Make money. Have fun. Apply today!

Behind the Scenes: Cave Care

Glenwood Caverns is temporarily closed until March while we install our new high-capacity tram. In the meantime, we’ve been busy housekeeping our treasured caves.

Most caves including Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park have a stable year-round temperature of about 55°F (13°C). Even when the outside temps dip to freezing or below, the interior of the caves remains comfortable for working—and that’s just what we’ve been doing since the Park temporarily closed in the fall.

Improving the cave experience for visitors

“The closure gives us time to work on some projects. We were able to eliminate eight steps on the King’s Row tour.  It will be the same fun and informative cave tour, but now guests will be able to walk amongst some of the rocks instead of above them on a walkway,” said Kathy Miller, Natural Attractions Manager at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. “Visitors will feel more a part of the cave and get a sense of what it might have felt like for the first people who discovered this room in 1960.” In place of the raised walkway, Miller and her team installed a new path with switchbacks that meander through the rockfall. The location of the new walking surface is in the Barn, the second largest cave room in Colorado. It’s what’s known as a breakdown room where the floor is covered with rocks that dislodged from the ceiling when the cave was formed. Extreme care was taken to ensure that no living cave formations were damaged in the process of building the pathway.

Yes, we dust our cave formations

Just like homes, caves are not maintenance free. Miller and her staff spend a significant amount of time housekeeping. Even though visitors leave backpacks, food and other items outside of the caves before taking a tour, they still track debris inside that must be tidied up periodically. “We regularly clean lint and hair from the cave walkways and formations, and we dust the formations as well,” Miller explained.  During the closure the team is doing an extensive deep clean that includes removing dust with small shop vacs fitted with an attachment typically used to clean computer keyboards. After the dust is removed the formations also get a gentle washing. “When spring comes the cave will rinse itself but we want to get the dust gone before the thaw,” Miller added.

Checking, replacing and installing

At any given time there are two to four staff members working in the caves as well as a welder who is constructing new handrails for guest safety and convenience. The maintenance checklist includes checking the airlock seals on the doors, replacing burned out bulbs and resetting lights for the new pathway. Building the pathway necessitated pouring concrete for a smooth and stable pedestrian-friendly surface. Because of its location inside a cave and the need for the airlock doors to remain sealed at all times, pouring concrete is done the old fashioned way. “We put up a double tent to contain the dust. Instead of using a cement truck, portable mixers and bagged concrete are hauled in. Our contractor does it the hard way—in small batches, by hand,” Miller said. Other tasks taking place include installing a new phone line in the event of an emergency and “scaling” work which is poking areas prone to loose rock.

Cave well-check

Open or closed, high-season or off-season, we are always concerned about the health and wellness of our cave. It’s our baby! Caves are extremely fragile environments with perceptible growth occurring incrementally over long periods of time. To assess its condition, the staff takes the cave’s temperature and measures humidity. It is an ongoing project that to date has spanned 20 years. Every three months a group of cavers from Denver check the evaporometers and data loggers that are placed throughout the cave. Evaporometers are devices that measure the rate of evaporation. Your cave guide can point them out to you on a cave tour. The data loggers take the temperature of the cave every 15 minutes. The information then gets downloaded and evaluated by experts four times per year.

While the Park may seem dormant this winter, there is a lot happening behind the scenes. Special thanks to Kathy Miller for providing information and photographs. Miller was recently appointed to the board of directors for the National Caves Association as regional director for member caves in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. She joined Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in March 2006 and was promoted to natural attractions manager in October 2014. Miller has lived in the area for 28 years.

How a Colorado Theme Park Ended Up on Top of a Mountain

A mountain is ideal for many things – hiking, skiing, hang gliding, but it’s not the most logical location for a theme park. Yet, situated 7, 100 feet above sea level in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is America’s only mountain-top theme park. How exactly did Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park end up there?

Well, follow the path of curiosity long enough, as Steve and Jeanne Beckley did and you might find yourself in some interesting and unexpected places. What started out as a spelunking hobby in college became a quest to explore the private and nearly forgotten Fairy Caves, the closed-to-the-public Colorado cave fiercely protected by its then owner, Pete Prebble.

Inspired by photos he saw in caving books, Beckley began writing to Prebble in 1982, in the hopes of gaining access to the caves, but almost all of his letters came back unopened, stamped “Return to Sender.” Disappointed but not deterred, Beckley kept up the letter writing campaign. After a decade Prebble relented and in 1992, granted Beckley permission to explore the caves.

As spectacular as the images in the caving books were, nothing could prepare Steve and Jeanne for what they were about to see. After struggling though Jam Crack, a claustrophobically narrow opening only nine inches wide in spots, they emerged into The Barn, a huge chamber with fiery red walls. It was here, that Steve’s dream of sharing the beauty and wonder of the Fairy Caves with the public was born.

The Beckleys acquired the property from Prebble in 1998. On Memorial Day weekend a year later, 500 visitors showed up for a tour of the newly renamed Glenwood Caverns. By 2003, the “little” cave tour operation was accommodating 100,000 visitors a year. To transport the burgeoning number of guests to the mountain-top cave entrance, the Beckleys installed a Poma gondola and dubbed it the Iron Mountain Tramway.

Read the whole story in Roaring Fork Lifestyle Magazine’s Movers & Shakers edition

Steve Beckley’s Dream: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Though interest in the caves was booming, the wait for a tour was breaching three hours. “We started putting in rides to give people something to do while they were waiting for the caves,” said Steve. The idea took off and launched the business in a new and unexpected direction – the planning of a mountain-top theme park with a Western history slant officially got underway. The first rides were installed in 2005, including the Alpine Coaster which is still a visitor favorite. Since then, a slew of thrill rides and attractions have been added to the Colorado theme park with the newest, the Haunted Mine Drop, to open in the summer of 2017.

What began over two decades ago as nagging curiosity to explore a little known cave in Glenwood Springs has become America’s only mountain-top theme park, a place where the thrills run deep and the sky’s the limit!

Hard work pays off. Check out a small sampling of accolades the Beckleys and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park have received over the years!

  • The State of Colorado awarded the Beckleys the 2001 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Tourism Initiative
  • Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association named them Citizens of the Year for 2002
  • The Haunted Mine Drop was named one of the 12 Most Anticipated Thrill Rides of 2017 by USA Today
  • Glenwood Caverns was named one of the “10 Best Caves”, USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards
  • Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park ranked in the top 4 for “Best Family Fun” in Sunset magazine Travel Awards

Wild adventures in Glenwood Springs

Are you ready to explore a few heart pumping adventures in Glenwood Springs. Shawna Henderson, the Colorado Escapist, begins her journey underground on the Wild Tour at the Glenwood Caverns and Adventure Park. Get dirty! Crawl through tight spaces and discover some of the most incredible rock and water features.

Next stop is the Iron Mountain Hot Springs where we relax and unwind in a few of the 16 pools nestled next to the Colorado river. Lastly, Shawna joins Charlie MacArthur for some whitewater fun on Stand Up Paddle boards going down the Colorado River.

Testimonials for the Wild Tour at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Wonder what it’s like to take a Wild Tour at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park? Watch these testimonials from students and a teacher at the Denver Academy!

The Wild Tour at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park takes you deep inside Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, for an on-your-belly caving adventure. Guide Lorie Sheader shows you what the Wild Tour is all about. Call 800-530-1635, ext. 0, for information and reservations.

Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves are part of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Located on top of Iron Mountain at an elevation of 7,100 feet, the park offers walking and wild cave tours, thrill rides, mountain-top dining, scenic gondola rides and lots of kid-friendly attractions.

Goin’ Wild on a Wild Tour at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Ready to get down and dirty? The Wild Tour at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park takes you deep inside Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, for an on-your-belly caving adventure. Guide Lorie Sheader shows you what the Wild Tour is all about as she takes students and a teacher from the Denver Academy underground. Call 800-530-1635, ext. 0, for information and reservations.

The King’s Row Cave Tour

Take a peek inside Glenwood Caverns as guide Kathy Miller gives you a preview of the King’s Row Cave Tour. King’s Row is the most highly decorated cave room in Colorado. The staged light show highlights the cave’s magnificent formations.

Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves are part of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Located on top of Iron Mountain at an elevation of 7,100 feet, the park offers walking and wild cave tours, thrill rides, mountain-top dining, scenic gondola rides and lots of kid-friendly attractions.