Defiance: Countdown to Gravity-Defying Thrills

Construction continues on new Defiance coaster

Three…two…one. Get ready to drop, twist and roll! Defiance, Glenwood Caverns’ new mountain-top roller coaster is set to open to fanfare. On July 9, the park will have its Grand Opening celebration which will include a performance by Prince cover band, Paizley Park.

Two massive cranes are moving pieces into place under the expertise of the park’s ground crew to create Defiance. The United States’ newest, highest elevation loop roller coaster and dare we say, most thrilling one, will sit on top of Iron Mountain, home of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The official celebration will be on Saturday, July 9. Mark your calendars today to be among the first to ride Defiance and “Party like it’s 1999” with Prince tribute band, Paizley Park.

Preparing for Launch

A rendering of Defiance, Glenwood Caverns newest roller coasterDefiance is a one-of-a-kind, action-packed Gerstlauer Euro-Flight roller coaster. In addition to five bold elements, what sets it apart is its location at 7,160-feet above sea level. A project of this magnitude is no small feat on flat ground, but when the building envelope is on a mountaintop surrounded by other rides and attractions, and with a network of caves located below the surface, the degree of difficulty gets bumped up a notch.

Fortunately, a top-flight construction crew is on the job. Defiance is taking form and nearing completion with each passing day.  “We have an incredible amount of skill, credibility and perseverance not only in the construction of, but the operations and maintenance of the rides,” General Manager Nancy Heard said. “I am proud to be part of the company that has the vision to invest in a project of this magnitude and I am proud to lead such a capable, talented team of men and women that are full of passion for the industry and dedicated to safe operations.”

Mark Your Calendars for the Grand Opening Celebration

Paizley Park to play for Defiance Grand Opening festivitiesAs Defiance takes shape, many are counting down the days until the ride is ready in real time. Among the first who will be queuing up will be self-proclaimed ‘coaster nerds’ from the American Coaster Enthusiasts. Members attended the ride’s ground-breaking ceremony last spring and are anxiously anticipating its high-speed curves, twists and descents. Local thrill seekers too have been keeping a close eye on the action as the giant cranes standing tall over the coaster’s serpentine track. Fortunately, with summer quickly approaching, the wait is nearly over. Grand Opening festivities are planned for Saturday, July 9 and will include music performed by Paizley Park, a Prince cover band that brought down the house the last time they played Glenwood Caverns.

Zero-Hour & Zero-Gravity

A ride of colossal scale, Defiance not only takes advantage of sky-high views, it’s also an adrenaline-junkie’s dream come true. Here are just a few reasons to start the countdown to go-time!

  • The panoramas will fly by but there’s a few seconds to catch a glimpse of Mt. Sopris as the Defiance coaster cars travel up the incline before the first drop.
  • And, that first descent is a doozy! It’s a 102.3-degree freefall which makes Defiance the owner of the steepest coaster drop in the Western U.S.
  • Catch your breath while you can, the next feature is a 98-foot twisted top hat switch,* an element that tilts riders past 90-degrees without a full inversion.
  • Next, hang tight as you circuit through the 111-foot banana roll,* this time completely inverted for maximum scream-worthy excitement.
  • Defiance finishes with a 41-foot, zero-G heartline roll*, another roller coaster heart-thumping inversion element.

* definitions are taken from Coasterpedia

Shooting through all five elements is an exhilarating experience that will take less than one minute, just 56 seconds to be exact. When it comes to most anticipated thrill rides in the country, Defiance is not just on top of a mountain, it’s on top of every thrill seeker’s bucket list for 2022.

Stay in the Loop

Learn more about Defiance roller coaster and the Grand Opening festivities planned for July 9, at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Visit A Cave During International Year of Caves and Karst

Celebrate 2021 International Year of Caves and Karst at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

In addition to showing off the beauty of the caves for visitors, Glenwood Caverns’ is celebrating the International Year of Caves and Karst to help provide education and protection for the natural wonders here in Glenwood Springs and around the world.

The International Year of Caves and Karst (IYCK) is an initiative of the International Union of Speleology (UIS), a non-profit headquartered in Slovenia and dedicated to the exploration, study and management of caves through international cooperation.

Glenwood Caverns is a proud IYCK supporter, helping to educate visitors about caves and karst. “Every cave tour is an opportunity to inform visitors from all over the globe and of all ages about the unique, fragile environment of caves,” said Kathy Miller, Director of Cave Operations.

What Exactly is Karst?

Caves and karst are fascinating to learn about
Viewing the underground landscape is part of the fun of exploring caves

Karst is a type of landscape that covers about 20 percent of the world’s land, with special surface, hydrological and underground features and phenomena. It forms mainly by the slow dissolving of certain rocks over thousands of years. Karst forms most widely in carbonate rocks—limestone, dolomite and marble—by water enriched with carbon dioxide, which is slightly acidic and can dissolve those rocks. In dry climates, karst forms on evaporite rocks— gypsum, anhydrite, and halite (rock salt)—which dissolve even if the water is not acidic. In rare cases, karst will form in other rocks, such as quartz sandstones. Caves are the best-known type of karst feature, and form as underground drainage systems by the dissolution process.

Why are Caves Important?

  • Economic Drivers. Caves and karst are priceless natural resources. Hundreds of caves are open to tourism around the world, many in World Heritage sites. About 150 million tourists visit caves each year, providing vital support to many national economies.
  • Fresh Water. Karst aquifers provide an estimated 20 percent of the world’s drinking water and include the largest wells and springs on earth.
  • Biodiversity. Caves and karst are home to many of the planet’s most diverse, important and rare ecosystems, supporting ecological diversity above and below the ground.

Why Do We Need to Understand Caves Better?

Many species make caves their home, some newly discovered like this critterDespite its broad international distribution and great importance, caves and karst are generally poorly understood. Few scientists and natural resource managers are adequately trained to properly study or manage them. Many governments do not recognize caves and karst at all or fail to recognize their importance. As such they are often unprotected, subject to contamination and vandalism.

Progress is being made, however. Specialized cave and karst conferences are now common and national cave and karst research institutes have been established in eight countries. Effective understanding and management of caves and karst requires broad, international understanding and appreciation by governments from the local to the national level, as well as from such stakeholders as scientists and the public.

How Can You Help?

One of the best ways to support caves and karst is to visit a cave near you. Your visit not only raises money that contributes to the care of caves but also raises awareness about the importance of protecting them for future generations. With 2021 declared the International Year of Caves and Karst, this year is a perfect time to go deeper by exploring the hidden world of caves either at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park or elsewhere.

Learn more about Glenwood Caverns and make plans to visit in 2021!

Our 2021 New Year Resolutions!

Having fun in 2021 at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

It’s the beginning of a new year and we’re making our annual resolutions, all of which include you—our guests. We want to thank you for supporting Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park throughout 2020, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the mountain-top once again in the coming months. Take a look at what we’re committed to in 2021.

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Don’t Let Vacation Days Go To Waste

Ride the Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

You worked hard to earn your vacation days, don’t let them go unused. Instead, plan an end-of-the-year vacation to Glenwood Springs where you can enjoy the holiday merriment, rides and cave tours at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, soak at Iron Mountain Hot Springs and ski at Sunlight Mountain Resort!

The end of the year is looming and you still have vacation days left. Don’t wait; make plans to enjoy every minute of them today! You might have had big travel plans at the beginning of the year, but when the pandemic hit in March those plans more than likely came to a screeching halt. While some employers will allow you to rollover unused vacation days, many do not. The result is those days are lost forever. Living through quarantines was bad enough; don’t make it worse by losing your earned vacation days. After all, you really do deserve to enjoy a little R&R before the year ends.

Spend a Few Days in Glenwood Springs

During these unprecedented times, traveling to destinations that are close to home seems to be the easiest and most appealing option for many people looking for a Colorado getaway. Glenwood Springs is an easy drive from Denver and points east, as well as from Grand Junction to the west. You can also hop aboard the Amtrak train which makes regular stops at the historic train depot in downtown Glenwood.

Springs, Slopes & Celebrations

Not only are the final two months of the year the perfect time to use your vacation days, but they are also an ideal time to visit Glenwood Springs. Top winter activities include hot springs, skiing and snowboarding, thrill rides and cave exploration, as well as holiday merriment. The hot springs town has also been at the forefront of public safety during the pandemic. Hotels, restaurants and attractions have dialed in protocols to keep guests and workers safe. You can read about what COVID precautions attractions have taken in the links below.

Celebrate the holiday season at America’s only mountain-top theme park. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s annual Winter on the Mountain begins Friday, Nov. 13 and runs through Feb. 2021. Enjoy gondola rides, dazzling light displays, thrill rides, a giant Christmas tree with a light show choreographed to holiday music and much more. The Unlimited Alpine Coaster ticket is the best value to enjoy Winter on the Mountain. As the name implies, it includes unlimited turns on the Alpine Coaster plus a roundtrip gondola ride, 4D Motion Theater, laser tag arena and two guided cave tours at a cost of just $44 per adult and $39 per child, ages 3 to 12. A round-trip ride on the Glenwood Gondola is $20 per adult and $15 per child for guests who want to view the lights, enjoy lunch or dinner at the Lookout Grille, do some shopping at the General Store and visit with Santa. Make your online reservations to attend Winter on the Mountain at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park today!

Learn more about Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s COVID guidelines here.

Relax at Iron Mountain Hot SpringsRelax, restore and rejuvenate in 16 soaking pools that range in temperature from 99°F to 108°F. Get cozy on cold days with a soothing soak. The natural geothermal water has an almost magical ability to tease tension from sore muscles, helping you to thoroughly decompress. The family pool with a jetted spa is cooler and provides relief from the heat of the soaking pools. Be sure to visit Iron Mountain Hot Springs online to make reservations for your 2-1/2-hour soaking window. Choose morning hours and weekdays for the ultimate serene getaway; après ski is a wonderful time to remedy any aches and pains; and an evening soak before bed practically guarantees a good night’s sleep.

Learn more about Iron Mountain Hot Springs’ COVID guidelines here.


Snowboarding at Sunlight Mountain ResortSunlight Mountain is Glenwood Springs’ affordable, family-friendly ski area with over 730 acres of skiable terrain. In addition to miles of cruising intermediate terrain, Sunlight’s East Ridge has one of the steeper runs in the state. Sunlight is home to one of the longest trails in ski country, Ute, a beginner slope that winds more than two miles from summit to base. Sunlight also hosts some of the best tree skiing in Colorado with many aspen groves untracked days after a snowfall. All trails converge at the base lodge, so friends and family can always keep track of each other.

There’s so much to smile about at Sunlight Mountain Resort, especially this season. One of the big bonuses is that Sunlight won’t require visitors to make reservations to ski, something the larger, more crowded Colorado ski areas are embracing this season. With lots of open space and fewer people on the slopes, Sunlight is socially distant by nature!

Learn more about Sunlight Mountain Resort’s COVID guidelines here.


Time is Running Out

The time left to use your 2020 vacation days is dwindling. Check with your HR department today and let the boss know you’ll be taking a few days off before the year is over!