Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Colorado this Summer

Photo op from Exclamation Point
Photo op from Exclamation Point

Go jump off a cliff! Trekaroo, a popular family travel planning website, just released its list of the Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Colorado…and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is included! In the ever-popular Jump Off a Cliff category, written just for those thrill-seeking families out there, the Giant Canyon Swing is called out for “launching daring riders 1,300 feet out and over the Colorado River trailing below.”
The article also includes the Wild Tour, Alpine Coaster and Zip Ride, which when combined with the Bungee Jump and the new Cliffhanger Roller Coaster opening this spring, makes a pretty exciting day for adventurous families. Here’s how that day could play out this summer (many of these rides are seasonal, this is to help you plan your summer vacation) …

9 a.m. — Hop on board the Iron Mountain Tramway and enjoy a scenic ride to the Adventure Park, which is nestled in the mountains overlooking Glenwood Springs, Colorado, voted the Most Fun Town in America in the Rand McNally and USA Today Best of the Road program. Check out the park map during the ride so that you can hit the ground running when you get to the top.

9:30 — Ride the Alpine Coaster one or five times. It was the first in the U.S. and is still the longest Alpine Coaster in Colorado. You will love it. Kids at least eight years old and 56” tall can ride alone, kids three and older can ride with an adult.

10:15 — Ride the new Cliffhanger Roller Coaster! Located slightly above the rest of the park, sitting at 7,160 feet, you’ll get amazing views of the Roaring Fork Valley…if you can keep your eyes open as it whips you around the curve right along the edge of Glenwood Canyon.

11:00 — Head for the Giant Canyon Swing, which was featured on the Travel Channel and Good Morning America, and see what all the fuss is about. Watch it a time or two, then get strapped in for the ride of a lifetime. Make sure someone has the video camera going so you can prove that you rode it.

11:45 — Make your way to the Bungee Tower. You can try the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride first, which zips you down the mountain, over the Alpine Coaster, and then back up to the top again. If you’re really brave, it’s time to try the Bungee Jump. It’s 70 feet up; you can jump, free fall backwards, or dive head first. Again, make sure someone is taping it so you can share your screams with your friends later.

12:30 — Time for lunch. The Lookout Grille offers some of the best panoramic views in Colorado, and features burgers, salads, sandwiches, a great kids’ menu and more.

1:30 — While you’re in the building, head upstairs and try out the Laser Tag Arena. It was just repainted this year, and the kids will have a blast.

2:15 — Head back outside and take your pick: the new Mine Wheel or Wild West Express Coaster, perfect for the young ones in the group, or race through Fort WhereAmI, a giant Western-style human maze. Take your camera and snap some shots from the towers, the views are incredible.

3:00 — You might need a breather now, so grab a cold drink at the Snack Shack and try the gemstone sluice box mining, pick out a geode and have it cut, or see how good of a shot you are at the Mining Shaft Shootin’ Gallery. You can also get an old time photo taken at Silk’s Saloon.

4:00 — Take the guided 70-minute tour of Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves. It’s suitable for almost everyone, but there are 127 steps down and back up again, so be prepared to carry the little ones if needed. (Sign up at the base when you arrive in the morning, the tours can fill up during the summer.)

5:15 — Pick your favorite rides and try them again!

6:30 — Time for another cold drink on the deck at the Lookout Grille, and maybe a slice of pizza at the Snack Shack. If you can stay for the sunset, you won’t be disappointed.

If your family is not quite adventurous enough for the Giant Canyon Swing, and Cliffhanger Roller Coaster and Bungee Jump, never fear. You’ll find plenty to do. The park also features a sand pit fossil dig, climbing wall, Giddy Up Western Ride, Wild West Wagon ride, new Mine Wheel and Wild West Express Coaster.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located just off I-70, midway between Vail and Aspen. During the winter and spring, guests can enjoy the Iron Mountain Tramway, Alpine Coaster, Laser Tag, 4D Motion Theater and guided cave tours. The rest of the park’s attractions are scheduled to open by Memorial Weekend. For more information, visit glenwoodcaverns.com or call 800-530-1635, ext. 0.

Read the whole Trekaroo “Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Colorado” list.

Now, who’s ready for summer?

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!

Glenwood Caverns tops off food drive with donation to LIFT-UP

I love it when companies give back to their communities, and I’m especially proud when it’s a company I represent. Last week, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park did just that. At the beginning of the year, the management team at the Adventure Park decided to ramp up their support of the LIFT-UP community food pantry. They set a goal to collect 10,000 cans of food during the third annual Music on the Mountain concert series. It was a lofty goal, and to be honest, it made me a little nervous! But with the series expanded to include nine concerts, they had a “can-do” attitude and decided to aim high.

To bring in more food donations during the series, the Adventure Park teamed up with some local businesses, including Bighorn Toyota, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, KSPN radio, Glenwood TV, the Hotel Glenwood Springs, US Bank, Swire Coca-Cola and Mountain Beverage, to promote the concerts to an even broader audience. In addition to providing additional marketing opportunities, the sponsors brought prizes and giveaways to each of the concerts — always a big hit with the audience.

After the last concert on Sept. 24, the total number of cans donated was slightly more than 7,600. The community donated an average of nearly 850 cans per concert. That’s a truly impressive number when you think about it, but it wasn’t the 10,000 everyone was hoping for.

So last week, owner Steve Beckley and members of the management team presented LIFT-UP’s executive director Mike Powell with a check for $1,200 to purchase the remaining 2,400 cans. When they set a goal, you can bet they’re going to reach it!

LIFT-UP provides a helping hand to more and more people every year. They are serving an average of 2,600 people a month, and distributing more than 3,000 bags of groceries a month. Visit their website at https://www.liftup.org/ to find out how you can help.

Visiting Glenwood Springs in the Fall

Ride the Glenwood Gondola for stunning views of the valley
Ride the Glenwood Gondola for stunning views of the valley

Viewing Deck

Fall is my favorite season in Colorado, and it’s arrived in Glenwood Springs! The days are clear and warm, and then it’s sweater weather once the sun goes down.  This is a great time of year to visit, here’s why:

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is open daily, the lines are shorter – and rare on weekdays, and almost all of the attractions are still open. I love seeing the fall colors on the tram ride and from the deck at the Lookout Grille. With shorter lines, you can ride the alpine coaster over, and over, and over again.

The forecast: sunny or mostly sunny, with highs in the mid-to-upper 70s and lows in the 40s, for the next week! The weather is perfect for hiking and biking on the trails around town, or in the White River National Forest. The foliage is just starting to turn at higher elevations, so there’s plenty of time to plan your trip to catch the colors at their peak.

At night when the air is cool, sitting in the Glenwood Hot Springs is very relaxing. It’s open until 10 p.m., and the night rates apply after 9 p.m. You’ll find that throughout the town, and the Roaring Fork Valley, there are a lot of ways to enjoy the beautiful fall weather without the summer crowds. Come for a visit soon!

Enjoy the Tunes, Help a Neighbor

What could be better than live music on top of a mountain surrounded by your friends? How about all of that for a can of food! This is the third year for the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Music on the Mountain Glenwood Springs concert series to benefit the LIFT-UP food pantry. You can ride the tram and enjoy the concerts for a donation of at least one can of food. That’s a pretty good deal by any standards.
This week’s concert on Saturday, Aug. 27, features Already Gone, one of the region’s most in-demand cover bands. They bring high energy and a robust sound to a diverse set list that includes classic rock, R&B, new country, top 40 and funk. The band features Eddie Muniz on drums and vocals, Jean Graca on bass, Mark Chenoweth on guitar and vocals, Randy De Herrera on alto sax, vocals and keyboards, and Lisa Popish as lead vocalist.

You’ll notice that earlier I said “at least” one can of food. We’ve set a lofty goal this year of collecting 10,000 cans for LIFT-UP. We’re just shy of 5,000 cans so far, with four concerts left on the schedule. If you can manage it, bring two or more cans to help out the folks in our community who need it right now. Back-to-school time is not usually when people think about donating to the food pantry, so it’s a great time to stock the shelves.

We have dubbed this our “can-for-a-tram” series because it’s pretty catchy, but you can also bring jars of peanut butter, boxes of rice or pasta, and any non-perishable food items.

Our sponsors this year have made it possible for us to spread the word about these concerts and hopefully bring in a lot more food for the pantry. The Music on the Mountain Concert Series is presented by Bighorn Toyota, a Locals’ Choice for more than 30 years. This week’s performance is sponsored by The Hotel Glenwood Springs — the perfect family destination, just steps away from all the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park action. Our other sponsors are Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Swire Coca-Cola, KSPN, US Bank and Mountain Beverage.

The series will continue after Labor Day with Starcher Hutsen on Sept. 10; Skinner, Girardot, X and Martin on Sept. 17; and The Missing Link Band on Sept. 24.

The Lookout Grille and the Snack Shack will be open for dinner and refreshments during the concerts, with $3 Coronas, Coors Lights and glasses of wine, and $4 well drinks. Please, no outside food or alcohol in the park.

Our rides and attractions will be open from 9 a.m. to dusk, except for the Bungee Jump, which will close at 7 p.m., and laser tag and the 4D Motion Theater, which will close at 9:30 p.m.

During the concerts, a Day Pass will cost just $30 with the free tram ride, and will include unlimited access to the Alpine Coaster, Giant Canyon Swing, new Soaring Eagle Zip Ride, Ft. WhereAmI maze, Bungee Trampolines, 4D Motion Theater, the laser tag arena, Wild West Wagon, Speleobox cave simulator, climbing wall and Giddy Up! Western ride.

For more information about Music on the Mountain, call 800-530-1635 or 970-945-4228, ext. 0. To stay up to date on all of the fun things happening here, plus coupons and contests, make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Hope to see you up here on Saturday!

Glenwood Springs named Most Fun Town in America

Giant Canyon Swing

Glenwood Springs named Most Fun Town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today

One of the great things about living in Glenwood Springs is the number of choices we have when it comes to having fun. While we’ve known this for years, Glenwood Springs garnered national attention last week by being named the Most Fun Town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today in the inaugural Best of the Road Rally.
Narrowed down from more than 600 submissions, 30 top towns in five categories – Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Most Fun, and Best for Food – were selected for review. Five teams of amateur travelers completed a three-week cross-country road trip, for a combined 25,000 miles traveled, personally visiting the six top towns in their assigned categories.

Giant Canyon Swing

The mother-daughter team, TravelingJules and TravelingJoan, reviewed the six finalists in the Most Fun category: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Santa Claus, Indiana; Park City, Utah; Vacaville, California; Yellow Springs, Ohio; and, our favorite, Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

The ladies spent the 4th of July weekend here in town, packing what many visitors might do here during a week into two action-filled days. Highlights included attending the hilarious Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, rafting the Colorado River, exploring Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves and riding the Alpine Coaster, Soaring Eagle Zip Ride and Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, soaring high above Glenwood Springs in a tandem paraglider, exploring the back country by ATV with Glenwood Adventure Company, soaking in the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, and relaxing with a soothing pedicure at the Spa of the Rockies.

Sounds like the definition of fun to me!