Santa Claus Lands at Adventure Park!

Ho, ho, ho! The jolliest elf of all is spreading holiday cheer to one and all this Christmas season at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Make plans today to visit for photos with Santa, music and more.

The Man in Red, Kris Kringle, Jolly ‘Ol Saint Nick, whatever your favorite nickname for him, we’re excited to announce that Santa Claus is making several scheduled stops this holiday season at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

For Santa, touching down for a few hours at a time to commune with kids of all ages during his busy toy-making season is a little bit easier when his landing strip is located at the summit of America’s only mountain-top theme park, 7,100 feet above sea level and it’s decorated with millions of brightly colored holiday lights that are easy to spot from as far away as the North Pole!

This is your chance to create sweet holiday memories and treasured family traditions. Ride the Glenwood Gondola to the Adventure Park entrance to meet Santa, pose for photos with him and, and best of all, whisper into his ear what you’re most hoping to find under the tree on Christmas morning. While Santa always does his best to make wishes come true, he knows the real meaning of Christmas is all about creating memories to be cherished and shared with loved ones for a lifetime to come.

Meet Santa #getuphere

See Santa at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on these dates:

  • Friday, Dec. 13 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 15 from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 20 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday Dec. 21 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday Dec. 22 from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 23 from 4 to 7 pm.
Santa is at the Adventure Park for a limited time only. For more details and to make plans to visit, see our Events Calendar.

Play in our winter wonderland

>We call it Winter on the Mountain. Make the most of festive seasonal activities at the Adventure Park before or after your visit with Mr. Claus. Our Winter Funday Pass includes a ride to the Park aboard the Glenwood Gondola, two cave tours that feature special lighting for the holidays, unlimited rides on the Alpine Coaster, as well as the opportunity to play laser tag and enjoy an animated show in our 4-D theater. Other fun activities include warming up on chilly nights by roasting s’mores over fire pits in the main plaza. You can also taste delicious homemade fudge and shop for last minute gifts at the General Store.

Spreading good cheer all around

It wouldn’t be the holidays without a lineup of great musical entertainment. Every Friday evening, Glenwood Caverns hosts Friday Afternoon Club (FAC) featuring local bands and drink specials, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lookout Grille. The Park’s FAC also includes a free gondola ride with a coupon that appears in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on Fridays. The coupon is valid for free gondola ride for up to four people starting at 4 p.m.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park!

Not a Thrill Seeker? A Dozen Things to Do Instead

Theme parks like Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park tend to attract people who like the adrenaline rush of a scary ride. Not everyone is a thrill seeker, however. Here are 12 things to do if you’d rather not swing out over a 1,300-foot cliff.

  • Ride the Gondola. Getting to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is part of the fun. The Glenwood Gondola will whisk you up and away to the mountaintop theme park, but don’t worry; the ride is smooth and quick with amazing views of Glenwood Springs.
  • The Alpine Coaster. Before you say, no way, consider that this thrill ride allows you to control your speed. Let the throttle out all the way for maximum acceleration, or pull back for a speed you’re comfortable with. Either way, having the wind whip through your hair as your ride down the mountain is pure joy.
  • The Mine Wheel. This ride is not just for kids. Whatever your age, climb aboard this old-fashioned Ferris-style family ride updated with a mining theme. You’ll go round slowly, and as you reach the pinnacle, you’ll catch sight of the beautiful park and mountain scenery.
  • Laser Tag. Have fun ducking for cover and taking aim at friends and family. This lively game is a hoot. Be warned, however, kids are especially good it.
  • Meander through the General Store for all sorts of fun gifts, snacks and souvenirs. From sacks of colored stones to slingshots, homemade fudge to home décor, and tee-shirts to toys, you’ll find lots of eye candy to enjoy or to take home.
  • Check out the view. The Adventure Park has a couple of viewing decks. Climb the stairs at the Visitor’s Center for spectacular views of Glenwood Springs, the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers and Mt. Sopris in the distance. Another viewing deck is located near the Giant Canyon Swing. Even if you don’t ride, you can watch others as they swing out over Glenwood Canyon which can be thrill enough.
  • Cave tours. Two caves tours, the Historic Fairy Caves and King’s Row are not to be missed. Both offer different perspectives on the amazing underground world. See thriving cave formations that include stalactites and stalagmites, cave bacon, popcorn, soda straws and flowstone.
    • Catch a show. Glenwood Caverns offers a lineup of live entertainment almost all year long, whether it’s Friday Afternoon Club and Two for Tuesdays during the summer, Music on the Mountain which goes into September, Octoberfest in the fall, Winter on the Mountain during the holiday season, or special artist engagements. To see who’s playing, check out our always updated events calendar.
    • 4-D Theater. These 15-minute shows will put a smile on your face. The theater is equipped with moving seats, surround sound, and special effects that make you feel like you’re actually inside the movie!
    • Grab a bite. Sit for a spell and savor something delicious. The Lookout Grille serves a variety of meals as well as adult beverages. For a grab-and-go pick-me-up, stop by the Snack Shack or Popcorn Wagon.
    • Strike a pose. Smile for the camera—your or ours. Take fun snaps in the Giant Mountain Chair at the Visitors Center. You can also bring home souvenir photos taken on the Fairy Caves tour, Alpine Coaster and other rides or dress up in western style for a full-on photoshoot at Silk’s Saloon Old Tyme Photos.
    • Pan for gemstones. Purchase a bag of dirt from the General Store and try your luck at finding an unexpected “gem” at our sluice channel. As you do so, imagine what it must have been like for prospectors who spent their days panning Colorado mountain streams in hopes of flushing out tiny flecks of precious metal.

Not a thrill seeker? Not a problem. Have all the fun without the faintness of heart. Learn more and plan a visit to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park today.

Glenwood Springs Moves to 100 Percent Renewable Electricity

Starting June 1, 2019, the historic resort town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, will be powered by 100% renewable energy. The announcement was made at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, the mountain-top theme park overlooking Glenwood Springs, which becomes one of the first amusement parks in the country to be powered by 100% renewable energy.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado, joins an elite group June 1, 2019, as it becomes the second city in Colorado and the seventh in the U.S. to be powered by all renewable energy.

Energy buzz

“We are very excited to announce that Glenwood Springs will soon be operated on 100% renewable electricity, making us the second municipality in Colorado to do so. Many cities and towns across the country have set aggressive targets, and we are doing our part today—our future is now,” said Mayor Jonathan Godes.

Members of the community joined local dignitaries, director of the Colorado Tourism Office Cathy Ritter and officials from the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) for the signing of the contract at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. CLEER, Clean Energy Economy for the Region, which implements programs for the City, provided free LED lightbulbs for attendees.

This contract makes Glenwood Springs Electric 100% renewable electricity; MEAN is bringing the equivalent wind power onto its grid to provide for all of the electricity in Glenwood Springs. As other communities follow in Glenwood’s path, MEAN will increase the total renewables on the grid, benefiting all the members.

Clean energy makes a difference

Long a leader in sustainable energy, Glenwood Springs has been offering and promoting energy efficiency with residents and businesses by offering rebates since 2009. Glenwood Springs has been 35% renewable on the electric grid since 2013. According to MEAN, switching to 100% wind saves the environment 77,156 tons of CO2 emission that the City of Glenwood Springs would have “created” using MEAN fossil fuel plants to generate power.

Adventure Park guided by sustainable ideals

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, well-known for its cave tours and over-the-top extreme thrill rides, was one the first businesses in Glenwood Springs to take advantage of Garfield Clean Energy and City of Glenwood efficiency rebates and install LED lighting within the cave. In addition to cost effectiveness and sustainability, the LED bulbs put off less heat, which makes it easier to keep the 54 unique species residing in the cave alive.

The City’s switch to all renewable makes Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park one of the first amusement parks in the nation to use 100% renewable electricity, a move that makes owner Steve Beckley proud.

“Our business is centered on nature-based adventure, so protecting the environment and natural resources has been our primary goal since we gave our first cave tour in May 1999,” explained Steve Beckley, who owns Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park with his wife Jeanne. “We are really pleased to be one of the first theme parks in the U.S. to have all of its electricity provided from renewable sources. Sustainable tourism is an important issue these days, and this move is a huge step in the right direction for Glenwood Springs as a whole.”

Eco-friendly practices help protect Glenwood’s future

Glenwood Springs has been a wellness destination since the 1880s, with travelers from around the world visiting to soak in the healing benefits of its mineral hot springs. Prior to that, Nomadic Ute Indian tribes inhabited the area and frequently bathed and soaked in the hot mineral waters. Today, visitors also come to fish, raft and kayak the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers; hike, bike and ride the trails; camp and hunt in the White River National Forest; and ski, ride, snowshoe and snowmobile at Sunlight Mountain Resort. Providing clean energy to protect the area’s natural resources is a major accomplishment.

Angie Anderson, president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, said, “We are thrilled that Glenwood Springs is on the cutting-edge utilizing 100 percent renewable energy. Our community has proven that clean energy is an important part of our local economy. This commitment to sustainability makes our community shine in a positive way.”

Learn more and plan your visit to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park today.

Solutions for Adventure Park Visitors with Pets

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers a little something for everyone—cave tours, thrill rides, dining, music, views—everyone that is, except Fido. Thanks to nearby dog-sitting services; it’s easy to safely leave your furry friends for a few hours while you enjoy the humans-only attractions at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

We love dogs, just not at the Park

Unless your pooch is a certified service dog, it’s just not practical to bring him or her to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. As pet owners ourselves, we appreciate that some of our visitors travel with their animals, and truth be told, sometimes pets make the best road trip companions—never complaining about the music selection or asking how much longer until we get there.

While welcomed at public parks in Glenwood Springs, Glenwood Caverns is one park poochies will have to skip. There are some places that just don’t suit canines including aboard the Glenwood Gondola and on cave tours and thrill rides.

Rather than skip a trip to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park however, why not leave your pet where he’ll have almost as much fun as you? Glenwood Springs has several reputable, reasonably priced doggie daycare centers that can give him plenty of exercise and social interaction while you’re away for a few hours.

Pet Sitting Services in Glenwood Springs

Dog Hollidays Pet Resort, owned and operated by two veterinarians, provides half-day and full-day pet sitting options. You can even pamper you pet by scheduling a brushing—the equivalent of a doggie blowout—or a bath should he or she be in need of a little extra grooming. 970-930-6292.

High Tails Dog & Cat Outfitters is another great choice that provides doggie daycare every day of the week except Sundays. It’s run by a trio of local ladies who monitor play sessions. If the energy of the group is running too high, they may utilize aromatherapy and soothing music to induce calm. 970-947-0014.

The Shaggy Dog is another always reliable option, also locally-owned. Drop your furry pal off for a few hours of no-worry downtime for both of you. The full-service “salon” includes menu items like shampoo and condition, nail trimming, brushing and de-shedding, pet bathing and haircuts with a hand scissor finish. 970-945-0264.

When it comes to your pet, it’s safety first

If you’re traveling with your pet this summer we’d love for you to come visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, just be sure to take care of your precious fur baby first. Never leave your pet in your vehicle or tethered while you sightsee. Instead, allow these pet-friendly businesses to keep your pet safe and engaged while you visit America’s only mountaintop theme park.

Plan your adventure getaway today; visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on your next trip to Glenwood Springs.

Alpine Coasters: Letting Nature Take Its Course

Alpine coasters, including the one at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, follow the terrain for scenic rider-controlled downhills.

Alpine coasters have become a popular attraction at ski resorts and amusement parks since they were developed in the mid-1990s as a rail-riding successor to Alpine slides that had been around since the 1970s. Alpine coasters have been built in 12 countries, from Switzerland to New Zealand and Jamaica to Vietnam, as well as 16 states. The longest is Tobotronc in Naturlandia in Andorra—5.3 kilometers with a drop of 400 meters and a ride that can last nearly 10 minutes. The highest is at Glacier 3000, a one-kilometer ride that starts at 2,970-meter elevation and can reach speeds of 25 mph on its two-minute descent.

Unlike traditional roller coasters that build their own hills, Alpine coasters take advantage of the natural terrain’s slope, usually built close to the ground except for bridging. Alpine coasters are the only amusement park ride controlled by the rider. One or two people sit in the car, and a hand brake regulates the speed. The settings often offer breathtaking views—Tobotronc runs through the La Rabassa forest—and some riders prefer to take a more leisurely sightseeing pace.

The one-kilometer Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, ranked No. 1 by tripping.com, was the first of its kind in the United States. Colorado’s slopes naturally make it a leading site for Alpine coasters, with highly-ranked rides in Vail and Steamboat Springs. In addition to Rocky Mountain states such as Wyoming and Utah and Appalachian Mountain states from Vermont to Georgia, Alpine coasters are found in South Dakota, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Missouri.

Top 10 Showcaves in the US

King's Row is a spectacular sight
King's Row is a spectacular sight

If you go deep enough, each cave has its own special attraction. Beautiful rock and crystal formations. Water features. Music. Cavern-dwelling creatures. History. Here’s a subjectively-selected Top 10 list drawn mostly from a review of highlighted caves on Cavern.com

  • Luray Caverns in Virginia. Hear the largest musical instrument in the world, the Great Stalacpipe Organ, that taps stalactites with rubber mallets across a 3.5-acre expanse and fills the whole place with sound. As if that weren’t enough, the Geology Hall of Fame is here.
  • The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tenn. This place 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.
  • Bluespring Caverns in Lawrence County, Ind. Speaking of water, the longest underground navigable river in the United States makes this a superlative destination. In addition to the three miles of flowing water, this place has a fascinating selection of creatures including salamanders, crickets, spiders, beetles, bats and the rare sightless Northern Cavefish.
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Monument in Eddy County, N.M., explored in 1898 and declared a national monument in 1923, includes Carlsbad Cavern and Lechuguilla Cave. Carlsbad Cavern has 23 named rooms – the biggest covers 357,469 square feet. Lechuguilla Cave, one of the most popular in the world for spelunking, is 1,640 feet underground, extends for 120 miles and has spectacular features such as 20-foot gypsum crystals and 50-foot calcite columns.
  • Alabaster Caverns near Freedom, Okla. When there are only three places to see black alabaster, and only one in the United States, it’s worth a trip to the largest natural gypsum cave in the world, with pink, white and rare black alabaster as well as crystal formations of selenite, another kind of gypsum.
  • Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Named for its own size rather than the wooly prehistoric beast, the world’s longest cave system—more than 400 miles—is worth a visit. Right next door, you can see Diamond Cavern’s drapery deposits of naturally colorful calcite.
  • Cave Without A Name near Boerne, Tex. You can see formations of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave drapery, flowstones and rimstone dams in six rooms and hear concerts in the Cave Throne Room.
  • Meramec Caverns near Stanton, Mo. This 4.6-mile system has irresistible history. Natives used the caves for shelter, a French miner visited them in 1722, and Confederates destroyed a Union saltpeter plant in the caves during the Civil War. Meramec was one of the first attractions advertised by bumper sign when it opened to the public in 1935.
  • Grand Caverns in Grottoes, Va. Speaking of history, the oldest continually operated show cave 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.
  • Longhorn Cavern in Burnet County, Tex. This one’s got music and history. It was used by Natives, Confederate soldiers, outlaws, and, during Prohibition, as a speakeasy with musical performances. Really—a tavern in a cavern. It’s been hosting musical performance since 2006.

Of course, Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs is a Colorado stunner. Exquisite underground landscapes include rooms that are among the state’s largest— “the Barn,” and the most highly decorated—King’s Row. Glenwood Caverns offers two cave tours—the Historic Fairy Caves and King’s Row—both are included in the Park’s Funday passes. Learn more and plan a visit to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

The World’s Oldest Amusement Parks

The Guinness Book of World Records holder, Bakken in Kampenborg, Denmark, opened in 1583 near popular fresh-water springs as a pleasure garden with live entertainment, fireworks, dancing, games and some early rides. That was common in European cities then, but most had closed by the 18th century. Bakken, “The Hill,” is short for Dyrehavsbakken, “The Animal Park’s Hill,” and was a private royal hunting ground until 1756. Its first roller coaster, built in 1932, is still operating.

The second-oldest, Wurstelprater, also known as Prater, in Leopoldstadt, Austria, was also a hunting ground before it opened to the public in 1766. Its top attraction now is Wiener Riesenrad, a Ferris wheel, a Vienna landmark.

The third-oldest, Tivoli Gardens, opened in Copenhagen in 1843 and became so famous that it inspired Walt Disney’s design of Disneyland in 1955. Today, it operates one of the world’s oldest wooden roller coasters, the Rutschebanen, built in 1914, among its 31 attractions.

The oldest amusement park in the United States, Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., opened on Oct. 6, 1846, when the public was invited to witness a scientist’s experiments in electricity. It was a picnic ground before attractions were added two years later. Lake Compounce now has 44 rides, including five roller coasters.

Other historic amusement parks ranked by age are:

  1. Hanayashiki in Tokyo, which was a flower park in 1853 and added amusements in 1872. It now has 20 rides and a popular Ninja training class.
  1. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, opened in 1870 as a public bathing beach and added its first roller coaster in 1892, the start of its reputation as Roller Coaster Capital of the World. It now has 16 roller coasters, including five above 200 feet, among its 72 rides.
  1. Idlewild and Soak Zone, opened as a public campground in 1878 in Ligonier, Pa. It now has 40 rides and a special section inspired by Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
  1. Gröna Lund in Stockholm still operates the Circus Carousel and Fun House from its opening in 1883 among its 31 rides. It is also famous for concerts headlined by such celebrities as Jimi Hendrix, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Bob Marley and ABBA.