Iconic Local: Steve Beckley

In the December issue of Aspen Magazine, writer Hayden Gamble featured our very own Steve Beckley as part of an article on Glenwood Springs. Read the whole story here or pick up the latest issue of the magazine out now.

When he’s not envisioning additions and improvements to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Steve Beckley enjoys spending time at his remote cabin with his wife and business partner, Jeanne, and their two sons.

As a caver studying petroleum engineering at the Colorado School of Mines in the early ’80s, Beckley read about the Historic Fairy Caves in an out-of-print book, Caves of Colorado. He spent the next 16 years convincing then-owner Pete Prebble to let him visit and, eventually, buy, the cave on top of Iron Mountain in Glenwood Springs.

That led the Beckleys to quit their jobs and move from Denver in 1998. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, which has grown from a mom-and-pop cave tour into an award-winning theme park, celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and Iron Mountain Hot Springs has become one of the area’s most popular attractions.

What’s your favorite thing about Glenwood Springs? The people who live here, without a doubt. Ever since Jeanne and I moved to Glenwood Springs 20 years ago, we have built wonderful relationships with the people in this community. Whether we know them from our businesses, our neighborhood, the schools or the Boy Scouts, we couldn’t ask for a nicer, more supportive group of folks.

Favorite hiking trail? We are so lucky to have Glenwood Canyon right in our backyard. The No Name Creek Trail and Grizzly Creek Trail are two of my favorites.

Favorite ski trail? The Beaujolais Run at Sunlight Mountain Resort

Favorite dining splurge? It’s too hard to choose just one. The Riviera, Co. Ranch House and Smoke are among my favorites.

Drink of choice? I like to end the day with a glass of red wine on my deck overlooking beautiful downtown Glenwood Springs.

Best place to caffeinate? I drink decaf Americanos all day long. Some of my favorite places to fuel up are the Hotel Colorado, The Bluebird Cafe, The Espresso Hut and River Blend Coffee House. I drink a lot of coffee.

Favorite event? Jeanne and I both love live music events such as Music in the Park, Music on the Mountain and Strawberry Days.

Best-kept secret in GW? I’m not telling! You need to explore all the wonderful Glenwood Springs amenities and find your own secret place.

Adventure Park Sweeps Locals’ Choice Awards

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the local favorite! It finished in first place in four Locals’ Choice Award categories–Best Attraction, Best Family Entertainment, Best Place for a Kid’s Birthday and Best Tourist Spot—and took third for Best Entertainment Venue, Best Live Music Spot and Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests.

The Locals’ Choice Awards are a big deal in a small town like Glenwood Springs. The annual contest, sponsored by local newspaper, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (GSPI), is an opportunity for area-wide residents to give a shout out to their favorite hometown businesses, people and places. Of the seven voting categories, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park cleaned up in Arts & Entertainment winning four first place and three third place awards.

2019 GSPI Locals’ Choice Awards Final Results

Best Attraction—First Place

Glenwood Caverns recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Opening the caves in 1999 for tours after more than 80 years of being closed to the public was a major achievement and success. Since then, the Park has added a new gondola, award-winning thrill rides, family-friendly attractions, restaurants, shopping, a full lineup of summer entertainment as well as special events throughout the year.

Glenwood-Gondola-1-1024x683

Best Family Entertainment—First Place

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is first and foremost a destination for families. Cavern tours are designed to be entertaining and educational. Rides range from mellow to adrenaline-pumping. A 4-D theater, laser tag arena and panning for gems sluice box provide active, engaging fun for many ages. On the entertainment side, the Harmony Sisters make regular weekly appearances to connect with kids in the audience for fun sing-a-longs. As the seasons change Octoberfest and Winter on the Mountain enchant kids of all ages with season-appropriate games, music and entertainment. It’s no wonder Glenwood Caverns is the local’s choice for best family fun!

Best Place for a Kid’s Birthday—First Place

Nobody does birthday parties like Glenwood Caverns! Put a smile on your child’s face and make memories that will last a lifetime. The Park’s birthday packages include food and cave tours, but ride packages are targeted to specific age groups. For example, if you have a group of youngsters only interested in the Park’s tamer attractions, choose the Buckaroo Package; the Wrangler Package offers unlimited rides, as does the Outlaw Package created for adults with larger food portions. The Park’s event planner can help you tailor packages to meet your group’s needs.

 

The vaccine is good news for the travel industry

Best Tourist Spot—First Place

Like the town’s hot springs attractions, Glenwood Caverns is similarly an integral part of a Glenwood Springs experience and a big reason people come to visit. Over the course of a season, the Adventure Park hosts people from all over the globe—Japan to India; South America to Europe; and from all 50 states! The ridescave tours and music are the big draw, but the Glenwood Gondola ride to the Park’s entrance and the expansive views of the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys make the Adventure Park a Glenwood Springs destination not to be missed no matter where you’re from.

Best Entertainment Venue—Third Place

The main stage in the Plaza at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the setting for live music all summer long. A large open area in front of the stage is perfect for kicking up heels or busting a groove to the music. For those who just want take in the ambiance, there’s ample seating at covered picnic tables. Enjoy food and drinks, including beer and cocktails, while you listen to local bands and visiting artists from around the state and region.

Best Live Music Spot (Music on the Mountain & Friday Afternoon Club)—Third Place

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers live mountain-top music six days per week! Music on the Mountain are the biggest shows with the most diverse lineup. Concerts take place weekends through the fall in on the main stage in the Plaza. Friday Afternoon Club, which includes a free gondola ride with an ad from that day’s Post Independent, and the new Two for Tuesdays feature artists in a more intimate setting in the Lookout Grille. Monday through Thursday, popular local singer Rodrigo Arreguin strums his way through a range of tunes. Gondola rides for Music on the Mountain are free with the donation of a canned food item for the LiftUp food pantry. For other events, regular admission rates apply for Glenwood Gondola rides to the Park.

Best Place to Take Out of Town Guests—Third Place

See Best Tourist Spot for all the great reasons to bring your favorite people to one of Glenwood’s favorite places!

A winner in seven categories, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the Local’s Choice!

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.

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.

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, 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.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park: What Our Visitors Say

Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Few accolades could mean more than this recent headline by Jamie Swartzendruber on her WineGlasSlipper blog, also published in Denverkids.com: “Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park: It doesn’t get more Colorado than this!”

“Voted one of USA Today’s 10 Best Caves, Glenwood Caverns is a must for your family summer fun list,” Jamie wrote. “Three cave tours offer varying levels of difficulty to suit the whole family! I have a little dare devil, so this year, we opted for the Wild Cave Tour (10-year age requirement AND we finally made the cut). What is it? Only the most extreme caving expedition a kiddo is permitted on, an adventure for the true thrill seeker.”

Our Giant Canyon Swing was more thrill than she bargained for, Jamie said. “With a scratchy voice and trembling hands, I exited the swing of terror, a theme park walk of shame, through the line of sweet little girls waiting to get on,” she wrote.  Wide eyed, they kindly asked if I was going to be alright. I may still have the occasional nightmare, but hey, check that one off my list…. Though I struggled with the Giant Canyon Swing, the kids LOVED it! They rode several times, throwing their hands in the air or striking nonchalant poses. I may have felt theme park envy. The Alpine Coaster was another top-pick. Scary enough to cling to the breaks but enjoyable enough for mom to survive. I’m sure the views are fantastic, but I’ll admit, my eyes were steady on the tracks and my heart was still jumpy.”

Summer fun on the Giant Canyon Swing

We get that a lot. People love the mountaintop experience here – exploring inside the caverns, taking in the view from the summit, screaming over the edge. Here’s a sampling of our online reviews from visitors who have come from across Colorado and the country.

From Iowa, on TripAdvisor, where we have a Certificate of Excellence: “The Alpine Coaster was a lot of fun. It was extremely fast if you want it to be, and you can control (the speed of) the actual sled you are riding on. I had never been on one before and it was my favorite thing to do at the Adventure Park. I rode it numerous times. You don’t have to worry, at the end a lift takes your sled back to the start of the ride and that is cool.”

Take a cave tour at Glenwood Caverns for National Caves and Karst Day!

From Longmont, on TripAdvisor: “By far the easiest way to go caving. Both the original Fairy Caves and King’s Row are easily accessible. The guides are experienced cavers and are a lot of fun. There’s nothing like these caves anywhere else in the US. The tram makes it easy to get to from town.”

From Florida, on TripAdvisor: “This place was fun! We come from the land of Disney and Busch Gardens, but this place dared you! We had a blast riding the Alpine Coaster and the zip line shot! I wish I could say I tried the swing, but I chickened out. I loved the caverns tour and caves. All this was on top of a mountain that you reach by taking a gondola. That was an adventure by itself!”

From Littleton, on Yelp: “A fun day of adventure for the kids and adults alike. We did the combo pass with Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Glad we came here on a sunny day. Tram ride is a great way to go and very scenic. Alpine Coaster was worth going on again and again.”

From our own Facebook page: “We loved everything: the gondola ride up, the incredible views, the rides and cave tours! Everyone was really nice! The Caverns tour guide was SO excited to tell us about the caves! He had lots of fun scientific and historical information! Just a really fun place to spend the day with the family! We also got some amazing pictures.”

Come see for yourself. And thanks, Jamie (We’re proud that it doesn’t get any more Colorado than this.)