Tune in to Watch RMPBS Fairy Caves Episode

Kids learn about cave science on cave tours

Rocky Mountain PBS “Colorado Experience” Viewers’ Choice Episode about the Fairy Caves airs Thursday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m.; viewers outside of Colorado can watch at https://www.rmpbs.org/schedule/ at the same time.

Fairy Caves Wins Viewers’ Choice

This time last year, Colorado residents voted for “Fairy Caves” to be the 2020 Rocky Mountain PBS “Colorado Experience” Viewers’ Choice.

Every year, Colorado Experience conducts a Viewers’ Choice Award contest to let viewers decide what episode Rocky Mountain PBS will produce. According to producer Eric Hernandez, “For a few weeks, typically in March, there is a call for submissions when anyone can suggest episode ideas; we always get a long list of interesting and important topics. This year we had 360 submissions! We narrowed that down to six finalists from different regions and timeframes and opened the contest for voting.”

Getting the Vote Out

The team at Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves, which is part of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, pulled out all the stops to encourage people to vote. An initial email was sent to managers and supervisors asking them to share with their employees, friends and family members. A social media and email newsletter campaign started, and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association asked for support from the business community. It all came together with reminder emails and Facebook posts.

History in the Spotlight

“This show is so special to us as it chronicles the history of the Fairy Caves as well as Glenwood Springs, and the timing is wonderful because this year marks the 125th anniversary of the discovery of the cave. We got a sneak preview and it brought tears to my eyes,” admitted Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park co-owner Jeanne Beckley. “Although our local premiere has been postponed, we hope our community can tune in Thursday night.”

Episode Airs March 26 

The Fairy Caves episode airs Thursday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m.; viewers outside of Colorado can watch at https://www.rmpbs.org/schedule/ at the same time. Filming primarily took place last May. Jeanne and husband and co-owner Steve Beckley are featured in the show along with general manager Nancy Heard, natural attractions manager Kathy Miller, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society Bill Knight, and cave historian and author of “Colorado Caves” Richard Rhinehart.

Learn the Fascinating Story of the Fairy Caves

“Colorado Experience: Fairy Caves” explores the magical Fairy Caves—once dubbed “The 8th Wonder of the World.” Hidden inside Glenwood Springs’ Iron Mountain, this living cave network inspires awe. But the caverns were nearly lost to time and were closed for more than 80 years—until an engineer who also happened to be a caver had a vision of how to return the magic to this fantastical place.

Interior Decoration: Cave Features

Reflecting-Pool-at-Glenwood-Caverns-by-Ken-Headrick-sm

Caves are so much more than holes in the ground, they are rooms ornately arranged by Mother Nature. Check out the wide variety of cave features that form as water dissolves rock to make caves.

The long process by which water carves caves out of limestone leaves behind fascinating formations as the mineral-rich water flows, loses carbon dioxide or evaporates, and leaves the minerals shaped like flowers, bathtubs, cones, needles, rafts, shields, chandeliers, balloons, columns, or bells, among other things.

The most familiar cave features are stalactites reaching down from the ceiling and stalagmites reaching up from the floor, usually, but not always, in a conical shape. If the minerals are deposited rapidly, for example, some stalagmites develop as a thinner structure called a broomstick. You can distinguish them by remembering that stalactites hold tight to the ceiling while stalagmites might make it to the top. Sometimes, paired stalactites and stalagmites meet to form a column.

Cave Features at Glenwood Caverns:

Flowstone. Flowstone is usually calcite or other carbonate minerals that forms in sheets as water flows over the cave floors or walls. The layers are laid down so thin that they conform to the underlying rock at first, but they can become more rounded as they thicken. Other chemicals in the calcite can produce different colors of flowstone, such as iron that gives a red tint.

Cave Bacon. Cave bacon is a kind of drapery that forms as the water flows along the edge of an overhang and leaves a trail of calcite where surface tension suspends the water before it loses carbon dioxide and deposits the mineral. These often appear on the fringes of flowstone. The buildup reflects the ripples and flows of the first deposits and looks like fabric drapery. When the drapery formations have different bands of color or darkness because of materials in the water at different times, they are called cave bacon.

Soda Straws. Stalactites in their early stages are hollow, long translucent tubes hanging from the ceiling. These delicate structures can grow long – they have been found up to 30 feet—but they usually begin to have water flow on the outside that builds up in the more common icicle shape of stalactites.

Cave bacon:

Cave Popcorn. Cave popcorn, a fairly common formation, is one form of coralloids that resemble knobs, globes, buttons, or corral and form in air, usually from water that seeps out of rocks, or still cave pools. Unlike most other features, they form because the water evaporates rather than because it lost carbon dioxide.

See all these amazing cave features on the Adventure Park’s two cave tours—King’s Row and the Historic Fairy Caves. Learn more and make plans to go underground at www.glenwoodcaverns.com.

Ten Cool Facts About Caves

We are fascinated by caves and continue to learn about, explore and map our own at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Every cave is unique and caves around the world and in the U.S. vary from place to place. If you’re curious about caves, check out these weird and interesting cave facts.

  1. While most caves are formed by the action of acidic water on karst, a landscape of limestone, dolomite, and gypsum, some are formed by lava tubes from volcanos or from meltwater in glaciers.
  2. In most caves, the dissolving of the karst takes more than 100,000 years to make enough space for one person.
  3. Ancient people were painting patterns and figures on cave walls more than 40,000 years ago. Scientists believe that Neanderthals might have painted on caves in the Iberian Peninsula up to 64,000 years ago and a figure of an animal on Borneo more than 40,000 years ago.
  4. Mayans built temples over caves or built them to look like caves because they believed that caves were the entrance to the underworld. Other ancient people also considered caves to be sacred spaces.
  5. Arthropods, fish, amphibians, and insects that have evolved to live in caves are called troglobites. The first troglobite identified, in the 1700s was the eyeless white amphibian called the olm. Some, such as the blind wolf spider of Hawaii, the Devil’s Hole pupfish of Death Valley, and the Texas Blind Salamander, are found in only one location.
  6. Sulfur is the basis of nearly all life forms in the Cuevo de Villa Luz in Mexico. Single-celled organisms called Snotties oxidize the sulfur from underground springs.
  7. Humans have used caves for shelter, food storage, mushroom farming, hideouts from the law, and many other activities. The Reed Flute Cave in China was an air-raid shelter during World War II.
  8. The caves in Paradise Glacier on Mt. Ranier in Washington were world-famous for most of the 20th The caves have disappeared as the glacier melted.
  9. Some of the largest natural crystals ever found were formed in the Cuervo de los Cristales 1,000 feet under Naica Mountain in Mexico. Translucent gypsum beams are up to 26 feet long and weigh up to 55 tons. Temperatures in the cave reach 138˚F. It has been re-flooded since exploration.
  10. Three million wrinkle-lipped freetail bats live in Deer Cave in Mulu National Park on the island of the Borneo, one of the world’s largest known cave passages.

Learn more about caves and explore them for yourself at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs. Make plans to visit today!

Celebrate National Caves and Karst Day

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is celebrating National Caves and Karst Day on Saturday, June 8 with activities that include a hands-on educational and interactive display and free cave posters. Kids can earn a Junior Cave Scientist badge as well.

 Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is based around its flagship tours of Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Cave that started 20 years ago. When the National Caves Association (NCA) decided to designate a National Caves and Karst Day in 2017 to raise awareness of the crucial roles both play in our lives, everyone at the park was on board. For the third year in a row, the park is going all out to celebrate. Although the official NCA event is June 6, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is hosting its event on Saturday, June 8, to allow more people to participate.

“We get pretty excited about caves around here, so National Caves and Karst Day is a big deal,” explained Nancy Heard, general manager for Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. “Every time we give a tour or host a school group, we have the opportunity to teach our guests about cave science and the importance of conservation. On June 8, we’ll get to dive deeper into these topics and have some fun at the same time.”

Have Fun Exploring the Science of Caves

 National Caves and Karst Day activities include a hands-on educational and interactive display at the shade building located across from the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride and free cave posters to the first 120 people to ask for one. Kids can pick up a Junior Cave Scientist booklet there as well. To earn a free badge or sticker, they must complete at least one activity for each year of their age and return the completed booklet to the building to have it checked. The first 20 to do so will receive a free, signed “Cave Critters” coloring book written by Kay Cochran, a tour guide at the park.

Cool Cave Facts

Early June is a good time for families to visit the Adventure Park and to map out their cave visits for the rest of the summer. Here are 10 fun facts to know about caves and karst while planning a cave tour:

  1. A cave is a naturally occurring area or space under the surface of the Earth. Caves are often a system of interconnected passageways created by the weathering of rock.
  2. Most caves form in karst, which is terrain typically characterized by sinkholes, underground rivers and barren, rocky ground. Forty percent of the drinking water in the U.S. comes from karst aquifers.
  3. Icicle-shaped speleothems, or rock formations, form as water drips from the cave roof. Stalagmites, which one might trip over, grow up from the floor, usually from the water that drips off the end of stalactites that cling tight to the cave roof. When these two meet, a column is formed.
  4. Stalactites and stalagmites grow by only a fraction of an inch in a year, and since some are many yards in length, one can appreciate the time it takes for these speleothems to develop. In arid areas with little humidity, it can take a thousand years for a formation to grow one cubic inch.
  5. We learn a lot from caves. Researchers collect broken formations to track historical weather trends dating back hundreds of thousands of years. Universities partner with privately owned caves to learn how bacteria can play a role in cancer treatment and the development of new antibiotics.
  6. No two caves are alike. They can be found in glaciers, on mountaintops, in cliffs by the sea, in molten lava, in the desert and in hillsides.
  7. Caves are living things. Seepage from groundwater causes water to drip, which keeps formations growing and changing. A drop that falls onto a caver is called a cave kiss and is considered to be good luck.
  8. Caves are known to have provided shelter to mankind’s earliest ancestors. Cliff dwellings, such as those found in the Four Corners region of the Southwest, were inhabited by Ancestral Puebloans as early as 550 A.D. Fossils dating back to the Ice Age have been found inside caves as well.
  9. Caves are home to many forms of life that do not exist elsewhere. Troglobites, or cave-inhabiting creatures, are only found in caves and include certain species of shrimp, fish, blind salamanders, pseudoscorpions, spiders, millipedes and beetles.
  10. There are many ways to experience the subterranean world. Guided walking and wild tours are the most common, but there are caves that offer kayaking, floating or boating on underground rivers; cave diving; wildlife spotting; campouts; concerts; rappelling and more.

Heard added, “A lot of good things happen when you spend time in a cave. Many studies report that spending time in nature can boost mental and physical well-being, improve concentration, increase energy, reduce stress and lower blood pressure and heart rates. Pair that with exercise, such as descending and then climbing the 120 steps inside King’s Row, and the results are even better. It’s quality time that a family can spend together, focusing on nature instead of looking at screens.”

Park Admission & Hours

Regular admission rates apply for this event. A ride on the Glenwood Gondola costs $19 for adults and $14 for kids 3 to 12. The Gondola/Cave Tour combination is $32 for adults and $27 for kids. An inclusive Funday Pass is $58 for adults, $53 for kids, and includes the gondola ride, two walking cave tours and unlimited access to all rides. Annual Gondola and Thrill Pass holders can attend free. Those who have vouchers for the Locals’ Gondola Pass from earlier this year are encouraged to redeem them prior to this event, preferably on weekdays prior to 7 p.m.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Beginning Saturday, June 8, it will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with longer hours during Music on the Mountain events.

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.

 

Top Ten Reasons Glenwood Caverns should be…

Top Ten Reasons Glenwood Caverns should be the Eighth Wonder of the World

Recently, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association entered Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves into VirtualTourist.com’s contest to crown “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Tourism boards, chambers of commerce and visitor bureaus around the world are sending in nominations to the website, which is a leading travel research website and community. The public is being asked to vote for their favorites out of the more than 200 submissions, and the “Wonder” with the most votes will be crowned the winner and will be featured in a national broadcast TV segment.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World is a list, compiled in the second century B.C., of man-made structures built during the classical era.

The Seven Wonders are:

  • Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  • Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  • Colossus of Rhodes
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria

We think Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park should be named the Eighth Wonder of the World! While the caves were formed naturally, it definitely took a lot of manpower to get them ready for the public viewing. Charles Darrow and his team first opened the Historic Fairy Caves to visitors in 1895, and the work continues today, with the recent completion of the Historic Fairy Cave Tour, showcasing even more natural beauty and amazing formations.

In the spirit of the Late Show with David Letterman, we’d like to offer our own Top Ten Reasons Glenwood Caverns should be the Eighth Wonder of the World:

10) The original owners of Glenwood Caverns claimed it first, in 1897, well before most of the other contestants even existed.

9) Glenwood Springs is a lot easier to find than Ephesus and Halicarnassus!

8) Seeing any of the Seven Wonders means being prepared for sweltering heat: the average summer high in Giza is 96° and in Olympia it is 97°! The Historic Fairy Caves, on the other hand, are a cool 52° year round–perfect for a hot summer day.

7) Most major attractions only invite you to take pictures, but if you take the Wild Tour you’ll be invited to get dirty, crawl on your belly and go deep into rarely visited areas of the caves!

6) We’re not sure, but we don’t think any of the current Seven Wonders offer drink specials and live music (Music on the Mountain at Glenwood Caverns does, though!)

5) The best things in life involve bacon
(cave bacon, that is!)

4) Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves were explored/excavated by enthusiastic cavers, not Greek slaves.

3) You’ve got to go diving underwater to see what’s left of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, but it’s only a short tram ride up Iron Mountain in Glenwood Springs to see the Historic Fairy Caves and King’s Row in the most highly-decorated show cave in Colorado.

2) There are no scary, hollow-eyed, naked Roman statues at Glenwood Caverns, only carved happy Wooden Bears.

1) Many of the Seven Wonders are known for their impressive height—but perched on the edge of the canyon 1300 feet above the Colorado River, Glenwood Caverns stands WAY above them all!

Do you think Glenwood Caverns should be the Eighth Wonder of the World? Cast your vote! Visit www.virtualtourist.com to vote for Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves. Voting is open until Sept. 30.

National Speleological Society 2011 Convention

The National Speleological Society’s NSS 2011 Convention is coming to Glenwood Springs, Colorado,
July 18th – July 22nd. The convention will bring together cavers worldwide for a week of presentations, discussions, programs, socializing, and recreation.

Dave Lester, one of the principle NSS convention organizers, reports that Glenwood Springs should expect somewhere between 1000 and 1200 convention attendees.

Prior to the convention, NSS is planning community outreach events for Glenwood, which will include presentations to local service clubs and to schools. For schools, their Project Underground is a science-based curricula which teaches students about caving, how caves form, and other cave science topics.

About half the convention attendees will use a campground which will be set up between the high school and the Roaring Fork River, others opting for local lodging.

The NSS is encouraging a low-impact visit to Glenwood Springs. They are encouraging attendees to bring bicycles, which can be used on the bike path which runs in close proximity to the primary convention activities. NSS is also planning to bring loaner bikes for use by their members.

According to Lester, “members of the public are welcome to register for single day sessions or the entire week.”

Convention activities are still being planned, but a preview list includes:

  • An opening welcome dinner and dance party (aka “Howdy Party”) combined with the NSS 70th Anniversary Party, to be hosted by Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on top of Iron Mountain in Glenwood Springs
  • Trips to wild caves in Colorado during the convention, with both horizontal and vertical (technical climbing) caving trips
  • A decontamination station at the convention site – cavers participating in convention trips will be required to decontaminate their equipment
  • Geology Field Trip with cave stops. Beginning in Glenwood Springs, continuing to Redstone then Marble, then to El Jebel, before returning to Glenwood Springs
  • Convention sessions & workshops on a wide range of cave topics– exploration, biology, equipment, cave geology, cartography, archaeology, photography, paleontology, hydrology, karst management, ecology, and technological advances in communication and sensing equipment which aid in cave exploration
  • White Nose Syndrome (WNS in bats) presentations from cavers, land managers, and biologists on the issue of WNS in western states, for the purpose of improving communication and understanding
  • Vertical Climbing Workshop where students are given a basic overview of climbing equipment, techniques, and safety considerations. Covers knot tying, belaying, rappelling, and several ascending systems
  • Vertical Climbing Contests, 30 to 120 meters, for both men and women, separate age groups, and a team relay
  • Cave Art Salons, including cartographic, ballads, fine and cover art, video, multimedia, photographs, and t-shirt designs
  • NSS Board of Governors Meeting, and the Congress of Grottos meeting of the grottos, sections, regional associations, and surveys of the NSS
  • Kids activities, including trips for the Junior Speleological Society (JSS)
  • Convention auction/fundraiser for the NSS, supporting everything from Save the Caves to exploration
  • Campground Party at the Glenwood Springs High School, directly next to the campground, featuring the Terminal Syphons, a popular “caver band”
  • Public Session, featuring the IMAX adventure film Journey Into Amazing Caves. In this film, two accomplished cavers explore unusual caves, such as ice caves in Greenland and underwater caves in thejungles of Mexico, looking for important clues about the Earth’s past and microorganisms that inhabit its most extreme environments. (The film will be shown on a non-IMAX screen at the Glenwood Springs High School auditorium and is free to the public.) Two stars from the film will answer audience questions.

For more information, convention organizer Dave Lester recommends the following websites: