There’s a new gondola in the Roaring Fork Valley, and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is ready to celebrate its completion. The Glenwood Gondola, which replaces the park’s former Iron Mountain Tramway, has been under construction since October 29, 2018. On Saturday, April 20, the mountaintop theme park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is rolling out the red carpet to introduce its newest attraction.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony kicks off the festivities at 10 a.m. on April 20
Paying homage to the grand opening of the Iron Mountain Tramway in 2003, owners Steve and Jeanne Beckley have invited two of the people who played important roles in that ceremony to come back for repeat performances. KMTS news and sports director Ron Milhorn will once again be the emcee for the event. Melissa Miller Matis will sing the same two songs she sang in 2003, when she was 15, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “A Moment Like This.”
After the Beckleys take the first ride, the Glenwood Gondola opens for the public. The park saved tram cabin number one, which is located at the base for photo opportunities. Cake will be served on the stage in the plaza area beginning at 11 a.m. Silk’s Saloon Olde Tyme Photos will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well.
“Everyone at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is really looking forward to the grand opening,” park general manager Nancy Heard explained. “Even though the park has been open for a few weeks with 17 gondola cabins, this is really the big kick-off for us. We have a lot of great things planned for this summer, so this is just the first of many fun events coming up, including our 20th anniversary celebration on May 18 and 15 Music on the Mountain concerts through the summer.”
Giving thanks to a supportive community
To thank the community for its patience while the park was closed, free annual gondola passes were offered to residents from Basalt to Glenwood and from Eagle to Parachute. More than 17,000 people signed up, a much larger number than anticipated.
Heard added, “Wow, the response was just incredible! We had to make a special order of the plastic cards used for the passes to accommodate so many people. We continue to be humbled by the loyalty and enthusiastic support of our community.”
At $38 per annual gondola pass, that’s a $650,000 goodwill gesture to encourage locals to come up and see what’s new and to bring back those who may have stopped attending the Music on the Mountain concerts because of the lines to get up and down the mountain.
The Glenwood Gondola improves the park experience for visitors
With the increased capacity of the Glenwood Gondola, that should no longer be an issue. In the past, the majority of customer complaints were related to getting up and down the mountain. The new gondola is designed to be much more customer-friendly. It features 44 detachable cabins that move continuously, so the ride is faster and smoother than the former Iron Mountain Tramway. It’s also less susceptible to weather-related closures.
“When you combine the gondola, the capital improvements made throughout the park and compensation to keep our year-round, full-time employees on the payroll during the closure, this multi-million-dollar investment in the park is the largest since its inception,” Steve Beckley said. “Jeanne and I are really pleased with the dedication our managers and staff members have shown to improving our customer experience. We can’t wait to hear what our guests have to say.”
The season ahead at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
The park’s year-round attractions are open—the Alpine Coaster, both walking cave tours, the laser tag arena and 4D Motion Theater. An inclusive Funday Pass costs $47 for adults and $42 for kids 3 to 13 until May 10, when all attractions will be open. A ride on the Glenwood Gondola is $19 for adults and $14 for kids, and the Gondola/Cave Tour combo is $32 for adults and $27 for kids. Annual Gondola Pass Holders can upgrade to a Funday Pass for $28 or to an Annual Thrill Pass for $90 per adult and $78 per child.
The Lookout Grille is open with a variety of new options on the menu, including a line of Panini Sandwiches and more vegetarian choices. The General Store gift shop is open and also has a lot of new items, including locally made cave-themed chocolates, handmade artisan soaps and lotions, and fresh designs on t-shirts and hoodies, with more on the way.
Starting Thursday, April 11, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Longer hours for summer will begin in late May. More information about the park can be found at GlenwoodCaverns.com and on Facebook.