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.

How a Colorado Theme Park Ended Up on Top of a Mountain

A mountain is ideal for many things – hiking, skiing, hang gliding, but it’s not the most logical location for a theme park. Yet, situated 7, 100 feet above sea level in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is America’s only mountain-top theme park. How exactly did Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park end up there?

Well, follow the path of curiosity long enough, as Steve and Jeanne Beckley did and you might find yourself in some interesting and unexpected places. What started out as a spelunking hobby in college became a quest to explore the private and nearly forgotten Fairy Caves, the closed-to-the-public Colorado cave fiercely protected by its then owner, Pete Prebble.

Inspired by photos he saw in caving books, Beckley began writing to Prebble in 1982, in the hopes of gaining access to the caves, but almost all of his letters came back unopened, stamped “Return to Sender.” Disappointed but not deterred, Beckley kept up the letter writing campaign. After a decade Prebble relented and in 1992, granted Beckley permission to explore the caves.

As spectacular as the images in the caving books were, nothing could prepare Steve and Jeanne for what they were about to see. After struggling though Jam Crack, a claustrophobically narrow opening only nine inches wide in spots, they emerged into The Barn, a huge chamber with fiery red walls. It was here, that Steve’s dream of sharing the beauty and wonder of the Fairy Caves with the public was born.

The Beckleys acquired the property from Prebble in 1998. On Memorial Day weekend a year later, 500 visitors showed up for a tour of the newly renamed Glenwood Caverns. By 2003, the “little” cave tour operation was accommodating 100,000 visitors a year. To transport the burgeoning number of guests to the mountain-top cave entrance, the Beckleys installed a Poma gondola and dubbed it the Iron Mountain Tramway.

Read the whole story in Roaring Fork Lifestyle Magazine’s Movers & Shakers edition

Steve Beckley’s Dream: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Though interest in the caves was booming, the wait for a tour was breaching three hours. “We started putting in rides to give people something to do while they were waiting for the caves,” said Steve. The idea took off and launched the business in a new and unexpected direction – the planning of a mountain-top theme park with a Western history slant officially got underway. The first rides were installed in 2005, including the Alpine Coaster which is still a visitor favorite. Since then, a slew of thrill rides and attractions have been added to the Colorado theme park with the newest, the Haunted Mine Drop, to open in the summer of 2017.

What began over two decades ago as nagging curiosity to explore a little known cave in Glenwood Springs has become America’s only mountain-top theme park, a place where the thrills run deep and the sky’s the limit!

Hard work pays off. Check out a small sampling of accolades the Beckleys and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park have received over the years!

  • The State of Colorado awarded the Beckleys the 2001 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Tourism Initiative
  • Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association named them Citizens of the Year for 2002
  • The Haunted Mine Drop was named one of the 12 Most Anticipated Thrill Rides of 2017 by USA Today
  • Glenwood Caverns was named one of the “10 Best Caves”, USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards
  • Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park ranked in the top 4 for “Best Family Fun” in Sunset magazine Travel Awards