Grand Opening of the Glenwood Gondola

Gondola Giving begins Nov. 19
Gondola Giving begins Nov. 19

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 and on Facebook.

Last Chance for Mountaintop Thrills

Let the good times roll, zip, bounce, spin and swing! Catch your favorite Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park rides one last time. October is your final chance—at least for several months—to visit America’s only mountaintop theme park before the start of a months-long temporary closure.

Beginning in November, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park will embark on a major construction project that will temporarily close the mountaintop theme park for a little more than four months. During the closure, the current tramway will be removed and replaced with a high-capacity model that will transport visitors more efficiently to and from the park. It’s just one more exciting adventure for us, but…

…in the meantime, let’s have some FUN! If you have a favorite ride, take the opportunity to hop aboard in next few weeks—weather permitting all the rides will be operational through Oct 28, the last day Glenwood Caverns will be open for a while. Keeping it fun and festive all month long, Glenwood Caverns has fall-themed events and activities planned throughout October. For the full run-down of things to do, be sure to visit the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Octoberfest link.

So, why not give it one last whirl while you have the chance? Take a turn on all your favorite thrill rides including those listed below (click on the links for video clips).

The Giant Canyon Swing. Crazy scary, this ride launches riders out over the edge of Glenwood Canyon at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Peek if you dare. It’s a 1,300 foot dropoff!

The Cliffhanger Roller Coaster. Another ride that will have you clinging to the edge of your seat is this coaster that’s considered the highest in elevation in North America!  Get ready for g-force curves, plunging drops and a wild ride that will leave you breathless and invigorated.

The Alpine Coaster. Glenwood Caverns’ first thrill ride, the Alpine Coaster remains a top crowd-pleaser. You control the speed as you race down Iron Mountain —navigate tight turns and cruise over tummy-flipping bumps—then sit back and enjoy the scenery as you ascend back up the mountain.

The Soaring Eagle Zip Ride. This two-seater ride pulls you backwards high above the landscape, then with a pop it lets you fly. You’ll feel like you just got your wings as you soar like an eagle to the landing pad.

The Canyon Flyer. Not so fast you can’t open your eyes and see the amazing panoramic views of the Roaring Fork Valley, but your vision will also pick up on the fact that you’re swinging out over a 1,300 foot cliff!

More. Before the end of the month, take the opportunity to also explore the rest of the park: cave tours, family-friendly rides, laser tag, the 4-D theater, the speleobox and panning for gemstones in the sluicebox.

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

The last day the park will be open is Sunday, Oct. 28 when we’ll officially retire the Iron Mountain Tramway and celebrate with a huge party. Join our mailing list (scroll to the bottom of our homepage) to stay on top of all the news and receive construction updates.

Host Your A Fab Fall Event at Glenwood Caverns

Fall is a beautiful time of year to visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Mark your milestone special occasion—retirement party, corporate or group event—with a venue that’s equally exceptional. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park may be known for its award-winning thrill rides, but the mountaintop theme park also happens to be a stunning Colorado setting for a group gathering—especially come autumn.

Autumn splendor. Fall in Colorado is a knock-out season. Mountainsides of golden aspen and the ruddy fall hues of scrub oaks mingle together against a blinding blue-sky backdrop. People drive all over the highways, byways and back roads of the state for a glimpse of Colorado’s autumn glory, but at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park you have a bird’s eye view of the grandeur. Since you’re treating your guests anyway, why not give them the added bonus of jaw-dropping Colorado views along with a day’s worth of other memorable moments?


Halloween fun at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Up, up and away. From the instant your guests step inside the cabin of an Iron Mountain Tramway gondola, they’ll literally be transported to new heights in a matter of minutes. As the tram ascends, spectacular views unfold including panoramas of the Roaring Fork Valley, Mt. Sopris and the Elk Range to the south. At the summit and Park entrance, staff members welcome your guests and direct them to their group meeting place on the Patio or in the Lookout Grille.

A gondola pass gains you access to breathtaking views

Fresh air and good food. Glenwood Caverns gives event goers the unique opportunity to take the party indoors and outside. It’s the best of both worlds. Choose your menu format—Glenwood Caverns’ on-site event coordinator can help with that—and enjoy a reserved section in the Lookout Grille. Popular options include the ultimate barbeque menu and a south-of-the-border themed fajita bar. When you’ve finished eating, stroll the grounds which will be decked out for fall come October—all month long Glenwood Caverns celebrates Octoberfest with German music, food and drink specials as well as hay rides, pumpkin decorating, kids games and more—take panoramic photos from the Viewing Deck and do a little self-guided exploring.  Group events require a minimum of 25 people and, in addition to food, pricing includes the tram, cave tours and unlimited turns on the rides and attractions.

Go below. With everything included, be sure to encourage your guests to go on a cave tour or two. Both the Historic Fairy Caves and Kings Row tours are included. The scenery is just as jaw-dropping below ground as it is from the Viewing Deck. The Barn on the Kings Row tour is the largest cave room in Colorado. Caverns tours boast magnificent examples of cave bacon, aragonite crystals, soda straws, stalactites and stalagmites.

And over the edge. Above ground, buckle up for high-flying fun on the Park’s thrill rides. This is a party your guests won’t forget anytime soon. The Giant Canyon Swing launches riders out over Glenwood Canyon while the Canyon Flyer gently lifts and swirls you round and round for 360° views. The Cliffhanger Roller Coaster is another gravity-defying ride that will have you screaming with delight and the always popular Alpine Coaster gives you control of your speed as your race down the mountain. The double-seated Soaring Eagle Zip Ride pulls you up high then releases you to fly back to the launch zone. Your guests can also enjoy the Park’s other attractions and activities while they’re on the mountaintop.

Make your fall season event plans today. Our team at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park can help you plan the perfect fall event to celebrate your special occasion. To get the party started, contact us at—970-945-4228, 800-530-1635 X118 or via email.

Let the Fear Be Part of the Fun!

Cliffhanger Roller Coaster
Cliffhanger Roller Coaster

Conquer your fear and experience the fun of adrenaline-pumping thrill rides at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Let the Fear Be Part of the Fun!

When it comes to roller coasters, the fear is part of the fun—unless it keeps you from taking the ride. Many people want to join the thrill ride—or at least not just stand and watch their friends at the park—but can’t overcome that fear, so Harvard Medical School professor Brian Newmark and clinical psychologist Michael Otto developed the Coasterphobia Stress Management Program nearly 20 years ago.

Coasterphobia is not a medical diagnosis— reluctance to ride won’t cripple your life like other fears— but it often bears traces of other recognized fears such as acrophobia (heights),  illygnophobia (vertigo), claustrophobia (tight spaces), social phobia (embarrassment), mysophobia (contact with germs), emetophobia (vomiting). Sometimes the fear results from a childhood experience. The fear, anxiety, panic, and/or dread can lead to shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating, and nausea.

One of the 15 members of the first Coasterphobia Stress Management Program class, Erik Minton, wrote about his experience for Psychology Today. Participants were encouraged to trust the engineers who had designed the rides, then were put through some preparatory routines: “We tensed and untensed muscles to learn to relax. We did breathing exercises. We circled our heads to induce dizziness. We rocked back and forth in our chairs to simulate a coaster’s motion. Then we circled our heads while rocking. We screamed, which Otto pointed out not only forces you to breathe on the coaster but is part of the ride’s fun. We watched a passenger perspective video of The Incredible Hulk, rocking as we did so.” For graduation, the group rode The Incredible Hulk at Universal Orlando Resort— and each one went on at least twice.

Free advice online will suggest taking baby steps or starting with the biggest coaster you fear, closing your eyes or opening them, staying in control of whether your ride or telling your friends to carry you on if necessary. Here are Otto’s professional tips:

  1. Make sure you are not being pressured or pushed into riding the roller coaster; this will only add to the feeling of not being in control.
  2. While waiting in line, try relaxation exercises. Practice tensing and slowly releasing your muscles as you breathe in for four counts and out for eight.
  3. It is important that you picture yourself enjoying the strange sensations involved in riding roller coasters. Anticipating fear and anxiety will only make it happen faster and stronger.
  4. Outsmart the “scare factor.” Remember that the loops and sudden drops are part of the roller coaster and are perfectly safe.
  5. During the ride, scream. Screaming stops you from holding your breath and helps relieve tension.
  6. Keep your eyes open. Being able to see what is happening actually helps terminate fear and nausea.

Let the fear become part of the fun at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park!

Music on the Mountain Hits It Out of the Park with 2018 Lineup

Music on the Mountain is ten for ten! Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s concert series is opening its tenth season with 10 mountaintop performances starting May 19. 

Get your groove on at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and let the good times roll! The 2018 Music on the Mountain season begins on Saturday, May 19, with the Goodman Band and two performances by Dance of the Sacred Fire, and continues with concerts in June, August and September.

All Music on the Mountain concerts are free with cans-for-a-tram rides beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturdays with music from 6 – 10 p.m.; and for Sunday shows at 2 p.m. with performances from 4 – 8 p.m.  To hop aboard the Iron Mountain Tramway for free just donate a canned or non-perishable food item. The cans-for-a-tram program helps to stock the shelves of Lift-Up, the local food pantry. To date, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has collected more than 66,000 cans and food items!

Whiskey Stomp band

With all the dancing you’ll be doing, you’re sure to get hungry. Grab a bite at the Lookout Grille or Snack Shack, both are open for dinner and refreshments, with drink specials available inside and in the outdoor plaza. Guests can also enjoy the park’s rides and attractions during the events. A Funday Pass, just $38 with the free tram ride, includes both walking cave tours and unlimited access to all open rides. The outdoor rides are open until dusk; the Laser Tag arena and 4D Motion Theater are open until the park closes.

Music on the Mountain would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Thank you to: Bighorn Toyota, Glenwood Insurance Agency, Community Banks of Colorado, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Lift FM, Swire Coca-Cola, Glenwood TV, Hotel Glenwood Springs, Young Services and Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

2018 Music on the Mountain Lineup

 Saturday May 19—Music on the Mountain kicks off with The Goodman Band playing Stevie Ray Vaughan covers and classic rock, plus two performances of Dance of the Sacred Fire, a mesmerizing, high energy show featuring flame throwing and fire breathing!

Saturday, June 2Whiskey Stomp; bluegrass, funk, Latino, rock, jazz, country and original songs

Saturday, June 9The Mixx;  Top 40s, R&B, classic rock, funk, country, blues, and good ol’ rock and roll!

Sunday, June 10Motivado; Tex-Mex, Sierreno and Norteño

Saturday, Aug. 18Fifty50; classic, modern and original rock

Saturday Aug. 25Hell Roaring Stringband and Defiance String Band; a string band double-header featuring American hoedown, bluegrass, swing, rags, waltzes and more

Saturday, Sept. 8Vidicus Maximus; rock, funk, blues, soul and pop

Sunday, Sept. 9Christian Music on the Mountain featuring talent from The Orchard in Carbondale

Saturday, Sept. 15The Missing Link Band; country, rock, blues, pop and R&B

Saturday, Sept. 22Emotional Rescue; a Rolling Stones cover band

In addition to Music on the Mountain, Friday Afternoon Club on the Mountain returns from June 15 through Aug. 10. Tram rides are free after 4 p.m. with a coupon from the Post Independent. The melodrama, Trouble Bubbles at the Iron Mountain Hot Springs, begins Memorial Weekend and continues through Labor Day with shows at 1 and 2:30 p.m. Friday through Monday.

Find out more about what’s happening this summer at America’s only mountaintop theme park at

Traveling with Teens: Problems Solved at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Cliff Hanger Roller Coaster at Glenwood Caverns

If you’re looking for a family trip where your teenager won’t get bored, try the thrill rides, cave tours, and technology attractions Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. We’ll provide plenty of adrenaline, interest, and fun for the whole family. 

For the teen who likes living on the edge, nothing surpasses our mountaintop Cliffhanger Roller Coaster, at the highest elevation in North America and 1,450 feet above the Colorado River, or our Giant Canyon Swing that takes you into the void 1,300 feet above the river. If you want to really hang over that empty space, there’s the 625-foot Soaring Eagle Zip Ride. If you’d rather make the dizzying downhill on land, we have America’s first Alpine Coaster that will whip through 3,400 feet, then give you a relaxing ride back up to enjoy the view.

If your teen is into nature, our mountain also offers three cave tours. You can take a guided quarter-mile stroll through the enchanting Fairy Cave, with beautiful formations, tree roots in the ceiling, and a section with replica century-old lighting to recall that this was one of first electrically-illuminated caves ever. Spacious Kings Row, the most highly-decorated cave room in Colorado, has a light show to highlight its striking formations. We also have a challenging special 2-hour guided Wild Cave tour with tight passageways to sights rarely seen.

If your teen is into technology, they’ll love our 4D Motion Theater, the first in Colorado, a thrill-ride-meets-digital animation with moving seats, surround sound, and special effects that make you feel like you’re inside the movie. You can also join an Old West shootout updated with Laser Tag or see some really old technology at our working Blacksmith Shop.

Along with plenty of attractions, activities, shows, and rides for the parents, the younger children, and the whole family together to enjoy, these thrilling and fascinating activities will ensure that everyone, including the teens, goes home with fun and fond memories of this vacation that will last forever.

For notoriously hard-to-please teenagers, plan a Colorado vacation that will give them something to smile about! Visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Plan Ahead for Fun: Glenwood Caverns Annual Passes are on Sale Now

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s Annual Thrill Passes and Tram-only Passes are on sale now, buy yours before rates increase on Jan 2, 2018.

Winter is a long season in Colorado and the best way to enjoy it is make a plan to get outdoors. A tram ride to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park during snow season is the perfect way to get a healthy dose of fresh air and have a great time along the way – whether you ride the Alpine Coaster or other rides, come for dinner and events, or to enjoy the views and our season-spanning Winter on the Mountain, which kicks off on November 18.

Annual Thrill Passes include unlimited tram rides, cave tours and attractions all year long. Thrill Pass holders also receive a ten percent discount at the Lookout Grille, the Snack Shack and the General Store gift shop. Tram-only pass holders have unlimited access to the ride the tram whenever they please.

Current pass holders can also cash in on the savings before rates go up. Even if your pass isn’t expiring soon, you can upgrade it to take advantage of the discounted, lower rates and enjoy the Park this winter and every season.

After Jan. 1, Annual Thrill and Tram-only pass prices will increase, so get them now to save big!  Passes are currently on sale and can be purchased online or at the tram base all days except Monday when the Park is closed. To receive annual pass discounts online, click on the links below and select your annual pass option, then enter promo code THRILL2018  for annual Thrill Passes or TRAM2018 for Tram-only passes.

Now:  Adult Thrill Pass $79, Child $69       After Jan 1:  Adult Thrill Pass $119, Child $109

Now:  Adult or Child Tram Pass $28          After Jan 1:  Adult or Child Tram Pass $32

You can also order you annual passes by phoning  Glenwood Caverns at 970-945-4228. After ordering, your annual passes will be available for pickup at the tram base.

Glenwood Caverns’ annual passes also make great holiday gifts that can easily be slipped into a card or stocking. The best part is even after winter snows have receded, you can still catch a ride to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park for all your favorite rides, events and activities.

It’s Fright Season at US Theme Parks

Count on theme parks, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park included, for a screaming good time at Halloween and year-round. 

Many amusement parks across the United States dress up for Halloween – some for tricks, some for treats. There’s the frightful transformation of Pittsburgh-area Kennywood’s Raging Rapids into the Voodoo Bayou, Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream Blood Asylum, in
Williamsburg and Knott’s Berry Farm’s Pumpkin Eater, Voodoo Maze, Ghost Town Streets, and 13 haunted mazes. More kid-friendly choices range from the Sweet Trick or Treat Trail at Hersheypark to pumpkin decorating and the Not-Too-Spooky Howl-O-Ween Radio Show at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa.

Other theme parks stay haunted all year – the scary installations are called “dark rides” in the industry. There’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood studio, a drop tower that goes on to a “fifth dimension” star field where you hurtle toward doom. Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and Hollywood includes a ride through Hogwarts Castle with threating spiders, dragons, Dementors, and Death Eaters. For a more classic fright, check out the Spook-A-Rama at Coney Island in New York or the Haunted Mansion at Knoebels in Elysburg, Pa. Curse of DarKastle at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., combines the traditional scares with 3-D CGI animation and other modern features.

Check out USA Today’s Readers’ Choice 2017 selections for seasonal spooky them parks to find one near you this month, or TripSavvy’s list for a scary treat any time.

A Mountain-full of Colorado Fall Fun

Fall is a beautiful time of year to visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Autumn in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is spectacular, but fall at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, America’s only mountaintop theme park, is over-the-edge for seasonal colors, family-fun and thrills! 

Autumn splendor is on full display at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park where for four weeks you can experience your favorite Colorado fall activities including Octoberfest, leaf-peeping, hayrides and more. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of fall at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Every Day. All of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s rides and attractions are open for the fall season – that includes the Alpine Coaster, Giant Canyon Swing, Cliffside Roller Coaster, Canyon Flyer and the Flying Eagle Zip Ride.

Color Viewing. The Park’s mountaintop location is ideal for spotting colorful fall foliage. Views include Glenwood Canyon, the Roaring Fork Valley with Glenwood Springs in the foreground and the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Sopris and the Elk Range. The tram, the Lookout Grille, the Mine Wheel and viewing decks at the Giant Canyon Swing and above the restaurant are some of the best places for leaf peeping and photos.

Saturdays Only.  In addition to all the daily happenings at the park, on Saturdays (Sept. 30, Oct.7, 14, 21 & 28), from noon to 5 p.m., visitors can spend the afternoon participating in family-oriented activities such as tractor-driven hayrides, fall-themed games for kids, face painting and pumpkin decorating.

Octoberfest. Grab your dirndls and lederhosen. For two consecutive Saturdays, from noon to 4 p.m., Oct. 14 and 21, the oompah band Alpine Echo, will regale visitors with German music including the crowd-pleasing chicken dance, polkas, waltzes, Bavarian pub songs and everyone’s favorite from the Sound of Music – Edelweiss.

Festive Food & Drink Specials. All month long, the Lookout Grille will be serving bratwurst and sauerkraut, seasonal beers, spiked apple cider and festive fall drinks for kids. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the General Store with homemade fudge, including some with pumpkin flavoring.

The Details. Face painting, kids’ games and hay rides are included with admission; pumpkins are just $3 each. Regular admission rates apply. Funday Passes, which include the tram ride, cave tours and unlimited turns on all open rides, cost $54 for adults and $49 for kids 3 to 12. Tram rides cost $16 for adults and $11 for kids. Through Oct. 29, the park is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It will be closed Oct. 30 through Nov. 9.

Other Great American Theme Parks to Explore

Photo op from Exclamation Point

You won’t find a theme park on top of a mountain, much less inside a mountain, anywhere but Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. But if you’re interested in collecting a variety of rolling, watery, funny, tasty, accessible, thrilling, and good old-fashioned theme parks, we like this list from

  1. Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1963 and family-owned until 2001, this 48-acre park calls itself a Kingdom for Kids. It has more than 35 rides, attractions, and shows, including a water play area, three roller coasters (one wooden), a log flume, a riverboat ride, animatronic dinosaurs, bumper cars and high-dive shows.

  1. Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania

Knoebels was founded on July 4, 1926, and is still family-owned. Part of its attraction is free admission, free parking, free entertainment and free picnic facilities. The park has more than 60 rides and attractions, including six roller coasters (one wooden), arcade games, mini-golf, a bald eagle habitat and two carousels originally built more than 100 years ago. You can still catch the brass ring for a free ride.

  1. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana

Opened in 1946, with the water park added in 1993, this 125-acre family-owned park was one of the first to offer unlimited soft drinks to visitors. The park is divided into Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and 4th of July themed sections, with food and music as well as rides reflecting the season. It has three wooden roller coasters, one steel coaster and two water coasters.

  1. Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach in Athol, Idaho

Opened in 1988, with the water park added in 2003, this 413-acre playground is the northernmost U.S. theme park. It has 66 rides and attractions, including one of five giant inverted boomerang coasters in the world, five other roller coasters (two wooden), a Ferris wheel, bumper boats, a drop tower, a log flume, water slides, two wave pools and a popular steam train.

  1. Adventureland Amusement Park in Altoona, Iowa

This family-owned playground, opened in 1974, with the Adventure Bay water park added in 2010, has more than 100 rides, shows, and attractions, including five roller coasters and a whitewater river raft ride. It has numerous kid-friendly rides, a petting zoo and three game areas – Alpine Games, County Fair, and Dragon Island.

  1. Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut

Lake Compounce, founded in 1846, is the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States. The 332-acre playground was completely renovated after it opened under new management in the mid-1990s. It has 44 rides, including one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world and one of the newest, the mountainside Boulder Dash, among its five coasters. Lake Compounce, where cold drinks are free at hydration stations, also has a lakeside train ride, a drop tower, a Ferris wheel and a log flume.

  1. Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas

Built in 2010 by Gordan Hartman after his daughter was born with cognitive and physical delays, Morgan’s Wonderland is the world’s first theme park designed for children with special needs, although it is open to everyone (the accessibility is also convenient for older adults). The 25-acre nonprofit park has about 25 wheelchair-accessible attractions, including a carousel, Ferris wheel, train ride, wheelchair swings and Sensory Village. The three-acre Morgan’s Inspiration Island water park was added in 2017. Children with disabilities are admitted free.

  1. Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California

Knott’s Berry Farm started on a berry farm that also sold preserves and pies in the 1920s, then added restaurants and shops, and finally built a Ghost Town in 1940. It expanded with a Camp Snoopy in 1983 and was sold by the family in 1997. Soak City, a water park, was added in 2000. The playground has five themed areas – Ghost Town, Fiesta Village, The Boardwalk, Camp Snoopy and Indian Trails. It has 35 rides, including nine roller coasters, two water rides and train rides.

  1. Carousel Gardens Amusement Park in New Orleans, Louisiana

This center in New Orleans City Park is focused on the 1906 Live Oak Ladybug Rollercoaster, locally known as the Flying Horses but has 16 other rides including a drop tower, a Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, a Tilt-A-Whirl and a miniature train. It is closed for most of the winter.

  1. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio

Cedar Point, opened in 1870 and second only to Lake Compounce for longest-running park, attracts more than 3.5 million visitors a year, the most of any seasonal theme park. The 365-acre playground has more than 70 rides, including 16 roller coasters, two water rides, a 136-foot Ferris wheel, a 1912 carousel,and a train ride along Lake Erie. Performances are in the Extreme Sports Stadium, the Celebration Plaza Stage and smaller venues.