Glenwood Springs is a beautiful mountain town one hundred and fifty miles west of Denver. There are so many incredible things to do in Glenwood Springs in the Summer and the Winter (and spring and fall). In fact, Glenwood Springs is a great town to visit year-round.
Things To Do In Glenwood Springs Colorado In The Summer (and Spring and Fall)
We have driven through Glenwood Springs many times over the years but until recently had only stopped there to eat. After hearing all kinds of good things about the town, we decided to plan a trip last summer. It was so much fun that we’ve been back several times since!
Here are some of the super fun things to do in Glenwood Springs in the spring, summer, and fall.
Hike To Hanging Lake
The hike to Hanging Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Colorado for good reason. The lake and waterfall are absolutely beautiful. The water is so clear that you can see every detail on the brook trout swimming under the boardwalk surrounding the lake.
The word is out – over the last few years the Hanging Lake Trailhead, parking lot, and trail became so popular that the forest service had to put a reservation system in place to limit the number of visitors each day. Go to the Visit Glenwood website to make a reservation. If you plan to visit Glenwood Springs over a weekend, reserve your hiking spot as far in advance as possible.
The hike is approximately two and a half miles round-trip with 1,000 feet in elevation gain. It is a tough hike but definitely worth it once you see the picturesque lake.
I’ve rafted on the Colorado river but never through Glenwood Canyon. I always see rafters when driving through the canyon in the summer and it looks like quite an adventure. It is on my bucket list as soon as Eli is big enough.
There are all kinds of different rafting packages offered from half-day to full-day, easy float trip to exciting rapids. There are also quite a few different rafting companies to book with. Check with your hotel front desk or concierge for recommendations on which company to use.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is a must-do while visiting Glenwood Springs in the summer. The Adventure starts at the bottom of the mountain where you get to ride a gondola up to the Adventure Park. The views of Glenwood Springs along the way up are great. When you get to the top the real fun begins.
For such a small area, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has some epic rides!
The Mountain Coaster is amazing, it was the first Mountain Coaster built in the United States (now there is a Mountain Coaster in nearby Copper Mountain). Glenwood Adventure Park also has a zip line ride, a terrifying mine drop ride, and then the scariest ride of all….. the gigantic swing. The enormous swing starts slow and then goes higher and higher until you are looking straight down the cliff to the tiny cars on I-70 hundreds of feet below.
Little kids can also enjoy the adventure park. There is a small roller coaster, a ferris wheel, and a drop-down ride. The three kiddie rides have a height restriction of 36 inches.
On top of all of the rides, there are also several caves to tour (hence the name Glenwood Caverns). The caves are fascinating, complete with stalactites, stalagmites, and cave bacon.
You will want to spend the whole day at the Glenwood Adventure Park, it is so much fun.
Go to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s website for current rates and to buy tickets.
*Check with your hotel before you buy tickets, some hotels sell discounted tickets to the Adventure Park
Ride The Bike Path Through Glenwood Canyon
The towering cliffs along the banks of the Colorado River are an incredible sight. Yes, you can drive through the canyon, but if you ride a bike you can slow down and take in the beauty. You can also stop to gawk whenever you want. The 16 miles (one-way) bike path starts just east of the Yampah Vapor Caves in Glenwood Springs, goes through the beautiful Glenwood Canyon, and ends in Dotsero. Yes, thirty-two miles round trip is a LONG bike ride, but you don’t have to do the whole thing.
There are several companies in town that rent bikes and also offer a shuttle ride to different stops throughout the canyon. Canyon Bikes offers a shuttle and also has e-bikes, kid’s bikes, tag-along attachments, and trailers for really young kids. Bring a picnic and stop for lunch along the way.
Visit Doc Holiday’s Grave
The great American West icon Doc Holiday was dying of tuberculosis when he headed to Glenwood Springs in 1887. He had hoped the vapors from the hot sulfur springs would heal him but he was mistaken. He spent the last days of his life in the Hotel Glenwood and was buried in a small cemetery on the hill overlooking Glenwood Springs.
It is a nice easy hike (less than one-mile round-trip) to the graveyard with beautiful views along the way. The trailhead is on the corner of 12th street and Bennet Ave in a residential neighborhood close to downtown Glenwood. Parking is available along the street near the trailhead. It is a great activity to do in the evening after having dinner at one of the many great Glenwood restaurants.
Things To Do In Glenwood Springs Colorado In The Winter
After our trip in the summer, we decided to check out Glenwood Springs in the winter. It is well worth a winter-time visit!
Many of the summertime activities in Glenwood Springs are still available in the winter but are very weather-dependent.
- Glenwood Cavern Adventure Park is actually open year-round. Many of the rides are closed but you can still do the Alpine Coaster, Mine Drop, Laser tag and 4-D Theater, and the mine tours. You can also purchase just the gondola ride to the top of the mountain if the weather isn’t ideal.
- The trail to Hanging Lake is open year-round but the steep trail can be extremely icy and slippery in the wintertime.
- If the weather is nice you could go for a bike ride in Glenwood Canyon in the winter but if there is snow on the path you could go for a walk through the canyon instead.
- Doc Holiday’s grave would be a hike suitable year-round.
Glenwood Hot Springs Pool
The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is the largest hot springs pool in the world and has been a popular tourist attraction in Colorado for over 130 years. There are actually two pools. The pool to the East is the hottest and the water gets hotter and hotter from the west to the east end of the pool. The large pool is a bit cooler but not uncomfortably cool even on a bitterly cold winter day.
I know, the Glenwood Springs Pool is open year-round and is actually really busy in the summer. But, I think winter is the best time to swim in the huge hot springs pool. There is nothing like playing in a nice warm pool outside while the snow falls. The only drawback of visiting the pool in the winter is that the kid’s splash zone and white-water tube rides are closed. But, the diving board is still open!
You can easily spend a whole day hanging out in the hot springs pool surrounded by mountains. It is also nice to go swimming after dark.
*The towels provided are very small so remember to bring your own beach towel. Also, bring a bathrobe to wrap up in for the walk back to the bathrooms.
Check the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort website for pricing information and hours.
Skiing at Nearby Sunlight Mountain Resort
Only 12 miles from Glenwood Springs is Sunlight Mountain Resort. If you are just learning to ski or snowboard or, are skiing with kids, this is a great ski resort to visit. You can park for free and walk to the lifts and the ticket prices are much cheaper than nearby Beaver Creek, Snowmass, or Aspen. Growing up in Utah, I’ve always loved the experience of snowboarding at the small resorts.
How To Get To Glenwood Springs Colorado
Glenwood Springs is about 150 miles from Denver via I-70. The drive takes about two and a half hours with magnificent views the entire way. The drive will take you across the continental divide through the famous one-and-a-half-mile Eisenhower Tunnel, past beautiful Lake Dillon, over Vail pass, and finally through the jaw-dropping Glenwood Canyon.
Another unique transportation option from Denver is to ride the Amtrak California Zephyr. The Amtrak goes from Denver, through Winter Park, Granby, and then through Glenwood Canyon along the Colorado River. The trip takes about six hours and it is six hours of stunning scenery the entire way. The Amtrak takes off from Union Station in Downtown Denver at 8:05 (if it is running on time) and arrives in Glenwood around 2:30. Just in time to check into a hotel room. The timing works out great on the return ride leaving Glenwood at 12:10, right after check-out time.
Visit Amtrak’s website for ticket prices and availability.
Where To Stay In Glenwood Springs
In the winter, the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is hands down the best place to stay in Glenwood Springs. As a guest of the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort hotel, admission to the pool is included in your room rate. You are given a wristband at check-in and can bypass the line of people waiting to pay at the pool entrance. It is nice to have a hotel room right across the street from the pool so you can go back to your room to shower. The resort offers free parking and is within walking distance to downtown Glenwood Springs. Free breakfast is also included with your stay.
In the summer, Hotel Glenwood Springs is the perfect place to stay. It is right next to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park gondola and also has a great waterslide. The hotel is about a mile from downtown Glenwood Springs but the walk isn’t bad on a nice summer day. There are family suites available with bunk beds. Continental breakfast is included.
Year-round there is so much to see and do in Glenwood Springs! This is one town in Colorado you don’t want to miss.
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