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Why Planning An Outdoor Adventure Vacation To Glenwood Springs, Colorado Is Important

An hour outside of Aspen, and much less expensive, this Colorado mountain town has it all: hot springs, mountain-top theme parks, white-water rafting, and iconic hiking


Mar. 18 2024, Published 1:00 p.m. ET


I’m submerged to my shoulders in a pebble-bottomed hot spring pool with a mineral formula replicating Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon and feeling my stress melt away. I’m soaking in one of 11 new experience pools at Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which is home to 27 geothermal soaking pools in total

In a gorgeous location overlooking the Colorado River, Iron Mountain is one of the main reasons to visit the small town of Glenwood Springs in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It’s one of several hot spring attractions in town, such as Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, home to the world’s largest hot spring pool and the only one to have been designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. It earned this prestigious title along with nearby Glenwood Caverns in December 2023 for possessing a nationally significant geological feature.

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The WorldSprings area is a great choice for adults, as it requires you to be at least 21 years old to enter, and you’ll be able to purchase alcoholic beverages and snacks at the seasonal café. Each of the 11 pools are after various famous hot springs around the world, and the mineral content and temperature match those springs as well. Other pools include a bicarbonate-rich pool inspired by hot springs in Hokkaido, Japan, and an iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium pool inspired by springs in Baile Tusnad, Romania.

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The area also has a cold plunge and a waterfall freshwater pool. If you are traveling with kids, you can check out the legacy section at Iron Mountain, which has 16 different pools, a freshwater family pool, and a jetted spa.

Glenwood Springs is a Sublime Adventure Destination

There is so much to do in Glenwood Springs, a sublime adventure destination about an hour away from Aspen and two-and-a-half hours from Denver. While it’s been popular with locals forever, it is often overlooked by visitors who rather visit more famous destinations such as Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge.

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Glenwood is a year-round destination, but the winter and spring seasons are the best times to visit the hot springs, as temperatures are cold enough to comfortably sit in pools as hot as 108 degrees. In summer, you’ll want to visit the hot springs when temperatures start to cool following activities during the day.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is another top attraction in the area. The only mountaintop theme park in the U.S. is consistently ranked as one of the best amusement parks in the country. Guests take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Iron Mountain where they will find family-friendly attractions, thrill rides, cave tours, and dining options.

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Glenwood Springs sits at one end of the 12.5-mile-long Glenwood Canyon, which is home to one of Colorado’s most famous natural attractions, Hanging Lake. Another National Natural Landmark, the lake is an otherworldly,jade-hued affair perched on a cliffside surrounded by wispy waterfalls. It’s accessible by a rigorous 1.2-mile trail and is one of the state’s most popular hikes.

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The area is so popular that a permit system was put in place to limit visitors and protect the fragile ecosystem surrounding the lake. Permits cost $12 per hiker and include self-parking at the trailhead. The trail to the lake is steep and rocky, but hikers will be rewarded by the magical surroundings at the top.

In summer, Glenwood Springs is also a popular jump-off point for whitewater rafting trips. The Colorado River and Roaring Fork Rivers are home to various sets of rapids ranging from mild class IIs to more wild class III-IV waves. Many companies around town offer half and full-day trips.

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Where to Sleep and Eat in Glenwood Springs

The grandiose Hotel Colorado opened in 1893 and has a historic vibe. Guests will be treated by the old-fashioned ambiance and supposedly haunted history. Inside a U-shape two-toned, turreted brick building with a crimson roof isthe resort that has a restaurant with an al fresco garden area and bar. The rooms are dated, but with their soaring ceilings and ultra-wide, carpeted hallways leading to them, they also feel right. Staying in them feels a bit like traveling back in time, to the hotel’s heydey in the Gilded Age heyday. The location is excellent, and the hotel is within walking distance from downtown.

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Keeping with the bygone era ambiance, Riviera Supper Club & Piano Bar is a great spot for anyone to have dinner. It has a sophisticated vibe, a fine dining menu filled with American classics that can be enjoyed alongside live piano music.

The Pullman is another top Glenwood restaurant for contemporary American fare. It serves up creative small plates and hearty entrees crafted from locally sourced ingredients. The interior design is industrial yet warm.

For a less expensive meal, people can head to Slope & Hatch, which is a laid-back eatery cooking up classic comfort food and serving craft beer. The Lost Cajun is another place that offers a different menu, including gumbo, jambalaya, and other Louisiana classics.

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