If you are looking for an incredible unplugged family vacation that is rife with adventure, fun and even some educational opportunities, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado is just the destination. From adrenaline charged rides to amazing cave tours, Glenwood Caverns is an outdoor playground that caters to every member of the family!
Family Fun at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
As full time adventure travelers, we tend to gravitate toward organic, raw adventures like whitewater kayaking and snowboarding, climbing, caving and other extreme adventures. Likewise, we tend to avoid most theme parks and other touristy attractions. But then we found Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, which is both a tourist attraction and a theme park. Located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Glenwood Caverns is the perfect mix between natural outdoor adventures and an amusement park! I mean it has all the caveats, and it’s educational too! From caving adventures for every level to thrilling rides … even getting up to the park is an experience unto itself!
I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised at how much fun we really did have at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. And to think we had been holdouts! The park is literally at the top of the mountain behind our house and has been there for years, yet we’d never taken the family up to check it out.
Why? Well, we pride ourselves in being authentic adventurers, we are drawn to much more than the sticky, drooping promises, high admission fees and massive crowds that most amusement parks offer. And we had already been to the caves many times when they first opened to the public, before the caverns became an adventure park.
But the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is actually much different than your typical theme park.. First, the entire park is built on the top of Iron Mountain, so the views are spectacular, unlike anything found in the big city draws of Six Flags or the like. Second, you are treated to a gondola ride up the mountain, which is exciting in and of itself. From the gondola, you can literally see the entire Roaring Fork Valley, including the Colorado River and the majestic Mount Sopris … the pride and joy of the valley for sure.
We purchased Winter Fun Day Passes for a discounted price, as in the winter and early spring the number of attractions open are more limited, but this is countered by the fact that the crowds are virtually non-existent and the park feels like a personal playground!
The absolute first thing we did was hop on the Alpine Coaster and we must have ridden it 10-15 times each. Even our youngest, three year old Coby, was able to partake in this fun ride. Not surprisingly, we all did. It was a blast.
The Alpine Coaster is for everyone, whether you love speed or are more fond of a slower, calmer ride. This is true because you are able to personally control the speed of your own car, so you can full throttle it and take the turns going uber fast, or for the less wild rider, you can ride the brakes a bit to enjoy a more gentle ride.
After the first run, I understood fully why USA Today named the Alpine Coaster one of the “10 Best Roller-Coaster Rides of Your Life.” But not only that, the Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the first Alpine Coaster in the USA!! That’s incredible! As a lover of all things fast, I’m telling you, it’s not to be missed!
Soaring Eagle Zip Ride
We are thrill seekers, I’m not going to deny that. I mean, it’s why we partake in extreme adventures on the rivers and mountains that caress this great nation. The Soaring Eagle Zip Ride is not your typical zip line. It’s a thrilling, tandem seat zip ride for two.
The Soaring Zip Ride is pure fun. It’s not terrifying, it’s not hair raising, it’s not death defying, but man, we loved it. I think because of it’s simplicity. It was like a fast drive in a luxury car, with the top down, on an open road. The wind in your face, the laughter, the freedom, the sweeping views, the speed … it all combines to create a super fun experience.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the nameless Zip Ride operator. This guy was fun, he was kind and he obviously loved his job and the fact that he was putting smiles on people’s faces. I had to mention this because, really, in today’s day and age it is rare to find employees who are truly happy to be a part of making people happy. Hats off to this guy!
The Tram Ride
The way to get to the park is literally a ride and an attraction all of its own. You see, visitors get to ride up the side of Iron Mountain in a legit state of the art European pulse gondola. Incidentally, it’s one of the first ever installed in the US.
The views are as far as the eye can see and quite stunning as you climb to new heights over the tops of trees along the 4,300 foot long tram ride. Riders are treated to views of elk and deer as well as the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River, and the valley below.
This was a fun little break from our wild adventurers. If you’ve never been in a 4D theater, this is quite a treat as you get sprayed by air, your seat moves and objects whiz past your fast. We watched Winter Wipeout, which seemed appropriate for our winter sports loving family. It was cool, especially for the little kids who’ve never even stepped foot in a movie theater … I know, deprived! LOL.
One word: Epic. Dan and I loved laser tag, the kids loved laser tag, even three year old Coby loved laser tag. The vests are really accurate, and light up and signal when you’ve been hit. Black lights abound, which makes for a really cool scene in which to play. Play time is perfect, not too long and not too short, and the air, the air is very well ventilated so the room doesn’t smell or feel stuffy. Isn’t that weird that I would notice that?
We also enjoyed the fact that the rules keep the number of players to 8, which is really great, as there is ample space to hide out and not step on everyone’s toes! Good times!
This thing is a kids wonderland. It could be an adult’s wonderland too, but the warning that it’s not intended for people over 6’ and/or people with a rib cage of 40”. Of course, that didn’t keep Dan and Grady out of the box.
Hey, but what about me? I’m neither 6’ tall, nor do I have a 40” rib cage, but I am not a caver. In fact, I’m abhorrently opposed to the idea .. small spaces, stuffy air, the possibility of getting stuck, just the thought makes my chest hurt. But I’ll explore (see what I did there?) that more in the Cave Tour section below. For now, let me concentrate on The Box …
The Speleobox at Glenwood Caverns Adventure park is a cave simulator with over 300 sq ft of passageway, through very tight spaces. The kids will concur, yet, it didn’t stop them. In fact, this is what made The Box so fun. I think we spent about 30 minutes here with all the kids pretending to be in a cave, crawling in and out of super tight spots. Even Coby had a blast!
There are many levels of caving at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, you can experience an easy 40 minute underground hiking tour of the Historic Fairy Caves. The Historic Fairy Caves were discovered in the 50’s and were not accessible to the public. They have recently been excavated for your viewing pleasure and contain some highly decorated rooms and a huge cavern with 50’ ceilings!
Another tour offered is the Kings Row tour. We chose this one because it truly is remarkable in that it contains the most highly decorated cave room in Colorado. What does this mean? Highly decorated? It means it contains the most formations, like stalactites and stalagmites, soda straws and cave bacon! Talk about education. From teaching stewardship to wildlife to history and climates, caves are a fun and engaging way to learn Science.
And before I speak of the last tour offered, it’s radically different than these two, I want to express upon you how amazing these tours are. First, caves are fascinating and are one of the best educational tools to teach about geology. Second, our guide kept us so enthralled by what we were seeing and kept even the youngest entertained, that I just about forgot about my ridiculous fear of caves. I was awe struck at where I was and what my eyes were beholding. I was overwhelmed by nature and for the first time in my life, I wanted to learn more about caves. And, our experience here, at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, was the catalyst for getting our boys and their friends back into caving, Win/Win!
Ok, so the last tour is called the Wild Tour and for good reason, it is truly wild!! The Wild Tour is a two hour caving experience, spent crawling through tight spaces, shimmying through 18” small slots, and viewing some of the most amazing rooms and cave formations that the majority of people, myself included, will never see. This is an experience that would stoke anyone’s adrenaline needs … and it’s something that, if you aren’t a caver, would make an indelible and unforgettable experience!
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is unlike any theme park we’ve ever been too. Its grounds are impeccably kept, the rides and attractions are fun and exciting, the educational aspect is tremendous yet organic and disguised as more fun. Glenwood Caverns is a place where families can let loose, enjoy each other’s company and at the same time relax and take in the beautiful surroundings, the fresh mountain air and the warm, soul enriching Colorado sun.
If you are looking for an exciting family vacation and love the idea of incorporating learning without it being the focus, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the place for you.
Not to mention that after an amazing day exploring caves, riding thrilling rides, & running around trying to shoot each other in laser tag your body is going to be crying out for some pampering. Enter Iron Mountain Hot Springs, literally a stone’s throw away from where you left your car to ride the tram up the mountain!
And, so you know, the city of Glenwood Springs, is a rip roaring place for families of all ages and sizes to enjoy and play in. I can’t rave enough about it, I really can’t. It’s an unplugged family vacation mecca!
The following rides are not open in the winter months, so we did not get to ride them, but want to mention them so you know that there even more thrilling rides at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
- Cliffhanger Roller Coaster
- Giant Canyon Swing
- Glenwood Canyon Flyer
There are also many more attractions open during the warmer months, so check out the website for more info.