Families that play together stay together – it’s a proven fact.  Well, proven, at least, among the families I’ve polled. Certainly you can’t argue that happy families spend quality time together, away from distractions so they can focus on one another. Here are six fun, interesting and FREE things to do in Glenwood Springs, a popular little mountain town in Colorado.

Celebrate Nature in Glenwood Springs

Kellogg Family(minus 3) at Hanging Lake.

Kellogg Family(minus 3) at Hanging Lake.

Glenwood Springs is one of those western Colorado towns that people flock to for a weekend getaway.

There are plenty activities for those with a bit of extra cash in their pockets.

There’s the Hot Springs Pool, the Glenwood Caverns, rafting, even ATV tours and paragliding, all in this beautiful valley.

But Glenwood Springs, nestled between Vail and Aspen, also offers a plethora of free activities that are heavy on history, adventure, education and fun. It’s such a popular destination that hotels are often booked and charge a premium for rooms, leaving families looking for free or, at the very least, cheap things to do.

And that is what Western Colorado specializes in. Fun, free, outdoor activities during which you can clear your lungs with the pristine mountain air, revel in warm summer days and cool nights and simply enjoy life with your family. Below is a list of the best free things to do in Glenwood Springs, Colorado


Hanging Lake Trail

Hanging Lake - Glenwood Springs, CO Photo Credit: Kady Kellogg

Hanging Lake – Glenwood Springs, CO Photo Credit: Kady Kellogg

Rated as “difficult,”one should exercise caution when setting off, but don’t let the rating scare you away. Our 4-year-old hiked the entire trail by herself.

It is a steep climb up, but the payoff at the top is the most beautiful scene one can imagine. A green/blue lake surrounded by waterfalls. Literally it’s like a Hawaiian lagoon in the middle of the Colorado mountains! Glenwood is really a hiking mecca, there are so many gorgeous hikes in the area, and best of all, hiking is one the cheapest activities ever!

Linwood Cemetery

Experience a little pioneer history at Linwood Cemetery and visit the graves of some infamous characters. Doc Holliday, who died of tuberculosis in Nov 1887, is buried here. Apparently he’d been looking to the Hot Springs to cure his illness. Harvey Logan, aka “Kid Curry” is also buried in Linwood after committing suicide after a train robbery in 1904. For awhile, Logan had been a member of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid gang.

Rock climbing, one of the best free things to do in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Photo by Susie Kellogg, Unstoppable TravelingMom

Climbing in Glenwood Canyon

Aside from being the most beautiful place I’ve ever laid eyes on, Glenwood Canyon is home to many rock and ice climbing opportunities throughout the main canyon as well as in side canyons. Grab the fam, grab the gear and just hit it, as just about every exit off I-70 offers a climbing opportunity.

Music in the Park

Free concerts every Wednesday night during the summer attract music lovers of all ages who are treated to a wide array of different beats. Picnic down by the river, enjoy fellowship, dance, let the kids run wild, pop open a bottle of wine and relax in the cool mountain air! It’s a pretty cool scene, heavy on the jazz, but still cool enough to check out for a bit.


The State of Colorado is an off-roaders dream, with trails ranging from dirt to gravel to paved, there is something for everyone in every nook and cranny of the state! The Glenwood Springs area is no different. Trails abound here, as do guides. Transfer Trail has quite possibly the most gorgeous views in the state and great camping alongside lakes at the top. 4-Mile with its Aspen Groves and forest and even a huge open meadow … grab your trailer, ATV, Jeep, or dirt bike, and head on out.

Kayaking on the Colorado River, one of the best free things to do in Glenwood Springs, CO

Kayaking on the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, CO

River Fun

The Colorado River runs through Glenwood Springs and offers a fun family float if you use the put-in at Grizzly Creek. It’s a great stretch for rafts, tubes, boogie boards and even an inflatable kayak, called a Duckie. If you want to spend a little cash, but not quite as much as you would if you booked a guide, many outfitters will rent their rafts and duckies to private parties.

And, don’t come to Glenwood Springs for some river adventure without checking out the Glenwood Wave. Below Two Rivers Park, in West Glenwood, is a great standing wave. It’s perfect for surfboards, SUP boards, boogie boards and even body surfing.

Just please, please, please, whatever you do, be sure everyone wears a PFD — Personal Floatation Device, or Life Jacket. The local fire department actually gives them out, if you find yourself without one!

Hiking Grizzly Creek, one of the best free things to do in Glenwood Springs, CO.

Hiking Grizzly Creek in Glenwood Springs, CO.


Biking is a big deal here in Glenwood. From mountain biking to dirt biking and beyond, Glenwood Springs is on the map when it comes to access to top notch trails and even a State Park for your little (or big) rippers!

Nature is Free

As a full-time traveling family we are often asked where or what our favorite free family locations or activities are. Our obvious answer is: everything in nature!

There are National Parks and State Parks that may charge a small fee, but most of our public lands are free to use and enjoy. America is full of wondrous and glorious natural habitats that are just waiting to be discovered!

Get outside with your kids … fun doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, real fun, is often absolutely free!

What’s your favorite outdoor adventure? Share with us in the comment section below.