Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Glenwood Springs, CO

  • Published 2023/03/01

Glenwood Springs, a home rule municipality and county seat of Garfield County in Colorado, lies at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers.

Isaac Cooper founded the town, which has long been a popular vacation spot with diverse natural attractions, especially its abundance of enchanting hot springs.

Native Americans once lived in the area.

Glenwood Springs also had good old Wild West action with saloons, cabins, gamblers, and gunslingers.

However, this location is well-loved for its distinct natural beauty.

The place drew many prominent figures, such as President Theodore Roosevelt and the Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Today, it remains a prime vacation destination that offers endless activities you and your family can enjoy, like nature trails, fishing spots, relaxing hot springs, and majestic canyons.

Here are the best things to do in Glenwood Springs, CO:

Relax in the Spring Waters of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort

Aerial view of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort

Kristi Blokhin /

The Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is the largest mineral pool in the world.

It’s also one of the hottest thermal springs in the state, which has welcomed visitors since 1888.

This spring’s mineral water flows from the Yampah spring, producing more than 3.5 million gallons of water every day at a temperature of 122°F.

The wandering Ute tribe members were the earliest people to use the hot springs.

The pool and waterslide of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort

Andriy Blokhin /

They called it Yampah, which means “Big Medicine,” because of its therapeutic effects on various illnesses.

Soak in the waters on benches and bubble chairs at the soothing Therapy Pool.

Have an enjoyable time swimming and splashing at the big pool, or try the Shoshone Chutes, a water tube ride resembling rapids.

Kids can also try the Sopris Splash Zone, where they can slide their way to a zero-depth pool while enjoying the gently flowing waterfall.

People swimming on Glenwood Hot Springs Resort's pool

Andriy Blokhin /

Shop Fresh Produce at the Glenwood Farmers’ Market

Grab the best deals and fresh quality produce at the Glenwood Farmers’ Market.

The market opens every Tuesday, from June to September.

Feast your eyes on locally grown produce and savor samplings of local goods and products.

You can find and purchase a range of goods from freshly picked fruits and vegetables, bread, honey, wine, and more.

You can also catch music events and crafts and cooking demonstrations and experience the festive atmosphere of the market.

Browse Finely Crafted Handwoven Goods at Art on 8TH

Find distinct handwoven creations at Art on 8th.

The craft and weaving studio is home to the Mountain Valley Weavers, a vocational weaving program supporting people with developmental disabilities.

These intricately crafted handwoven goods make for great keepsakes of your Glenwood Springs trip.

Over the years, their products have appeared at local fairs and bazaars, gaining praise for their quality and creativity.

Since 2013, the former retail store has become an attraction that features local Colorado artistry, emphasizing its weaving studio.

Enjoy Outdoor Adventure Activities at Glenwood Canyon

People rafting at Glenwood Canyon's river

Elena Arrigo /

The 16-mile Glenwood Canyon lies at the entrance of Glenwood Springs, carved over millions of years by the raging waters of the Colorado River.

The largest in the Upper Colorado area stands over 1,300 feet high, offering a rugged, picturesque view.

You can enjoy this travel location through hiking, biking, or picnicking.

The area also offers avenues for enjoyable water adventures like kayaking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, and shore fishing.

A recreation trail at Glenwood Canyon

Cascade Creatives /

Wildlife thrives in the area, so you will see animals like bighorn sheep, bears, deer, mountain lions, coyotes, marmots, raccoons, and birds.

You can find three rest areas at the Glenwood Canyon.

These are the Bair Ranch, Grizzly Creek, and No Name.

Feel free to use the amenities like picnic areas, fountains, parking, and restrooms.

A boy on a rafting boat along Glenwood Canyon

Kevin Kipper /

Discover the Fairy Caves

Charles Darrow opened the Fairy Caves in 1886.

His family owned a homestead property that included the Iron Mountain caves.

The Glenwood Springs attorney wanted to draw visitors to the caves, so he placed electric lights inside and even had a tunnel blasted.

The result was a gorgeous view of the Grand River Valley and the Roaring Fork.

During those days, donkeys transported tourists to Iron Mountain; high society women had their photographs taken at the Fairy Caves.

Since then, the natural living cave has become one of Glenwood’s famous attractions.

You’ll join a 40-minute guided tour leading you to a quarter-mile underground trail passing through narrow, winding paths and natural water landscapes.

Stop by the Exclamation Point, the viewing balcony, and gaze at the stunning panoramic view of the Grand River Valley.

Learn Local History at the Frontier Historical Museum

If you want to dig into Glenwood’s rich history and culture, visit Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum.

See a fully furnished 1905 Victorian-style home and know more about the ranching and mining industry that thrived in the area.

Learn about the way of life of the Ute Indians.

Track the city’s essential developments back when this destination attracted the privileged class and prominent personalities.

You can do a self-guided tour and stroll along the downtown and nearby neighborhoods.

Hike to Linwood or Pioneer Cemetery, containing the final resting places of Doc Holliday and Harvey Logan.

Join walking tours.

If you’re in Glenwood Springs in October, join the yearly Ghost Walk through the Linwood Cemetery.

Watch actors portray characters, enact historical events and reenact the 1800s to early 1900s lifestyle.

Enjoy Cave Tours and Thrilling Rides at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Mountain views at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Linda Hendrickson /

Popularly known as the country’s only Mountaintop Theme Park, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers guests a view of Iron Mountain’s incredible natural wonders and thrilling rides.

Explore the Glenwood Caverns, one of nature’s underground landscapes, sculpted for millions of years.

See the numerous cave formations like stalagmites and stalactites, soda straws, and cave bacon.

Tramway at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Toshihiro Matsui, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore King’s Row, Colorado’s most decorated cave area.

Ride Colorado’s first-ever Alpine Coaster, speeding through the trees on the mountainside in solo cars on turning and wavy coaster tracks.

Kids will love the Wild West Express as they ride a train-themed roller coaster, play a game of laser tag at the Old West arena, and enjoy the 4D Motion Theater.

The Cliffhanger Roller Coaster, Eagle Zip Ride, and the Glenwood Canyon Flyer will surely give you the ride of your life.

Experience a Steam Bath at Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves

The Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves is one of the most unusual attractions in the city.

This underground area is also a historic location where Ute Indians used the vapor-filled caverns for healing purposes and rituals.

This place is also one of the few known vapor caves in North America that provide natural steam and boiling mineral waters rich in therapeutic minerals.

When you enter the dimly lit caverns, you’ll feel the calming ambiance and hear soothing music.

You can relax on marble benches and lounge chairs and peruse reading materials.

Temperatures can rise from 110 to 112 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can use the water faucet and buckets available in the steaming room to cool off.

You can also step outside the outdoor deck to enjoy the cool mountain air and a great view.

Catch a Show at Glenwood Vaudeville Revue

Treat the family to wholesome comedy shows at the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue dinner theater in the old Springs Theater.

The attraction is based on the Vaudeville, a classic form of entertainment dating back to the 1800s.

These shows focused on humor and poked fun at everyday life.

You’ll get loads of laughs with Vaudeville skits, slapstick humor, magic shows, barbershop numbers, and novelty songs performed by talented actors, singers, and musicians.

After a great show, you can enjoy a selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts prepared by local concessionaires or drop by the full-service bar.

Take Photos of the Wings at Glenwood Springs

A new craze grabbing the attention of both Colorado tourists and locals is the public wing art called Wings at Glenwood Springs.

You’ll find nine sets of artistic and unique wing patterns tucked along the downtown alleys, historic buildings, and pocket parks.

A local business owner, Chrissy Lee-Manes, created these patterns.

She felt the need to promote the downtown shopping district area and revamp the less-visited city spots creatively.

The town approved her project; the Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority funded it.

Pose and take photos of these colorful and whimsy wings.

Enjoy a Rejuvenating Bath at Iron Mountain Hot Springs

A person swimming on Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Jbirkby, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Iron Mountain Hot Springs offers a therapeutic relaxation with rejuvenating mineral waters at the Colorado River banks.

The deep volcanic layer of the area’s soil heats the spring waters, which have flowed for hundreds of years, containing abundant natural minerals.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs has 16 mineral pools with waters ranging in temperatures from 98 to 108ºF.

Visitors can enjoy and soak in the large family pool, which measures around 75 feet long, with a stable ramp and handrail for the disabled.

The water jets will make you feel like you’re getting a massage.

You can also lounge at the Whirlpool Spa while soaking in the warm waters.

There’s a retail and gift shop open for swimwear and personal care needs, and you can also grab some souvenirs and tokens.

Grab some refreshments and snacks at the Sopris Café.

Enjoy their selection of salads, pizza, sandwich wraps, and drinks like smoothies, mixed drinks, beer, and wine.

Check Out Local Arts and Crafts at the Cooper Corner Gallery

If you want a glimpse of local fine art and crafts, drop by the Cooper Corner Gallery.

The cooperative gallery features original works from local artists, expressing creativity in different mediums.

You can purchase artworks and handcrafted pieces from wall art, pottery and glass, turned wood, jewelry, and cards.

See works of in-house artisans.

You can find Annie Brooks’ pottery and glasswork, Judy Burke’s clay art, and Marylou Felton’s oil, pastel, and acrylic paintings.

View artistic displays from Megan George’s scratchboard art, Jeremy Joseph’s photography, Lindsey Johnson’s fine jewelry and painted scarves, Bill Inverso’s wood sculptures, and many more.

Enjoy the Scenic Rockies at Glenwood Gondola

Marvel at the breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains while riding the Glenwood Gondola.

Get stunning views of the Glenwood Springs, Roaring Fork Valley, and Mount Sopris on a fully enclosed cabin, 4,300 feet above the side of the Iron Mountain.

The Glenwood Gondola opened in 2019, replacing the former Iron Mountain Tramway.

The tram transports tourists from the valley area to the mountaintop theme park, which is also a memorable and thrilling experience.

You can enjoy this short five-minute trip on the six-seater, fully enclosed gondolas with large windows to give you that perfect panoramic view.

Once you get down the gondola, there are plenty of things to do like cave tours, thrill rides, and sightseeing.

You can also dine with a view at the Lookout Grille, a famous mountaintop resto.

Learn about the Doc’s Life at the Doc Holliday Collection

The Doc Holliday Collection is the first of Glenwood Springs Historical Society’s satellite locations that highlight the life and legend of John Henry (Doc) Holliday.

The famous Doc was a gambler, gunfighter, and dentist who joined the notorious gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

The attraction was set up in Bullock’s Store because Doc died in 1887 at the lavish Hotel Glenwood that once stood in the store’s location.

See the ruins of the old hotel with its wooden beams and original stone walls left from the fire that razed the hotel in 1945.

View the photos and sketches of Doc along with items he owned like a pocket watch and his infamous Derringer pistol.

You can also watch a short film about the life of Doc Holliday.

Enjoy Water Activities at the Glenwood Whitewater Park

The waters of the Colorado River at Glenwood Whitewater Park and Activity Area offer a spectacular setting for kayaking and rafting enthusiasts.

It is a well-loved spot for paddlers; it’s busy from May to September.

The unique feature of this location is the G-wave or standing wave, with water flows ranging from 4,000 to 22,000 cubic feet every second.

There is also a hole on the river’s left, a much smaller standing wave in the right area, and learning pools where you can practice your paddling skills.

Bring the right gear like helmets and flotation devices.

Otherwise, you can join a guided rafting tour if the waters seem too intimidating for you.

Whether you’re into water activities before or learning to paddle, the park offers smooth waters to thrilling rapids.

Hike at Doc Holliday’s Grave Trailhead

A wishing tree at Doc Holliday’s Grave Trailhead

Carolyn Dietrich /

Doc Holliday’s Grave Trailhead is one of the things you must do in Glenwood Spring, especially after visiting the Doc Holliday Museum.

This trailhead leads you to the grave of the iconic historical figure of Glenwood Springs, making it a great extension of your learning about Doc Holliday’s life.

Besides the amount of history you can learn here, Doc Holiday’s Grave Trailhead is also a fantastic way to burn some calories during your trip.

It can be quite strenuous due to its unpaved paths, so it’s only recommended for fit travelers.

You can access the trailhead along Bennett Avenue, eventually leading you to the gravesite at Linwood Cemetery.

Take a Break at Sullivan Park

Sullivan Park is an underrated spot in Glenwood Springs that’s famous for its scenic views.

You can appreciate the surrounding mountains that make Colorado famous worldwide at Sullivan Park.

Beyond that, there’s a lot of well-maintained greenery at this area as well, making it a perfect spot for kids and dogs to run around and wick some pent up energy off.

There’s also a few fields here where you can play sports, along with some biking paths that let you see the scenery at different angles.

Sullivan Park is found along Mt. Sopris Drive, near the Roaring Fork River.

See the Quirky Cardiff Coke Ovens

Cardiff Coke Ovens is one of the most unusual things you can do in Glenwood Springs.

It’s famous for its history, where it was once a mining area in the 19th Century, used to process coal for economic purposes in Glenwood Springs.

What makes Cardiff Coke Ovens quite unique is that it’s not marketed as a tourist attraction, making it feel abandoned which is a bonus for certain types of travelers.

The ovens are still intact, but there’s a lot of overgrowth of vegetation nearby and there isn’t much reading materials as well.

If you’re into this kind of desolate aesthetic, Cardiff Coke Ovens is a great bonus during your trip, found along Airport Road.

See Fall Foliage at Red Mountain-Jean Golay Trailhead

If you’re visiting Colorado during fall, a great place to see rich foliage in Glenwood Springs is via the Red Mountain-Jean Golay Trailhead.

It’s a relatively moderate hike that allows hikers of all skill levels to appreciate, taking about 4-5 miles total.

As you explore its trials, you’ll see beautiful red rocks that make Colorado famous, along with lush vegetation all throughout.

During fall, there’s a unique allure to see all this red vibrance merge together—a picturesque opportunity that you’ll be hard-pressed to miss out on.

Red Mountain-Jean Golay Trailhead can be accessed along West 9th Street.

Experience the Colorado Park at Two Rivers Park

Two Rivers Park is one of the most picturesque spots in Glenwood Springs that you can’t afford to miss.

It’s a fantastic riverfront park that gives you sweeping views of the Colorado River, along with its surrounding nature.

This is a popular place to do all sorts of recreational activities, such as riverside biking and launching boats to do some rafting.

If you’re feeling sociable, there’s a chance you might stumble upon a live concert here during your visit, so go check out its promenade.

Conveniently located along Devereux Road, Two Rivers Park is an amazing spot to enjoy nature in Glenwood Springs.

Final Thoughts

Glenwood Springs is true to its name.

It’s a famous longstanding tourist spot, which still presents a timeless nature escape for travelers.

The city also has interesting historical events that add to its unique appeal.

It also offers a wide array of outdoor activities, thrilling attractions, and natural wonders to give you a memorable vacation.

Pack your bags and go on your Glenwood Springs holiday.

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