Anything that draws crowds after 120 years is worth experiencing. And while the Glenwood Hot Springs have been around for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the Ute Native Americans discovered the healthful benefits of the naturally heated mineral-rich waters in the 1880s that the hot spring pools became a destination. You can easily float away an entire weekend in the Glenwood Hot Springs pools, but tear yourself away to explore the quaint downtown, go spelunking in the Glenwood Caverns and indulge in a spa treatment (or several) at the Spa of the Rockies.
Start your day with breakfast at Sacred Grounds. Its popularity with the locals is a testament to its quality. Grab a cup of joe and breakfast on a bagel to go and drive to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The park has attractions for everyone. For ultimate thrill seekers, try the zip line, swing shot and canyon flyer alpine slide. Continue your extreme experience at the adventure park with a three-hour Wild Tour of the caverns. Expert spelunkers (cave explorers) will suit you up with a flashlight helmet and caving equipment then lead you to rarely visited recesses and rooms in the caverns.
There are plenty of attractions for children and adults who are not as enthusiastic about contorting themselves to fit into cavern crevices or descending hundreds of feet in seconds suspended by only a cable. If you’re looking for a less physically demanding cavern experience, enjoy the views from the park’s many decks while waiting for the 70-minute Cave Tour (no helmets or contorting required).
Afterwards, cruise back into town for lunch at Mancinelli’s Pizza for a cheesy, greasy and big New York style slice. Once part of a row of brick houses, it is now the lone building left standing. The New York City photography, exposed brick interior and shotgun-style layout give the restaurant character. From nearly all of the six tables in the restaurant you’ll have a pass-through view into the kitchen where 20-somethings whirl discs of pizza dough as big as truck tires. Mancinelli’s slice and a beer special can’t be beat.
A visit to Glenwood Springs isn’t complete without an overnight stay and by now it should be check-in time at the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge. The rooms are comfortable and spacious and most have private balconies. Once you’ve settled in, grab your swimsuit and head over to the hot springs bath house.
As guests of the Hot Springs Lodge you receive complimentary admission to the pool. The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is the largest outdoor mineral hot springs pool in the world. Over the course of 24 hours, 3.5 million gallons of spring water flows through and the pool currents naturally replace the entire volume of water every eight hours.
To get the full effect, immerse yourself in the large pool and work your way toward the smaller therapy pool. You will be moving from 90 to 104 degree water. If 104 isn’t hot enough for you, dip into the 122 degree Yampah Spring before walking through the crisp air to the bath house to change.
Enhance the benefits of soaking in the hot springs by heading next door to indulge in a Spa of the Rockies Mineral Massage. The recently opened spa, offers a mineral gel rub that is combined with fragrant massage oil to soothe aching muscles and joints. Heat is added to the experience to maximize healing and relaxation. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect capstone to your Glenwood Springs afternoon.
For dinner take a five minute walk across the footbridge that spans Interstate 70 and connects the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Lodge to the downtown district and make your way to the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub. Located just on the other side of the bridge, the pub grub is pleasantly tasty, especially when washed down with a Naughty Root beer (locally brewed root beer naughtied up with vanilla vodka).
After a day exploring caverns, relaxing and rejuvenating in healing pools, a massage and some great food, all that’s left to do is walk across the courtyard to the lodge, swipe the key to your hotel room and drift into a restful sleep.
But, don’t forget to start your next perfect day with a continental breakfast at the Hot Springs Grill in the Hot Springs Bathhouse – it’s included when you stay overnight at the lodge.
What and Where:
Sacred Grounds (725 Grand Ave; 970-928-8804)
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park (51000 Two Rivers Plaza Rd; 970-945-4228)
Mancinelli’s Pizza (172 W. 6th St., 970-928-9594)
Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and Pool (415 E. 6th St; 970-945-6571)
Spa of the Rockies (415 E. 6th St; 970-947-2955)
Glenwood Canyon Brewpub (402 7th St; 970-945-1276)
Maura O’Neal has lived in Denver for three years and is still finding new things to do in and around the Mile High City. When she is not out exploring her own neighborhood, she works as a flight attendant to support her international travel habit. Visit her blog at http://travelsabound.blogspot.com.