Trip Report: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

This Summer I had the opportunity to take a road trip out to Colorado from Texas. Along the way I camped and hiked some of the State’s beautiful mountainous trails, but I had my heart set on one thrilling destination, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, about 160 miles west of Denver. The park sits atop a mountain at 7,100 ft and houses some of the most thrilling attractions and cave tours.

The park originated as a cave tour destination in the 1895, but was later closed to the public in 1917. In 1999, Steve and Jeanne Beckley, who own the land the cave is on, opened the cave back to public after restoration work. The caverns were accessed by bus using a small building next to the Hotel Colorado as a base. In 2002 the Beckley’s gain approval to build a massive expansion. The centerpiece would be a pulse gondola built by Poma and a visitor center at the top of the mountain including a restaurant. The tramway would allow year round access to the caverns. A large sluice box and gift shop were also available to the public. The expansion proved to be a massive success attracting 150,000 people before the one-year anniversary.

Due to the tramway increasing uphill capacity, lines for the cave tours became increasingly long. In order to provide something to do while waiting for the cave tours, the park decided to add attractions. The major attractions include some kiddie rides, North America’s first Alpine Coaster, a zip line ride, a swing style attraction,  S&S Power Screamin’ Swing, S&MC Windstorm, and a 4D theater. This year the park opened up their newest attraction, the Haunted Mine Drop.  The drop tower is the first in the world to drop underground and features heavy themeing in addition to the 110 foot drop.

The Haunted Min Drop has to be one of the scariest drop towers I’ve ever been on. The show building displays several posters declaring the mine is hiring new workers. Throughout the queue you get a instructional video, giving new potential hires a run through on how “safe” the mine is. The loading platform features a car with about 10 seats in a row facing a empty mine shaft. The only restraints are two seat belts that go over your lap. After the mine attendant checks your seat belt you get visited by a miner who gives you some back story. After his short tale, you realize that the whole time the floor underneath you has been retracted, and you fall, into the mine shaft. In the pitch black darkness. With nothing to hold onto. For what seems to be eternity. You finally reach the bottom, and you get the rest of the story before ascending back up the now lantern lit mine shaft. The whole ride experience is one that you’ll never forget. It’s fun, its terrifying, its one, if you’re brave enough, that you can ride over and over again.

The next ride that I faced on my visit, was the Giant Canyon Swing. The S&S Sceamin’ Swing is located about 1,300 feet above Colorado River and has been featured on numerous TV shows.

The Giant Swing is one of the most intense rides I’ve ever been on. The swing holds four people sitting back to back with one side facing out toward the canyon and the other toward the park.The swing structure is 50 feet (15 m) tall and has a maximum arc of 122°. The riders with a starting position facing the park eventually get a face down view of the canyon below.

The one side of the ride does offer an on ride video, which you can purchase for 20 dollars. I had no idea that my ride was being captured and the fearfulness was genuine. This ride is a must ride for anyone looking for that next heart pounding thrill.

Glenwood Caverns is home to North America’s first alpine coaster, a Wiegand Alpine Coaster. This was my first alpine coaster, and I didn’t know what to expect.

With an alpine coaster you control your own speed and your brakes too. So weather you want to go a slower pace or fly down the mountain you control the speed.

The whole coarse has turns and hills to fly over. The ride starts at the top of the hill and you soar down it, going up and over  and around the terrain. The ride ends and you are taken back up to the top of the mountain via a lift hill.

The park also has two other coasters. The first one being Cliffhanger, a S&MC Windstorm. It currently boosts the title for the highest-elevation full-sized roller coaster in the U.S. This model was relocated from Celebration City in Branson MO.

The other coaster is a Zierer Kiddie Coaster, Wild West Express Coaster. I of course had to ride it. The ride operator was really cool about it and let me go through four ride cycles.

If the Canyon Swing is too intense for you or if you need something to build up your courage you can take a spin on the Canyon Flyer. The Canyon Swing is a SBF/Visa Custom Swing that swings out over the canyon while you feel the breeze in your hair. If you don’t look down, it’s a pretty relaxing ride.

The cool thing about this park is that the thrill rides actually sit above a vast collection of caverns below. With the price of admission you can tour three different cave systems. One tour is a little more intense and allows visitors to climb into smaller spaces for around three hours. The other two cave tours are approximately 40 minutes. 

I opted for the Kings Row Tour, which is one of the short 40 minute tours. Formally the second half of the original cave tour prior to 2013, this tour predominantly features two rooms, The Barn and Kings Row which are in the middle section of the cave.

Guest enter through the bore before entering the top of The Barn. The tour is more focused on formations and cave geology as guest descend 127 stairs to the bottom of The Barn. At the bottom is the entrance to Kings Row.

Here guides will point out the many features of what is the most decorated cave room in the state with an accompanying light show. Part of the show highlights the caves bio-luminescence. The guest will then proceed slowly back to the start of the tour.

Because of time restraints I was not able to do either of the other two tours, but I really enjoyed the one I did. The information given was entertaining, and the passages where easy to navigate. The rock formations were gorgeous. If you had to choose, do the Kings Row Cave Tour.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park was one of the coolest parks  I’ve ever been to. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the park, and look forward to going back soon. I highly recommend anyone going to Colorado to face their fears and visit this Adrenalin pumping high altitude adventure park.

For more information regarding pricing and directions please visit http://www.glenwoodcaverns.com/

Thank you for checking out my trip report!

 

 

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