There are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities in and around Glenwood Springs. Stop at the chamber office or contact the White River National Forest, 900 Grand Ave. (tel. 970/945-2521; www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver), or the Bureau of Land Management, 50629 U.S. 6 and U.S. 24 (tel. 970/947-2800; www.co.blm.gov), for maps and other information.
A busy local shop where you can get information on the best spots for hiking, mountain climbing, rock climbing, kayaking, camping, and cross-country skiing is Summit Canyon Mountaineering, 732 Grand Ave. (tel. 800/360-6994 or 970/945-6994; www.summitcanyon.com), which also sells and rents cross-country ski gear, tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks.
Biking options abound here. The new 44-mile Rio Grande Trail connects Glenwood Springs and Aspen, a paved bike trail runs from the Yampah Vapor Caves into Glenwood Canyon, and trails and four-wheel-drive roads in the adjacent White River National Forest are ideal for mountain bikers. You'll find bike rentals (about $25-$65 per day) in town at Canyon Bikes, at the Hotel Colorado, 526 Pine St. (tel. 800/439-3043 or 970/945-8904; www.canyonbikes.com), which also offers a shuttle service, and Sunlight Mountain Ski & Bike Shop, 309 Ninth St. (tel. 970/945-9425; www.sunlightmtn.com), which also offers repairs.
Brown and rainbow trout are caught in the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers, and fishing for rainbow and brook trout is often good in the Crystal River above the community of Redstone. Get licenses, equipment, and advice from Roaring Fork Anglers, 2114 B Grand Ave. (tel. 800/781-8120 or 970/945-0180; www.rfanglers.com), who have offered guided fly-fishing trips since 1975. Rates for one or two people on a full-day float trip are $435, including lunch; a full-day wading trip, including lunch, is $295 for one and $360 for two. Half-day trips are available, and Roaring Fork also has 4 miles of private waters.
Glenwood Springs Golf Club, 193 Sunny Acres Rd. (tel. 970/945-7086; www.glenwoodgolf.com), is a 9-hole course, with fees of $22 for 9 holes and $37 for 18 holes. Some 27 miles west of Glenwood Springs, near Rifle, is the championship 18-hole Rifle Creek Golf Club, at 3004 Colo. 325, off I-70 exit 90 (tel. 970/625-1093), which charges $23 for 9 holes and $41 for 18 holes, not including cart rental.
Fans of miniature golf will discover two beautifully landscaped 18-hole water-obstacle courses at Johnson Park Miniature Golf, 51579 U.S. 6 and U.S. 24, in West Glenwood Springs (tel. 970/945-9608). Open April through October, rates for 18 holes are $6 for adults and $5 for children under 12 and seniors over 60. The Glenwood Hot Springs resort also has a miniature golf course, with rates of $6 for adults and $4 for kids under 12.
There are plenty of hiking opportunities in the area. Ask the national forest office for free Recreational Opportunity Guide (ROG) sheets for many local trails. The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association offers a free map showing a variety of trails in the area, with trail heads marked.
One popular trek is the Doc Holliday Trail, a .5-mile climb from 13th and Bennett streets to an old cemetery that contains the grave of notorious gunslinger Doc Holliday. Hikers will also find numerous trail heads along the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail in Glenwood Canyon, with some of the best scenery in the area. Among them, Hanging Lake Trail, 9 miles east of Glenwood Springs off I-70, is especially popular. The trail head is accessible from eastbound I-70; westbound travelers must make a U-turn and backtrack a few miles to reach the parking area. The trail climbs 1,000 feet in 1 mile -- allow several hours for the round-trip -- and just beyond Hanging Lake is Spouting Rock, with an underground spring shooting out of a hole in the limestone cliff. Dogs, swimming, and fishing are forbidden. The Grizzly Creek Trail is in the Grizzly Creek Rest Area, along I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, where there is also a launching area for rafts and kayaks. The trail climbs along the creek, past wildflowers and dogwood trees.
Explore the high country around Glenwood Springs in an open-air jeep. The knowledgeable and friendly guides at Rock Gardens (tel. 800/958-6737 or 970/945-6737; www.rockgardens.com) will show you some breathtaking views -- don't forget your camera -- and share with you some of the history and wildlife of the area. Half-day trips cost $49 to $55 per person.
Bouncing down the rapids through magnificent Glenwood Canyon is certainly one of the best ways to see this spectacular country. Companies offering raft trips include Blue Sky Adventures, at the Hotel Colorado at 319 Sixth St. ([tel] 877/945-6605 or 970/945-6605; www.blueskyadventure.com), which offers rafting on the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers. A popular full-day trip through the whitewater of Shoshone Rapids costs $88 for adults and $68 for kids, including a hot barbecue lunch. Half-day trips are also available.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Sunlight Mountain Resort ([tel] 800/445-7931 or 970/945-7491; www.sunlightmtn.com), is located 10 miles south of Glenwood Springs. Geared toward families, Sunlight has 680 skiable acres and a 2,010-foot vertical drop from its 9,895-foot summit; it’s served by one triple and two double chairlifts and a ski-school surface lift. There are 67 runs, rated 20 percent beginner, 55 percent intermediate, 20 percent advanced, and 5 percent expert. The ski area is usually open from early December to early April daily from 9am to 4pm. A full-day lift ticket (2013–14 rates) cost $57 for adults, $45 for children 6 to 12 and seniors 65 to 79, and free for seniors 80 and over and kids 5 and under. There are also a terrain park and 10 miles of groomed Nordic trails; the latter is accessible free of charge. Rentals are available on the mountain or Sunlight Mountain Ski & Bike Shop, 309 Ninth St. in downtown Glenwood Springs ([tel] 970/945-9425).
The Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail, running 120 miles from Glenwood's local ski area to Grand Junction's, on the Grand Mesa, is the longest multiuse winter recreational trail in Colorado, traversing White River and Grand Mesa national forests. It is fully marked and continuously groomed. Other trails can be accessed from the end of C.R. 11, 2 miles beyond Sunlight Mountain Resort and 12 miles south of Glenwood Springs. For information and rentals, contact the resort.
Underground Fantasy & Above-Ground Thrills
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has something for everyone, from magnificent historic caves to a thrilling tram ride, plus horseback and mechanical bull rides, an alpine coaster (sort of like a roller-coaster ride through the mountains), a giant swing, a climbing wall, and chuck-wagon dinner shows. The centerpiece of this park is the historic Fairy Caves, which were a major tourist attraction in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The caves were a sight to see -- numerous stalactites and stalagmites, needles, gypsum flowers, bacon, soda straws, and other delicate and colorful formations, illuminated by electric lights -- all for the 1897 price of 50¢. Visitors would either walk to the caves' entrance or ride a burro.
Closed since the outbreak of World War I in 1917, the Fairy Caves were reopened to the public in 1999, along with a section of the caves that remained undiscovered until more recent times. The cave temperature remains a constant 52°F (11°C) year-round, so you'll probably want a light jacket even on the hottest summer day. Since you'll also be traversing some 127 stairs, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. New trails, hand rails, and lighting have been installed for the 1-hour guided Cave Tour, which covers a half-mile and costs $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and older, and $15 for children 3 to 12.
Most of the caves have been left in as natural a state as possible for the guided 3- to 4-hour Wild Tour, which is for small groups of physically fit individuals who don't mind crawling on their stomachs through dirty narrow passages wearing knee pads and helmet lights. Participants must be at least 13 years old, and a parent or guardian must accompany each youth from 13 to 17. Reservations are required. Cost is $60 per person.
Eight six-person gondolas rise 1,400 feet from the valley floor up the side of Iron Mountain. The tram ride provides panoramic views all the way to the top, where there are a visitor center, gift shop, moderately difficult nature trail, good food, plus Discovery Rock (extra fee) -- a place for kids to pan for jewels and unearth fossils. Tram rides cost $10 for adults, $9 for seniors 65 and up, and $7 for kids 3 to 12, and a tram ride is included in the cave tours.
Now a variety of other family activities has been added, including horseback riding (summer only), mechanical bull riding, an alpine coaster and various other rides, and rock climbing. There are a restaurant and gift shop, and chuck-wagon dinner shows during the summer. For details, including the current schedule and all activity fees, contact Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, 51000 Two Rivers Plaza Rd., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 (tel. 800/530-1635 or 970/945-4228; www.glenwoodcaverns.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.