Glenwood Springs is an amazingly cute town nestled in the mountains of Western Colorado. Naturally beautiful surroundings create wonderful views and offers more things to do than you might realize. While the town is relatively small, Glenwood Springs packs a punch. Visitors find plenty of outdoor activities, as well as great dining, a charming downtown area and more.
Glenwood Springs is located high in the Rocky Mountains about 2.5 hours west of Denver, Colorado. As one of the largest airports in the country, there are plenty of flight options into Denver International Airport. From there, visitors can rent cars and make the trek down I-70. Other options include Amtrak and even the brand-new Rocky Mountaineer train. This particular area of the state is also especially popular because of nearby high-end ski towns like Aspen and Vail. Luckily, that means there are a variety of regional airports in the area, but flights aren’t as plentiful as with flying into Denver. Unless you take a train, some travel by car or bus will be necessary.
Our particular route to Glenwood Springs took us south down winding Colorado 2-lane highways through Rifle. From there we made our way east on I-70. No matter which way you go, this truly is a beautiful area!
Once you get to this charming town, you’ll be flooded with the variety of things to do. For its small population, the offerings are plentiful! We spent just shy of a week here and still didn’t have enough time. To help you narrow down your selections, we are sharing our top things to do in Glenwood Springs.
Visit Glenwood Hot Springs
We were lucky to spend a few nights at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. This hotel property is adjacent to the town’s main hot springs and allows unlimited access. If you’re not lucky enough to secure a room here, you can still purchase day passes to the hot springs. Either way, you don’t want to miss this pool.
Glenwood Hot Springs is the largest mineral hot springs pool in the world! The size of this pool truly is impressive. And, the temperatures are ideal! The large pool is perfect for swimming laps, water aerobics or just splashing around. It is 90 degrees. The small therapeutic pool is 104 degrees. This is the perfect way to relax away all of your aches and pains. Whether you choose to splash the day away in the large pool or take a restorative soak in the therapeutic pool, you will come of out the water feeling replenished. The minerals in the water contain a variety of health benefits.
For a little extra fun, be sure not to miss the Shoshone Chutes! This innertube slide bounces you down natural looking rock formations before splashing into a separate shallow pool. This area has a splash pad too!
Glenwood Springs is surrounded by mountains and is a hiker’s dream. No matter which way you look, there are abundant hiking trails cutting through dense trees. While there are so many to choose from to suit individual ability levels, we chose to embark on a very special hike. Located just a few miles out of town is Storm King Mountain. This trail’s notoriety dates back to 1994 when 14 firefighters lost their lives on this mountain.
We arrived at the trail early in the morning, which is advisable due to the length, weather, and exposure factors. This out and back trail is steep and the hike is moving. Working up the mountain, charred trees from the fire are still visible. Just over a mile into the hike, there is an observation area that offers a glimpse of the challenges faced. Here, you can reflect on the hardship these firefighters faced. Looking over the terrain, hikers get the first glimpse of their plight. At this point, you can choose to either make your way back down the trail or carry on further towards the memorials.
Working towards the memorials is quite challenging. In some areas, it is downright treacherous and the trail is not as clearly marked as the first half. Use extreme caution if you choose to pursue this path. It is impossible not to think of the dire circumstances these firefighters faced as they navigated this area laden with so much gear. Reaching the memorial sites on the next ridge was very emotional. Coming upon so many headstones (14 in total) with years’ worth of mementos and tributes brought tears to my eyes.
My hubby reached the memorial site much faster than I did. I took my time on the trail to contemplate the situation and take photos. Plus I am just slower, especially on terrain like this! All in all, our time on the trail was exactly three hours as we spent time paying our respects and did not rush quickly back down the trail. To do this hike, make sure you are properly outfitted and well-prepared. There is cell service for most of the hike, but you will still want to take proper precautions.
Play A Round Of Golf
Glenwood Springs has two great golf courses. In fact, we played both courses in one day. We started our morning at the Glenwood Springs Golf Club. This course is located right in town and made of relatively short straight holes and tree-lined fairways. We were pleasantly surprised at how affordable this course is.
For the afternoon, we headed about 15 minutes south on Highway 82 to play at the beautiful Ironbridge Golf Club. This course was pretty fancy. But, we since played in the late afternoon on a super hot day, we nearly had the place to ourselves. No intimidation factor at all! Both courses are lovely and a great way to take in the natural surroundings of this area.
Relax At Iron Mountain Hot Springs
For something so hot, this place sure is cool! Iron Mountain Hot Springs is a beautiful facility with a selection of 16 mineral pools. They vary in size and temperature. Nestled on the banks of the Colorado River, this is the perfect place to spend a few hours. We visited in the evening, making this the perfect night out.
As we sunk deeper into one of the first pools shortly after arrival, we heard some excitement from fellow visitors. We looked out to see a bear running down the river bank as the sun set behind the mountains in the distance. It was a perfect moment!
The facility offers light food and drink options, plus a gift shop. You can also rent towels and lockers for a small fee if needed. We placed our items in a bag on one several towel tree racks scattered around the area instead with no issues. Just be sure to purchase your entry tickets in advance. Iron Mountain Hot Springs is incredibly popular and sells out. Plus, reservations are required. Advanced purchase also allows the opportunity to find online discount codes.
You will also want to bring older, darker color swimwear and leave jewelry (yes even diamond rings) at your hotel. Minerals in the water can tarnish jewelry and discolor swimsuits.
Hang Out In Downtown Glenwood Springs
Downtown Glenwood Springs is another favorite spot. We loved the vibe in this area. Highlighting another creative use of space is Bethel Plaza. This section of reimagined underpass for the busy road above is incredible! Honestly, we’ve never seen anything quite like this area in any of our travels.
There were so many great restaurants, fun shops, breweries and other places to check out. We came downtown for dinner every night and almost every lunch as well. Plus, the pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River and the nearby train station made this the place to be in Glenwood Springs!
Since we mentioned restaurants its important to know that Glenwood Springs has amazing food! Restaurant Row is incredibly popular and it is easy to see why. There really isn’t enough time in a week’s vacation to eat at all the great restaurants in the area. Many of these spots offer open-air dining and have drool-worthy menus. If you’re not sure where to start, these are the places we recommend based on our experiences:
- Italian Underground
- Mama’s Perogies
- Slope and Hatch
- Juicy Lucy Steakhouse
- Ming’s Cafe
- Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub
- Casey Brewing Company
Several places are closed on Mondays, so be sure to plan your dining selections accordingly. We know we missed a lot of great spots in town, but that just gives us a reason to go back to Glenwood Springs some day.
Our time in Glenwood Springs was filled with fun things and great food! These are the best things we found based on our time there. If we would have had a bit more time, there was plenty more we could have done. River rafting and a visit to the vapor caves will be on our list for our next trip.