Asher on Aspen: Wonders of Being a Kid

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I decided to surprise my 12- and 13-year-old cousins with a thrill-seeking day of adventure. They had no idea what was in store for them and making them guess what we were doing made it that much more fun. After a puzzling game of 20 questions, they eventually guessed it correctly. Their joy and excitement once they discovered what we were doing was so pure.

Our destination required a commute on a six-person gondola ride that transported us to the top of the mountain. During the stunning eight-minute ride, we busted out the park map that was given to us upon arrival. Eagerly planning our day, we outlined exactly what our time would look like at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. My cousins, Charlie and David, were beyond thrilled. We hadn’t spent quality time together in a long time, and this whimsical adventure park sounded like the perfect place to do just that.

Situated at 7,100 feet above sea level in Glenwood Springs, it is America’s only mountain-top theme park. The location itself is part of what makes this surreal escape so unique. We stepped out of the gondola and were immediately transported into a wacky Western world of cowboys, saloons and calliope music. To begin the day, we decided to start with the alpine coaster—a safe choice as we had all ridden one before so we knew what to expect. I pressed all the way down on the throttle to ensure absolute speed. My hair blew wildly behind me as we winded through trees and brush while cruising down the mountain.

Next, we strolled over to the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride. With nothing but a bar across our waist, David and I zipped through the sky with our hands held way up high. Our feet dangled carelessly beneath us while we took in the jaw-dropping views now completely surrounding us. I immediately fell in love with this ride and its relaxing yet thrilling nature.

Perhaps the most scream-inducing ride that the park has to offer is the colossal roller coaster, the Cliffhanger. This ride literally hangs over the edge of a cliff and it calls for only the bravest daredevils. I’ve never been a huge roller coaster person, as I’ve always despised the nauseous feeling that overcomes me once it’s over, but I promised my cousins I would give it a whirl. It wasn’t until I climbed into the coaster with David and lowered the bar that I realized I wasn’t the only one who was nervous.

The workers warned us sternly not to put our hands up in the air as this was an extremely low-clearance ride, and there have been issues in the past with people getting hurt. This not-so-pretty visual worsened the anxiety-filled seconds that led up to our departure. David ended up loving the thrill and the way it made his stomach drop but I, on the other hand, told the boys I would never do that again. Sure, the views were stunning—or at least I think they were. But frankly, I wasn’t able to enjoy them because I was constantly getting jerked around and thrown in different directions. I understand how some would enjoy this, but I just don’t think roller coasters are the ride for me.

Just around the corner was the Glenwood Canyon Flyer (picture the scene from “The Sandlot” where the boys get sick on the swings at the fairgrounds). Thankfully, the ride didn’t go quite as fast as we imagined, which allowed us more time to soak in the scenery. Positioned right on the edge of a canyon, we looked down and saw the magnificent Colorado River sitting just 1,300 feet below us. Charlie and I looked at each other in absolute awe—no words were needed.

After we filled up on barbeque from The Smokehouse, we opted for a game of laser tag. It has been at least 10 years since I’d played, and I had forgotten how much fun it was. There were all sorts of obstacles and props for us to hide behind while attempting to dodge other people and avoid getting hit. I found myself laughing hysterically while trying to run away from these random people chasing me. The boys and I walked out laughing and comparing stories. Admittedly, it was also nice to cool off for a moment and ditch the heat.

Before leaving, we decided our day wouldn’t be complete without ice cream cones. I felt like a total kid again and fully embraced it. For the mere four hours we were there, I had no worries and no stress. Our biggest concern that day was which flavor of ice cream we planned on ordering. I must admit, it’s nice every once in a while to slow things down and experience life from a kid’s point of view. Thank you, Glenwood Caverns, for bringing out the inner kid in us all.