Glenwood Springs looking forward to a more normal tourism season

Business leaders prep attractions to meet pent-up travel demand

A pool goer jumps from the diving board at the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool on a warm spring afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Cross your heart, throw salt over the shoulder and bow your head for a moment in silence, Glenwood Springs summer tourism season is looking strong — barring any natural disasters, interstate closures or historic weather events.

Reservations for the area are healthy heading into the first week of the summer season, Visit Glenwood Springs Director of Tourism Lisa Langer said.

“The tourism outlook is looking very strong this year,” Langer said. “We opened Hanging Lake reservations Monday, and in the first four-and-a-half hours we received about 1,600 reservations for about 5,000 hikers.”

Of those reservations, she said about 26% indicated they would stay in Glenwood Springs during their visit.

Following closures as a result of debris slides in 2021, Hanging Lake hiking trips open June 25. Langer advised anyone interested in visiting the scenic hideaway to make reservations soon, because they fill up fast.

“This is also going to be a good season for rafting,” she said. “The changes in the Colorado River as a result of the rockslide mitigation efforts should make it fun to re-learn that stretch of the river.”

Running from April through October, the Rocky Mountaineer — a luxury passenger train ride from Denver to Moab, Utah — is beginning its first full year of service in 2022.

“In 2021, they did an introductory run, and we’re really glad to see them running a full season this year,” Langer said.

On both directions of the Rocky Mountaineer’s two-day trip through the mountains, the train stops overnight in Glenwood Springs.

“It’s a great way to visit, because you don’t have to worry about parking downtown or dealing with Interstate 70 traffic,” Langer said. “We’re a green city, powered by 100% sustainable energy, and this is a great way to contribute to those efforts, lowering our carbon footprint as a whole.”

Across the river from the train station, the Hotel Colorado is opening its outdoor patio restaurant and kicking off summer with live music.

“This will be our first year with both the outside and inside bars open on Fridays and Saturdays,” Hotel President Christian Henny said.

On Thursdays, the hotel will host live entertainment outdoors from 7-9 p.m. as well as live music indoors from 9-11 p.m.

“With gas prices and inflation high, I think this is a great year to visit Glenwood by train and explore the destinations closer to home,” Henny said.

Next door at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, Sales and Marketing Manager Jay Moore said his staff is looking forward to an exemplary tourism season at the pool.

“Our vacancies at our lodge are staying nearly booked out,” Moore said. “But it’s getting a little harder to predict the late season. People seem to be taking more impromptu trips this year.”

As a result of the pandemic and uncertainty within the economy, as well as local health restrictions, tourists have not scheduled their vacations as far ahead as they did before the pandemic, he said. While visitation remains strong, Moore said the behavior makes predicting tourism seasons difficult.

For those visitors and locals in town for the holiday weekend, however, Moore said the resort is returning several amenities to a full-schedule, including the Splash Zone and Shoshone Chutes.

“Our bathhouse renovation is 100% complete as of last Friday,” he said. “And our therapy pool renovation is nearing completion.”

Above and below, the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Iron Mountain Hot Springs have plenty of new offerings coming online in 2022, Marketing and Sales Manager Kate Henion said.

“We are super thrilled about the upcoming tourism season,” Henion said.

“Coming away from wildfires, mudslides and COVID, people are really eager to get outside, and we have a lot to offer.”

At the Adventure Park, a new roller coaster, the Defiance, is scheduled to open in July. The ride features the steepest freefall in the western U.S., a 98-foot twisted top hat switch, a 111-foot banana roll and a 41-foot Zero-G heartline-roll, Henion said.

Defiance is being constructed at 7,160 feet above sea level, making it the highest looping roller coaster in the country.

Additionally, the park plans to host more than 65 days of live music with more than 25 artists, Henion added.

Relaxing at the hot springs could get even easier in the coming months as Iron Mountain constructs 10 additional mineral pools, a cold plunge and a new freshwater area. The new area, which could be finished by fall, is slated to be for adults 21 and older.

“We are accepting walk-ins,” Henion said. “But we don’t want people to run into issues as we get booked up, so we’re encouraging guests to make reservations.”

Hiking, biking, rafting, swimming, soaking, dining are all on tap this summer in Glenwood — but wait, there’s more.

Rallye Glenwood Springs, hosted by MG Car Club, is celebrating its 70th anniversary June 10-12 as the oldest, continually held, time-speed-distance rally in the United States.

“This wonderful car club out of the Front Range has made Glenwood their home for 70 years,” Langer said.

Strawberry Days, a free community festival paying homage to the fruit growers of the area, is celebrating its 125th anniversary after a two-year, pandemic-related hiatus.

From June 17-19, the city comes together at Two Rivers Park for live entertainment, arts, crafts, a parade and free strawberries and ice cream.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing this back,” Langer said. “It symbolizes what this community is about: coming together, sharing and having fun.”