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If all you know about Glenwood Springs is that it rests at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers and is cradled by the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and red sandstone cliffs of Glenwood Canyon, you’d agree it had won the geographical lottery. But this town’s main draw originates below the surface: powerful geothermal activity. Starting in the 1880s, savvy landowners realized the naturally heated water that flowed from below ground was a tourism boon, and this pretty place has been a vacationland ever since. Visitors and locals alike luxuriate year-round in steaming pools amidst the breathtaking Colorado landscape. In the winter, nearby Sunlight Ski Resort comes to life with skiers and snowboarders navigating its 730 acres of powder and 2,000-foot vertical drop. Located about an hour from both Vail and Aspen, Glenwood Springs — with its historic and urbane downtown — has become a favored base for exploring Colorado’s ski hubs.
Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), located 27 miles from Glenwood Springs in Gypsum, is the closest airport. You may find more flight options at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) in Aspen, which is about 40 miles away. Public transportation, shuttles, taxis, and rental cars are available at both. Rideshares service Aspen, but not Eagle County. If you plan to explore the high country or visit nearby towns, a car will be the most convenient and flexible option. The town itself is pedestrian friendly, and Ride Glenwood Springs buses make stops throughout and connect to Roaring Forks Transportation Authority routes that service communities within the valley.
Summer days are warm and sunny, perfect for outdoor recreation. The town bustles with outdoor enthusiasts and their bikes, kayaks, and four-wheel drives. Thanks to its alpine climate, the heat is typically mild, and evenings can be cool even during warmer months. Things cool down in the fall, and winter brings snow, kicking off a second high season of ski enthusiasts. Spring comes earlier here than in some parts of the state, and temperatures start perking up in May. There are several privately operated hot springs in town that stay open year-round, meaning you can bathe outdoors amid snow-capped trees or under the blazing sun.
This resort offers 16 geothermal pools on a terraced hillside overlooking the Colorado River. Filled with natural mineral waters and heated from 98 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit, these pools reside in a quiet zone to maximize relaxation. The grounds include a bathhouse with changing rooms, lockers, and showers as well as a restaurant where you can fuel up after soaking all day.
This kitschy theme park claims to be the only one in the United States perched atop a mountain. You’ll find thrill rides set against the backdrop of the Rockies here, but perhaps the most compelling attraction is the network of caves it's built around. Park passes include tours of the caverns and the ornate formations within, such as stalactites, stalagmites, underground canyons, and colorful rocks tinted by hot thermal waters.
Glenwood Springs may be most famous for its hot thermal waters, but the grand Colorado River deserves your attention as well. Joining a whitewater rafting trip is a unique way to see the local landscape, as you paddle past the steep walls of Glenwood Canyon. This stretch of the river is ideal for novices, as the Shoshone Rapids that shoot rafters into the placid canyon stretch are thrilling but manageable. Several local tour operators offer guided day trips.