Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Glenwood Springs is situated in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado near popular destinations as Aspen and Colorado Springs. Historically, Glenwood Springs has been most visited by residents of other parts of Colorado, but tourism from the rest of America and the world has been the most rapid source of growth recently.
Defiance, a name sometimes still used by local teams or businesses was the original name for Glenwood Springs. Defiance was established in 1883, a camp of tents, saloons, and brothels with an increasing amount of cabins and lodging establishments. It was populated with the expected crowd of gamblers, gunslingers, and prostitutes. Town Founder Isaac Cooper's wife Sarah was having a hard time adjusting to the frontier life and, in an attempt to make her environment somewhat more comfortable, persuaded the founders to change the name to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, after her beloved hometown of Glenwood, Iowa.
Glenwood Springs is located in the narrow mountain valleys that host the confluence of the Colorado River and the Roaring Fork River. The surrounding terrain is steeply contoured on all sides, with numerous caves and extensive geothermal highlights including the world's largest hot spring's pool.
We had only a half day in Glenwood Springs so squeezed in a trip the the famous hot springs and the short hike to visit Doc Holliday's graves site. Below are just a few more options when visiting for the day:
Things to Do In Glenwood Springs
Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon
One of the most popular hikes in the region is the Hanging Lake hike which takes one up 1.2 miles on a steep trail to see one of the areas most beautiful scenes – a still mountain lake with a gentle streaming waterfall. You will need a permit to hike this trail, as they are currently limiting traffic to maintain and protect he fragile eco-system. Permits are $12 per person and can be purchased at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center or by contacting them at 970-384-6309
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
This western-themed adventure park will keep you children and teens entertained and thrilled from dawn 'til dusk. There are some exciting thrill rides as well as some kid-friendly rides to entertain all ages. And for those looking for a more relaxed adventure you can find the 40 minute Glenwood Caverns Tour here as well which takes you deep into caverns to explore the earth from the inside out!
Glenwood Hot Springs
The most famous hot springs in town is the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Spa, home of the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. The historic thermal spring water has been drawing visitors from all over the world since 1888. The source of the Glenwood Hot Springs’ mineral water is the Yampah spring which produces over 3.5 million gallons of water per day at a temperature of 122°F.
We found the Glenwood Hotsprings Resort pool tickets the most expensive we have ever encountered when visiting a hot spring at nearly $30 US per person. And even though it boasts itself as historic and the world's largest, we found that the history of the building has been taken away – much to do about gifts and 1980s decorations and the pool itself, was just that – a pool, that was poorly maintained. I would rate this hot springs on the bottom of the list of hot springs we have visited.
There two other hot springs attractions we would recommend you check out instead - Iron Mountain Hot Springs and The Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves. Each are, again, very pricey at $25 and $30 and up US.
Doc Holliday Grave Site Trail
Glenwood Springs most famous outlaw rests somewhere in Linwood Cemetery, though no one knows the exact location. A short hike takes one up to the cemetery where a gravestone and marker is placed to remember Doc Holliday.
The dentist turned gambler and gunslinger died from tuberculosis in Glenwood Springs in November of 1887. The famous friend of lawman Wyatt Earp, Doc hoped the hot springs water would alleviate his pain while he gambled in town. He died at age 36. The life and times of John Henry “Doc” Holliday have become the stuff of American legend and folklore.
No visit to Glenwood Springs would be complete without a trek to his marker in Linwood Cemetery which is easy to find thanks to the signs that point the way. The marker is typically adorned with mementos including coins and playing cards. Another famous outlaw is also resting in the Linwood Cemetery – that of Kid Curry, one of the Wild Bunch's gun hand. His marker is just a short walk from Doc Holliday's grave.
Where to Stay in Glenwood Springs
There are many options when choosing accommodations in Glenwood Springs, from high-end resorts to camping and hostels. The prices in Glenwood Springs tend to rise and fall with the amount of tourists expected for each season. In winter, due to the proximity of ski resort towns like Aspen and Vail, the room prices are inflated and often fully booked. Spring, Summer and Fall are likewise busy, but the prices are more reasonable during these months.
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