How to Explore Glenwood Springs, Colorado


Given its name, it’s little surprise that the mountain town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is best known for its hot springs. These natural waters flow from the earth, carrying muscle-soothing minerals; soaking in them is the ultimate way to end a day spent exploring the destination, which is a true hub for outdoor adventure. Mountain bikers have plentiful trails to explore just outside town, including Scout Trail (also known as Boy Scout Trail), which was first used by the Utes, the area’s Native people. Hikers flock to Hanging Lake Trail, a steep route that ends at a series of waterfalls cascading into emerald green water. Fly-fishers will find the longest stretch of Gold Medal Water (designated and ethical fisheries) in Colorado, with access to browns, brookies, cutthroats, and rainbow trout. 

In the winter, Glenwood Springs acts as a basecamp for skiers who come to play at the local Sunlight Mountain Resort, or one of the four mountains that make up Aspen Snowmass — this world-renowned ski town of Aspen is less than an hour away. Glenwood Springs is also just two and a half hours from the hustle and bustle of Denver.

In short, Glenwood Springs has it all — outdoor activities, stunning scenery, easy access to other Colorado hot spots, and some of the state’s most renowned hot springs. We’ve compiled all the information you’ll need to explore the area, including where to stay, what to do, where to eat, and most importantly, where to soak your weary limbs after a day of fun in the mountains.

Best Hotels & Resorts

The Hotel Denver

The Hotel Denver continually receives rave reviews from guests. One testimonial even states, “I wish we could give this place six stars for its warm atmosphere, friendly and helpful staff, and great brew pub and food!” The hotel dates back to 1915, but you wouldn’t know it from the modern decor and over-the-top amenities that include an on-site brewpub, boutique, and coffeeshop — all set within downtown Glenwood Springs.

Hotel Colorado

Hotel Colorado is legendary in the state — it first opened in 1893, has hosted the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft, and continues to offer a level of hospitality that is unparalleled in the area. Rooms are newly renovated and include both straightforward hotel-style rooms and multi-room suites with balconies.

Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge

If you come to Glenwood for the hot springs, look no further than Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge, which is part of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, home to the world’s largest hot springs pool. The lodge has standard rooms, premier rooms, and suites, and every stay includes breakfast and unlimited hot springs access.

Best Things to Do 

Soak in the hot springs.

The hot springs are easily Glenwood Springs’ biggest draw, and each of the city’s three pools offer something different. The Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is the oldest, having opened in 1888 as the world’s largest hot springs site (a title it still holds today). At Yampah Spa, guests relax in caves with natural vapor, set in underground rock chambers. The newest hot springs site to the Glenwood family is Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which sits on the Colorado River and has everything from adult-only pools to cold plunges and and “experience pool,” which replicates the mineral content of various hot springs around the world.

Visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Rather than a theme park, Glenwood Springs has an “adventure park,” where people can play atop the mountains surrounding town. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park can only be accessed by a scenic gondola ride that whisks visitors up the mountain. New to the park is Defiance, the highest looping roller coaster in the country; the ride can also boast about being the steepest free-fall drop in the Western U.S.

Hike Hanging Lake Trail.

Pictures, no matter how stunning, cannot do Hanging Lake justice. The National Natural Landmark is a blue-green body of water fed by stunning Bridal Veil Falls. Getting there requires some work — the trail to the lake is rocky and steep and hikers need to organize a permit to visit the popular site.

Raft on the Colorado River.

The city of Glenwood Springs is set around the Colorado River, which is itself a destination for summer recreation. The Glenwood Whitewater Activity Area has a G-wave that draws kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders, and the river, which travels through dramatic Glenwood Canyon, is a top place travelers interested in white-water rafting. 

Ski Sunlight, then Aspen Snowmass, too.

In the winter, everyone in the state of Colorado — Glenwood Springs included — turns their sights to the mountains. The city of Glenwood has its own ski area, Sunlight Mountain Resort, which remains relatively quiet and offers 72 ski trails across more than 700 acres. Once you’ve warmed up on the relatively small hills of Sunlight, make your way to Aspen Snowmass, a four-mountain resort that is often named one of the best in the world.

Best Restaurants

The Pullman

Glenwood Springs has its own “restaurant row,” which runs along 7th street in downtown. In this foodie haven, The Pullman is a must-try, with mouth-watering items like a Colorado wagyu burger and spinach dumplings, plus a hefty cocktail list. 

Riviera Scratch Kitchen

Riviera Scratch Kitchen, also known as Riviera Supper Club, has been a Glenwood Springs institution since it first opened in 1947. The restaurant has also won 18 locals’ choice awards, including best restaurant and best chef. The menu features a variety of salads and “sammiches,” as well as main courses like house made beef Wellington and a farmers’ market pasta.

Glenwood Canyon Brewpub

If you like to follow a hike, float, or ride with a beer, make your way to the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub. The brewery has received statewide recognition, including the distinction of being “Western Colorado’s most awarded brewery.” There are always 12 brews on tap, including a hard cider, and a menu with classic pub fare, from chicken wings and nachos to wedge salads and reubens.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Glenwood Springs is in August and September, when the weather cools, the crowds start to disperse, and prime hot springs season begins. Those who can push their trip to late September might also be treated to fall colors while they soak in one of the city’s many outdoor pools.

If the late-summer sweet spot isn’t in the cards, that's okay, too. Glenwood Springs is a year-round destination with skiing, snowshoeing, and fat-tire biking in the winter, then hiking, biking, and fly-fishing in the summer. The spring season is ideal for rafting and kayaking the Colorado River, and in June, the longstanding Strawberry Days Festival brings the whole community out for free live music, arts and craft vendors, and great eats.

How to Get There

The city of Glenwood Springs is built around Interstate 70, a major highway that traverses the state. The interstate makes the mountain community easy to get to from Denver and Denver International Airport, which are around two and a half hours away by car. Glenwood Springs is also near Eagle County Regional Airport (30 minutes), Grand Junction Regional Airport (1 hour 15 minutes), and Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (45 minutes). And if you want another non-driving option, consider booking a seat on Amtrak’s California Zephyr, which travels between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area daily and stops in both Denver and Glenwood Springs. Note that the route from Denver to Glenwood takes around 6 hours, so it’s certainly not a speedier choice.

How to Get Around

The best and easiest way to get around Glenwood Springs is by car, so if you’re flying, research car rental rates at your arrival airport. For car rentals in the city of Glenwood Springs, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the go-to service.

If you won’t be driving your own vehicle to Glenwood and aren’t interested in renting a car, check out the city’s public transport, Ride Glenwood Springs, or give the local taxi service, High Mountain Taxi, a call. More on each below.

Ride Glenwood Springs

The city’s public transportation is reliable, frequent, and free, and it runs daily from 6:53 a.m. to 7:53 p.m. at 30 minute intervals. The route connects the city’s biggest tourist attractions — including all three developed hot springs and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park — with downtown Glenwood Springs and the area’s big-box shops and malls. It also connects to regional transportation lines (including services to Aspen), Greyhound Bus Lines, and Amtrak.

High Mountain Taxi

This local service has made a name for themselves for providing daily transportation between Aspen and Snowmass, Glenwood Springs, and the Vail area. If you don’t want to rent a car, it’s your best bet for getting to and from local airports and around town — outside of Ride Glenwood Springs, of course.

+ There are no comments

Add yours