Written by Sarah Spalla
Nestled in Central Colorado, Glenwood Springs is a fantastic place to experience all that the centennial state has to offer, this unique Colorado town is located at the mouth of Glenwood Canyon. With many activities and sights to see some folks may overlook the greatest and most intimate way to truly experience Glenwood canyon…on a raft.
Within its towering canyon walls flows the mighty Colorado river, the source of life for most of the West. This ecological wonder begins its journey here in central Colorado, where many headwater streams converge to create one of the most significant rivers in the world. Most of its 1400-mile journey is a slow, steady, languid march to the coast. In a few unique spots however, gradient change and terrain can send it into a torrent of whitewater, releasing pure energy as the river tumbles over rocks and around bends. Glenwood canyon is one of these very special places.
If you are looking for a challenge, sign up to tackle the rapids of Glenwood canyon! The river offers trips from family friendly to more advanced. The river sees fluctuating river flows with spring and early summer seeing the highest and most challenging level while August sees slower flows with warmer weather and water temperatures.
For folks looking to have some bonding time with their family, check out the Grizzly Creek section. With stunning views and amazing wildlife viewing opportunities it’s a great choice for spending some quality time with the littles.
For some more whitewater action check out the Shoshone section, with over 15 rapids this trip delivers plenty of thrills! This large volume river offers lots of wave crashing action. you’ll have to work together as a team to successfully navigate the rapids. Under direction from your guide be ready to paddle hard!
2. Stunning scenery
One of the most unique things about rafting in Glenwood Canyon is the stunning scenery. With canyon walls reaching heights of 1300’ feet overhead the view is nothing short of spectacular. The canyon, which has historically provided the routes of railroads and highways through western Colorado, currently furnishes the routes of I -70 and the central corridor between Denver and Grand Junction. The canyon stretches from near Dotsero, where the Colorado receives the Eagle River, downstream in a west-southwest direction to just east of Glenwood Springs, on the mouth of the Roaring Fork. Wildlife sightings are common in the canyon, while elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep are common, you never know you might get lucky enough to spot an elusive black bear or mountain lion! If you raft in the later months of the season often the exceptional water clarity might allow for spotting rainbow and brown trout enjoying the calmer pools
3. Hot Springs
Long before people were splashing down rapids on the Colorado…and we mean LONG before, unique geologic action created many geothermal areas in Colorado. The same plate tectonics that give us the towering mountains and world class ski resorts also created the geologic wonder of Glenwood Springs, which has one of the most active mineral hot springs with many options of soaking your sore muscles after a day on the river.
The Historic Glenwood Hot Springs resort has been soothing minds and bodies since 1880. The soothing mineral waters of the world’s largest hot springs pool are a great start, but this unique and historic destination includes a spa for stress reduction, a premier athletic club for working out, a resort boutique for retail therapy and on-location dining for convenience. With 107 rooms available you can soak as long as you want! The Spa offers a full lineup of services as well from massages, facials, and more. One of their unique offerings is a Hemp Intensive Therapy which aims to improve your overall well-being with this deeply healing therapy that uses 100% organic, whole-plant, activated hemp extract, combined with heat packs and customized massage techniques to help reduce inflammation, ease pain and muscle soreness, and calm anxiety and stress.
The newest addition to the scene is Iron Mountain Hot Springs which opened in 2015. Differing in size, shape and temperature, try all 16 soaking pools to determine your personal favorite. When you’re ready to cool off or want to splash around with the kids, take a refreshing break in their freshwater family pool. Heated walkways keep paths snow-free in winter; large umbrellas provide shade in summer. All the pools are located on a terraced hillside overlooking the Colorado River with Rocky Mountain views all around. The Sand Bar serves up adult drinks if you want to enjoy your glass of wine while you soak. To stay hydrated, water fountains and bottle filling stations are in the bathhouse.
4. Around Town
Glenwood springs is a buzzing hub of activity during the rafting season. If you are looking for your retail fix look no further. With its unique and eclectic mix of boutique shops, many of which reside in historical buildings, you’ll have no problem finding that special souvenir o picking up a new pair of water shoes for a day on the river. Check out Mona Lisa women’s clothing store which was voted the locals favorite, for good reason It’s fun, funky and fabulous. The store is overflowing with clothing and accessories you won’t find anywhere else.
5. Hopping Nightlife
Nothing completes a day of rafting like an ice-cold brew. In fact, if you happen to have fallen out of the boat it’s tradition to buy a round for your fellow paddlers! Whether you’re looking for a happy hour craft IPA or a late-night dance scene, Glenwood Springs has you covered.
Casey Brewing has a unique approach to their process, using old world brewing techniques to bring oak barrel aged brews to their customers. They create their beer using 99% local Colorado ingredients so if your looking to keep your suds local, they’re the place to be.
If you’re looking for a western icon look no further than Doc Holliday’s. The Doc Holliday Tavern has been entertaining locals and tourists for decades, offering a true Western saloon atmosphere, along with a classic neon sign outside that helps define the block. You may be standing in the exact same spot as the famous cowboy…
No matter which feature of Glenwood Springs brings you here the combination will make you stay. Not many towns offer the amenities that this jewel of Colorado does. So, challenge the river, soak in the springs, explore the thriving downtown scene. but most of all cherish the memories you will make during your visit here. Glenwood springs will deliver!