Glenwood Springs sits nestled in a narrow valley at the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers. Glenwood has been a visitor destination since 1888, with most folks coming to soak in the soothing hot waters at Glenwood Hot Springs. Steep mountains like Storm King Peak and the Colorado River’s deep canyon define Glenwood Springs and its outside lifestyle.
This small town boasts an extensive trail system for walkers and bikers, partly to avoid traffic congestion in the downtown. The local parks department keeps people active with 15 city parks on 100 acres, 4,000-acres of open space land, athletic fields, a skateboard park, picnic pavilions, and a boat ramp on the river.
Glenwood Springs is a bicycling paradise. Paved trails along the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers yield gentle grades and stunning views. Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail, also used by hikers, is the city’s biking crown jewel. The 16-mile trail climbs east up Glenwood Canyon alongside the Colorado River, passing rest stops at No Name, Grizzly Creek, and Hanging Lake. The 3.1-mile Atkinson Trail along the Roaring Fork is great for kids and families, while the 42-mile Rio Grande Trail climbs southeast on an old railroad grade to Aspen.
Mountain bike trails lace the hills and valleys above Glenwood Springs, offering both challenging and novice rides. Boy Scout/Forest Hollow Trails follow a jeep road and single-track that ends by town restaurants. Sunlight Mountain Resort has 16 miles of trails in woods and meadows; one of the best is Babbish Gulch. Other good tracks are Dry Park Road past ranches and cows; Wulfsuhn Trail offers a quick workout close to town; and steep Transfer Trail which follows a jeep road to scenic Windy Point.
Hanging Lake, one of the most popular hikes in this region, is reached by a steep 1.2-mile trail. Storm King Trail west of town climbs 2.1 miles to a lofty ridge where 14 firefighters died in a wildfire in 1994. The hike memorializes the firefighters with interpretative signs. Other great hikes are the Red Mountain Trail, Mitchell Creek Trail, Grizzly Creek Trail, and the Doc Holliday Trail to the famed outlaw’s gravesite. Want to climb a big mountain? Head south and hike up 12,953-foot Mount Sopris in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area.
The Colorado River is busy with whitewater rafters in summer, as well as fishermen angling for trout. The river, especially through Glenwood Canyon, is a bumpy ride through big rapids rated from Class III to Class V. While skilled boaters launch their own inflatables from boat ramps, most people take a guided trip that’s either a half- or full-day float. Kayakers put in at Grizzly Creek in the canyon for wet thrills or head to the smaller Roaring Fork River for technical challenges. The Glenwood Whitewater Activity Area is a paddling destination in West Glenwood Springs with big water and a standing wave.
Other Glenwood Springs adventures are rock climbing on bolted sport routes in Glenwood Canyon or at Rifle Mountain Park to the west, fly fishing in Gold Medal Waters on the Roaring Fork River, the Colorado River, or many streams and remote mountain lakes, and skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort, Glenwood’s own ski area. The affordable area has plenty of beginner and intermediate runs for families and kids.
When you’re done for the day, it’s time to head to Glenwood Hot Springs and relax in soothing mineral waters in the world’s largest hot springs pool. To avoid crowds, walk over to Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves. The water in the underground caves has 35 different minerals. Breathe the moist area and plan tomorrow’s adventures.