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Visit Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Just west of the incredible scenic drive through spectacular Glenwood Canyon between Aspen and Vail in the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley, you'll find the charming small town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This is another one of those places that was never on our radar to visit until we found ourselves traveling Interstate 70 between two well known summer travel destinations: Breckenridge, Colorado and Moab, Utah.

What we discovered in Glenwood Springs was a vibrant, bustling town of hot springs and vaudeville entertainment, Mom and Pop restaurants, shops, outdoor recreation and family friendly attractions surrounded by beautiful scenery. With an average of 239 sunny days each year and a wide variety of options for folks who want to relax and others who are looking to actively explore, it's no wonder that the historic resort town welcomes 2 million visitors each year. We will definitely be visiting again!

Hearthside Grove

A Brief History of Glenwood Springs

The first known inhabitants of this area were the Ute Indians. These nomadic people were drawn here by an abundance of water (the Colorado River and the Roaring Fork River meet here), wildlife, thermal hot springs and, possibly, the protection provided by Glenwood Canyon. The Utes are said to have been responsible for developing the first passages through Glenwood Canyon.

During the 1800s, explorers, prospectors and trappers began wandering through the area, sometimes stopping to bathe in the warm waters of the natural mineral springs. The first recorded of these travelers was Captain Richard Sopris who came here in 1860 in his search for gold. Captain Sopris was the first person to begin mapping the area that would become Glenwood Springs. His name continues in the area today. Nearby Mt Sopris is named for him.

As with many towns across North America (like Steamboat Springs CO, Mineral Wells TX, Petoskey MI and Asheville NC) the geothermal mineral hot springs found here attracted folks in search of better health, healing and wellness. But unlike these other towns, this area was home to not only soaking pools, but also vapor caves. Health seekers began arriving here during the mid-1800s as word of the natural resources and beautiful scenery began to spread.

While folks were hearing about the potentially healing hot mineral waters, another natural resource began to attract businessmen. Mining engineer Walter Devereux arrived here in the 1880s, attracted by the area's plentiful coal deposits. Looking to diversify his businesses, Mr Devereux purchased the hot springs from Isaac Cooper and began developing what would become the world’s largest hot springs pool.

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort opened in 1888 followed by Hotel Colorado in 1893. President Theodore Roosevelt used the Hotel Colorado as the Summer White House during a hunting expedition in 1905.

Historic Hot Springs
Historic Hot Springs

The railroad arrived in Glenwood Springs in 1887 bringing tourists and new townspeople. As the age of the automobile arrived, getting here using transportation other than the railroad remained a challenge. And that's where Edward Taylor came in. An attorney by trade, Mr Taylor moved to Glenwood Springs in 1887. He became a State Senator in 1896 and obtained funding for what would become known as Taylor Road in 1899. Though rough, Taylor Road was the first road to connect eastern Colorado and western Colorado. It paved the way for what would later become the famed Glenwood Canyon Highway. Taylor would go on to successfully change the name of the Grand River to the Colorado River in 1921.

How Did Glenwood Springs Get It's Name?

The idea for building a town in this location started with a man who came here, at least in part, seeking to improve his health. Isaac Cooper was amongst the men who launched the settlement of Defiance here using the hot springs pools and vapor caves as primary features. When Mr Cooper moved his wife into the new town, it's said that she didn't like the name of Defiance. Historians say that it was Sarah Cooper who chose the name Glenwood Springs based on their home of Glenwood, Iowa.

Defiance was renamed Glenwood Springs in 1883.

Things to Do in Glenwood Springs CO

Free Things to Do in Glenwood Springs

Stroll the streets of Downtown Glenwood Springs.

Hike to Doc Holliday's Grave in Linwood Cemetery or explore any of the miles of trails in the area including the Grizzly Creek Trail. The Atkinson Canal Trail is a paved, multi-use, accessible trail that includes benches and picnic tables.

Take a bike ride east on the 16-mile Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path through Glenwood Canyon to Dotsero or west on the 42-mile Rio Grande Trail that connects Glenwood Springs to Aspen.

Find Your Wings in Glenwood Springs! Explore the city of Glenwood Springs via the town's collection of 9 wings murals.

Play Disc Golf at Sunlight Mountain Resort or Colorado Mountain College.

Browse local works of art at Cooper Corner Gallery.

Get around town using the free Ride Glenwood Springs public transit service. This free bus service also connects to regional Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) services.

Even if you don't have time or don't plan on visiting the historic Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, take a walk over the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge that connects downtown with the resort side of town. From there, you'll be able to watch rafters on the Colorado river, travelers on I-70 and swimmers in the resort's 405 feet long and 100 feet wide main pool. This crazy big hot spring pool holds over 1 million gallons of water.

We Found Our Wings
We Found Our Wings in Glenwood Springs!

Places to Eat in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

There are a lot of great looking options for unique local restaurants in Glenwood Springs. We enjoyed our meal on the front patio at Daily Bread.

In the future, we would like to try:

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Tips for Visiting Glenwood Springs CO

Hiking the Hanging Lake Trail requires a permit. Vehicles must be less than 25 feet long to park at the trailhead that leads to this National Natural Landmark. For more information on hiking this 1.2 mile trail that gains 1,200 feet in elevation and to buy a permit, visit the Hanging Lake page of the Glenwood Springs Visitor Center website.

While we didn't visit the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on this visit, we would definitely consider it in the future. This mountain-top theme park is accessible from town via a gondola ride. It features thrill rides alongside natural wonders including cave tours. We would consider doing both the Fairy Cave Tour and the King's Row Tour. USA Today named Iron Mountain one of the "Top 10 Places to Go Underground".

Parking in downtown Glenwood Springs is free, but is limited to 2-hours along the streets. All-day parking lots are also available, but we were unable to find a parking spot in the lots. We recommend getting an early start on your day to find parking in one of the all-day lots.

If you only have time for one thing during your visit, we highly recommend taking in a show at the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue. This dinner show is one of the best things to do in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We absolutely LOVED it!

Glenwood Springs' Market on 7th is held downtown on Tuesday afternoons in the summer. It is a farmers' market / arts and craft market featuring live music.

Glenwood Vaudeville Review
The Glenwood Vaudeville Revue is AWESOME!

For our golfing friends, Glenwood Springs Golf Club has been voted The Best 9-Hole Public Golf Course in Colorado. It has been serving the community and visitors since 1955.

More Fun Things To Do in the Glenwood Springs Area

Meet the friendly alpacas at the Sopris Alpaca Farm in neighboring Silt, Colorado.

Enjoy white water rafting, kayaking or paddleboarding on the Colorado River.

Take a drive toward Aspen to hike the picturesque Maroon Bells in the White River National Forest. We hear that the fall colors are AMAZING!

Enjoy the scenery of the stunning Rocky Mountains. Avid hikers may want to check out Storm King Mountain Memorial Trail or the Elk Creek Colorado Trail in neighboring New Castle, Colorado.

Why is Glenwood Springs CO Known as "The Land of Water"

It's hard to imagine a town being this far inland, thousands of miles away from coasts or the Great Lakes of the United States being called "The Land of Water", but that's exactly what Glenwood Springs is known as. The title is said to come from the large number of natural hot springs in and around the town in combination with its location at the convergence of the Colorado River and Roaring Fork Rivers. Throw in the presence of other bodies of streams like No Name Creek and Grizzly Creek and the name begins to make sense.

There is a lot more water in this region than you might expect. And all of that water makes Glenwood Springs a popular destination for outdoor activities like scenic floating, white water rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fly fishing. Guided rafting and fishing tours are available from local outfitters.

Our Basecamp for This Visit

πŸ“ Glenwood Springs West / Colorado River KOA Holiday in nearby Silt, Colorado

For More Information on Visiting Glenwood Springs CO

Visit the Glenwood Springs Visitor Center website.

Biking and Hiking information is available from the City of Glenwood Springs website.

The Visitor Center also has a walk-in location on Grand Avenue (Glenwood Springs' main street).

Glenwood Springs CO Fun Facts

Approximate Population




Year Founded

1882 as Defiance

Average Summer Temperatures

46Β° - 89Β°

Average Winter Temperatures

13Β° - 43Β°

Geographic Area

5.84 square miles

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A Few Photos from Our Visit to Glenwood Springs

Colorado River View
The Colorado River Runs Through Town
Our Campsite in Nearby Silt CO
Our Campsite in Nearby Silt CO
Mama Alpaca and Her Baby
Mama Alpaca and Her New Baby
Doc Holliday Museum
The Doc Holliday Collection
Lots of Patio Dining Options
Lots of Patio Dining Options
The Beautiful Glenwood Springs Train Station
The Beautiful Glenwood Springs Train Station
Amtrak Still Stops Here
Amtrak Still Stops Here
Wings Aren't the Only Murals in Town
Wings Aren't the Only Murals in Town

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Glenwood Springs CO Pin

Tom and Stacie

Tom and Stacie Langland
"RV America Y'all"

Hey y'all! We are Native Texans and (since 2018) Full-Time RVers sharing the adventures, challenges, and joys of RV life as we travel. We love camping and hiking in State and National Parks, discovering history, visiting interesting and quirky places, and exploring small towns. We're on a mission to experience life, not just live it with our dog, Star, and our cat, Astro. You can also find us on our original RV travel website, Thanks for joining us as we RV America Y'all!

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