Living in Glenwood Springs: Things to Do and See in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs—A Luxury Value Proposition Rich in Healing Waters and Healthy Lifestyle Options

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Living in Glenwood Springs

The Glenwood Springs story is as colorful as a paint-splashed sunset sky on a perfect Colorado evening.

In the late 1800s, the very wealthy in the U.S. were drawn to the healing powers of mineral springs and were ferried into remote western destinations by trains—the luxury transport of the era. Few areas were and are still as rich in these natural spas as Glenwood Springs.

The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad pulled into the gritty mining town (then known fittingly as Defiance) in 1887 to transport coal out. Who rode in changed the complexion of the town. Elegantly dressed ladies (with flowing floor-length dresses, parasols, and platter-sized feathered hats) and gentlemen (with top hats, canes, and spats) came in droves to soak in the restorative mineral waters first discovered by the Ute Indians. And so, a turn-of-the-century luxury resort was born.

What Is the History of Glenwood Springs?

Two upscale hotels plus a mineral pool the size of two New York City blocks were built to serve the influx of well-heeled clientele. The town became a luxury summer destination for the nation’s wealthy, attracting the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Clark Gable, as well a few legends of the Old West, too, perhaps most notably Doc Holliday of OK Corral fame, who sought relief from his tuberculosis in the healing waters. A monument to Holliday is located right outside downtown.

At the other end of the spectrum, the trains also helped to fuel other cottage industries, including saloons and gambling houses, with enterprising individuals seeing an opportunity to serve the army of miners who extracted coal from mountains. There was the Wild West and Glenwood Springs was the even Wilder West.

Where to Eat in Glenwood Springs?

The historic district still stands but now the vintage buildings house boutiques, farm-to-table restaurants, and craft breweries. Summer patio dining is popular with establishments creating beautiful outdoor spaces to allow patrons to enjoy the river flowing past. The town is refreshingly walkable, thanks to the trails that flank the river and flow into the neighborhoods.

What to Do and See in Glenwood Springs?

One thing has not changed: The town’s restorative waters still beckon and are enjoyed by both visitors and residents.

That gigantic pool built in the 1890s is still there and restored to new mist-shrouded majesty around a renovated luxury spa with all the services found in six-star resorts. The 400-foot pool, believed to be the world’s largest mineral bath and naturally warmed to some 90 degrees Fahrenheit, is now punctuated by smaller mineral pools of varying higher temperatures for those who enjoy a good basting. The vapor caves, essentially naturally occurring steam rooms with mineral water—infused air, are said to be the only in the nation which are not man-made. The caverns, led by guides, showcase the planet’s artistic flair, with rock formations such as fragile soda straws and stalactites. Cave tour options range from the timid to the “bring it on.” Iron Mountain, where the caves are located, also supports a popular amusement park. While there is this commercial component to the town, the tourism industry has also been an asset in rejuvenating the historic district businesses.

Outdoor Activities

Speaking of dry, land sports such as running and biking abound. Local trails to Glenwood Canyon and up Lookout Mountain are easily accessible from town. And then there is the massive and protected open space. A few miles up the road, the 2.3-million-acre White River National Forest with its eight designated wilderness areas and 10 mountain peaks over 14,000 feet make even the most seasoned mountaineer downright giddy. Add to that 2,500 miles of trails, with much above tree-line plus camping galore, and the Great Outdoors doesn’t get much more great than this.


Come winter, the state’s top ski resorts—Aspen, Snowmass, and Aspen Highlands—are less than a gas tank away. A lower-priced alternative is Glenwood’s very own Sunlight Resort. Enjoy 680 acres of snow with 67 trails, including steeps and tree skiing plus a terrain park for snowboarders. Best of all, a lift ticket costs half as much as the nearby headliner resorts.

How Many People Live in Glenwood Springs?

Population: 10,000 (2010 figures)

What Languages Are Spoken in Glenwood Springs?

Language: English

What is the Currency in Glenwood Springs?

Currency: USD

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