Best Things To Do in Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs is nestled in western Colorado’s confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers. And its just a quick 2.5-hour drive from Denver. Many people visit Glenwood Springs and the surrounding area for weekend get-aways because it provides endless possibilities – from an ultimate relaxation experience to a weekend full of outdoor fun.

Maroon Bells (photo courtesy of Shelby Montross)
Maroon Bells (photo courtesy of Shelby Montross)

Best Things To Do All Year

The Roaring Fork Valley is a great destination during all 4 seasons. And while we want you to #raftlikealocal and experience Colorado River whitewater rafting with Defiance Rafting Company, we also want you to experience Glenwood Springs and its neighboring communities in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys like a local. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • For an easy and accessible morning or afternoon walkabout, head downtown Glenwood Springs and say hello to our friends over at The Fourth Dimension. They offer a unique variety of men’s and women’s clothing, and a thoughtfully curated collection of small gifts and accessories. Then head around the corner and grab tacos at Slope and Hatch. Don’t love tacos? They’ve also got you covered with delicious hot dogs, choice local brews, and well-crafted cocktails. You can opt to dine-in or out at Slope and Hatch.
    • Local tip: One of our favorite rituals is to get meals to go and head around the corner and pair our favorite meal with an offering from Casey Brewing and Blending’s Taproom. Casey’s has a rotating selection of award-winning sours as well as guest taps covering all the style bases. (It’s a kid-friendly space. And the large outdoor patio is also pet-friendly.) After a great meal downtown venture over to the hidden gem that is Veltus Park. You can enjoy the walking trails that follow the river and drop in your fishing line right off the shore into Roaring Fork.
  • Our neighbors to the west are New Castle, Silt, and Rifle – all have great access to parks, playgrounds, public lands, and great food. (Our local food favorite is Hogback Pizza in downtown New Castle.) In the Fall you get views of the golden leaves on less crowded trails, along with world-class climbing in Rifle. In the winter you can experience high desert temperatures where you can find hiking trails with minimal snow and typical bluebird skies. Spring still carries that crisp air until we approach Memorial Day, when you can really start to see the green returning to the trees.
    • Local tip: Spring is also a great time to visit the Alpaca Farm in Silt, you might even get a glimpse of the shearing process. Make sure to grab a pair of Alpaca socks.
  • If you travel south from Glenwood Springs you’ll travel through the charming, historical, and one-of-a-kind communities of Carbondale, Basalt, and Aspen. These areas boast a beautiful Fall spectacle with changing aspen leaves and crisp, clear autumn air. You can also visit the most photographed destination in Colorado, Maroon Bells outside of Aspen. During the winter months, these areas are guaranteed to fill your winter wonderland desires, with beautiful snowy peaks and great outdoor adventures. Visit Spring Gulch in Carbondale for a great day of cross country skiing or Sunlight Mountain between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale for downhill skiing. Spring brings water back into the rivers from snowmelt and life back into the trees.
    • Local tip: The town of Basalt sits at the confluence of two gold-medal trout fishing rivers, the Frying Pan and the Roaring Fork, both of which are home to year-round fishing. And the Basalt area provides a surprising number of publicly accessible walk-in fishing opportunities.
Elsie and cousins on the Glenwood Canyon Half-Day trip with Defiance Rafting Company (photo courtesy of Shelby Montross)
Elsie and cousins on the Glenwood Canyon Half-Day trip with Defiance Rafting Company (photo courtesy of Shelby Montross)

Best Things To Do In Each Season

As locals, the above represent just a few of our favorites. Below you will find some seasonally-specific crowd-pleasers that are each deserving a place on someone’s “Best Of . . .” list.

Things to do in Glenwood Springs in Winter

  1. Sunlight Mountain Resort. This little gem of a ski resort is only 20 min from Glenwood Springs and promises “no hassle & no hype.” Sunlight has 67 trails that lead to a cozy lodge where you can enjoy grilled food and local brews. Sunlight is family-friendly with ticket prices that are half the cost of most larger resorts. And you’ll rarely find yourself standing in a lift line. For a different snowy experience, take a look at Sunlight’s family-friendly snowmobile tours.
  2. Spring Gulch cross-country skiing. If you’re looking for a slower pace while getting in your cardio workout for the day, consider hitting the nordic trails at Spring Gulch. Roughly 30 min from Glenwood Springs, outside of the community of Carbondale, 21+ km of groomed cross-country trails await. There are trails for beginners and advanced Nordic skiers and the best part is that it’s free! (We do like to bring a few bucks to add to the donation box to show appreciation for the groomers.)
  3. Yampah Vapor Caves. Located right in Glenwood Springs is the only natural vapor caves in North America. For roughly $17 you can relax in the quiet splendor of the natural vapor caves which is a perfect way to warm up after a day playing in the snow. Full spa services are also available onsite to really throttle down into the relaxation experience.

Things to do in Glenwood Springs in the Spring

  1. Natural Hot Spring Pools. Located directly in Glenwood Springs are two commercial hot spring pools. For adults and couples consider Iron Mountain Hot Springs for more of a spa-type experience that is complete with 16 different soaking pools. Adult beverages are also available. Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is packed with history and is touted as the largest natural hot springs pool in the world. Families can enjoy a diving board, splash zone, and the new Shoshone Chutes water slide.
  2. Glenwood Springs offers some of the best fly fishing around. While you can certainly fish year-round in the area, we find that some of the best fishing is during the “shoulder seasons.” Whether you are looking for a guided float on the river or beta on walk-in access for shore or wade fishing, our friends at Roaring Fork Angles can get you kitted out.
  3. Visit the Sopris Alpaca Farm with the kiddos. If you’re looking for something super kid-friendly, we suggest paying a visit to the local alpaca farm in Silt, CO. Silt is just 30 min west of Glenwood Springs on I-70.

Things to do in Glenwood Springs in the Fall

  1. Leaf peeping is one of the most popular attractions in Fall. Roughly 45 min from Glenwood Springs is the iconic Maroon Bells in the White River National Forest near Aspen. This is a popular destination so make sure you make reservations through the Aspen Chamber.
  2. Mountain biking is a great way to explore a variety of terrain from lush forests to rocky, high-country deserts. Located roughly 30 min from Glenwood Springs, New Castle has become a mountain biking haven. The area offers trails for riders of a wide range of abilities and you can check out the trail system here.
  3. See the vibrant changing colors of the aspen groves in Marble which is home to the famous Crystal Mill and Yule Marble Quarry. If you’re looking for some 4-wheeling adventure, take the 6-mile old mining trail to Crystal Mill and Crystal City. You can also find jeep tours in the area. Check out the Marble Chamber of Commerce for trail information, jeep rentals, and jeep tours.
    • Local tip: A must stop before leaving Marble is Slow Groovin’ for some delicious BBQ!

Things to do in Glenwood Springs in Summer

  1. Whitewater rafting with Defiance Rafting.  Located 1.5 miles outside of Glenwood Springs in Glenwood Canyon’s No Name community, Defiance offers guided family-friendly Glenwood Springs rafting on the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers. Or, if you are looking for day or multi-day rentals check out Defiance River Outfitters for all your river gear needs.

Book a rafting trip

  1. Hanging Lake is located in Glenwood Canyon, about 7 miles east of Glenwood Springs, and is a very popular destination for visitors. The trail is a steep 1.2 miles scenic hike up to a breathtaking green-blue lake and wispy waterfall. Because this destination is so popular, permits are required for the hike and can be purchased through the Glenwood Chamber.  An alternative to Hanging Lake is Rifle Falls for family-friendly exploring of caves and a view of a spectacular waterfall. Rifle Falls is located 45 min west of Glenwood Springs in Rifle Falls State Park.
  2. Guided horseback trips. The West is cowboy country and a lovely way to see the sights of the Rocky Mountains is by horseback. The historic Bair Ranch, located 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs in Glenwood Canyon provides horseback riding trails across 5,500 acres. For guided horseback trips, book here.
  3. It’s hard to visit Glenwood Springs and not notice the amusement park on top of the mountain overlooking the community. Located in Glenwood Springs, the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers thrill-seeking rides, amazing views and spectacular cave tours. This is a family-friendly activity and offers a little something for everyone.

We could go on and on. But we also know with the number of things to do putting an itinerary together can be a tad overwhelming. So we’ll leave it there for now, doing so with the hope of making your way to our slice of paradise! We hope you’ll share in doing some of our favorite things and depart ready to share your own list of favorite things to do in the Glenwood Springs area.

– Article courtesy of Charlotte Hanks

Glenwood Canyon Half-Day

Difficulty
Class I–III
Duration
Half-Day
Price
$67
$57 for Happy Paddlers* 12 & under
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Scenic Canyon Float

Difficulty
Class I–II
Duration
Half-Day
Price
$57
$47 for Happy Paddlers* 12 & under
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Shoshone Short

Difficulty
Class I–III
Duration
1 Hour
Price
$57
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