As a resident of Denver, the foothills and mountains are always towering to the West, tempting visitors and even Denver citizens to explore and adventure. I visited Glenwood Springs this last weekend. As a Colorado native, I have been to Glenwood before, but during this visit, I got to visit two attractions I have never been to before!
When most people think of Glenwood Springs, they think of the football-field sized salt water cold pool and smaller hot-spring sulfur pools known as the famous Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. I have been to Glenwood's main attraction many times, and this time, my parents and I thought we would change up the typical stay. Then again, we are typical Colorado natives, ever ready for the next adventurous challenge!
Day 1 of our visit consisted of driving West on 1-70 to Carbondale, and settling in to the house we rented in Carbondale, 10 miles West of Glenwood Springs. Whether you are visiting Colorado or a true native visiting Glenwood, I would highly recommend staying out of town, and Carbondale might be the perfect answer! A quaint, little town tucked in a meadow under the looming Mt. Sopris, Carbondale offers a much more secluded stay. Staying in Carbondale, Colorado was the perfect way to avoid Glenwood's busy streets, traffic and crowded restaurants. With the Roaring Fork river crossing through town, a handful of delectable restaurants and all your basic needs, Carbondale might offer a more quiet and serene stay to Glenwood goers.
Day 2 we visited Hanging Lake, just East of Glenwood Springs. The one downside is due to habitat destruction, the only way to get there is to take a tour bus from downtown Glenwood Springs to the base of the trail. The trail itself is a 1 mile hike. Although the hike is only 1 mile, the entire trail is VERY steep and requires careful foot-work. If you are coming from a different state and a different altitude, I would highly recommend training for the hike. As a frequent hiker myself, I would say that this is a intermediate hike. New or older hikers might want to reconsider whether they are ready for the complete ascent. Although, the top is well worth the hike. The lake is crystal to turquoise blue, with plenty of vegetation to complete the scene. The lake seemingly "hangs" on a cliff. You will feel suspended in air, with gorgeous colors all around. The view offers three waterfalls, and you will probably see quite a bit of wildlife. Please note that hikers are not allowed to swim in the lake or leave any part of the trail. This is to ensure that wildlife flourishes at Hanging Lake and that the habitat remains flawless and pristine.
Day 3 we visited the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves and Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Our morning consisted of sipping coffee overlooking the beautiful and wide Roaring Fork river in Carbondale, slamming down breakfast and then driving the 20-minute drive back into Glenwood Springs. Our first stop were the Yampah Vapor Caves. This is the attraction I have visited before. For only 17 dollars, you have unlimited access to the caves. Consisting of 5 different "rooms," getting to the caves only requires walking down a flight of stairs. Unlike the hike to Hanging Lake, the Vapor Caves are perfect for all ages and require no exercise. A perfect visit to relax those muscles after active outdoor activities, the sulfur caves were once the Mother Caves for the Native Americans in the area. Towels are included and adding on a Eucalyptus-dipped cloth only costs 1 extra dollar. I would recommend wearing a bathing suit or something that can get wet, because the caves are essentially a natural sauna. They even have a shower and water buckets in the Caves to stay cool in the hot vapor. You can only stay in the caves for about 15 minutes, but my mom and I did multiple visits. There are plenty of sunny and relaxing rooms to recline and cool off in, as well as an outdoor bench area. You can meet some really cool people here, although note that loud voices are not permitted in the Caves. Because of this, get ready to enjoy a calming and natural spa-like visit. Like I said, perfect after rafting or hiking or horseback riding. One other cool thing about Yampah is that their beauty and spa products for sale are REALLY cheap. Altogether, the Yampah Vapor Caves offer the cheapest deal in town!
The next half of the day, we visited the Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Not nearly cheap as the Yampah Vapor Caves (or the main Glenwood Hot Springs pool to be frank) I would not highly recommend Iron Mountain Hot Springs during a Glenwood visit. It didn't feel that natural or scenic. The whole thing has a very man-made feel to it. I at least for one prefer something more natural. Although, the place does offer 16 different small pools of varying temperatures (which is nice) and one big, cold family-sized pool. Iron Mountain, to top their hefty entrance fee, also has a bar and snack hut. Probably better in winter, Iron Mountain was crowded, with only a handful of loungers, and not extremely scenic.
All in all, we had a great visit to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Perfect for people who don't or do not want to try skiing or snowboarding (even as a native, I don't), the town in packed with various hot spring attractions. If you can get past the sulfur smell, Glenwood Springs may offer a fantastic Colorado stay.