Enjoying the refreshing spouting rock waterfall spray after hiking Haning lake trail

17 Unforgettable Things to do in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (by a local)

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Glenwood Springs is known for its natural hot springs, outdoor recreation, and rich western history. Because we think this is the perfect family-friendly destination, we have compiled a list of 17 things to do in Glenwood Springs on your next vacation.

16 Things-to-do-Glenwood-Springs-by the locals

If you haven’t started planning your vacation to Glenwood Springs we have created a Guide to Glenwood Springs here. Bookmark it for you when start planning your visit.

The map of things to do in included in the post so make sure you scroll down to see the different locations and lay of the land.

This is not based on one quick trip to Glenwood, but on local experience. Charles and I have vacationed here since we were kids. Now our family lives near Glenwood Springs. So you are getting insider information from the best of our personal stay-cation list.

This area has been enjoyed for centuries. Native Americans frequently used the thermal properties of the water. They developed the first soaking springs and captured the vapors from the hot water in the nearby caves creating the first natural saunas (source). 

While the city is a top relaxation destination, Glenwood hasn’t always been this peaceful. In the past, the area was home to outlaws and gunslingers who named the city “Defiance”. Infamous Western legend Doc Holliday lived and died here (activity #3). He was one of many residents to move here hoping to cure physical ailments.

Today, Glenwood has expanded into a vibrant city full of tranquility, adventure, and culture. The city is easily accessible by car, train, bus or bicycle. And becuase the downtown area is walkable, this attracts many visitors wanting a car-free vacation

Families will find plenty to do here, from sporty activities to nature walks, to a dip in cool streams or calming hot springs waters.

Additional Resources: This is part of a series on Glenwood Springs and the Colorado River Valley. For more help planning your trip to Glenwood Springs see our guides

Top 17 things to do in Glenwood Springs

Start planning your trip by getting access to the Google interactive Map of Things to do in Glenwood Springs by clicking here.

Soak in a Hot Springs

So you don’t just have to dip, you can soak or swim for hours as we do. Glenwood Hot Springs is the largest natural hot springs pool in the world and has two main pools to choose from. Recently they added a kiddie area with little slides and a large whitewater tubing area. There is something for everyone.

Note: There is currently a restriction on the capacity of the pool. Guests of the Glenwood Hot Springs resort are guaranteed admission and can come and go as you please. Check prices at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort here.

Toddler swimming in the hot springs
Swimming in the autumn fog at the hot springs

The water in both pools is the same water found in natural springs nearby. While you take a relaxing soak, you can purify your skin, and take in the benefits of the mineral waters. You can also take a nice swim in the lap lanes, and enjoy some great views.

  • Glenwood Hot Springs Pool website
  • Location: 401 North River Street, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Price: see the website high season rates for 2020
  • Discount: Free admission for children under three, Free entrance for guests of the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
  • Packages: A variety of packages are available that include swim, golf, ski, play, and stay.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Iron Mountain Hot Springs has 18 different pools to enjoy right on the edge of the Colorado River. Information for both are below and we have an article on the blog comparing the two and to help you decide which hot springs to choose.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs Colorado has a variety of pools for soaking along the Colorado River
Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs Colorado has a variety of pools for soaking along the Colorado River

If you would like to stay within walking distance of both hot springs our other suggestions are Antlers Best Western has sprawling grounds, an old lodge feels and kids stay free. The historic Hotel Colorado is right across the street from the hot springs and a short walk to Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

  • Iron Mountain Hot Springs Resort website
  • Location: 281 Centennial Street, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Price: Off-season $21.75 for adults and $14.75 for children, see the website high season rates for 2020
  • Discount: Free admission for children under three, Free entrance for guests of the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
  • Packages: A variety of packages are available that include swim, golf, ski, play, and stay.

Glenwood Cavern Adventure Park

This is a family-oriented theme park, perfect for people looking for an adrenaline rush. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park was voted Best Place for Family Entertainment by the local newspaper, Glenwood Springs Post Independent

You take a scenic gondola ride to the top of the mountain (7,100 feet) to access the park. You can take an exciting cave tour, ride a few rides, visit their 4-d theater, or see some history. The alpine coaster and cliffhanger roller coaster are our family favorites.

Riding the Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns is a favorite thing to do in Glenwood Springs
Riding the Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Canverns

You can stay right at the base of the gondolas, within walking distance of the hot springs and have an indoor water park. If you visit in the winter Sunlight Ski is just 13 miles from here. We suggest Hotel Glenwood Springs with the indoor pool and water slides. Check prices at Hotel Glenwood Springs here.

  • Glenwood’s Cavern Adventure Park Website
  • Location:51000 Two Rivers Plaza Rd., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Price: Prices start at $37 dollars for kids and $42 for adults in the winter season. Check the website for current prices.
  • Discount: Glenwood Caverns & Iron Mountain Hot Springs Combo Pass saves money on both

Glamping in White River National Forest

The best way to enjoy the mountain atmosphere is to go glamping or RV camping in the White River National Forest. If you would rather even more comfort you can choose one of the beautiful RV resorts near Glenwood Springs. What if you want to sleep in a bed but don’t have your own RV? You can rent an RV from a local (like us!) on Outdoorsy or RVShare.

Visitors love renting out our 35-ft travel trailer with a bunkhouse! It’s perfect for a family so we have been sharing it with our Family Travel Fever community for a discount! Check out our trailer listing number 167545. Just for our blog, we created a 10% discount for you, just use the code TravelFever during booking. Oh, and use this link for a big discount for any RV in the area: $50 off Outdoorsy at checkout

Spring White River National Forest
Camping in the Spring in the White River National Forest

Learn History at the Doc Holiday Museum and Grave Site

Doc Holiday is an integral part of history in the American West. He was famous for gun-slinging, gambling, dentist. He moved to Glenwood Springs to cure his tuberculosis with the dry Colorado air and healing properties of the hot springs.

You can learn about his colorful life and character at the Doc Holiday Museum. Located in the basement of Bullocks Store, it is a satellite location of the Frontier Museum. There are photos and drawings and some of his personal belongings.

You can hike up to Linwood Cemetary to see the graves of Kid Curry and Doc Holliday. The hike is about 3/4 of a mile and is easy for kids.

  • Website
  • Location of the Museum: 732 Grand Ave
  • Location of the Gravesite: Bennett Ave & 12th St Ditch
  • Museum Price: Museum Kids 12 and under are Free

Scenic Drive through Glenwood Canyon

Interested in seeing the sights of your car? Try taking a drive out to Glenwood Canyon. You are in for some awe-inspiring landscapes and amazing highway engineering. (Note: If you arrive by car or train from the east, you come through Glenwood Canyon.)

Update: The canyon has recently had a major forest fire that started in August of 2020. I-70 through the canyon is open now but make sure to check on COTrip.org for any closures. The area is now susceptible to rockfall during heavy rain.

Getting to Glenwood Springs driving on I70 through Glenwood Canyon
A view of I70, tunnels, and Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon

As many times as we have driven the canyon, it never gets old. The scenery changes with the seasons as snow, golden leaves, or greenery decorate the cliffs. There are also rest stops, and plenty of other places to visit like hiking trails (like Hanging Lake), the bike path, and recreation areas

  • Visit Glenwood Website
  • Location: Glenwood Canyon, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Hours: Open all hours of the day.

See a Show at the Vaudeville Review

If you are looking for great family fun, stop in to see the Glenwood Vaudeville Review. It’s full of laughs, energetic songs, and uniques dances. You’ll enjoy a two-hour family-fun show with a top-quality dinner.

We have gone here on a date alone and as a family. They really are fun and family-friendly. Your kids, especially the older ones, will love this.

  • Glenwood Vaudeville Review Website
  • Location:915 Grand Avenue, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Hours: Opens at 5 pm
  • Price: The show costs $25 for adults and $16 for children. Meals and drinks cost extra.

Take a Trip to Hanging Lake

This beautiful trail is famous throughout Colorado. The trail to see the pristine aqua-colored lake and waterfalls is well-loved by locals and tourists alike.

Update: A huge forest fire ripped through Glenwood Canyon in August of 2020. It has been called the Grizzly Creek Fire and burned over 32,000 acres. Hanging lake has been called a miracle since the lake area remains unbelievably intact. However, the Hanging Lake trail is closed until further notice as firefighters work to mitigate damage to the ecosystem up and downstream of the lake.

We are all so grateful to the firefighters who worked to save houses, structures, and more in this beautiful area. This picture was taken in spring before the fires.

Hiking Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs Colorado - rules, permits, reservations
Hiking Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs Colorado – rules, permits, reservations

You will get a workout, but the natural splendor and scenery make the effort worth it. The steep Hanging Lake trail crosses many bridges over a small creek many times before arriving at the lake and Bridal Veil Falls. These bridges and stops to throw stones will keep the kids entertained and encouraged during the hike.

We have done this trail with babies, toddlers, and teens in all seasons. Summer is an easier (and warmer hike) but winter is a spectacular and unique hike as well. Before attempting the hike, you will need some gear in summer or winter. Read more on our guide to Hiking Hanging Lake with Kids.

Make sure to book your trip early, because spots fill up fast, and they only let a few hundred people go through each year to preserve the area.

Enjoy a Summer Festival

Glenwood is full of small-town festivals and parades. This means fewer crowds, friendly people and …. candy. If you visit Glenwood in the summer, consider joining the locals at the Strawberry Days Festival. We love the parade (did I mention candy), free ice cream, pancake breakfast, food stands live music and playing at this fun celebration.

Kids at Strawberry-Day-Parade-in-Glenwood-Springs
Kids at Strawberry Day Parade Glenwood Springs

Our favorite winter celebration is at the Hotel Colorado for the  Colorado Christmas celebration. The hotel opens its doors to all for an evening of music, lighting ceremony, visit from Santa Clause and fireworks off the top of the hotel. It’s perfect for kids and adults alike!

  • Visit the Glenwood Chamber Website for the events this weekend
  • Price: Free

Yampah Vapor Caves

The vapor caves are a must for the adults in the family. They are one of the last natural vapor caves left in North America. Once you arrive, you will be led down a set of stairs and go underground to the caves.

The steam has great health benefits and reaches temperatures of up to 112 degrees. This is the best way to detox and unwind after a hike or a bike ride.

  • Yampa Spa Websit
  • Location:709 Street, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Price: You can get a day pass for $17. Massages and treatments are available for an are an extra fee.
  • Discount: Check the website for monthly specials. 

Take a Bike Ride in Glenwood Canyon

Glenwood Canyon is perfect for bike rides too. The well-paved bike path follows the Colorado River through the canyon. Plus some off-road trails make it an ideal spot for a ride in nature. Here you can enjoy wildlife, picnic areas, and great scenery. You can even take a shuttle out to the area through local companies so you can just do the downhill portion.

Take a bike ride through Glenwood Canyon on the bike path
Bike path through Glenwood Canyon
  • Visit Glenwood Website
  • Location: Glenwood Canyon, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Price: It’s free to bike here, but you might want to rent some bikes.

Hike Grizzly Creek Trail

There are plenty of places to hike in Glenwood ranging in different difficulties. If you are looking for a more laid-back hike in Glenwood Canyon, Grizzly Creek Trail is a good destination.

This trail is considered to be the most accessible in the area. We love this trail and is easy for kids and toddlers. Unlike Hanging Lake, this trail is free and dog-friendly.

Update: The recent wildfire started in Grizzly Creek and has been named the Grizzly Creek fire. It burned 32,000 acres in this rugged canyon terrain. This trail will be closed until it is safe for hikers to return to the area.

Areas to the west and south of Glenwood Springs are beautiful places to hike and have not been impacted by the fire. See out suggestions for Rifle Falls State Park below.

  • USFS Website
  • Location:Grizzly Creek Trailhead
  • Price: Free

Ski local Sunlight Mountain Resort

Winter in Glenwood is full of possibilities. If your family likes to hit the slopes on skis or snowboards, there is a great ski resort located in the city. At Sunlight Mountain resort there are over 700 acres of skiing. You won’t have to wait long for lifts.

Kids skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs is a favorite thing to do in Glenwood Springs
Learning to Ski at Sunlight Mountain Resort

This ski hill is perfect for beginners and kids. In fact, I have taken my toddlers and taught them to ski on the small hill behind the lodge.

Here’s a locals tip: I bought lift tickets for the big kids, but just walking around on the hill is free. So you can rent or bring skis for the littlest in the family and let them play without buying a lift ticket. That’s exactly what we are doing in this picture.

If you want the kids to learn to ski properly they do offer a ski school for all ages.

If you are visiting in the winter for a ski vacation you have so many options of places to stay. If you would like to stay near the hot springs and soak after a long ski day, we suggest either Hotel Glenwood Springs with the indoor pool and water slides or the

You can stay right at the base of the gondolas, within walking distance of the hot springs, and have an indoor water park. If you visit in the winter Sunlight Ski is just 13 miles from here. We suggest Hotel Glenwood Springs with the indoor pool and water slides. Check prices at Hotel Glenwood Springs here. or the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort within walking distance of both hot springs.

Otherwise, you can rent a private cabin closer to the ski area here.

  • Sunlight Mountain Website
  • Location:10901 Colorado Road, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Price: Lift tickets start at $68 for adults and $45 for kids. Rentals for skis and gear are separate. 
  • Discount: Buying multiple days in a pack can be cheaper.  Also, packages that include the hot springs.

Ride a Snowmobile

Snowmobiles rentals and tours are available in town and at Sunlight Mountain Resort too. There are miles and miles of groomed snowmobiling trails in Glenwood Canyon, Mt Sopris, and the Elk Range.

Sunlight Mountain Resort offers Snowmobile Adventure tours. This can be a unique and exciting winter activity for all involved. Tours last for around an hour and traverse 16 miles of trails. A guide will lead you through the slopes of the mountain. Longer tours are also available for an additional cost.

  • Snowmobile Adventure tours: Website
  • Location:10901 Colorado Road, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Price: Starts at $125 per rider. 
  • Discount: Family tours tend to be cheaper.

Eat some Great BBQ at Smoke Modern

With so many places to eat in Glenwood Springs, we had to add a meal to our list of things to do. Smoke Modern BBQ has a menu full of hearty and satisfying food. The founder of the restaurant takes smoked BQQ and gives it a more modern taste and look. Prices are affordable and portions are big here.

For more of our favorite places to eat in Glenwood Springs see our guide to planning your trip to Glenwood.

  • Smoke Modern BBQ
  • Location:713 Grand Avenue, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Price: Prices start at $11, but depends on what you order.
  • Discounts: There are daily specials that are cheaper and come with sides.

Go for a Horseback Ride

Colorado is synonymous with open fields and rugged mountain ranges. You can’t help but picture cowboys riding through the beautiful uncharted landscape. Plus kids love horses, especially my girls.

Your family can ride through trails in Sunlight Resort, the White River National Forest on horseback. Some private ranches also offer tours on their own private land and public lands. A sunset dinner rides are also an option.

  • Options for Horseback Riding on TripAdvisor Website
  • Glenwood Adventure Website
  • Location:723 Cooper Avenue, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
  • Hours: Call departure times and dates.
  • Price: Costs start at $65 per person for one hour.
  • Discounts: None available

Whitewater Rafting on the Colorado River

The Colorado River is the largest river in Colorado and is famous for the whitewater rafting, tubing and kayaking opportunities. We already talked about driving, hiking, and biking in the Glenwood Canyon. Add floating to that list.

You can raft on the Colorado or Roaring Fork Rivers on your trip to Glenwood Springs. On the river, you will be guided by professionals who know the waters well.

Life jackets, wetsuits, and other gear will be provided by the company you book with. Some of the best whitewater rafting in the country is found here! 

Note: Having a professional along is essential because the conditions change daily and water sports require special skills and equipment to keep the family safe.

  • Options for Rafting Companies: Website
  • Location: varies throughout the valley
  • Hours: Call to book a time and date.
  • Price: Generally start about $60 dollars per person. 

Eat a Sweet Treat

End your day with a sweet treat. Actually, hey, you’re on vacation, enjoy a treat any time of day. We love a couple of local places. Sweet Coloradough has yummy donuts and other baked goods. Kaleidoscope is the oldest and the best place for ice cream in town.

For more of our favorite places to eat with our family – read our post on planning a trip to Glenwood Springs.

Explore Rifle Falls State Park

In the nearby small western town of Rifle, you will find an unusual triple waterfall and a surprise of small caves for the kids to play in. The falls are set in an unusual oasis in the middle of the more arid area north of the Hogback. Read our complete review about visiting and camping at Rifle Falls State Park

View of the triple waterfall at Rifle Falls State Park in Rifle Colorado
Rifle Falls at Rifle Falls State Park Colorado

Places to Stay in Glenwood Springs

Glenwood is a perfect family vacation destination in all seasons. You can find fun things to do with your family. Although we are local, we stay-cation in some of the resorts in town. Others we know about from friends or even worked in. These are our suggestions for the best places to stay in Glenwood Springs

Best Family Friendly Hotels in Glenwood Springs

  • Glenwood Hot Springs Resort – Located on the grounds of the Glenwood Hot Springs pool and within walking distance of the downtown area. You will have a relaxing stay and includes unlimited access to Glenwood Hot Springs.
  • Historic Hotel Colorado – Stay across the street from the Glenwood Hot Springs in the beautiful hotel.
  • Hotel Denver – Is located at the brewpub (which serves kids plates on a frisbee and has homebrewed rootbeer. This hotel is across from the train station and 10 minutes’ walk from Glenwood Hot Springs Pool.
  • Best Western Antlers – This a unique Best western has sprawling gardens and is perfectly located within walking distance of both hot springs, and the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. One of our top recommendations for affordable places to stay with kids
  • Hotel Glenwood Springs – Our other top choice for staying with kids. This hotel is located at the base of the Gondolas for the Glenwood Canyon Adventure Park, within walking distance of both hot springs and features an indoor water park. (locals rent rooms here for birthday parties..shhh)

Final Thoughts about Activities in Glenwood Springs:

Glenwood Springs is the ultimate mountain getaway. This oasis will allow you to play during the day and then relax and watch them swim. The hiking trails are winding and full of gorgeous mountain ranges and lakes.

For those ready for an adventure, each season brings a little bit of excitement. You can ski and swim in the winter, ride horseback in the spring, go whitewater rafting in the summer, or go for a lovely nature walk in the fall. The plentiful history of the area and the wealth of opportunities will leave you wanting to come back again!

Related Content from our series on the Glenwood Area:

So now that you are convinced! Let us help you plan the perfect family vacation to Glenwood Springs. We give you inside tips on how to get there, where to stay, and what to eat, from a locals perspective. Read all about it on our blog post –

Guide to visiting Glenwood Springs.

Hiking Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs Colorado - rules, permits, reservations

After your trip to Glenwood Springs come back and let me know – what was your favorite thing to do in Glenwood Springs.

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    Shauna Kocman founder Family Travel Fever
    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

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    1. Amazing post! As a fellow travel blogger looking for some inspiration on our trip in two days I found these tips thorough and incredibly helpful.

      Thank you!!

      1. I am so happy that this was helpful! Enjoy your trip to Glenwood. This is a beautiful time to visit!

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