And Glenwood Springs is Where?
Often when I mention Glenwood Springs, I am asked, “Where’s that?” People who have driven cross-country on Interstate 70 a myriad of times still give me a blank stare. It’s right on I-70, about 2 hours west of Denver and an hour east of Grand Junction.
Glenwood Springs is a mining town, and there are a fair share of those up there in the Rockies. It has been somewhat taken over by hipsters and marijuana clinics, but that’s Colorado, too (at least, that’s how those of us not from Colorado see Colorado). But its chief attraction — and why you would want to know about it is in the name — its hot springs.
But the truly neat thing about Glenwood Springs is that it isn’t an elite spa resort. It’s an easy place for a family traveling cross-country to find refreshment, or for a couple to find an affordable romantic getaway. The town has plenty of motels and hotels in all price ranges. Restaurants cover the gamut from upscale fast food like Qdoba to coffee shops and trendy brewpubs.
Your Hot Springs Options
Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Spa has been around since 1888 is the world’s largest mineral springs pool.
It’s located in the center of the commercial area of town, north of the freeway. After finding parking either on the street or following the signs, you enter this big stone edifice, pay your fees ($15.75-$21.50 per adult, depending on the season. This is all day. You can leave and come back.), and make your way to the nice, clean locker room to change. Should you have found yourself without a suit, a towel, or a lock, they can help you for a small fee.
Once you leave the locker room and go back outside, there are two large pools.
The therapeutic pool is kept at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Therapy chairs sit along one side of the pool, they have jets that create a jacuzzi experience (again, for a small fee). The rest of the pool is for wading, swimming, and relaxing. Adjacent to the therapeutic pool, the second pool is kept in the 80-degree range and boasts two waterslides. There’s something vaguely ancient Roman bath-ish about the stone-slab bottom of the communal pools. Should swimming hunger hit, there is a cafe.
Our first time visiting the pool was when we were moving to California with a 9-month-old who was irate about the long driving trip that didn’t seem to end. I could just feel him relax in my arms as we floated in the water. Ever since then, it has been the favorite part of our cross-country drive. Even with a decent crowd, it is very easy to lay back and float in the vaguely sulfuric water, gaze at the mountain-tops and forget the world.
The ambiance of Iron Mountain Hot Springs makes this place a completely different experience than The Glenwood Hot Springs. The resort has 16 small pools, all heated to different temperatures ranging from 98 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. It is quite the pick-your-hot-tub experience. With stone pathways from pool to pool, mood lighting, waterfalls, and New-Agey music in the background, it’s definitely more of a spa resort. The pools closest to the river are the most popular, not only because of the best views but because they have river stones on the bottom, providing a really nice foot massage.
While they do also have a large family pool and cafe, Iron Mountain just feels much more like a nice date or haven than a family place. My kids would’ve gotten bored in the jacuzzis and hindered my relaxation process. Rates run from $20-$25 for adults for the entire day, depending on whether it is a holiday season or not. The lockers are free, while the showers are fabulous (I repeat..fabulous). We found the staff to be very helpful, and they were constantly flitting about checking and posting the temperature at each of the pools.
Even though I could still hear the cars on the freeway and the mountain view included parked tanker cars and probably the most scenically located Petco ever, I still relished the experience. When the sunlight descended behind the hills and played off the gold leaves of the aspens, it was sublime.
Hotels and Restaurants
I expect my hotel rooms to be clean, comfortable and have free internet, beyond that, I really am not picky. We stayed at the Caravan Inn our first time through (booked through Hotels.com). The staff was helpful when we arrived late and the rooms were nice. The motel is further away from the hot springs, but it was nice to have a grocery store nearby and to see the “lived-in” part of the town. Caravan Inn does offer a free breakfast, but since I have celiac disease, I can’t make use of most hotel breakfasts. They share a parking lot with a wonderful Thai restaurant called Chang Thai Cuisine . The Tom Ka Gai and Massaman Curry were delicious and the lunch prices were great.
On our way back we stayed at the Rodeway Inn on Highway 6 near Iron Mountain Hot Springs because Choice Hotels had started their Stay 2 Nights, Get 1 Free promotion. Keep an eye out for this promotion. As a rule, Choice Hotels (Comfort Inn, Comfort Inn Suites, Econolodge, Rodeway Inn, and a few others) are usually clean and comfortable. Rodeway Inn definitely lived up to this. It is also nice that hotel room fridges and microwaves have become more the rule than the exception.
Restaurant Award: Grind
After our evening soak at Iron Mountain Resort, we checked out a hamburger joint dubbed “Grind” for a very apt reason: they grind their own meat and make burgers with lamb, buffalo, pork, chicken, grass-fed beef, black bean, falafel or tuna. With a creative mix of salads and sides, 20 craft brews on taps, and ice cream shakes (and adult shakes!) it was a delicious meal. It was Tuesday night, so we watched their weekly trivia contest, “Geeks Who Drink.” Hilarious
Other Activities in Glenwood Springs
- Book Train, a local bookstore was pretty cool with a good selection and some great knick-knacks.
- Yampa Spa and Salon – didn’t have time, but the vapor caves looked cool.
- Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park — We really wanted to go up the tram and check this out. Our next destination called. Iron Mount Hot Springs has special combination deals for this and
- Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort
- hiking, mountain biking, river rafting, kayaking, and so much else.
We drove through going east in early October and returned in mid-October, technically the offseason. It was a perfect time to be there. There weren’t any crowds, the Fall colors were spectacular, and the air was cool, but not icy. It is a wonderful time to explore this exquisite town.