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From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
The fourth day trip was less majestic but a lot of fun. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located half way up a mountain overlooking the town of Glenwood Springs. The only way to get to the park is via gondola. Over time, a full blown park with thrill rides, entertainment and concerts has been built up. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Junction, following I-70 up and along the Colorado River.
Public tours of caverns high up on the side of Iron Mountain began in 1895, closed around the time of World War I and were updated and reopened in 1999. I like a good roller coaster but putting them on the side of a mountain makes for an increased level of pucker. This is the view down on Glenwood Canyon from just above The Alpine Coaster.
This is the start of the Alpine Coaster. It was built in Germany and the company had to be persuaded that it could be installed on the side of a mountain. It is really a thrilling ride, reaching speeds and G forces comparable to any good coaster as it flies down the steep side of the mountain amongst the natural vegetation.
The park cleverly squeezes extra bucks out of attendees with its automated picture and video services. After going on a ride with this option, you can take a look to decide if the picture or video is worth the steep price. In this case, I thought it was. This Alpine Coaster was my favorite of the day. You can control your speed with a hand brake as you fly down the track through the sagebrush and pull some hard lateral Gs on the curves. We rode it multiple times.
There are two different guided tours of Glenwood Caverns and adjoining Historic Fairy Caves and an option for self-guided ones for those who know what they’re doing…I’m looking at you, OzarkHillbilly. The 52 degree temps felt mighty fine after the July heat and, at about 45 minutes, was just about the right length for my old knees.
Our guide was pretty knowledgeable and entertaining and had her presentation well polished. This was the one place in the park people are encouraged to take pictures.
Sometimes, pareidolia is too strong a force to deny. It certainly is in the case of this Cave Bacon.
This ride looks pretty sedate, right? It’s the Glenwood Canyon Flyer and all it does is swing people around.
Well, it’s a bit more daunting from below. There is an alcove built by the first owner of the caves out on to the face of a 700 foot cliff, accessible only from the cave. He used to charge people extra to be served fancy meals out there, looking down on the valley. Now days, it’s just a part of the cave tour and looking up, a more sinister view of the Flyer comes into view. My grandson said this was actually the scariest ride of the day as you just sit loosely in your swing seat, trusting Mr. Newton’s Laws to keep you in place. This is a ride I chose not to take.
There is a small Ferris wheel in the park and this is the view from the top. The town of Glenwood Springs spills across the floor of the valley cut by the Roaring Fork River. The river comes down from the south and the area around Mt. Sopris (the twin humped peak on the left horizon) and Aspen.
Our day was done and we descended via cable car. This is a shot of the newest and most extreme of the rides in the park and one we did not ride. Called the Defiance Roller Coaster, you can see that coming over the top, you are actually in a slightly inverted position. What you cannot see is that it is perched on the edge a cliff that falls away hundreds of feet to the valley floor and the Colorado River below. Next time…
The end is in sight with only a trip to The Potholes up on Glade Park and a float trip on the Colorado River to come.
Looks like an awesome day! I love alpine slides, even if my kids think I’m a big chicken on the turns
Love the Alpine coaster! I’d prolly wuss out of the Defiance Ride but the Adventure Park is fun. Perfect for a summer trip.
my daughters on the “wild tour” of the Fairy Cavrs. Number of years ago. We went into parts of the cavern that required tight crawls in your belly while carrying your own light. Good muddy fun. Before you went into the cave with your guide you had to demonstrate that you would fit through a model of the tightest squeeze.
Roller coasters. On the side of a mountain. I’m both intrigued and terrified. Except I think I have to try it!
Those rides look terrifying!
@eclare: I’m with you on the rides. I wasn’t all that brave about rides when I was young, but now I have the added problem of positional vertigo. If I were there I would probably not even want to watch that spinning ride!
But — what a beautiful place, still and again. Nice pics, cope — you’re giving us a wonderful sense of what that countryside is like. I only ever drove through Grand Junction without stopping to explore. Looks like I missed a lot.
I watched all this being built on many drives between the eastern and western side of Colo but never made the time to visit. My father did some of the preliminary engineering work needed to prove the rock was strong enough to put up the gondola.
@StringOnAStick: That’s pretty cool about your dad. I looked pretty hard at how the various rides were anchored with my geologist’s eye and felt pretty secure. Your dad did a pretty good job I’d say.