Fall in the Rockies is second to none, and there are few better places to go for a long, autumn weekend than Glenwood Springs. A perfect combination of adventure and relaxation exclaimated with amazing scenery in the colorful Colorado mountains. And mid-September is the best time to visit, with a balance of great weather and the peak of colors.
Our trip began after work on Thursday. Hurrying home to pack up the truck and grab the wife and pup. Once we got out of the city, the 150-mile, 2-and-a-half-hour drive was punctuated by the changing of the aspens. The higher in altitude we got the more vibrant the colors. Although the setting sun made things a bit hard to see as we got over Vail Pass. By the time we got to Glenwood Canyon it was dark.
Glenwood Canyon on I-70 it is the crown jewel of the U.S. Interstate System. It is a perfect combination of function and form. The road is stacked, built to hug the canyon walls, twisting and turning providing a great drive for any automotive enthusiast, and commanding views of the Colorado River raging below. In all the places I have driven across the States, this stretch is hands down my favorite. I have driven it in everything from large SUVs to supercars, and the vehicle is never the best part of the drive.
For our stay we picked the Hotel Denver. A historic accommodation that provides great service, an old-time feel, and perfect location for exploring Glenwood Springs. It is situated on the south-side of the Colorado River, across from the train station, with easy access by foot to everything Glenwood Springs has to offer. Most importantly for us it is pet friendly, which is included in the price of the room. Rooms range from about $150 per night and up. On-site you will also find the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, where as it turned out was having an Octoberfest celebration that weekend.
Day one started with breakfast from River Blend Coffee House in the hotel lobby. We booked a 2-hour horseback ride with Glenwood Adventure Company at Bair Ranch which is a short drive back through the canyon. My wife had never been on a horse and I have been thrown off most I have ever been on (younger days spent riding green-broke horses). The staff there could not have picked better companions for our riding level. My stead Paul and I had a tough start trying to establish who was in charge. Paul wanted to be at the front of the group at a quick pace while I wanted to be close to my wife on her first ride. We compromised, we did what Paul wanted while my wife’s horse, whom had one speed (slow), remained in the back of the pack. The mid-September temperatures were perfect, and the fall colors made the ride that much better.
Sore and dirty we returned to the Hotel Denver for a quick clean up and lunch at The Pullman. Then we walked across the foot bridge over the highway and river and relaxed our aches with an afternoon at the historic Glenwood Springs Pool. This is the main reason for visiting this town anytime of year. Even Doc Holiday believed it would cure what ailed him. I thought that the springs would be full of the old and infirm finding respite in the mineral waters. I was very wrong. This place is for all ages and every reason for just wanting a warm pool to sit, swim, or dive in. The pool is at varying temperatures and depth and the overall vibe is relaxed. As someone who is not fond of public pools (it’s the people and screaming, splashing children that turn me off), this was perfect. Three-hours later we were rested and relaxed in a way I have never felt. Although I am convinced the euphoric feeling was a combination of tiredness, oxygen deprivation from the altitude, dehydration, and the salty waters. But the feeling was still great. The day ended with a walk with the pup through downtown and ice cream at The Chocolate Moose, followed by dinner at Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse.
Day two began with the best french toast ever at Daily Bread. Then, feeling as if we had abandoned the pup the day before, we grabbed what we needed for a city hike. First stop was Doc Holiday’s Grave, or memorial marker as it turned out. No one knows exactly where the dentist turned poker player with TB and infamous gunslinger of Tombstone is buried, simply described as “somewhere” on top of the hill. We highly recommend taking the foot path instead of the road. There is no traffic, but the incline is better for walking and is more stable on the path. The cemetery was surprisingly filled with people, and Doc’s grave had many offerings of cards, bullets, and whiskey-filled shot glasses.
On the way down, we discovered a trail along the 12th Street Ditch taking us to the Raging Fork River. The trail took us back downtown where a nap awaited the pup and Octoberfest at Glenwood Brewing Company was just starting. The rest of the day was spent…well admittedly drinking copious amounts of delicious beer and eating schnitzel and pretzels. The communal tables allowed us to make new friends (one of whom was actually from my small home-town in Michigan, small world). We ate, drank, and played games with strangers. We finished the day at the Riviara Supper Club (where many of our Octoberfest companions were), then went to sleep, full of beer and good food.
Returning to Denver we decided more colors were in store for us, so we headed south to Aspen, over Independence Pass, and back up to I-70. Our weekend complete, we are looking forward to our next trip to experience more of what Glenwood springs has to offer.
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