Exploring Glenwood Springs’ Natural Beauty


Known for its wealth of natural hot springs and proximity to stunning public lands, Glenwood Springs has rightfully earned its reputation as an outdoor lover’s paradise.

This article will highlight everything you need to know to plan the ultimate nature escape in Glenwood Springs, from its world-famous hot springs to the plethora of outdoor adventures that await. We’ll also dive into the area’s vibrant local culture and rich history. By the end, you’ll see why visitors keep returning to this magical slice of the Centennial State year after year.


  • Glenwood Springs is home to the world's largest natural hot springs pool and numerous smaller soaking spots.
  • The town provides easy access to hiking, rafting, skiing, and more on public lands like White River National Forest.
  • Historic attractions and local festivals let visitors immerse themselves in authentic Colorado culture.

Destination Overview

The main appeal of Glenwood Springs is no secret – this town is synonymous with hot springs. The crown jewel is the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, spanning over two blocks as the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. Here, visitors can relax in the soothing 104°F waters, enjoying views of the surrounding mountains.

In addition to the main pool, Glenwood Springs hosts smaller natural hot springs like the Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Strawberry Hot Springs, and South Canyon Hot Springs. These off-the-beaten-path soaking spots provide more intimate escapes.

Of course, the attractions in Glenwood Springs extend far beyond its geothermal waters. Outdoor enthusiasts flock here for adventures like hiking the iconic Hanging Lake Trail and rafting the Colorado River. The vast White River National Forest, Flat Tops Wilderness, and nearby Elk Mountains offer endless recreation opportunities.

From soaking in therapeutic mineral waters to exploring alpine forests and canyons, Glenwood Springs has something to delight every nature-loving traveler.

Local Experiences and Culture

Beyond the wealth of natural attractions, Glenwood Springs also lets visitors connect with authentic local culture and heritage.

Annual events like the Strawberry Days festival offer a glimpse into traditional pastimes, with activities like berry-picking contests and parades. Likewise, the Frontier Historical Society Museum chronicles the history of settlers and Native peoples in the region.

The Ute Indian tribes consider the Glenwood Springs area sacred ground, calling it “Yampah” (big medicine) for its healing waters. Various businesses are carrying on Ute traditions today through services like the Yampah Spa Vapor Caves.

Glenwood Springs does an exemplary job preserving local culture from Ute history to Old West lore. Visitors can immerse themselves in traditions, old and new.

Outdoor Adventures

Of course, one of Glenwood Springs’s main draws is the sheer diversity of outdoor recreation readily available both in town and on public lands just beyond city limits.

Hiking trails for all abilities crisscross the area. Family-friendly routes like the Hanging Lake Trail and Grizzly Creek take you past unique natural landmarks while more advanced hikes and summit peaks over 13,000 feet!

The Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers provide thrilling whitewater through Glenwood Canyon and the Shoshone section. Rafting outfitters offer everything from peaceful floats to Class IV rapids. Local companies also provide rentals and tours for cycling, rock climbing, ziplining, etc.

The sprawling White River National Forest lies north of town, with over 2,500 miles of trails to explore. One of Colorado’s most scenic byways is Independence Pass.

Whether you spend the day rafting, exploring a hiking trail, or enjoying a scenic drive through the changing aspen leaves, Glenwood Springs serves as the perfect base camp for Rocky Mountain adventures.

Natural Hot Springs

Of course, we can’t discuss Glenwood Springs without highlighting the area’s famous wealth of natural hot springs. Guests soak in the mineral-rich waters under the stars.

Finally, South Canyon Hot Springs remains one of the few remaining primitive hot springs where visitors can enjoy free creekside soaks (though be prepared for some nudity!).

With healing minerals and stunning scenery, Glenwood’s numerous hot springs offer the perfect way to unwind after days filled with outdoor adventures. The Yampah Vapor Caves are the only ones of their kind and a unique experience not to be missed.

Historical Significance

Beyond natural attractions, Glenwood Springs also provides a window into Colorado’s larger history. Archaeological evidence shows nomadic hunter-gatherers inhabiting the area as far back as 10,000 years ago.

However, the Ute tribes were the main inhabitants until their forced removal in the late 1800s. They considered the Yampah (Glenwood Springs) area sacred due to the healing hot springs and would travel long distances to soak and heal.

As settlers moved West, famous Wild West figures like “Doc” Holliday moved through Glenwood Springs to gamble and access the purportedly healing springs, leaving their mark. The city was officially incorporated in 1885.

From ancient peoples to more recent settlers, the history of Glenwood Springs shapes the culture visitors see today. It provides a microcosm of frontier life in the American West.

Wildlife and Nature

In addition to historical attractions, Glenwood Springs’ diversity of ecosystems also makes it a hidden gem for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

The Roaring Fork River’s riparian habitat provides a crucial sanctuary for animals like mink, beaver, bald eagles, and osprey. Mule deer and bighorn sheep roam the arid canyons just outside town.

To the north, the vast White River National Forest gives way to open parklands where visitors can spot elk, black bears, coyotes, and more. Birders will delight in species from hummingbirds to hawks that call this area home.

Of course, we can’t forget the stunning natural landscapes carved through millennia of flowing waters. Visitors will marvel at the red sandstone cliffs while soaking in the hot springs pools or gazing up at the granite walls of Glenwood Canyon from their raft.

With diverse ecosystems and habitats, Glenwood Springs is a hidden gem for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Adventure Sports

Thrill-seekers will also find their fix in Glenwood Springs. Outdoor outfitters offer guided tours for climbing, ziplining, paddling Class IV rapids, and more within minutes of downtown.

The limestone cliffs surrounding Glenwood provide premier rock climbing, with routes ranging from beginner to advanced. Adrenaline junkies will also find satisfaction careening over the Colorado River on one of the area’s epic ziplines.

The Roaring Fork Club‘s private 18-hole course provides a scenic and challenging round of golf for duffers looking to play a round between hot springs soaks.

Of course, the most famous local adventure sport is undoubtedly whitewater rafting. Experienced paddlers can run the Shoshone stretch through Glenwood Canyon for Class IV rapids and breathtaking views.

Whether you prefer to get your adrenaline pumping on land or water, Glenwood Springs serves up plenty of high-octane fun.

Scenic Drives

Finally, few attractions can compete with the simple joy of a scenic drive admiring Colorado’s natural splendor. Luckily, the landscape surrounding Glenwood Springs provides plenty of sights.

The famed Glenwood Canyon drive follows I-70 for roughly 12 miles, providing stunning views of the Colorado River and surrounding red rock cliffs. This engineering marvel contains one of the country’s largest freeway tunnels.

Visitors can also embark on the scenic drive through Independence Pass – open seasonally – to marvel at the second-highest paved road in Colorado. Aspen groves and soaring peaks create quintessential alpine scenery.

Of course, even the drive into Glenwood Springs along the Colorado River and through canyons like No Name or Grizzly treat drivers to breathtaking vistas of the Rocky Mountains.


What is there to do in Glenwood Springs besides hot springs?

Glenwood Springs provides easy access to iconic Colorado activities like hiking, biking, rafting, and skiing. Major attractions include Hanging Lake, Glenwood Canyon, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and the White River National Forest.

What is the best time of year to visit Glenwood Springs?

Summer and fall provide peak tourism seasons with warm weather for enjoying the hot springs and adventure activities. However, winter and spring offer stunning scenery and smaller crowds.

Where should I stay when visiting Glenwood Springs?

Downtown Glenwood provides walkable access to hot springs and restaurants. However, lodges along the Colorado River, as well as vacation rentals, offer more seclusion while still remaining close to attractions.

Is Glenwood Springs safe for solo female travelers?

Yes – like most Colorado mountain towns, Glenwood Springs is very safe. However, standard precautions for hiking and recreating alone should still apply.

What is there to do in Glenwood Springs at night?

Downtown Glenwood offers a variety of dining options, bars with live music, escape rooms, and more. Hot springs like Iron Mountain, a National Natural Landmark, also offer evening soaking under the stars.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at ReadyColorado.com. My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.