Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
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Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Logo 2017.png
Slogan America's only mountain top theme park!
Location Glenwood Springs, Colorado, United States of America
Coordinates 39°33?38?N 107°19?13?W
Owner Family Owned
Opened 1999
Previous names Glenwood Caverns (1999-2002)
Operating season Year Round
Rides
Total 12 (as of 2017)
Roller coasters 3
Website http://www.glenwoodcaverns.com/

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is an adventure park located above Glenwood Springs, Colorado, about 160 miles west of Denver. Prior to 2003, only cave tours were available until a major expansion took place. The park is unique because it sits at an altitude of 7,100 feet on a mountain above Glenwood. Today, the park features numerous attractions in addition to the cave tours.

History

Discovery

In the late 1800s, Charles W. Darrow discovered a cave system on Iron Mountain after hearing the mountain "whistle". The source was the cave mouth and in 1895 Darrow opened up the caves to the public. Methods of getting to the caves included horseback to walking. In 1897, Darrow was able to bring electric lights to the cave with the help of the city's hydro-electric plant becoming one of the first caves to do so. In the same year a tunnel was blasted out to Glenwood Canyon with an observation deck named Exclamation Point. With the onset of World War I, the caves were closed to the public in 1917.

New Ownership

In 1999, Steve and Jeanne Beckley, who own the land the cave is on, opened the cave back to public after restoration work. The caverns were accessed by bus using a small building next to the Hotel Colorado as a base. In 2002 the Beckley's gain approval to build a massive expansion. The centerpiece would be a pulse gondola built by Poma and a visitor center at the top of the mountain including a restaurant. The tramway would allow year round access to the caverns. A large sluice box and gift shop were also available to the public. The expansion proved to be a massive success attracting 150,000 people before the one-year anniversary.[1][2][3]

Development into Adventure Park

Due to the tramway increasing uphill capacity, lines for the cave tours became increasingly long. In order to provide something to do while waiting for the cave tours, the park decided to add attractions. Major additions included North America's first alpine coaster, a zip ride, a swing style attraction, and a climbing wall.[4] All attractions opened for the Summer season in May of 2005. Many of the attractions were named by locals.[5] In order to satisfy the increased demand, each pulse on the gondola received another cabin as well. From 2005 to 2010 various attractions were added such as a 4-D theater, the first in Colorado, and other temporary features. The next major attraction came in 2010 in the form of a S&S Power Screamin' Swing. The swing has since gone on to attract notability throughout the theme park world including being on numerous television shows. The zip ride moved in this time frame sharing a joint tower structure with a bungee jump.

Further Expansions

2012 saw the biggest expansion since the 2005 when three new rides were brought to the park. These included a Zierer kiddie coaster and a SBF/Visa Ferris wheel both re-located from a park in Canada. The major addition would be the Cliffhanger roller coaster re-located from the closed Celebration City in Branson, Missouri. The coaster saw a grand opening in June of that year. In 2013, it was revealed the park was working on a expansion on the upper part of the cave system. With this expansion, the single cave tour was split into two smaller 40 minute tours allowing increased capacity. The tramway undertook its own expansion. Two addition pulses were added bringing the total to six pulses for a total of eighteen cabins, the max efficiency of the tramway. The next ride came in 2014 as a SBF/Visa custom swing named Glenwood Canyon Flyer. The swing was installed as a milder alternative to the Giant Canyon Swing. It made an appearance on the show Thrill Factor in 2015 in "Kari Has No Sense".[6] The Winter of 2017 brought an official announcement of the next new ride, the Haunted Mine Drop which is opened in the Summer of 2017. The drop tower is the first in the world to drop underground and features heavy themeing in addition to the 110 foot drop. The park is also expected to receive two "adventure vehicles" which will join the one the park received in 2016. The purpose of the vehicles is to provide alternate transportation up the mountain replacing the buses the park uses for inclement weather. These vehicles will also be used to relieve congestion of the tramway as it has reach maximum capacity.

Rides and attractions

Name Type Year Opened Notes
Alpine Coaster Wiegand Alpine Coaster 2005 First alpine coaster in the United States. Formally named Canyon Flyer,
Cliffhanger S&MC Windstorm 2012 Highest-elevation full-sized roller coaster in the U.S. A Windstorm model, relocated from Celebration City.
Wild West Express Coaster Zierer Kiddie Coaster 2012 Relocated from Canada.
Giant Canyon Swing S&S Sceamin' Swing 2010 Located about 1,300 feet above Colorado River. Featured on numerous TV shows.
Glenwood Canyon Flyer SBF/Visa Custom Swing 2014 Located on edge of Glenwood Canyon between Giant Canyon Swing and Cliffhanger.
Haunted Mine Drop Soaring Eagle Drop Tower 2017 First drop tower in world to drop underground. Opened July 31st.
Soaring Eagle Zip Ride Soaring Eagle Zip Line 2014 Relocated three times. Current boarding area is next to alpine coaster. Features two different lines.
4-D Motion Theater 4-D Theater 2009 First 4-D theater in Colorado.
Giddy Up Ride S&S Frog Hopper Unknown Western themed frog hopper 7 seat model.
Laser Tag Lazer Runner Laser Tag 2009 Located above restaurant in main building.
Mine Wheel SBF/Visa Ferris Wheel 2012 Relocated from Canada.
Iron Mountain Tramway Poma Leitner Pulse Gondola 2003 First pulse gondola opened in North America. Six pulses of three cabins.

Caverns

When the cave was first opened in 1895, visitors could only visit a small portion of the cave. After the cave was essentially abandoned in 1917, the cave was left ungated. During this time, more rooms were discovered. However this came at a price as vandals often took advantage of the cave. In the 1960's Pete Prebble bought the cave from the Darrow family and sealed the cave up with the hopes of making them commercial in the future. While this never happened under him, he explored much more of the cave system. What was initially though to be a small cave turned out to be bigger then expected. Prebble eventually found what became known as The Barn by squeezing through what is known as Jam Crack. Jam Crack is the only known natural passage between the upper and lower parts of the cave at just 8 1/2 inches at the smallest part. The cave is now separated into three sections, upper, middle, and lower parts. Today around three miles of passage way is known to exist, the cave is estimated to have 10 miles total. Even with three miles, it makes the Fairy Cave (the official title of the system) one of the largest systems in the state. It is also a rarity among caves as the caves were formed by hot springs. The cave is still being actively explored by a few cavers.

Historic Fairy Caves Tour

The Fairy Cave tour takes place in the upper section of the cave and is about 1/4 mile of walking. The first half of the tour re-traces the steps of the first part of the discovered cave before going through the Darrow tunnel. This leads to Exclamation Point looking 1,300 feet into Glenwood Canyon. The second half of the tour takes place into places once only accessible by the wild tour This half was opened up in 2013. The tour in mainly geared towards the history of the cave including how it was named. The tour last 40 minutes and due to the small nature of the cave, takes 20 per tour.

Kings Row Tour

Formally the second half of the original cave tour prior to 2013, this tour predominantly features two rooms, The Barn and Kings Row which are in the middle section of the cave. Guest enter through the bore before entering the top of The Barn. The tour is more focused on formations and cave geology as guest descend 127 stairs to the bottom of The Barn. At the bottom is the entrance to Kings Row. Here guides will point out the many features of what is the most decorated cave room in the state with an accompanying light show. Part of the show highlights the caves bio-luminescence. The guest will then proceed slowly back to the start of the tour. The tour last 40 minutes and 25 people on any single tour.

Wild Tour

The wild tour is the only remaining original tour from when the Beckley's first opening the cave abit the path has changed. The tour is much like a caver experiences with crawling through many tight passages with names such as the meat grinder and column crawl. Guest are rewarded with more pristine cave, less visited rooms, and smaller groups. The experience last three hours in groups of eight or smaller. Unlike the regular tours, guest must make reservations in advanced.

References

External links

Coordinates: 39°33?38?N 107°19?13?W / 39.5605°N 107.32016°W / 39.5605; -107.32016


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