The Great Zo Posted January 15, 2020 Share Posted January 15, 2020 (edited) I've been working through a backlog of photos from 2019, and I swear I still want to get a trip report going from TPR's awesome trip to Europe. But how can I resist doing a TR from one of the most scenic parks in the US? Especially when it's one that so few park enthusiasts have been to? Here's Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park -- a park on a mountain in beautiful Glenwood Springs, Colorado. In mid-September, I took a 5 day trip to Colorado with my friend and sorta-coworker John. John lives in central Pennsylvania, and while he's not a theme park guy, he's been to Knoebels with me and had a great time. He knew going into this trip that a visit to Glenwood Caverns was going to be on the agenda. He's also afraid of heights. How would it go? Read on to find out! We visited Glenwood Caverns on Tuesday, September 17, driving in from the Denver metro area in the morning. On a weekday after the end of the summer tourist season, the park was almost completely empty, leaving absolutely no problem with getting on all of the rides -- multiple times, if desired. In all honesty, I would be surprised if there were more than 150 guests in the park. You'll see a few guests appearing in multiple pictures throughout the trip report, including John -- who I had to ask nicely, on multiple occasions, to get on a ride by himself so I could actually get pictures of it operating! We spent about 5 and a half hours at Glenwood Caverns, which included quite a bit of time for photography. This was part of a longer visit to the area, so as I normally do, I'll include an addendum to this trip report in a few days -- other things to do near Glenwood Springs. The Attractions: Haunted Mine Drop: This ride is quite the experience. It's the first drop ride in the world that was built into the ground rather than into the air. It's a Stan Checketts creation, so you know there's a little bit of crazy going into it, including the seatbelts-only restraint system. It's also heavily themed, mostly in the dark, and includes some fun / slightly-creepy show scenes. The 110-foot drop is very sudden, and provides the kind of sensation you get from those Larson / ARM drop towers. I won't spoil the story, but there's a bit of family betrayal, and somebody ends up underground. This is a fantastic ride, and deserves all the positive attention it received when it opened in 2017. Here's the one problem: it seats 6 people, with a ride cycle time of probably around 5 minutes. It would be a capacity nightmare if the park was busy. On the day we visited, however, we were the only ones on the ride. Alpine Coaster: It was just about a week ago that I posted a short photo review of the new Georgia Mountain Coaster, and hinted that while I liked it, I'd found a new favorite not long after. Well, here's the new favorite. This Wiegand alpine coaster is outstanding in so many ways, but we'll start with the setting -- it traverses down the side of the mountain that the Glenwood Caverns park is built on. The views are simply stunning the entire way down. It's also a fairly long alpine coaster, with a total elevation change of about 320 feet, and a length (per RCDB) of 3199 feet. That's longer than all the other Alpine coasters I've been on except for the Smoky Mountain coaster in Pigeon Forge. It also makes good use of its length, with lots of tight turns and a few little drops. It's not quite as intense as the best moments on the Georgia or Gatlinburg coasters, but again -- the view! Cliffhanger: The claim to fame with this coaster -- the larger of the two coasters at Glenwood Caverns -- is its 7,160 foot height above sea level. They claim it's the highest elevation full-circuit roller coaster in North America, and I can't argue with that. (edit: as pointed out by thrillseeker4552, Six Flags Mexico has it beat) Of course, the ride isn't anything too special -- it's an S&MC Hurricane, which there aren't many of, but it's basically a slightly-better Pinfari or Windstorm type of coaster. It's also the highest ground-based attraction in the park, though I think the zip line gets higher at the top of its lift. Fun fact: this ride formerly operated at Celebration City as Thunderbolt, before re-opening at Glenwood Caverns in 2012. Wild West Express: Your basic small Zierer Tivoli. I got the credit. Actually, I got the credit six times, because they sent us around over and over and over. John got the credit twelve times, because I needed pictures. Giant Canyon Swing: It's one of the small S&S Screamin' Swings, but oh, does it have a setting. This is probably one of Glenwood Caverns' most famous attractions, because the backswing on this ride faces you straight down the side of a 1300-foot cliff. I'm not joking -- I looked up the elevations. It's that big of a drop. I enjoy Screamin' Swings, especially if they have decent views like at the two at the Herschend parks. This one, however, is in a class all on its own. Glenwood Canyon Flyer: This is a basic swing ride -- SBF/Visa Custom Swing -- that just happens to also be built over the edge of the 1300-foot cliff. When the swings get going, they really do extend out beyond the edge of the ride platform, leaving completely unobstructed views down to Interstate 70 and the Colorado River below. Soaring Eagle Zip Line: You'll see these small zip lines at various parks, usually as up-charge attractions due to their low capacity. This one is included with the full park admission. It offers perhaps the most expansive views at Glenwood Caverns, though the ride isn't really particularly thrilling -- it actually feels fairly controlled. Mine Wheel: A very small Ferris wheel located near the park's entry plaza. I would have loved to see this ride built near the cliffside like some of the others, because its position near the entrance actually doesn't offer up too many good views. The Caverns: The cave tours at Glenwood Caverns are what started the whole thing -- in particular, they were the starring attraction when the current version of Glenwood Caverns opened in 1999. The caves aren't as expansive or magnificent as Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City, but that's just nature -- Colorado's caves are naturally more cramped and small. For their size, these caves are magnificent, and definitely worth seeing. There are two main cave tours -- the Historic Fairy Cave Tour and the Kings Row Tour. I'll explain a bit more about the caves in the photo captions. There's also a 2-hour Wild Cave Tour, which is a longer experience for those looking to crawl through some really tight spaces and get a bit dirty. You have to book that one in advance. Overall Thoughts: I'm finding it hard to find anything negative to say about Glenwood Caverns. I guess it's a little bit expensive for a small park, with a summer ticket price of $58 -- which also includes your ride on the gondola to get up the mountain. Having just been in the Alps this past summer, I was paying similar prices just for a Gondola ride up a mountain -- without the benefit of having a park at the top! I like mountains, so I'm fine with that, but it makes Glenwood Caverns actually seem like the price isn't all that bad. The other thing, of course, is that it's a small park -- there just aren't that many attractions. The current incarnation of the park has only been open since 1999, so they're growing at a sustainable pace, and I appreciate that for sure. A mid-size thrilling coaster would really round things out, and I think there's probably room behind the current attractions, further north on the mountain. But there's no point in thinking of this park as a credit run -- that would defeat the purpose. I'm excited to see whatever they build next, because the park's setting is going to make just about any type of ride a whole lot better. This is a park that is really about the whole mountain experience, and the attractions are very well rounded. Where else can you get on a roller coaster, an alpine coaster, a Screamin' Swing, and tour inside a cave at the same place? Nowhere that I can think of. So be sure to enjoy all of it when you visit. Do the cave tours. Take some time to enjoy the views. Ride the alpine coaster over and over. This is one of the most unique theme parks in the US, and even if it's small and out of the way, it's easily a place I'd recommend to visit. A tip of the hat to our cave tour guide, Ken Newton, who was fantastic. Also, my thanks to John for joining me on this park visit and conquering ... for the most part ... his fear of heights. Edited January 16, 2020 by The Great Zo Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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