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Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Community Legacy

Formerly named Defiance, and later Glenwood Springs for the area’s hot springs, the town has always been a destination for the health seeker. The Ute Indians recognized the healing powers of the hot springs and visited regularly. Founded in the 1880s as a health resort and spa, the town was built around natural hot springs of the Grand (now Colorado) River. The Hot Springs Pool opened in 1888. Pioneer Walter Devereux saw potential in the springs and built the Hotel Colorado as well as the Hot Springs Pool and Bathhouse to cater to the rich and famous. With the coming of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 1887, the hot springs resort and the town were on the map.

Glenwood Springs is still a well-loved destination for generations of travelers who come for the pool and caves as well as skiing, rafting, hunting, biking and hiking.

Did you know Glenwood Springs is home to the world’s largest hot springs pool?

Founded in the 1880s as a health resort and spa, Glenwood Springs was built around the natural hot springs of the Grand (now Colorado) River. The Hot Springs Pool opened on July 4, 1888 and the beautiful stone bathhouse was added two years later. To give wealthy travelers a lodging experience to match their high-brow expectations, the magnificent Hotel Colorado was opened in 1893 and the Vapor Cave was the finishing touch to the resort complex a year later.

In the years since, Glenwood Springs has added activities to entertain visitors, such as the Fairy Caves, which first opened for public tours in 1895. Nearby Sunlight Mountain Resort is an affordable, family-friendly ski area catering to all abilities. Hunting, fishing and rafting have always been available for the outdoors enthusiast. A world-class kayak park sits in the Colorado River just a few blocks from downtown. And, for those adventurous souls who dream of flying, paragliding beckons from the top of Red Mountain.

Did you know the Fairy Caves were one of the first electrically lighted caves in the country?

The Historic Fairy Caves, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park attraction, was a thriving tourist destination in the 1890s. Charles W. Darrow, a pioneering Glenwood Springs attorney opened the Fairy Caves to visitors in 1895. At that time, the known extent of the cave on Iron Mountain was about 800 feet. Glenwood Caverns, including the Historic Fairy Caves, now has more than 16,000 known feet. When the Fairy Caves opened to the public, visitors accessed the caves by walking up a trail, riding a horse or burro, or being driven in a horsedrawn carriage. By 1897, wires were strung up the mountain from the hydroelectric plant and colored light bulbs lit the caves, giving it a fairy-like appearance.

Visitors today travel on the Iron Mountain Tramway and if you look closely, you can see holes in the cave walls where the electric lights were installed over a hundred years ago.

Did you know that infamous dentist turned gunslinger, Doc Holliday, died in Glenwood Springs?

He was a gentleman, raised in the courteous ways of the South, who subscribed to the lawlessness of a post-Civil War West. He was a dentist, and a gambler. A gunfighter, living life on his terms, but, at the same time, controlled by a disease that had no cure. He was John Henry “Doc” Holliday.

Holliday, born in 1851, came west after a medical diagnosis of tuberculosis. Glenwood Springs was a quickly growing community, and when he arrived in May 1887, Holliday checked into the recently completed Hotel Glenwood. The hot springs—the possible cure for his tuberculosis—was just a short walk away. By mid-September, Holliday became bedridden, and by late October was delirious. John Henry Holliday died in his bed at the Hotel Glenwood, his hair grayed, he was gaunt and bent. He was 36 years old. He was laid to rest at the Linwood Cemetery on November 8, 1887.

Did you know that Glenwood Springs is your destination for year-round fun?

Named The Most Fun Town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today’s 2011 Best of the Road Rally, Glenwood Springs offers seasonal recreational delights!


Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association –
Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum–
Hot Springs Lodge and Pool –


Glenwood Springs is located between Aspen and Vail, 165 miles west of Denver or 90 miles east of Grand Junction on I-70 off Exit 116.

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