As a travel writer specializing in Colorado, I am not supposed to play favorites. I try not to, however, I think we’ve visited Glenwood Springs more than any other place in the state. Does that make it a favorite? You be the judge.
It all started before I moved to Colorado. We flew in and drove back, making a stop at Glenwood Springs for a hike at Hanging Lake and a soak. And it didn’t stop there. When we moved to Colorado we kept vacationing in Glenwood Springs. HeidiTown was founded in 2007, and the visits continued. We’ve spent a number of wedding anniversaries in town and work-related trips for Ryan. There is something about this little town that keeps us coming back again and again.
We found ourselves in town at the beginning of the month for the Colorado Scenic Byway Symposium. I had been slated to speak at the 2020 event in Ouray, but the event was canceled due to COVID-19. So, I made a whirlwind trip with Ryan and Fritzi to speak on May 6, 2021, before speeding back to Denver and boarding a plane to Cozumel, Mexico, in celebration of our 19th anniversary.
What did we do? We ate, soaked, and stayed at Hotel Denver, a dog-friendly hotel located in the middle of the action. Here’s the most recent story.
We never miss a chance to eat at Slope & Hatch. Never. We’ve even timed our drives across the state to include a stop here for lunch. It’s that good and this time was no different. We sailed into town at noon and made our traditional stop.
With the pandemic still with us, Slope & Hatch was take-out only. We ordered and ate at one of the many outside tables around Glenwood Spring’s riverfront. Ryan always gets a hot dog (because they make them fancy) and I always get tacos, because, tacos. Their calamari tacos are otherworldly and I’ve only seen them on the menu here.
Glenwood Springs has a small-town ambiance but isn’t without its share of tourists. After all, this town boasts three hot springs and is home to an active train station that hosts Amtrak daily.
A historic town built along the Colorado River, Glenwood Springs has attractive architecture and history, tree-lined streets, an array of places to stay, and plenty of restaurants. Plus, it is home to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, which is a big draw for families (and, as I can personally attest, fun for grownups too). There’s even a nearby ski area, Sunlight Mountain.
We dined that evening outside on the sunny patio at Riviera Supper Club. Things have changed here since COVID-19 made an unfortunate appearance. There is no longer any music, but it’s still a welcoming environment and they have amazing wine deals on Wine Wednesday. Half-priced glasses of wine had us waxing poetically over past trips to Glenwood Springs.
For dinner, Ryan had lasagna and I had the special of the day, a chicken stuffed Relleno. The menu is in flux as this is a scratch kitchen and changes with the seasons. If a special is especially well-liked by patrons, it may end up on the menu. This cheesy delight is definitely worthy.
That evening, we soaked in Glenwood Hot Springs with friends from the symposium. We’ve been going to this hot springs pool since we were dating in the late 1990s. Ryan’s been going for his entire life. We’ve spent anniversaries and birthdays here. It is one of our favorite places on the planet.
There are two other hot springs destinations in town, including Iron Mountain Hot Springs and Yampah Spa, hot spring-fed vapor caves. We have not been to the latter, but Iron Mountain fits Glenwood Springs like a glove. While Glenwood Hot Springs has a nostalgia that is palpable, Iron Mountain offers views of the river and a sunset view that’s magical.
We stayed at the dog-friendly Hotel Denver, a spot we love to land while in town. It’s ideally located near all the best restaurants (almost next door to Riviera Supper Club), and across the street from the train station. If you take Amtrak from Denver to Glenwood Springs— yes, that route exists—it’s the perfect hotel option.
Our dog-friendly room had floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the train station, river and town. Fritzi made herself right at home, plus her crate fit perfectly inside the open closet, which she loved because it was so cave-like.
New to us, Glenwood Springs has a pierogi food truck, Mama’s Peierogi. It’s just up the street from Riviera in downtown. We dined on the picnic tables out front before dashing home for our first air travel trip in more than a year.
Glenwood Springs is just two and a half hours from Denver. It’s an easy getaway that can be done with or without the dog. It should be on your travel list this year.