Visit The Only Mountain-Top Amusement Park At This Western US Destination

Colorado has mountain vistas and countless natural wonders. The state also has a hidden gem that is not as well known as its many underrated national parks. In Glenwood Springs, about an hour from Aspen, you'll find Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. However, this is no ordinary theme park. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located on Iron Mountain, 7,100 feet above sea level, making this the country's only amusement park of its kind. In fact, visitors have to take a five-minute gondola ride through the air to enter the park.

That said, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park did not start as a theme park. The area that encompasses the park is home to the Fairy Caves, a cave system that was first opened to visitors in 1895. The caves were later closed to the public in 1917, and in 1998, Steve and Jeanne Beckley, avid spelunkers, purchased the caves. They re-opened them for visitors shortly after as the Glenwood Caverns.

In 2005, Glenwood Caverns began its transformation into a theme park. While the park has a few kid-friendly attractions, including a Ferris wheel and a low-speed coaster, thrill rides are where Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park truly shines.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is for adrenaline junkies

If you're not into rides that give you that pit in your stomach feeling, you might want to steer clear of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The park is acclaimed for its impressive rides, which take guests to new heights against a bucolic mountain backdrop. In 2022, the park opened Defiance, the highest-looping roller coaster in the country. Riders go up 110 feet before facing a 102.3-foot drop and frightening twists and turns. The extremity of the ride can be seen in the TikTok above. 

Then there's the Giant Canyon Swing. This self-explanatory ride swings at 50 miles per hour as riders are presented with breathtaking nature-filled views. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is also home to an Alpine Coaster. Riders can choose the speed of the sled, making this an adult and kid-friendly ride. 

However, the Crystal Tower is a must if you want an indoor ride experience. The ride was previously known as the Haunted Mine Drop and was closed and remodeled from 2021 until 2023. Riders are strapped in and dropped 110 feet inside a crystal-filled cave. Those who want to experience the rides mentioned above must sign a waiver.

Go underground with Glenwood Caverns

Tickets for Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park vary depending on the season. At the time of this publication, summer tickets (May-October) cost $64 for children and $69 for adults. In the winter (November-March), tickets are $47 for children and $52 for adults. Compared to other expensive big-name theme parks, these prices are a steal. The tickets, which include the gondola ride to the top, allow visitors to ride all the rides in the park to their heart's content. Although it's now a famed theme park, Glenwood Caverns has not abandoned its original mission of allowing visitors inside its caves.

Thus, a ticket provides access to two cave tours: the King's Row Cave and Historic Fairy Caves. While the largest cave system in the U.S. is on the East Coast, Glenwood Caverns Caves are, nonetheless, a sight to be seen. Both tours are 40 minutes long. However, the King's Row Cave is 150 feet below ground and features stalagmites and other rock formations. On the other hand, the Historic Fairy Caves Tour provides an educational aspect of the caves.

Appropriate clothing while touring the 52-degree caves is recommended. Alternatively, you could skip out on the rides and pay for a ticket that gives you access to only the gondola ride and the caves. The hours and days the park is open vary, so check their calendar before planning a trip.