One of the things about traveling by RV that makes it so much fun is the serendipity, the unscheduled things that you just happen upon and, in the moment, take advantage of because, with an RV, you can.
Such was the town of Glenwood Springs along I-70 180 miles west of Denver, home of the world’s largest hot springs pool.
The hot mineral water has been drawing visitors from all over the world since 1888, when a resort and original spa officially opened for business. But even before that, the Ute Indians made yearly pilgrimages to the springs which they considered to be sacred.
Glenwood Springs was originally known as “Defiance”. Defiance was established in 1883, a camp of tents, saloons, and brothels with an increasing amount of cabins and lodging establishments. It was populated with the expected crowd of gamblers, gunslingers and prostitutes. Wild West legend Doc Holliday of the Gunfight at the OK Coral fame spent the final months of his life in Glenwood Springs and is buried in the town's original Pioneer Cemetery. Suffering from tuberculosis, he hoped the healing waters would extend his life. President Teddy Roosevelt spent an entire summer vacation living out of the historic Hotel Colorado near the springs.
Today, the hot springs have been turned into a community swimming pool. For$18, you can spend the day in it. The big pool is the size of a football field and is 90 – 93 degrees Fahrenheit, all year long. A
smaller therapy pool is between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit and has bubble chairs and submerged marble benches. There are two water slides and a kiddie pool.
As the kids, in laws and grandkids swam in the hot springs pool, Jennifer and I dog sat Tai, Sequoia and Charlie in our Roadtrek eTrek, running the air conditioner full blast in the parking lot. It was a tight squeeze. The outside temperature was in the low nineties.
It was in Glenwood Springs after the hot springs swim that we said goodbye to Jeff and Aimee, who had to return to Michigan for their jobs a little earlier than the rest of us. Daughter Wendy and Dan Bowyer and granddaughters Hua Hua and Rachel remained with us, staying in the 21 foot travel trailer we are hauling with our Roadtrek.
We overnighted at the Glenwood Canyon Resort RV Park, located right off the next exit east from the spa on I-70.
A spot with full hookup cost us some big bucks. There is a $54 campsite fee that covers two people, and then they charge $5 for every other person over five years of age and $5 per dog. Our total bill was $84, plus tax. Yikes. This is a pretty ritzy area and the even the camping fees reflect it.
But it is also a resort with deluxe cabins, white water rafting, zip lines and a nice restaurant/bar.
Best of all, the resort and it's RV park is right on the Colorado River, surrounded by towering canyon walls. Tenters, Class B and C RV owners will want to take spots on the lower level, along the river, which flows white water fast ten feet away from your spot.
When we checked in at the front desk, I noticed a bunch of earplugs, free for campers.
“For the river noise?” I asked, amazed that someone wouldn't like the sound of rushing water.
“No, the trains,” answered the clerk.
Right on the opposite side of the river is a railroad track that, during our stay, carried three high speed trains in the middle of the night. Mercifully, they don't sound their horns. But the noise would definitely wake all but a very sound sleeper.
The river is a great place to fish. A young boy from Texas had a stringer full of large rainbow trout.
We walked down to it at night and sat on a picnic table, mesmerized by the swift water flowing past, sparking like diamonds in fading rays of the setting sun.
Jen and I had planned on unhitching the trailer and going back to the hot springs to swim, leaving Tai with the with rest of the family. But the canyon RV campsite was so alluring and the river so strong a draw that we just stayed and stared at the beauty of the place.
We spent just one night in the area. Though unplanned for us, it was a great decision.
If you're coming this way, plan it. You may even want to spend two nights.