Planning a summer visit to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Sunday, June 21st was the first official day of summer! In Glenwood Springs, CO and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, summer is definitely in full swing. There’s more than ever to do at the park, and you can pack in a lot of fun in a day.

Some folks at the park recently produced a video with helpful tips for having the best possible experience, and it’s a must-watch when preparing for a summer day at the park. Below are a few of the tips and suggestions covered in the video:

1. During the height of summer, plan to stay at the park a little longer, and plan your activities accordingly. There’s a chance there will be lines for the most popular attractions (such as the Alpine Coaster and the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride). It’s best to arrive at the park in the morning and head straight to those attractions to beat the lines and the strongest sun. Know that there is a lot to do, and larger crowds, so you may end up staying at the park longer than you would other times of the year.

2. In the middle of the day, head to the caves! When the sun is at it’s strongest, the caves are always a cool 52 degrees (you will probably even want a light jacket or sweatshirt). Other options to beat the heat are the air-conditioned General Store gift shop and the Lookout Grille (which also has a giant fan right outside the door).

3. When you are in the sun, protect yourself! Wearing light-colored, cotton fabrics will keep you cool and protect your skin. Don’t forget the hats, sunglasses and sunscreen! Although if you do forget sunscreen, you can use ours for free: you’ll find it at the Tram Base, at the Guest Services Shack right outside the General Store gift shop and at the refreshment stand by the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster.

Lookout Grille lunch, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park dining

Enjoy a cold beverage and refuel at the Lookout Grille!

4. Stay hydrated. Drink fluids throughout the day, and take frequent water breaks. You can buy a refillable souvenir cup at the Lookout Grille, and bring it back anytime – even during another visit – for a $1.00 refill. There’s also free ice water in the Lookout Grille and a water fountain at the Guest Services Shack.

5. Prepare for short thunderstorms. Especially during July and August, there are frequently thunderstorms in the afternoon. The weather does affect the availability of the attractions and the Iron Mountain Tramway because safety is our number-one concern at the park. However, the storms are often short-lived and are followed by beautiful weather. Heading in to play laser tag or see a movie in the 4D theater is a fun way to pass the time during a thunderstorm.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Tram Base sign, buy online tickets

Once you've bought your tickets online, look for this sign at the Tram Base.

6. Plan ahead so everyone is happy! We know that kids in particular can have high expectations when preparing for a trip to an exciting place. Buy your tickets online ahead of time so you can get up to the park quicker. And be sure to check the height and age restrictions for the rides. Talk about what rides everyone is most excited for, and plan to do those early in the day. Discuss the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms so the whole family is prepared.

7. Have fun! There’s nothing like spending a day full of fun with family and friends at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. By following these tips (and watching the video), you can ensure that everyone will leave happy and fulfilled!

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FAC is back this Friday!

After a successful inaugural year, the Friday Afternoon Club returns this Friday, June 19, at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park!

With incredible views, food and drink specials and live music every week, FAC is the perfect place to unwind in Glenwood Springs, CO at the end of the week! Let your weekday worries float away 1,300 feet above it all.

Grab a newspaper, cut out the FAC ad and bring that with you to the tram base for a free tram ride to the top (you can also print one out here).

Friday Afternoon Club free tram

Starting at 4pm, take a free tram ride (with coupon) up to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park FAC this Friday!

To kick off the FAC free concerts, the park welcomes Chris Bank and Mark Johnson. Chris and Mark have known each other and played in various groups together for 25 years, and their musical chemistry is obvious onstage. Playing a mix of jazz, R&B, Motown and more, the duo is sure to get the summer FAC started in style.

Besides being prolific performers, they are both active in the Roaring Fork community. Chris Bank has taught band and choir in Roaring Fork Valley schools for the past 15 years and is the director of school programs for JAS Aspen. Mark Johnson is an instructor for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass In the Schools education program.

We hope you’ll join us for some high altitude Friday afternoon fun! Music goes from 5-8:30pm and, starting at 4pm, take a free tram ride to the top (with coupon). For more information, visit our events page.

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Millionth Alpine Coaster rider: “I will remember that day forever!”

Congratulations are in order to Tamara Ames of Vernal, Utah who became the one millionth Alpine Coaster rider on May 24th!

Alpine coaster millionth ride Tamara Ames Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Tamara Ames celebrates upon learning that she's the millionth person to ride the Alpine Coaster!

The millionth coaster ride was celebrated with a cake, champagne and festivities. Ames received two annual passes as well as T-shirts, coffee mugs and water bottles commemorating the occasion.

Tamara and her husband, Dustan Ames, were first-time visitors to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. “We had no idea about the park until we went to Glenwood Springs,” Tamara Ames explained. “We had just seen the tram on the side of the mountain and wanted to go up it. We decided to wait until Sunday morning, and get there when they opened so we could have all day to play.”

ten years and one million rides

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park celebrates ten years and one million rides on the Alpine Coaster

Learning she was the millionth rider was a pleasant surprise for Ames. “I was totally shocked! I couldn’t wait to call my kids to tell them.”

Ames plans to return to Glenwood Springs, CO and the park soon with the rest of her family. “I cannot wait to bring my kids and show them the swing!” Ames exclaimed. “They love scary rides. Plus I want to ride the Alpine Coaster again!”

Overall, the day was a great experience for the couple. Said Ames, “My husband and I had a blast! I’ve haven’t had that much fun in a really long time. Having four teens at home, we really don’t get much time to spend together.

Tamara Ames and Dustin Ames celebrate Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park millionth Alpine Coaster ride

Millionth Alpine Coaster rider Tamara Ames and her husband, Dustan, toasted with champagne to celebrate!

“It was kind of a cold and a rainy day but that didn’t ruin any of our fun! The people there are so nice and friendly. We had workers stop us and just visit with us and ask us where we were from. I loved it there and I loved the beautiful views of Glenwood.”

For Ames, it was fun to be something of a celebrity at the park for a day: “It was awesome, the people waiting in line for the rides would say to me ‘hey, you were the millionth rider!’ I even had a cute little boy ask me how the cake was. I told him that I couldn’t remember what it tasted like because I was too excited! I will remember that day forever!”

Come try out the Alpine Coaster for yourself! Purchase a Funday Pass and you can enjoy unlimited rides on the Alpine Coaster and other rides for one low price. For more information on ticket prices and park hours, call 970-945-4228 or visit hours and tickets.

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With a little help from our friends: Music on the Mountain kicks off with Doctor Robert

There’s a lot to look forward to in Glenwood Springs, CO at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park this spring and summer! Music on the Mountain is about to kick off, the Friday Afternoon Club will soon be returning, there’s an upcoming celebration of the one millionth Alpine Coaster ride, and the park is in full swing (literally…the Giant Canyon Swing is now open!) With the Summer Funday Pass now available, you can enjoy all the park has to offer for one low price.

Summer is the time for enjoying outdoor concerts, and there’s no better location for live music than Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park! With unbeatable views, a great lineup and free shows, the Music on the Mountain series is a guaranteed good time for all ages. This Friday, May 22nd we’ll kick off the series with Doctor Robert, a popular Beatles tribute band. For the third year in a row, this fun-loving group has gotten Music on the Mountain started in style, bringing a modern take to an incredibly deep catalogue of the Fab Four’s songs—they currently have a live rotation of 110 songs!

Doctor Robert, Beatles tribute band

Beatles tribute band Doctor Robert will kick off the 7th season of Music on the Mountain on Friday, May 22

Doctor Robert is comprised of Casey Falter (guitar, vocals, piano), Ben Wright (drums, piano), Karen Janssen (vocals, percussion, guitar, mandolin, piano) and Kevin Reinert (bass, vocals, piano). The idea for the band came to Kevin Reinert in 2008 when he was attending a wedding that had a Beatles cover band. He witnessed how much fun everyone was having and how the entire crowd, young and old, was loving the music and knew all the songs. From then on, it was just a matter of gathering the right musicians for the Crested Butte-based band, and the foursome has been going strong ever since. The popular band plays frequently in the Roaring Fork Valley, including Glenwood Springs.

“They bring so much energy to their shows,” says Bob Stepniewski, Food & Beverage Manager at Glenwood Caverns, who also books the bands for Music on the Mountain. “They are perfect for the kick-off because they get the crowd going, and they make us all excited for the season to come!”

“We like this event to be ‘local bands’ for the local food bank,” says Stepniewski. “Doctor Robert has roots in the valley and play in the neighborhood from time to time, so they have a great following locally.”

Head on up this Friday to help us celebrate the start to the concert season with Doctor Robert! Bring at least one can of food for a FREE tram ride to the top. Can for a Tram starts at 4pm and the music starts at 6pm. There will be drink specials, great food, and a park full of fun and activities for the whole family. For more information, visit Music on the Mountain. See you soon!

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Garden Growing in the Rockies

Spring is in the air! True, it hasn’t felt that way for the past several days….but before we know it, these April (snow) showers will turn to May flowers…and fruits and vegetables!

Anyone who has tried their hand at gardening here in Glenwood Springs, CO knows that high country growing requires an extra-green thumb. At Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, we’re all about the spirit of adventure, and growing a healthy and fruitful garden can be an interesting experience when faced with our famously unpredictable weather and short growing season. Here are a few tips for making the most out of the climate and getting the best out of your garden.

1. Know what to plant, when to plant. If you would like to plant tender vegetables like green beans, summer squash, peppers or cucumbers, make sure to wait until after the last frost, usually around Mother’s Day. If you’re anxious to begin planting sooner, safer bets include beets, carrots, lettuce, peas and radishes.

Photo credit: Katie Fiedler Anderson

2. Let us enjoy lettuce. Lettuce is part of Colorado’s history; Glenwood’s upvalley neighbors, Avon and Beaver Creek, CO, were founded as lettuce crop towns before developing into a ski resort. Lettuce is especially fun to plant because it grows very quickly and will be ready to pluck and put in your salad before you know it. Just know that if it bolts and becomes bitter you’ll need to replant the lettuce seeds and wait for the next crop.

3. You say tomayto, I say tomahto….let’s call the whole thing a challenge. When deciding to grow tomatoes, weigh the pros and cons. Pros: homegrown tomatoes are the best thing in the world. You can eat them like candy, and you’ll never be able to look at a store-bought tomato the same way again. Cons: They require a lot of babysitting. Unless you have a greenhouse or have built a sturdy coldframe over your garden, you may find tomatoes difficult to keep up in short summer months because they are very cold-sensitive and require an average of 60 to 80 days to produce ripe fruit.

A garden gnome may befriend your tomatoes, but certain herbs and flowers might be more helpful in attracting pollinators and deterring pests. Photo credit: Katie Fiedler Anderson

4. More, peas! Green peas are a pleasure to have in your garden. You can easily construct a lattice-type structure out of wood or wire and they will happily grow upwards and outwards until you have an abundance of delicious pods to shell or eat whole. They are relatively easy to grow, look pretty and taste great. What more could you ask for?

5. Give your vegetables some friends. Flowers such as marigolds and nasturtiums can aid in deterring pests, and other flowers and herbs (such as yarrow, bee balm, and basil) will attract beneficial, pollinating insects. By practicing “companion planting,” you’ll make your vegetables happy and also be happier yourself when you look at the beautiful flowers. Do some research to find out which flowers and herbs would be the best match for your particular crop.

6. Have fun! Gardening is all about learning, experimenting, and being outside in the spring and summer. Did you plant purple cauliflower for some reason last year and nothing happened? Did you excitedly plant pumpkins, planning on carving them in the fall, but all you got was one shriveled gourd? Oh well–try something else this year. Don’t stress too much about what does or doesn’t work; yes, you put a lot of time and effort into your garden, but you learn something each year.

Photo credit: Katie Fielder Anderson

Gardening might not give you the same adrenaline rush as swinging above the canyon on a Giant Swing or cruising down the hill on the Alpine Coaster, but the pleasure and joy of eating food that you personally grew is unmatched. It really is an adventure—so get growing!

Sources: http://www.gardenguides.com http://www.vegetablegardener.com http://www.coloradogardening.com http://www.avon.org

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Spring has Sprung!

It’s official! With Friday, March 20th marking the first day of spring, it’s time to trade in the long underwear for T-shirts and the beanies for ballcaps. After some snowy weather in February, Glenwood Springs, CO has been experiencing an unseasonably dry and warm March, so locals and visitors alike can take in all that Glenwood has to offer while also working on their summer tan.

This week, Glenwood schools (and many around the country) are out for spring break and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the place to be for spring break fun! There’s lots to do at the park, so here’s a guide for getting the best out of a breezy, sunny, perfect spring day on top of the world at Glenwood Caverns!

Start your day by taking the scenic tram up to the top and enjoying the panoramic views. Look to the southeast for a fabulous view of snowcapped Mt. Sopris! Relax, enjoy the scenery, and get ready for the adventures ahead.

Once at the top, get your energy out by taking a few thrill rides! Head to the Alpine Coaster to race down 3,400 feet around curves and through the wilderness, all at your own speed. Didn’t get enough? Not to worry! If you bought a Funday Pass, you can take unlimited turns on this addictive coaster.

While you’re in the mood for speed, take a turn on the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride! You (and a friend) can soar 625 feet down the mountain on this new and improved zip ride, also for unlimited turns with the Funday Pass.

Now that you’ve had an adrenaline fix, cruise over to the caves for a walking cave tour. You can pick between the Historic Fairy Caves Tour or the King’s Row Tour, both of which offer a ton of features such as cave bacon, stalagmites and stalactites led by knowledgeable, friendly guides (who will be more than happy to show you exactly what cave bacon is).

When the tour is over, chances are you’ve worked up an appetite! It’s the perfect time to head over to the Lookout Grille and, in the warm spring weather, sit out on the deck and soak up the sunshine and great views. The Lookout Grille menu has something for the whole family, so you can enjoy a burger, wrap, salad or sandwich (accompanied by a cold beer or glass of wine if you’d like) while the kids happily munch on chicken tenders or mac and cheese. Relax, refresh and recharge for the afternoon ahead!

Now that you’re fuelled up, it’s time to battle each other in a game of laser tag! In an Old West setting (and the latest in wireless laser technology), settle once and for all who is the quickest draw and the lightest on their feet…but really, everyone wins when it’s this much fun!

After an epic laser tag battle, cool down in the 4D Motion Theater and take in one of the four movies playing currently. You’ve heard of 3D…but 4D takes it to a whole new level. You’ll feel like you are in the movie!

The day is winding down, but there’s still plenty of time to take a few more laps on the alpine coaster and zip ride. The late afternoon sun will feel great on your face as you fly through the sky on the zipline. Ok, it’s time to go…one more time on the alpine coaster! Alright, now it’s really time to leave…

Take the tram back down and talk about your favorite parts of the day. Arrive back at the base, tired but happy, and head to the car knowing that you got the most out of your spring day at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park! See our Hours and Tickets page for pricing and more information.

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10 Reasons Why Glenwood Springs
Is the Winter Weather Place to Be

With snow on the ground and a winter weather advisory in place until Monday, winter seems to have made a comeback! After a warm and dry spell through much of January and February, it seemed like winter had been cancelled. Well, for the time being it’s back, and whether you love to see the white stuff falling again or wish we could just fast forward to summer already, we thought it would be a good time for a refresher on why Glenwood Springs, CO is the best place to be for the snowy season!

1. Bundling up and zooming down the alpine coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park through the snowy trees and around the curves–a high speed winter wonderland!

2. Soaking in the Hot Springs Pool. With warm water, rising steam and fewer crowds, the pool couldn’t be a more relaxing way to pass a chilly day or evening.

3. Getting a few face shots at Sunlight Mountain Resort, for about half the price of one of the mega-resorts.

4. Seeing the lights of the Hotel Colorado and downtown Glenwood Springs makes the whole town feel magical!

5. Taking the scenic tram to the top of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and seeing the whole valley, blanketed in snow, in all it’s glory!

6. Hiking up to Hanging Lake to view it in a new light–during the winter, the lake is a beautiful sight with frozen waterfalls, untouched snow, turquoise water and a quiet tranquillity (especially because there are so many less visitors than during the summer)!

7. Getting out your pent-up energy from being cooped up inside by battling your friends in laser tag at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

8. Taking it easy after playing in the snow by watching a live show at the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue.

9. Digging into a warm meal at one of Glenwood’s many delicious eateries, including the Lookout Grille at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. With a family-friendly menu, great prices and stunning views, it’s the perfect spot to relax and take in the winter scenery!

10. Enjoying living in or visiting a close-knit community that likes to play hard and is proud to be called The Most Fun Town in America. There’s so much to do in Glenwood Springs, you’ll have a great time no matter what season it is!

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Get the most out of a warm winter with the Friday Afternoon Club!

There may not be much snow to ski on right now but, luckily, at Glenwood Caverns there’s so much more to do! And with unusually warm winter temperatures in Glenwood Springs, CO and beyond, it’s the perfect time to start your weekend right by heading to the Friday Afternoon Club at Glenwood Caverns! The winter FAC has been in full swing since January and is the ideal spot to enjoy the sunset and hear some great music.

This Friday’s performance features Painters Stage, a local group playing a mix of eclectic and light-hearted tunes. Painters Stage is fronted by Kristof and Noemi Kosmowski, married artists and musicians who escaped from communist Poland with their young children in the 1980s. They now reside in Glenwood Springs and continue to create artwork and music. The couple has helped to beautify the city by collaborating with the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts to paint utility boxes and other surfaces around town. Their biggest project was a mural of running horses located beneath the downtown railroad bridge. Painters Stage incorporates some of the Kosmowski’s Polish heritage into their music to create a beautiful and unique sound.

The February 20 FAC showcases longtime local Chris Bank, who has worked as the Roaring Fork School District band director and as the in-school director for Jazz Aspen Snowmass. Bank has been a part of in-house bands all around Aspen, including the St. Regis, Syzygy, and the Little Nell Hotel. Bank has performed with world-renowned musicians including Kenny Loggins, The Temptations, John Denver, and many more.

The final FAC on February 27 features Suzzanne Paris, a sultry-voiced songstress who plays a mix of rock, pop soul and the blues. Paris has released two records and played music alongside an assortment of renowned talent including Richie Havens and Michael Bolton. This busy musician splits her time between Colorado and California, so don’t miss your chance to see her mountain-top at the Glenwood Caverns!

Besides a stellar musical lineup, the Friday Afternoon Club offers food and drink specials. It’s fun for the whole family! For more information, visit the Friday Afternoon Club page.

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2014: Oh, what a year!

Glenwood Canyon Flyer at Glenwood Springs Colorado

Soaring high above the Colorado River on the Glenwood Canyon Flyer

Since 2015 has just been around for a few days, we thought we’d look back at the highlights of 2014. What a year it was up here on Iron Mountain in Glenwood Springs, Colorado!

Our sixth season of Music on the Mountain kicked off with a twist and shout on May 23 with Beatles tribute band Doctor Robert. This was the second season opener for the band and, like last year, they had the audience on their feet and singing along.

The new Glenwood Canyon Flyer opened on May 23 as well. The ride, which was constructed in Venice, Italy, is perched on the edge of Glenwood Canyon, right between the Giant Canyon Swing and the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster.  Our guests loved flying out 1,400 feet over the Colorado River and gave it rave reviews.

Soaring Eagle Zip Ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Wheee! Enjoying the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride

The Soaring Eagle Zip Ride was completely redesigned. It begins at the same spot as in the past, but nearly everything else about it is new. Guests now board at ground level near the Alpine Coaster — there are no longer any stairs to climb — and are then carried backwards, 600 feet up the mountain. At the top, they reverse direction for a thrilling zip ride back down to the ground.

Cowboy Camp at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Kicking back and enjoying the music at the Cowboy Camp

We added live music to our schedule every day during the summer, along with more entertainers to keep you smiling during your visits to the park. Alongside the Nature Trail, which leads to the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster and the Glenwood Canyon Flyer, the new Cowboy Camp provided a perfect spot to sit down, kick back for a while and enjoy live Western music. In the plaza area just outside the General Store, the Harmony Sisters made guests laugh, dance and sing with their funny and engaging musical shows.

Doc Holliday and Kid Curry lookalikes were back this year to stir up some trouble and pose for photos in the plaza. Our own Bob Koper, who was the very first employee hired by our owners back in 1999, roamed the park as the Roving Rock Ranger, sharing his knowledge of geology and park trivia, mixed in with science tricks and optical illusions. Our new Blacksmith Shop, complete with a working coal-fired forge and anvil shop, was a hit with guests of all ages.

We enjoyed national attention when the crew from The Travel Channel’s popular series, Hotel Impossible, came up to the park for a visit. Host Anthony Melchiorri toured the caves with Steve Beckley and local hotel owner Josie Fit, and even faced his fear of heights by riding the Giant Canyon Swing!

Glenwood Caverns Locals Choice 2014

Bob Stepniewski and Shiela Kendall accepted our Locals' Choice Awards

In June, we were thrilled to receive three Locals’ Choice Gold Awards — Best Local Attraction, Best Place to View a Sunset and Best Music Venue — and a Bronze Award for Best Local Event for Music on the Mountain. What an honor! To show our appreciation for our loyal locals, we kicked off Friday Afternoon Club on the Mountain, with free tram rides and live music during July and August.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs Groundbreaking Glenwood C0 sm

Breaking ground for the new Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Our owners, Steve and Jeanne Beckley, along with Mogli and Coop Cooper, announced plans to redevelop the historic Iron Mountain Hot Springs on the bank of the Colorado River in August. The plans received unanimous approval to proceed from the City of Glenwood Springs on Oct. 16 and a groundbreaking ceremony a few days later received media coverage across the country. The Iron Mountain Hot Springs will be operated by Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and is expected to open summer of 2015.

We enjoyed even more national attention on August 29, when USA Today and Park World editor Paul Ruben named our Alpine Coaster as one of the 10 Best Roller Coaster Rides of Your Life!

Music on the Mountain wrapped up a record-breaking year in September. The community donated 12,427 cans for the LIFT-UP community food pantry during 2014, exceeding our goal of 10,000 cans by almost 25 percent. The total since the series started in 2009 is 43,598. We are so fortunate to live and work in such a caring, supportive community.

Glenwood Caverns Glenwood Springs CO Winter on the Mountain

Winter on the Mountain at Glenwood Caverns

On November 1, which is typically a pretty quiet time in Glenwood Springs, we kicked off the first Winter on the Mountain. Our guests have enjoyed a dazzling display of more than a half million lights, a warming hut, fire pits, a new 4D movie and lighted, nighttime rides on the Alpine Coaster and Soaring Eagle Zip Ride, visits from Santa and local caroling groups and a giant Christmas tree with a light show choreographed to music. Winter on the Mountain continues through March 1.

Glenwood Caverns Glenwood Springs CO Management Team

Steve Beckly, owner; Nancy Heard, general manager; Heather Austin, sales and marketing manager; Bret Pfost, assistant general manage

Internally, we had also had an exciting year. Tessa Ebert, a 2014 graduate of Glenwood Springs High School, was the recipient of this year’s employee scholarship. To help us accommodate our growth on the mountain and at the Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Nancy Heard was named general manager, several of our supervisors were promoted to manager, Heather Austin joined our team as sales and marketing manager, and Bret Pfost, who spent the last 30 years as a senior leader at Disney Parks and Resorts, came on board as assistant general manager of the park and the hot springs.

Thank you for helping us make 2014 one of our best years ever. We wish you and your family a happy, healthy and joyful 2015.

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Catching up with Santa Claus: “It’s the most rewarding job”

With Christmas less than two weeks away, we thought it would be a good time to check in with Santa Claus, who must be busy as a bee these days. On weekends during Winter on the Mountain, he can be found in the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park warming hut, chatting with his fans and hearing Christmas requests (this year Legos are all the rage, as well as anything related to the movie Frozen). We found Santa taking a well-deserved break, and he agreed to share some insight on what it’s like to be the most popular man around Glenwood Springs (and everywhere else) this time of the year.

Santa Claus and a visitor, engaged in deep conversation in the warming hut at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Santa and Mrs. Claus (sometimes referred to as Randy and Sandy Schriever) run a serious operation. “There’s much more to it than putting on a red suit and sitting in a chair,” says Mr. Claus. “When I talk to a child, I do more than just take a photo and ask what they want. I like to talk to them about how it’s important to do well in school, do your chores, brush your teeth, and be nice to your brothers and sisters because they will be your best friends someday.”

Mrs. Claus is responsible for working the line, getting some key tidbits of information about the kids, and then relaying it back to Santa so by the time a child sits on his lap, he’ll usually know their name and a few things about them. “The kids are blown away; they ask ‘How did you know my name?!’” Mrs. Claus also keeps the line organized and entertains the kids in line, a very important job, especially when it’s busy!

“The best thing is the Elf on a Shelf,” says Santa, speaking about the popular kid’s toy, an elf that watches over the child during the day and reports back to Santa each night. “I like to find out the name of their elf beforehand, and tell them the elf came to see me, and where he might be hiding the next day (with some teamwork from parents). I’ve had parents call me to tell me that their child really became a believer, and that they were so happy because they got to have their kid be a kid for one more year.”

Santa has had all manners of requests over the years; some funny, and some heartbreaking. “Sometimes kids ask if they can keep one of my reindeer as a pet,” laughs Santa, “or a horse or pony or some other animal that probably won’t be the easiest present to get.” Santa Claus often gets requests for the child’s parents to get back together, or to return from serving overseas in the military. “Once, a mom let me know that her husband had been killed in active duty, and she hadn’t told their daughter yet. The girl’s request to me was that her father come home. In those situations, it’s really important to say the right thing.”

For help with handling such situations, Santa goes to school. Organizations like “School for Santa” and “Professional Santa Claus” offer intensive trainings that help Santa deal with serious moments, as well as the legalities and general dos and don’ts of dealing with children. There is even a cruise that Santa goes on, where he is joined by hundreds of his brethren from all over the world to swap stories and help each other become the best Santas they can be.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus got their start about 20 years ago, volunteering for a church group. It went so well that other church groups, schools and hospitals started sending requests for their time, which they donated happily. It wasn’t until a few years ago that someone suggested Mr. and Mrs. Claus start working for money, which they realized they could use to buy stuffed animals for children in the hospital. For the Clauses, hospital visits are truly special. “There’s a quote that says ‘there is nothing better in the world than the laugh of a child.’ Sometimes I visit a child in the hospital who has a serious illness and may not have very long to live. But when they see Santa, there is a gleam in their eye and for a few minutes, there’s no illness, no worry, no problems. Putting a smile on their face is the best thing in the world.”

Santa Claus is also involved with TalkToSanta.com, where kids can call Santa from home and video chat with him live. It’s perfect for children who may have mobility issues, or for kids who just can’t get enough. “One child had seen me a few weeks ago at Glenwood Caverns, and called from the website because he just had more to talk to me about!”

“It’s a very fun, rewarding, and exciting month and a half,” says Santa. “We take it very seriously, and we love what we do. We’ve met a lot of wonderful people and good children.”

For Santa’s schedule at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, visit http://glenwoodcaverns.com/winter-on-mountain.html and scroll down to “Santa for the Kids.”

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