When it comes to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, tram manager Wade Beattie has seen—and done—it all.
The Glenwood Springs native never expected to become an integral member of the Glenwood Caverns staff. He thought he would spend a summer interning as a college student from Colorado State University in 2003. Then, with experience under his belt, he was offered a full time position, and has since worked as a cave tour guide, tram operator, ride manager, marketing department staffer, and has finally ended up as the base manager of the tram.
Having grown up in Glenwood Springs, Wade didn’t plan on staying in the area for long but, as most of us know, life often takes you in different directions than you had anticipated. “I really found myself in that internship. The job has been a lot of fun, to work with employers who aren’t afraid to do new things, and open to new ideas. There’s just so much to do. If it wasn’t keeping me engaged, the work would get boring, but it hasn’t.”
In his time at the Adventure Park, Wade has been impressed with how many people love coming to the Caverns—being at the top of the Rocky Mountains, among friendly people. “Our mission is to make people smile, and we really enjoy getting the positive feedback from people,” he says. “At the base of the tram, we get to hear a lot of people’s stories.” One such story that sticks out in Wade’s mind was a fellow from Vietnam, who was on his first ever trip to the United States. Wade got a chance to talk to this man on the viewing deck of the Park. “He was elated to be here. It was a big deal for him to come all the way here and be at the top of the mountain with this amazing view.
“For some people, like that man, it’s a once in a lifetime experience. A lot of folks will say they’ve never done anything as fun as the Wild Cave Tour, or never seen such a great view, or have never done anything as exciting as the Giant Swing or Bungee Jump. They are very proud of those experiences,” Wade commented.
Wade has gotten to see a wide and diverse range of visitors over the years, from all over the country and the world, including some that might not have been expected. “There are a lot of Amish and Mennonite folks who like coming to Glenwood on the train,” says Wade. “Glenwood Springs is a great place for outdoor activites, so they’ll ride bikes and be in walking distance to everything, then come up here and do the rides and cave tours. They stand out in a crowd, are very friendly and we love to have them here.”
Being a tram manager means that Wade gets to see how people change from the beginning of their visit to the end. “A lot of people aren’t too sure what to think at the base when they first get here. They’re not sure what it’s about. Then, there’s almost a tranformation at the end of the day. After they’ve gone up and come back, you can see that their eyes have lit up, they’ve loved the views, had fun on the rides and the cave tours, and it’s interesting to see how they’ve brightened after the experience,” he says.
The continual additions and expansions at the Adventure Park have kept Wade and the rest of the employees busy, and will continue to do so, as the Park ramps up for another lively summer season, with a new roller coaster in the works and other new, exciting projects on the horizon. He’ll continue to be at the base of the tram, making sure all the guests get up and down the mountain easily and happily. If you happen to see him this spring or summer, make sure you say hello!