A favorite getaway for us in our home state is a train trip and stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Glenwood Springs is famous for its Hot Springs pool (link). In this review we’ll discuss the major parts of the trip (the train ride, our time at the Hot Springs, the hotel we stayed at, and our dining experiences)
by Tim Larison with contributions by Anne Larison, Andrew Larison (age 14), and Josh Larison (age 14)
We took a 6 hour train ride on the California Zephyr (Amtrak) on a scenic journey from Denver to Glenwood Springs in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Our ride up was on a gorgeous sunny day, with temperatures in the upper 50′s and clear skies. This gave us some great views as the train snaked its way through the mountains and Glenwood Canyon before we reached our final destination.
The train was a very relaxing way to travel. We had plenty of leg room with our coach tickets. However we spent most of the time in the observation car, where we were treated to beautiful views out of huge windows. Anne and the boys also played card games on the tables in the observation car. Midway through our journey we ate lunch in the dining car – the grilled hamburgers we all had were delicious!
I especially liked that there was an AC Power outlet next to my seat! This allowed me to catch up on some work on the trip home and not depend on my 2 hour laptop battery.
While our trip to Glenwood was without delay, on the way home we were 3 hours late. Delays are common with train travel; we were glad this delay was on the return rather than at the beginning of the trip.
“If you are a local, be prepared for the cost of parking at the train station in Denver — $18.00 per day! You may want to have someone drop you off at the station. We even thought about taking the light rail, but we knew we would return late on Monday and didn’t want to take the light rail that late in the evening.
Here’s another tip: the lavatories on the train are similar to an airplane-compact. You can use the handicapped stall! One of the train attendants saw me waiting for an opening and mentioned that anyone can use the handicapped stall! Wow, I opened the door to a larger, cleaner option.”
“The train ride was good. Our train was on time the whole time so we didn’t have to wait at all. I spent most of the time in the observation car with tables to play cards on and seats to look at the view. For lunch I had a cheeseburger and it was really good.”
“The train was kind of boring I have to say. I listened to music, played cards, and read magazines the whole time. The scenery was great especially in the observatory car where we were playing cards. The food on the train was good, even though the selection was limited. There was a lot of wildlife to see, mainly deer and birds. Most of the way there we passed by a long river. The valleys were amazing with all of the trees surrounding us.”
The highlight of any visit to Glenwood Springs is a soak in the world famous hot spring pool. We were fortunate our train arrived on time, early Saturday afternoon, which allowed us to spend the rest of the afternoon at the Hot Springs.
The pool is divided into three areas. My favorite was the hot pool. A soak here was sure to ease whatever aches and pains you had. On this Saturday the pool was crowded yet we were able to find a nice spot for Anne and me to relax in the pool.
Andrew and Josh preferred a more active afternoon. They discovered a friend from school also visiting and they played various pool games with him in the adjacent swimming pool. The pool’s water was not as warm as the hot spring pool but still pleasant on this warm late winter day in Colorado.
After a few hours of soaking in the pool we enjoyed an evening out in downtown Glenwood Springs.
“The pool is open year-round and since our visit occurred during ski season, we definitely saw plenty of folks visiting the pool after a day on the slopes.
There were enough pool side lounge chairs to go around. If you should happen to forget anything you can buy or rent just about anything you might need – they rent swim suits and towels. You can also bring your own pool inflatable water toys. There is an air hose available to inflate your water doughnut or other pool toy!”
“The hot springs pool was the best part of the trip by far. We went there just after we got to Glenwood. Once there we met our friend Jack and played Monkey In The Middle and 500. He took us to these bubble chairs that we didn’t see the year before. They were nice chairs that you could sit in that were like hot tubs with bubbles. The water was really warm and felt good to play in. It’s good that we swam the first day, because it snowed on our second day.”
“The warm water in the pool was really relaxing and it is huge. I had plenty of space to swim around.”
We stayed at the historic Hotel Colorado. This resort, built in 1904, showed its ages in places but was well maintained. We stayed in a three bed suite – small by modern hotel standards but plenty big enough for us. The inside of the hotel didn’t look too much different than when Teddy Roosevelt used to stay here during his hunting vacations in the early 1900′s.
The hotel had a good location; within easy walking distance of the Hot Springs pool and downtown Glenwood Springs.
“The lobby is very charming. Many guests choose to hang out by one of the fireplaces, reading, talking, and relaxing in the comfortable antique furniture. The hallways leading to the rooms are wide, unlike modern hotels and it does make you feel that you have taken a step back in time.
“The hotel is very good, just as it was the previous time we visited Glenwood. But this time we got a 3 bed suite. It was nice to have my own bed rather than sharing one with anyone else. Instead of having a view of the street we had a view of the back garden of the hotel. It is also interesting to think that the hotel has been here a hundred years.”
“I liked our hotel room because it was big. There were 3 beds and 2 tvs, so it was very nice. The only bad thing was that the bathroom was small.”
We enjoyed several excellent meals. For breakfast on our two mornings we ate at a nearby Village Inn – within a short walk of the Hotel Colorado. We rarely eat breakfast out at home so the bountiful breakfast of skillets, omelets, pancakes and eggs were a treat for us.
Our best meals were our two dinners. The first night we ate at the Glenwood Brew Pub. The Brew Pub had an extensive menu. Tim enjoyed his chicken sandwich here (very tender and delicious). The second night we ate at the top rated restaurant in Glenwood Springs according to Trip Advisor – the Italian Underground. Tim had read to arrive early for this intimate restaurant in downtown. We were glad we did. We were first in line at the restaurant opening (5 pm), and soon all the tables in the dining room were filled. If you eat here, be sure to arrive 15 to 30 minutes before opening time to get a table. Tim had a delicious lasagna and pasta dish, Mom and Josh split a pizza, while Andrew had spaghetti. The prices were in the $10 to $15/entrée range, and came with salad and ice cream for dessert.
“With all the folks coming up on the train and the skiers in the area most of the restaurants on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are busy. The nice thing about this area of Glenwood is that there are many restaurants to choose from – all within walking distance, for people who don’t have a car or don’t want to travel far from the interstate highway.
“The food was good, actually it was very good. We ate at a brewing company restaurant and it was very good. I had a beef brisket sandwich, it was so delicious. The morning of the second day I had a ham and cheese omelet at Village Inn. Then the best meal of the trip was dinner at the Italian Underground. I had spaghetti in meat sauce which was a very large portion and very delicious. The sauce was very meaty and tasted very good, probably their home made sauce.”
“The food I had during this trip was all very good. For dinner the first night I had ribs and they were very tasty. I had a huge breakfast the next two days at the Village Inn. On Saturday night I had a pizza at an Italian restaurant and it was very cheesy and good.”
A trip to Glenwood Springs on the train is a fun and relaxing getaway. In this day of plane travel, it was a nice change of pace to take a leisurely train ride to our destination surrounded by the beauty of the Colorado Rockies. It is hard to imagine anyone not enjoying a dip in the soothing Hot Springs pool. Glenwood Springs had a variety of dining and resort options for all budgets. We have taken short weekend vacations to Glenwood Springs two years in a row, and we hope to return in future years!