Another gorgeous & busy day! We woke up early, checked out early (by 7 am, we were on the road!) and made our way slowly to Glenwood springs, which is about 2 1/2 hours from Granby, even on the scenic route we took via the so-called “Trough Road”–we had taken it a few years back, but liked it enough we wanted to use it again. It is a well-maintained and quite wide graded dirt road that follows the Colorado River for the most part, but high up above it. So we stopped a few times to take pictures of the river, and also of a zip line operation across a canyon. Eventually, we caught Highway 6 and then the I-70. We stopped in Eagle for a snack, and then at a rest stop not far from Glenwood Springs, Grizzly Creek, and that was a huge success. The rest stop was right on the Colorado River, and had some walking areas and then actually a trail going off it–which we took just because we were curious, and which turned out to be gorgeous. We probably went about a mile and a half up right along Grizzly Creek with the stream rushing down beside us and a fabulous cliff ahead, plus beautiful butterflies all over the blooming bushes along the path. We were very happy we discovered it! Once we had backtracked, we had our picnic lunch while watching a whole group of big rafting boats going down the Colorado. We stopped at a second rest stop, No Name Creek, and although its trail wasn’t as cool (literally not, since it was hot and sunny, whereas Grizzly Creek Trail had been very shady and cool), it still was rewarding to go up because we could see the dilapidated remains of a “flume” (new word to me), i.e. a wooden trough-like structure high above us on the canyon wall which was built to redirect No Name Creek directly to Glenwood Springs for its water supply. This is still where the town gets some of its water, except now by tunnel (we were able to see the entrance below the remains of the flume).
By about 2 pm, we arrived in Glenwood Springs and explored a little, because we couldn’t check into our hotel until 3 pm. We then checked in (the hotel is unspectacular and very ugly, just a concrete square with four floors, but actually had a surprise free breakfast to offer us for tomorrow morning), and grabbed our swimsuits to go to the historic hot springs. They became the town attraction in the 1880s, and are still a spa attraction but mostly just a really large swimming pool. My inner cheapskate was against it, because we were only going to be there for a couple of hours, but had to pay $22 per person per day–but we went anyway, because my inner mermaid won. Mark was a good sport, and we spent quite a while in the cooler pool (with a lot of families & little kids) and a little bit of time in the 104 F (50 C) “therapy” pool, for which it was really too hot. We also looked at the original site of the spring, where people would drink the sulphur-smelling water, and where 3.5 million gallons of hot water come out the spring every day.
We left the Hot Springs around 6 pm and then checked out the rest of the town–cute but only partly touristy–with the ski resorts nearby (Aspen etc.) being the REAL tourist traps, while Glenwood Springs is about half “cute shops” and half places that are currently out of business. There is a huge construction site because a new car bridge will be going in this year–but the pedestrian bridge is nearly complete and useable, and we were glad, because it meant we could leave the car at the hotel and walk everywhere. At about 7:30, we met our friends Randy and Angye for dinner at a brewpub by the historic Hotel Denver. Randy is a class mate of Mark’s from high school who has been running the Glenwood Springs paper, the Post Independent, for the past 3 or 4 years as editor and publisher. We had good, simple pub food and a fun conversation, and Randy walked us half-way back across the pedestrian bridge to tell us a bit more about Glenwood Springs. (We are toying with the idea of taking the train here sometime (we could see the tracks for Amtrak’s California Zephyr for most of our trip today beside the road), because the views are spectacular, and when it’s colder, the hot springs would be a whole lot more fun as well.). We then walked back the 10 minutes to the hotel and are calling it a day!