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Glenwood Springs CO and Colorado River camping

| Updated Nov 6, 2021

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.

Granddaughter Hua Hua,10, and Rachel, 7, heading into 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.

Rachel and Hua Hua (standing) with Aimee and Jeff (in the water)

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

Tai, Sequoia and Charlie in our Roadtrek as everyone else (except Jennifer and me, the official dog sitters) swam. Whine. Whine.

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.

Our spot at the Glenwood Canyon Resort and RV Park. Because we shared a spot, we were up top with the big rigs. We wish we had taken two smaller spots on the lower area along the Colorado River.


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.

The Colorado River

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.

Tai loved the river, too

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.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2013-08-19

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

4 Responses to “Glenwood Springs CO and Colorado River camping”

August 20, 2013at8:13 am, Julie Tinker said:

Hi! I met Aimee last week while she and I were soaking in the hot springs pool. She told me about your blog and travels and I just had to check in. We are new residents of Glenwood, having moved over from the Denver area about two years ago.

August 19, 2013at11:07 am, Jacque said:

There is a campsite called the hideout.. I personally think its better, run by a family who knows the area and really enjoys the special hidden places of Glenwood Springs. Cost is better too full site $25.00 a night. I enjoy the public springs, but love the two small private springs located in West Glenwood Springs and the other in Redstone. I also think the Cemetery of Doc Holiday and the Smithy in Carbondale are must sees. The fishing is in Gold medal waters. For the true experience you also have to visit the vapor caves.

August 19, 2013at10:51 am, said:

Enjoying your travels across Colorado. Love Glenwood Springs. I spent the night one time in the back lot of the Walmart there with incredible mountain views around me. I think it was my all time favorite Walmart stop!

August 19, 2013at10:17 am, Campskunk said:

$84???? holy cow! that’s motel room money. still, for six people, i guess it’s what you’d expect during tourist season. the colorado river is one of my favorites – it changes so much from its start way up in rocky mountain national park to the desert down by quartzite that you’d never know it’s the same river. and the early explorers had a heck of a time figuring out that it was. there were some wild theories about the drainages out west back then – one of the reasons for the powell expedition was to clear it up.

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