Explore Colorado’s Western Slope

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably seen a few of my shots from our vacation.  Let me start out by saying.  Every place I visited in Colorado was amazing.  I could have also spent many days in each spot.  While I got the impression that it’s all skiing all the time during the Wintertime, Summer on the western slope is nothing to miss!  In the course of 3 days, we visited Rifle, Glenwood Springs, and Snowmass Village.  These are all within 45 minutes (at most) of each other, which made it easy to travel between if we wanted to go back to any of these towns.

Hike Rifle Falls State Park.  Fee to enter: $7.00 for a day pass, good until noon the next day at any Colorado state park.   The parking area at Rifle Falls fills up early, but you are allowed to park in between campsites as long as you’re not blocking anyone from exiting their spot.  You can hear the falls from the parking lot, and it’s just a short walk to view them.  An easy to moderate (there are some tight areas, and some slick spots) 1.5 mile hike will not disappoint.  The Coyote Trail will send you up to the caverns next to the falls, which you are free to explore, and then up some more to look at them from the top.  Winding back downhill, you are actually able to step behind behind the falls (specifically the one on the right), for a unique view.

Triple waterfalls at Rifle Falls State Park

Lay on the beach at Rifle Gap State Park.  Rifle Falls and Rifle Gap state parks are (not surprisingly) located about 4 miles apart.  It is home to a 350 acre reservoir that you can fish and boat on.  They sell licenses at the Visitor Center to make it super easy.  And if you’re wanting to camp, it has almost 90 sites that are open year round.  Rifle Falls only has about a dozen, but the proximity makes it possible- even a requirement to check both out.

Reservoir at Rifle Gap State Park

Take an Evening Stroll through Snowmass Village.  The side roads shooting off the one winding road up the mountain is where all the hotels, ski resorts, eating, and shopping are.  We decided to walk around one evening before dark and were quick to discover that the town shut down at 5pm during the Summer.  We did enjoy a ride on the gondola, which was free and still open when we were there.  The next morning I was up by 6:30 to see the sunrise over the mountains.  I witnessed one girl walking her dog down the middle of the road.  Off leash.  I’m not sure what our beasts would do with that kind of freedom in public.

From the Gondola at Snowmass Village in the the Summer

Take a dip in the hot springs.  Look into package deals that include the hot springs for extra savings.  Ours included admission to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, but I’m sure there are others.  A soak in the springs, with temperatures ranging from a low of 99 degrees to a high of 108, are perfect after a day of hiking.  There are 16 individual pools at Iron Mountain to choose from, and we had our own the entire time we were there!

Ride the Alpine Slide at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.  NOTHING like Disney and there is really no way to compare the two.  No bags were searched upon entering, and we had to sign a disclosure in case we got injured within the park.  All of the rides we went on, we had to leave all loose objects at the ride entrance- and I just left my phone in my bag.  The alpine slide is only big enough for one person, though if you have a child under a certain age, they can go with you.  This slide is on tracks, so there are no chances of falling off, and you control the speed with levers.

Alpine Coaster looking up the track

The only two rides that we had a wait on were the Alpine Slide and the Soarin’ Eagle Zip Ride.  The zip ride was by far the longest at 45 minutes, because they only had one side of the ride open.  It offers you a spectacular view of the Rockies, though.  Other rides include the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster and the Canyon Flyer.  While not the tallest coaster in North America, it is highest elevation.  There are points on both rides (pretty much the ENTIRE Canyon Flyer ride) where you look down, and there is just.  Nothing under you.  So maybe don’t do these- any of these, really, if you get queasy at heights!

Glenwood Caverns Alpine Slide overlooking the valley
I’m told he gets royalties from this post….


Take a drive to the Grottos at White River National Forest.  This little trip was one that the ride is as impressive as the the destination.  We drove up, up, up Colorado Highway 82, which went to one lane in places.  We had no GPS, and no service on our phones to even know where the road ended, or if there was a quick way to get back to the hotel.  There are bunches of turn offs on the way up, and finally, trails to hike and a stream to splash in when you get to the grottos.  Be aware- even in the Summer the water is COLD.  We also thought we were the first to discover this area, and it was our dumb luck that we stumbled on to it.  We were wrong- it’s apparently a pretty popular place to check out!

What are some of your favorite spots in the Western Slope of Colorado?  I’m curious, during the Winter, are there other activities to do aside from snowboard or ski?  I do neither of those!

Linking with Bright on a Budget /Cup of Tea / Della DevotedSeptember Farm / The Farmer’s Wife, and Meet @ the Barre

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