A Great Place to Visit
The City of Glenwood Springs is the county seat and the most populous municipality in Garfield County, CO. It is located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River and the Colorado River, threading together the Roaring Fork Valley and a series of smaller towns up and down both rivers.
Glenwood Springs is best known as a historic destination for vacationers since the late 1800’s with diverse natural amenities, most particularly hot springs, but gentrification and development have introduced modern cultural, dining, and recreational activities as well. It is also home to the administrative offices and two of the campuses of the Colorado Mountain College system.
Glenwood Springs in 2015 was named the “Most Vibrant Small Town Arts Environment in the United States” by Southern Methodist University and the 5th Best Place to Live in America by Outside magazine. It was named the “Most Fun Town in America” by Rand McNally and USA Today in 2011.
Four Season Paradise
Glenwood Springs has a generally mild and semi-arid climate, much more consistently stable than that of the Front Range and most of Colorado, though still decidedly continental and prone to periods of extreme weather. Microclimates dominate Glenwood Springs, with areas close to the rivers often much more damp and cool than hillsides. On average, there are 239 sunny days per year in Glenwood Springs, with the average July high around 87 degrees and the the average January low around 13. Typically, Glenwood Springs receives an average of 19 inches of rain and 46 inches of snowfall during an average year.
The weather enables locals to thrive of the cultivation of a variety of food. Apples and peaches from the nearby town of Silt won first place at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, and strawberries thrived so well that Glenwood Springs’ largest festival was inaugurated as Strawberry Days in 1898. Just a few miles upvalley, Carbondale became legendary for its potatoes.
What’s in a Name
Glenwood Springs was originally known as “Defiance”, a name sometimes still used by local teams or businesses. 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. Town Founder Isaac Cooper’s wife Sarah was having a hard time adjusting to the frontier life and, in an attempt to make her environment somewhat more comfortable, persuaded the founders to change the name to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, after her beloved hometown of Glenwood, Iowa.
Glenwood Springs was one of the first places in the United States to have electric lights. The original lighting was installed in 1897 inside of the Fairy Caves in Iron Mountain. Later, a dam was built in Glenwood Canyon providing water for the Shoshone power plant. The plant began producing power on May 16, 1909, and retains the largest and oldest water rights to the Colorado River. The “Shoshone Call”, which is now far more valuable for the protection of Colorado River water rather than the minimal electricity produced.