Let the Sunlight in at Glenwood Springs

Match a day on the slopes at Sunlight Mountain Resort with some time soaking and dining at Glenwood Springs, and the smiles are sure to follow.

Ski season may just be coming into focus, but for those of us who truly love winter, it’s never too early to start scheming about where to spend our precious time making turns—especially since the pandemic has made pre-planning a necessity in most mountain towns. To that end, we recommend setting aside a few days for a rejuvenating visit to Glenwood Springs, located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers. Ski or ride Sunlight Mountain Resort; wash away worries in the world’s largest natural hot springs pool; and soak up the fun downtown vibe. Here’s all you need to know to make it happen.

SKI

If you like to maximize your time on the slopes and minimize the hassles, Sunlight Mountain, (sunlightmtn.com), located just 12 miles south of Glenwood, is for you. Park at the base (for free!); walk up to the window; and snag a lift ticket for half the price of most resorts. Then, head right to the lifts, where you’ll rarely stand in line. Fewer people at the resort equals untracked powder stashes that actually last after a dump, especially in the spectacular aspen groves found scattered across the mountain. Sunlight has even trademarked what it calls the Sunlight Smile Guarantee—it’s a mountain that prioritizes skiing. 

With 67 trails, 680 acres of skiable terrain and an average of 250 inches of snow a year, Sunlight offers something for everyone. Adrenaline-seekers will beeline to the extreme terrain off the East Ridge, including the bumped-out Zephyr Glades and Heathen, a 52-degree slope that ranks as one of the steepest in the state. Beginners will dig meandering along Ute Trail, one of Colorado’s longest runs—soak in the big mountain views as it winds 2.5 miles from summit to base. Intermediates will eat up the extensive intermediate terrain with a sweet mix of corduroy cruisers, glades, and bumps. 

We highly recommend Rebel, a wide-open blue off the East Ridge with the perfect pitch for pow turns. Or head to Charlie Glades to hone your tree-skiing skills. No matter your level, don’t leave without enjoying a cruise down Grizzly Road for unmatched views of the region’s sentinel, Mount Sopris. All trails lead right back to the lodge, so it’s easy to meet up with your crew for lunch from the grill. 

The lifts aren’t the only way to access pow here. Uphilling is allowed at Sunlight almost anytime except while snowmaking operations are underway. Choose from two clearly designated uphill routes: The Green Route meanders along the Ute Trail, while the Orange Route (a bit more difficult) climbs up the gut of the resort to reach the summit. Dogs are not allowed on the mountain at any time, and all users must have a current uphill pass (free with a season pass, $10 for a day, or $50 for an uphill season pass). Passes are available on the Sunlight website, at the ticket office, and at Sunlight Ski & Bike in Glenwood Springs. 

glenwood springs hot springs
Best of Both Worlds:  Glenwood is famed for the healing waters of the hotsprings, but Sunlight delivers too.

SOAK

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort (hotspringspool.com) has been rejuvenating visitors for over 130 years. Set aside a couple hours to visit this oasis just across the pedestrian bridge from downtown. Ease in with a dip in the big pool, which hovers around 93 degrees; then progress to the therapy pool (102–104 degrees) for deeper soothing. Fifteen different minerals—including potassium, magnesium, and silica—can be found in water that helps ease a body’s aches and pains. If you are really feeling adventurous and want a little boost, be sure to bring a bottle to sample the mineral-rich water from its historic drinking spring. 

STAY

Rest your head at the Hotel Denver (thehoteldenver.com), a short walk to the hot springs and downtown’s Restaurant Row. The stylish, historic spot offers luxurious rooms,  enthusiastic staff, and the most comfortable bed we’ve ever had the pleasure to sleep in. It’s also pet friendly, so you can make it a true family affair by bringing your loyal buddy along. Plus, fun packages—Ski, Swim, Stay; Room With a Brew; and Glenwood Cavern Adventure Park—bundle a Hotel Denver stay with area attractions.  

If you’d prefer to stay right at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, it also offers Ski, Swim, Stay packages that include unlimited access to the hot springs pool, complimentary grab-and-go breakfast at the poolside Grill, and lift tickets for Sunlight. 

EAT & DRINK 

Grab an après beer at Casey Brewing & Blending (caseybrewing.com), known for its consciously blended sours, IPAs and stouts, all crafted with mostly Colorado ingredients. And do not miss Masala & Curry Nepali & Indian Cuisine (masalaandcurry.com), a quaint restaurant offering delicious, homemade comfort dishes that deliver a kick. 

Photos Courtesy VisitGlenwood.com

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