20. Glenwood Springs, CO
The Colorado River has just come out of the high Rocky Mountains and still has a long way to go when it meets the Roaring Fork in Glenwood Springs. There’s a pretty park, cheerful business district and Frontier Historical Museum near the confluence, along with a 1904 train depot visited by the Amtrak Zephyr (on daily runs between Chicago and San Francisco). The station is also home to the Glenwood Railroad Museum, celebrating a time when seven different lines carried locally mined marble and prized strawberries to points beyond. Luminaries—the famous (Teddy Roosevelt and the Unsinkable Molly Brown) and infamous (Al Capone and Doc Holliday) all headed for Glenwood’s celebrated mineral spa established right around 1890. Folks still come to take a dip in the world’s largest hot springs pool—two blocks long, complete with water slides, bubble chairs and miniature golf on the side. Alas, Glenwood’s thermal water didn’t do much for gunslinging Doc, who died of consumption and was buried up the hill at Linwood Pioneer Cemetery in 1887. A Summer of Music festival at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts provides upliftment and a chance to put your feet up after hiking on local trails that start at the town’s doorstep and take you through rugged canyons and airy peaks, including Storm King Mountain, where 14 firefighters died battling the South Canyon Fire in 1994, a devastating story told in John Maclean’s Fire on the Mountain.
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