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Area History


When the Ute tribe inhabited the area, they held in high esteem a hot water spring in Glenwood Canyon, which they called Yampah for Big Medicine. The Utes believed that the water had miraculous healing powers and braves and their horses bathed in the hot water pools and spent time in the vapor caves underground to regain their strength.

Captain Richard Sopris was the first European to visit the area, thus the nearby 12,953-foot mountain is named after him. In 1883, the town was established by the name Defiance. After two years, the wife of a a founding father of the town Glenwood, Iowa renamed Defiance to Glenwood Springs. The area became famous in Western lore as the residence of Doc Holiday, who survived the Shootout at the OK Corral and came to soak in the hot pools in order to ease his advanced case of tuberculosis. Doc died at the Glenwood Hotel in 1887, the same year the Ute tribe was forever banished to a reservation.

In the 1890s, some of Glenwood Springs' most famous Victorian-era buildings were constructed—the Hotel Colorado and the Hot Springs Pool. The luxurious casino attracted a monied clientele from across the continent and as far away as Europe. Known as The Spa in the Rockies, Glenwood Springs' facilities attracted historical figures as Al Capone, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, and presidents William Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.

There were some attempts to establish skiing at Glenwood Springs as early as 1940, but all of them failed until the Sunlight Mountain Resort was opened in 1966. Today, this is a lovely old Western town energized by the enthusiastic and well-off patrons who come from all over the world to ski Sunlight.

Fishing the Roaring Fork Valley - Glenwood Springs, Colorado