Glenwood Coaster

The Glenwood Caverns and Adventure Park is celebrating its 20th birthday this Saturday and they’re going to be partying like it’s 1999.

The park was opened by Steve and Jeanne Beckley with the goal of sharing the caverns and historic Fairy Caves to the public for the first time in 82 years. The original plan was to drive people up the mountain and let them tour the caves. However, the destination was so popular that the Beckleys opened the Iron Mountain Tramway in 2003 to be able to bring more people up and down the mountain during more seasons. Over the next 16 years the park grew with attractions, thrill rides and restaurants to keep visitors busy while they wait their turn to see the caves.

“Celebrating 20 years is extremely exciting,” said Nancy Heard, general manager of the Adventure Park and Iron Mountain Hot Springs. “[The Beckleys] didn’t intend to build an adventure park. It just sorta evolved based on the need.”

Heard, who has been working for the park for 11 years, said that they wanted to do a ’90s themed party in honor of the park’s founding year and there will be a variety of attractions at this Saturday’s party themed around that. The band will be on stage from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

First off, there will be a Prince tribute act, featuring Phillip Lamar Jordan of Paizley Park as the artist formerly known as. Attendees who wear purple to the concert can also get a free drink at the Lookout Grille — a purple Icee for kids and a “Purple Rain” mixed drink for adults.

The party will also feature CaveSim, an electronic cave simulator where kids can crawl through 60 feet of passage, avoiding stalactites and stalagmites all while trying to get the high score and beat their friends. CaveSim will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Additionally, the party will feature a photo booth and all the normal rides will be open. The park also features a brand new gondola that opened this spring, which can carry three times the amount of people as the old one. Heard said that this will drastically reduce wait times at the gondola stations and as long as the weather is good there shouldn’t be a wait at all.

Unlike the free Music on the Mountain concert series, this party is a paid event. According to a press release about the event, a ride on the Glenwood Gondola costs $19 for adults and $14 for kids 3 to 12. The Gondola/Cave Tour combination is $32 for adults and $27 for kids. An inclusive Funday Pass is $58 for adults, $53 for kids, and includes the gondola ride, two walking cave tours and unlimited access to all rides. Annual Gondola and Thrill Pass holders can attend free. Those who have vouchers for the Locals’ Gondola Pass from earlier this year are encouraged to redeem them prior to this event, preferably on weekdays prior to 4:30 p.m.

Heard said that she wants to encourage locals to come and celebrate 20 years of the park, especially those who haven’t been in a few years. She said that there have been other improvements beyond just the gondola and the many attractions, such as the alpine coaster, haunted mine drop and canyon swing continue to be award winning. For more information about the park and the Party Like it’s 1999 anniversary, head to glenwoodcaverns.com.

“We never imagined that 20 years later that we’d be operating the only mountain-top theme park in America, with roller coasters and a giant swing and concerts under the stars,” co-owner Jeanne Beckley said in the release. “It’s been such an incredible process. Our boys have grown up here, and the park has become this special place where families can have fun, learn about nature, experience this spectacular cave and create memories together.”

Chapman is the web editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at chapman@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @Nescwick.