Weekends are made for hopping in the car and heading west, feeling elevation and adventure tick upward, seeing where our boots land. A recent head-for-the-hills trip steered two girlfriends and I to Glenwood Canyon’s ruby sky-scraping walls. Thirsting for a soul-smacking dose of adrenaline and rejuvenation, we booked three seats on the Hanging Lake shuttle bus (advance permits required; get yours here) and embarked on one of Colorado’s most coveted hikes. We climbed 2.4 miles through the rocky landscape beaming in 76-degree sunshine amid verdant pine and aspen.
The trek to the reflective cliffside emerald lake is swift and the cascading payoff incredibly rewarding, explaining the overwhelming draw and recently instituted forest service permit system. There’s a strenuous section at the final approach where uneven rock steps are flanked by shaky railing and plummeting drops. We knew our quads would be talking after this lung buster, so we capped the afternoon at Iron Mountain Hot Springs, quietly sprawled across 16 geothermal pools, absorbing iron, magnesium, and sulfate from the rich mineral-loaded waters.
[Read More: Does the New Hanging Lake Permit System Work?]
We were proud of our detoxifying day. And we were famished. Glenwood locals pointed to charming restaurant row’s Riviera Supper Club for the valley’s longest happy hour (4:30 to 7 p.m. daily); we swooned for the 1947 piano bar’s airy brick and wood patio adorned with soft bistro lights and a gas fireplace—a perfect perch for sipping The Riv’s house specialty lavender lemonades ($11) made with squeezed lemon and freshly plucked local lavender-infused vodka.
On the server’s cue, we shared a mélange of $5 happy hour plates: goat-cheese-stuffed balsamic dates wrapped in Sriracha bacon, a humble aged cheddar and gouda cheese plate with preserved artichokes and Greek olives, and grilled chicken Thai egg rolls which we dredged in punchy peanut and sweet chile sauces. A pleasant surprise coming out of the scratch kitchen, the fried Wisconsin white cheese curds wore an ultra-crisp coat of smoky dry rub and parmesan that sang with The Riv’s cinnamon-kissed house barbecue sauce.
Inside, dim moody coziness summoned classic supper club roots with plated escargot, baked Danish brie, and shaved prime rib sided with nightly live jazz and blues. The entertainment here is legit—owner Jonathan Gorst hails from Broadway as keyboard player for Cats and music director for the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera. We clinked our goblets of fruit-forward homemade sangria ($11) and promised we’d return for a proper dinner and a show at this legendary Colorado find.
702 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, 970-945-7692