What's up, Doc?

Glenwood Springs Travel Blog

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Gleenwood Springs as viewed from the mountain in which Doc Holliday is said to be buried.

We would end the night back home in Brighton tonight. It’s about 265 miles, roughly 4 ½ driving hours, to home. But there is a lot of beautiful country, 95% of it in the mountains, between Grand Junction and Brighton. So, while we were all looking forward to sleeping in our own beds tonight, we weren’t in a huge hurry. The plan for the day was breakfast and then an hour and a half drive to the very picturesque town of Glenwood Springs. We would spend the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon seeing the town. We might take a dip in the hot springs, for which the town was name. I, but probably none of the others, would head over to the old Pioneer Cemetery to visit Doc Holliday’s grave.

Information about the cemetery and Doc Holliday

 

Breakfast was at the Village Inn, by the hotel, and we were on our way by 8:15 AM. We didn’t know it yet, but this was fortunate timing. I-70 is not the ideal way to take in the Colorado scenery, but you do make good time. So as there are few alternates, and none of them realistic, that is the route we took. Even so, it is still a pretty drive, with various plateaus and mesas, early on, and evergreens as you climbed out of the valley. We arrived in Glenwood Springs, and drove into town. It was quickly evident that something was going on in town today. I wondered out loud if this could be the weekend for Strawberry Days, an annual festival in Glenwood.

Doc Holliday's grave. He is probably not there. Legend has it that when he died it was too cold to take his body up the mountain, so they buried him at the base. He is probably is someone's backyard
I had read about the festival years before when we took another vacation that had us stop in Glenwood. We quickly found out that we had lucked into the celebration. That changed our plans somewhat.

 

They were blocking off Grand Ave, the main north-south street of the city for a parade, so we did our best, and made our way south and parked in a supermarket lot. We went inside and bought some bottled water and then made our way to find a spot to watch the parade. It started at 10 AM, which was now, so it should be working its way towards us soon. It was your basic standard parade with floats, a band or two, horses, some politicians and other clowns. After the parade we were all invited down to Sayre Park for free ice cream.

backside of the tombstone

 

Sayre Park was not very far from where we were watching the parade so we walked on down. The park turned out to be the location of all the day’s main activities. They had a stage set up for various performers and speeches (mostly performers) that would take place through out the day, and then there were a ton (several tons, actually) of vendors set up selling a wide variety of crafts and products. But, as it was getting warm the ice cream was what had our attention. We found both the ice cream and a shady spot to eat it in.

 

After we were done, it was decided that we would split up.

This one is more accurate than his tombstone
It was a pretty easy decision. I said “I’m going to walk over to the cemetery and see Doc Holliday’s grave” and the girls said “Have a good time” You might think this a bit cruel of them. I mean why couldn’t everyone just go for a few minutes?  He was a famous Old West character and should at least be superficially interesting. And after all the vendors and their booths weren’t going anywhere. The cemetery wasn’t that far away and while it was getting warm, it was far from sweltering. Why not? Well Margo and Jessi had been there before. “So what” you say. They couldn’t go with you for a few minutes and Patty hadn’t been there before and was even interested. The answer is like so many mountain towns they could not afford to waste valuable flatland on cemeteries. Any flatland would be farmed or developed. Dead people got buried on top of a mountain. The old Pioneer Cemetery was at the top of a small mountain that was accessed by a dirt road, and cars were not welcomed.
Jessi and Margo who have contracted some weird mountain disease
Patty was not up to the trek and as her daughter and granddaughter had already been drug up that mountain once before, they were not interested in repeat performance.

 

So, I made the walk to where the cemetery road starts and headed up the road. It’s not a difficult climb and I think it took me about 10 minutes. The cemetery, originally called Linwood Cemetery, is pretty small so finding his grave is not difficult. Doc Holliday died broke and some citizens took up a collection to pay for his funeral. I never found out if that included his tombstone, but it’s a nice one. I snapped a few pictures and wandered around the cemetery for a few minutes. I like the history that any cemetery represents, but this one held little appeal after Holliday’s grave. So I left and headed back to Sayre Park to find the three generations of shoppers I had left behind.

 

It didn’t take too long, but not right away to find them. They had bought some and looked at a lot. Margo took me back over to a few of the highlights. I think she ended up buying some beef jerky and dry soup. Jessi got some sort of sign. We decided as downtown was not too far away that we would walk down there and explore the shops there too. They had a bookstore, “The Book Train” maybe, that I liked. I spent probably close to an hour browsing before I made a selection. After being on our feet for most of this time we decided to grab a snack, some water, and sit for awhile. There was a place called “The Moose” that sold ice cream. So we were back to the Ice Cream on a Hot Day equation. It still worked out, mathematically, so we ordered a cone. Margo and Jessi both got some sort of bubble gum or blueberry concoction that turned their tongues blue. They were both very proud of that and posed for a picture for me.

 

We still had about three hours of driving in front of us, plus we planned to stop and eat dinner before we got home. So sometime around 3:00 PM we pulled out of Glenwood Springs and headed east on I-70. This part of I-70 has you solidly in the pretty part of the mountains. Again, while I-70 is not the place to sightsee from, it is still pretty. And Glenwood Canyon, and the way they have redone I-70 there, is particularly nice. Two hours later, we arrived at another springs, Idaho Springs. Idaho Springs is the last mountain town (on I-70) before you leave the mountains and descend into Denver. You still have another 10 or 15 miles before you reach the foothills, but the point is the town has a way of pulling tourists off the highway.

 

Margo and I had been here many times before. Our favorite place to eat here is the Buffalo Restaurant and Bar. It has an American menu that features buffalo steaks and buffalo burgers. The décor is vintage 19th century, including an original newspaper telling of President Lincoln’s assassination. We were coming into Idaho Springs on a Saturday, which is OK. But any Sunday summer night and Idaho Springs becomes a great place to spend several hours. That is because all of the weekenders from the Denver area are on their way home, and they turn I-70 East into Colorado’s largest parking lot. It’s the same for ski traffic on Saturday mornings in the winter, or any long weekend. But that wasn’t our concern today. Traffic was not a problem. So we stopped, parked, and went inside for dinner. We had a very relaxed meal and afterwards went outside and walked around a little. The views around town are pretty. The mountains rise up all around you, and right near the downtown area is a water wheel and water fall that makes for nice viewing and pictures (which I neglected, I’m sorry to say)

 

But all things, good and bad, come to an end. This had definitely been good, and unfortunately, if was almost over. We had about an hour’s drive left from Idaho Springs to home, and then we were done. What had started out as a potential disaster with Jessi turning up sick hours before we left, had materialized into a really great trip. But, it was still going to be nice to sleep in my own bed tonight.

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Gleenwood Springs as viewed from t…
Gleenwood Springs as viewed from …
Information about the cemetery and…
Information about the cemetery an…
Doc Hollidays grave. He is probab…
Doc Holliday's grave. He is proba…
backside of the tombstone
backside of the tombstone
This one is more accurate than his…
This one is more accurate than hi…
Jessi and Margo who have contracte…
Jessi and Margo who have contract…
Glenwood Springs Sights & Attractions review
Wonderful time in a beautiful town
Strawberry Days is held every June (3rd weekend, I believe, but don’t hold me to it) in Glenwood Springs. It is the oldest civic festival in Colorad… read entire review
Glenwood Springs
photo by: callufrax