Glenwood Springs and the U.S. Navy have built an alliance that began in the mid-1900s, and over the past year, that relationship has only gotten stronger.
Landlocked in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Glenwood Springs seems an unlikely harbor for the U.S. Navy. Yet, the hot springs town has been welcoming sailors for over 80 years.
On the Navy’s Radar
Though the war had begun in Europe in 1939, the United States officially entered WWII on Dec. 11, 1941, three days after the Japanese bombed Naval Station Pearl Harbor located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. While not engaged in active fighting before ‘41, the Navy was building its fleet in the event they would be drawn into the battle. From 1941 to 1945, the Navy rapidly expanded from just 2,500 ships to 6,768 ships. Recruiting also spiked, especially after the attack on Pearl Harbor when 60 percent of enlisted men were just 24 years old or younger.
What do these long-ago battles have to do with Glenwood Springs? As U.S. casualties of the war overseas returned home, the Navy sought suitable locations across the country where sailors could recuperate. Glenwood Springs with its natural hot springs and a large hotel was the obvious choice. In 1943, Hotel Colorado was commissioned as a naval hospital.
At the time of its opening, the U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital had a 500-bed patient capacity. In its three years of service as a hospital, Hotel Colorado assisted 6,525 veterans on their journey back to health. Ever since, Hotel Colorado and Glenwood Springs have been honored to share history with the Navy.
Tragically, many servicemen and women have made the ultimate sacrifice, laying down their lives for their country in the line of duty. In Colorado alone there are 250 Gold Star Families, those are families who have lost a son or daughter in the armed forces. Hotel Colorado hosted the families in 2022, as well as for several years prior, providing a place where they can gather to support, inspire and most importantly share stories of their children and our nation’s heroes.
In March 2022, Hotel Colorado welcomed submariners from the USS Colorado, a Virginia fast-class nuclear submarine returning to its home port in Groton, Connecticut, after logging some 45,000 nautical miles. Cmdr. Garth Storz and a handful of crewmembers traveled around the state on what is known as a “namesake tour,” meeting with people throughout Colorado to educate and answer questions about the VA-class sub and submariner life, and to learn about their Colorado namesake.
Most recently in November, Hotel Colorado hosted the first annual U.S. Navy & Marine Corps Ball. The two-evening gala was a benefit for the Kirstie Ennis Foundation. Ennis is a Glenwood Springs resident and former Marine Sergeant who lost her leg when her helicopter went down in Afghanistan in 2012. She also happens to be an elite athlete, climber and all-around outdoorswoman who inspires others to persevere through difficulty to reach their potential.
At first glance, you would think Glenwood Springs and the U.S. Navy wouldn’t have anything in common. Diving deeper, however, reveals a long-lasting friendship that has spanned nearly a century. Learn more fun historical facts about Glenwood Springs and make plans to visit today!
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