Looking for a family mini-vacation this summer? Escape to Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs | Thetribune

Within a minute or two of arriving at Great Wolf Lodge in north Colorado Springs, it becomes obvious that an adventure is awaiting, starting just inside the front entrance.

Visitors pass through the rustic, oversized wooden doors into a soaring log, stone, and brick lobby that is a harbinger of what is to come in this total immersion experience. And what’s with those wolf ears perched upon everyone’s heads?

An exterior view of Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs.

On a recent visit, when the day outside was gloomy and gray, Great Wolf Lodge was a welcoming, lively destination offering a respite within its sheltering walls. A hum of laughter and joyful voices greets visitors along with a vibe that says: “Come on in and leave your troubles behind for a while!” Here is the perfect place for a mini-vacation escape.

James Anderson, general manager of the Colorado Springs resort, puts it this way: “The purpose of Great Wolf Lodge is to bring joy to families. Everybody could use more of that nowadays. People are eager to get out!”

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Writer Libby Kinder can’t get enough of the water slides at Great Wolf Lodge.

The resort brand emphasizes engagement with guests, cleanliness and safety and does a remarkable job ensuring that all guests have the opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Anderson also points out that the hundreds of staff members are a true asset to the resort’s increasing success. He adds that overnight stays include a pass to the waterpark, and a variety of passes for family attractions or day passes are also available.

The first activity for most guests is a visit to the incredible indoor waterpark. As one enters the 50,000 square feet of unlimited fun, the anticipation is palpable. Nine water slides, the sweeping swells of Slap Tail Pond, four-story Fort Mackenzie and Whooping Hollow Playground are a few of the thrills. Cub Paw Pool will entertain the little ones for hours, while older kids might opt for the water playgrounds in Chinook Cove to try out basketball skills, and Big Foot Pass to challenge balance and agility while attempting to cross large floating lily pads.

Almost everybody’s first choice is zipping down an array of super-duper water slides. Howlin’ Tornado is the park’s signature ride, plunging six stories as riders hurtle through water tubes into a swirling, circuitous sprint within the eye of the tornado. A ride on one of the 2-4 passenger rafts is a sceamin’ adventure!

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ABOVE LEFT: An enormous bucket at Fort Mackenzie dumps water onto brave souls waiting below. ABOVE RIGHT: Ron Kinder bowls at Ten Paw Alley.

Next, shoot down Alberta Falls in a twisting, tandem, tube-ride dropping four stories. The heart-pounding Wolf Tail drops the floor beneath riders for a 20-foot free-fall followed by zooming through a high-speed loop. Finally, hop on a mat for a solo race, or competition with others in your Wolf Pack in a dash to the finish line.

The action carries on at ground level. As a mighty wolf howl resounds throughout the water park, the waves in Slap Tail Pond churn and roil to the delight of bathers and swimmers. Bells and whistles announce the imminent whoosh of a deluge as an enormous bucket of water above Fort Mackenzie overflows, dumping its contents four stories below onto anticipatory adventure seekers.

The water park is a delight to the senses, with comfortable air and water temperatures and a light and bright cavernous space in which the merry resonance of bells, whistles, wolf howls and peals of laughter and excitement ring out within a constant background babble of splashing and rushing water.

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Ron Kinder bowls at Ten Paw Alley.

But Great Wolf Lodge offers much more beyond the water park. A multitude of activities for family fun are located within the resort. One never needs to leave the facility for a day or two or three of activites. Ten Paw Alley, Howl-In-One Mini-Golf and Oliver’s Mining (for pawing through a sluice to find colorful rock specimens), offer more sedate pursuits. Howler’s Peak Ropes Course, Rustic Ridge Climbing Wall, Northern Lights Arcade and MagiQuest will challenge those who want to indulge in something extra-adventurous and imaginative.

Great Wolf Lodge is all about the wild creatures, from story time, to the Forest Friends Show, to the Hustle & Howl Family Dance Party. And you don’t have to be a kid to take it all in. A sweatshirt in the gift shop is emblazoned with the message: “A Break from Adulting!” Now that’s a powerful message to seize the day and live in the moment.

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Writer Libby Kinder gets a greeting from Wiley Coyote in the lobby of Great Wolf Lodge.

Having all that fun can work up a powerful appetite, and there is a variety of meals and tasty treats available for all ages. Dunkin’ Donuts, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Great Wolf Candy Company supply plenty of sweet treats. Restaurants range from full service at Loose Moose Family Kitchen and Barnwood Barbecue to snacks, fast food and pizza. Kids are catered to, but adults can enjoy cocktails and food more conducive to mature palates.

Rooms and suites are spacious, quiet and comfortable, outfitted with crisp white linens. Many of the resort’s rooms offer stunning views of the Air Force Academy and Pikes Peak. Decorations are rustic and whimsical with mining-style lamps and an abundance of forest creature decorations, including a silhouette of a howling wolf, of course.

The well-stocked Buckhorn Exchange Gift Shop, Bear Essentials Swim Shop, Magiquest Marketplace and Build-A-Bear Workshop provide the opportunity to purchase and take home unique souvenirs as a reminder of the journey.

Opened in 2016, the Colorado Springs location is just one of many operated by “The largest family of indoor water park resorts in North America,” as the website states

A variety of packages and passes are offered to satisfy everyone’s desires, from a more budget-geared experience to a lavish adventure. Information about Great Wolf Lodge can be found at greatwolf.com.

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An exterior view of Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs.