Colorado Hot Springs
In Colorado, hot springs are scattered throughout the Rocky
Mountains. Many are just isolated bubbling pools in the wilderness
- scenic, but often just barely large enough to sit in. Others
have been developed into private resorts with luxurious accommodations.
Then there are the public hot springs, which are usually affordable
and well developed.
Ouray Colorado Hot Springs
The hot springs pools in Ouray are the favorites of my wife
and myself. Ouray bills itself as the "Switzerland of America,"
and with good reason. The mountains are dramatic here, rising
up steeply from the town, which is nestled deep in a small, beautiful
valley. The drive into town from the north is spectacular, and
the drive south along the "million dollar highway"
is even better.
We were in Ouray in December, and were happy to discover that
the hot springs are open year-round. It was wonderful to sit
in the hot mineral water, look up at the mountains that start
only a hundred yards away, and catch snowflakes on our tongues.
It also isn't crowded here in the winter. There were maybe a
dozen other people in the pools during the two hours we were
There is more than a million gallons of naturally hot water
in the facility, in several connected pools, ranging form 96
degrees Fahrenheit to 106 degrees. There are lap lanes for swimming,
and a diving area as well. Unlike many of the hot springs in
Colorado, there is no sulfur smell in this one. In summer the
springs are open from 10 to 10 every day. The hours are shorter
the rest of the year. The cost is $8, with discounts for children
and senior citizens.
Other things to do in Ouray include hiking, shopping, or taking
the incredible "Million Dollar Highway" to Silverton,
which is even higher up in the mountains. There is also the Ouray
Ice Park, which, in winter, has cliffs covered in ice for ice
climbing practice and competitions. For more information, visit
this website on Ouray,
The hot springs of Pagosa Springs are of the classic sulfur
type, and you will probably smell them before you see them. Don't
let the odor deter you though. The water here is hot, and the
minerals in it may be good for your health. "Pagosah"
is a Southern Ute word for "healing waters." The town
itself is in a beautiful setting in the San Juan Mountains, in
There are several private facilities here, with lodging or
fees for hourly or daily use of the springs. There is also shopping,
hiking, and dozens of waterfalls to see in the area. For nice
views, drive up to nearby Wolf Creek Pass (10,857 feet). You
can get more information on Pagosa Springs at the Chamber of Commerce Website.
The town of Glenwood Springs sits in valley on the "west
slope," ninety miles east of Grand Junction, Colorado. It
is also only 45 minutes from the ski resort towns of Vail and
Aspen. For more than a hundred years, visitors, including European
royalty, U.S. senators, presidents and movie stars, have come
from around the world to soak in the mineral waters here.
The hot springs swimming pool is three blocks long, and has
water slides that are over 300 feet long. For more information
visit the website of the Hot Springs Lodge And Pool. For more information
on all the things to do in the area, visit the Glenwood Springs City Website.
More Colorado Hot Springs
There are many more hot springs in Colorado. Cottonwood Resort, for example, 5 miles from
Buena Vista. They claim to have the purest geo-thermal, gravity-fed
mineral spa, and have a sauna and cold water pool as well. Then
there are the undeveloped mineral springs to be found here and
there in the mountains of Colorado.
The Piedra River Hot Springs, is in the San Juan National
Forest, near Pagosa Springs. These are sandy pools warmed by
tiny springs and seeps along the Piedra's shore. Take U.S. 160
southwest of Pagosa Springs about 16 miles. Immediately after
the Chimney Rock turnoff to the south, is the Piedra Road, also
called the First Fork Road. Turn right and you'll be following
the Piedra River on a gravel road. It is 6.7 miles to the intersection
with Monument Park Road and the parking area. Take the trail
from the Sheep Creek Trailhead. The springs are a 3-mile hike
round-trip with an 800-foot drop going in. There is, of course,
no charge, and these are clothing-optional hot springs.
Often, in Colorado and elsewhere, where there are well-known
hot springs, there are others in the area that are not so well-known.
If you enjoy the more isolated and natural ones, you may want
to try striking up a conversation with one of the locals to discover
where these are.
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