Hot springs are naturally occurring warm mineral water springs produced from volcanic activity below the Earth’s surface. Besides being relaxing, the high mineral content gives the water many health benefits. Because of activity deep below, the Rocky Mountains have always had an abundance of these relaxing and healing pools. Years ago, many would flow underground with just a few springs and pools poking out here and there. Lucky for us, excavation has been able to take advantage of these springs and bring more of the warm water to the surface.
Colorado, with its prime Rocky Mountain location, abounds with natural hot springs. We have peaceful camp-style resorts, large family-friendly pools and even a few river springs. Plan a day trip or mountain getaway to one of the best hot springs in the state and prepare for relaxation.
Photo courtesy of Yampah Spa
The only natural vapor caves in North America, Yampah Spa is nestled along the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs and has been soothing residents and visitors for over 120 years. Originally used by the Ute Indians, explorers later soaked in and drank the water to promote health and relax — and you can, too! Water flows through Yampah Spa’s Vapor Caves at 125 degrees to create a mineral steam bath. For extra pampering, schedule a spa treatment, including massages and herbal body treatments.
Photo courtesy of Iron Mountain Hot Springs
Another Glenwood Springs resort, Iron Mountain is one of the newest in town. They have 16 small mineral water pools to choose from, each with different temperatures and views of the river and surrounding mountains. The pools are connected with heated stone walkways so your toes can stay warm in the winter as you move from pool to pool. Though there is a larger freshwater family pool, children four years old and younger are not allowed at the resort due to heat concerns and keeping the atmosphere quiet and peaceful.
Photo courtesy of Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa
Bordered by Cottonwood Creek and surrounded by the San Isabel National Forest, Cottonwood Hot Springs is located in picturesque Buena Vista. Their pools are small, intimate and relaxing. For $15 – $20, you can soak for the day or you can stay in lodge rooms and creekside cabins, among other lodge options.
Strawberry Park in Steamboat Springs has one of the most beautiful designs we’ve seen. The hot springs are built into rock and are surrounded by evergreen trees and natural landscape. Because of the natural surroundings, you’re likely to see wildlife during your soak — especially if you make reservations to stay in one of their lodging options (including a converted train caboose!).
Photos courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs / Jack Richmond Photography
Dunton Hot Springs is a ghost town turned paradise near Telluride. Year round, you can soak in hot springs, eat organic and locally sourced meals, schedule spa treatments or adventure around the area. Much more than just a hot springs pool, this resort is a true mountain getaway. Though there is Wi-Fi, there is no cell service so you can fully appreciate the outdoors and the mountain atmosphere.
There are six pools to choose from — all with high mineral content and different views. You can soak inside the restored 19th century Bathhouse or in the pool just outside, under the stars at the spring source, in the pool behind the Dunton Store cabin, inside the Well House cabin, or out on the river in Christoph’s spring. Make reservations online for yourself, your significant other, or 44 of your closest friends!
Unlike the other hot springs in Colorado, Alpine Hotsprings Hideaway in Salida is a family home for single, couple or family rentals with a hand built hot spring pool right outside. The natural water source produces water at 130 degrees, but you can adjust the temperature to your needs. Because it is 100% natural water it has no chemical smell, and post-soak you can return to the lodge style home with full kitchen and two bedrooms.
Photo courtesy of Avalanche Ranch Cabins and Hot Springs
Located in historic Redstone, Colorado, Avalanche Ranch is nestled along the Crystal River — named for its crisp, crystal clear waters. The three hot spring pools are built into the natural rock formations and tiered, constantly circulating the water mineral water and providing peaceful background noise. The pools are included with lodging, or you can visit for the day and spend the rest of your time exploring the quaint town of Redstone.
Located in Ridgway, Orvis Hot Springs has four outdoor pools to choose from. The Pond is 40 feet across and surrounded by a redwood deck with three smaller and warmer pools — The Lobster Pot reaches 114 degrees at its hottest. Inside, Orvis has an indoor mineral pool and two private pools. Day soaking is available to the public, but night soaking under the stars is only available to lodge guests. Please note, this is a clothing optional hot springs resort.
Photos courtesy of The Springs Resort & Spa
Ancient native legend says Pagosa’s hot springs originated from a night of fire dances and prayer ceremonies performed by the native Ute tribe. As an answer to their prayers for healing, the gods sent the bubbling warm water to the surface. Ever since, natives, travelers and visitors have been soaking in the healing waters of Pagosa Springs — the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring.
The Springs Resort has 23 pools along the San Juan River including small, intimate pools, a huge and beautifully landscaped family pool, and the river itself! Make reservations to stay and get complimentary pool access, or see pricing for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly passes.
Mount Princeton Hot Springs offers an indoor Historic Bath House and Creekside Hot Springs in addition to the much cooler upper pools with a 400 foot water slide! These upper pools have optimal views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains and are kept around 75 degrees — still loaded with healing minerals. Guests 16 and older can enjoy the Spa and Club with its own hot springs relaxation pool and various spa treatments.
Photo courtesy of VisitGlenwood.com
One of Colorado’s most popular hot springs pools, Glenwood Hot Springs offers two large outdoor mineral pools. The cooler of the two has two water slides and swimming lanes, while the warmer has massage chairs for optimal relaxation. Alongside family entertainment, you can enjoy a spa treatment or just bask in the relaxing water nestled in the mountain surroundings.
Salida Recreation Center is the largest indoor hot springs pool in North America. At around 85 degrees, the larger pool is a manageable temperature for children and makes for delightful swimming and playing. There’s a smaller and warmer pool as well, ideal for soaking and relaxation for parents. Or can reserve one of many private pools that accommodate 2 – 3 people and are only for adult use.
Photo courtesy of Healing Waters Resort & Spa
For guests at Healing Waters in Pagosa, the hot springs pools are complementary, but visitors can purchase tickets for a one-time visit, a day pass, a six month pass, or an annual pass. You can also buy a ten visit punch card which includes a free visit! Pools include a large outdoor pool, outdoor soaking pools and indoor mineral baths.
Seven different area springs provide water for Ouray Hot Springs. At the source, some of the water bubbles up at 150 degrees, but the hottest pool is kept around 104 degrees. In addition to the hottest relaxation pool, there is a soaking section kept around 95 degrees and a swimming section at 80 degrees with lap lanes and deep waters. Open all year, you can soak in summer or amidst the relaxing steam in winter.
Photo courtesy of Indian Hot Springs
Indian Hot Springs is one of the most unique options on this list. Their largest hot springs pool is indoors, in a tropical environment under a glass dome. While snow falls above, you can spend time in a tropical paradise surrounded by flowering trees, banana trees and palm trees. They also have geothermal caves with walk-in hot tubs open to adult guests. If you tire of the tropical environment, we suggest trying the outdoor jacuzzis. Then wrap up the day with a mineral rich mud bath at Club Mud!
The town of Hot Sulphur Springs popped up around the seven natural hot springs in the area. The town’s Resort and Spa has taken full advantage of the springs, providing large outdoor pools and private indoor pools. In addition to family swimming entertainment, you can sign up for a spa and body treatment package.
Photo courtesy of Uncover Colorado
Along the Crystal River near Carbondale, The Penny Hot Springs are natural springs at the mouth of the Narrows — a granite section of the canyon cut by the Crystal River. A large parking lot along Highway 133 make them easily accessible. They’re a great stop for a day soak, night soak or a post-hike rest after exploring one of the many nearby hiking trails.
Photos courtesy of Uncover Colorado
North of Pagosa Springs, the hike into Rainbow Hot Springs is lengthy and takes you deep into the secluded Weminuche Wilderness Area — but trust us, it’s worth it! And the 4.5 mile hike will make the soak even better. Constructed and maintained naturally and by previous visitors, the springs have two separate pools along the San Juan River. The larger stays around 95 degrees and fits about 10 people, while the smaller reaches 105 degrees and fits three people comfortably. Because the hike is lengthy, we suggest bringing camping gear and staying overnight! Then, you can soak under the stars.
Hot springs, while relaxing, can be dangerous under certain conditions, so we put together a list of precautions to look over before your trip.
Many resorts and pools recommend leaving the water to cool down after 15 minutes and taking at least a 30 minute break. Though it is relaxing, the minerals and heat make your body work harder and it will tire. If you feel dizzy or drowsy, get out of the water and cool off until you feel normal.
Because hot mineral springs tire your body, it is suggested to limit your alcohol consumption.
The minerals in hot springs will tarnish jewelry, especially silver. If you forget to take off your jewelry, you may be able to save it with some polishing, but we recommend removing it beforehand.
In case the heat and minerals do tire you out too much, we recommend playing it safe and not soaking alone. Besides, it’s more fun to soak with a group or your significant other!
Colorado has so many hot springs to choose from. Try some on our list — maybe one from each category — and let us know what you think!