You look up to admire Colorado’s most scenic attractions, but there are natural wonders beneath the ground, too. This state’s stunning landscapes were shaped by plate tectonics and volcanic activity. Although only one volcano — Dotsero — remains technically active, geothermal energy continues to circulate, heating mineral-rich waters that rise to the surface for our soaking enjoyment.
Colorado has nearly 100 known hot springs, from shallow wilderness spots to the world’s largest hot springs pool; here are ten where you can make a splash.
Avalanche Ranch Cabins and Hot Springs
In the heart of the Crystal River Valley in Redstone, three terraced pools of Avalanche Ranch allow you to soak while enjoying stunning views of Mount Sopris; the largest pool even has a waterfall-fed grotto. The 36-acre property has eighteen eclectic cabins and tiny homes, including several snug covered wagons, all with 24-hour access to the hot springs. There are also hiking trails, a stocked fishing pond and an antique store. Day visitors may reserve four-hour slots (9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.) for $28 per person; bring your own towel or rent one for $2, then enjoy a blissful soak. Get more information at 970-963-2846.
The Springs Resort & Spa
On the banks of the San Juan River in Pagosa Springs — "pagosa" is the Ute word for "healing waters" — the 79-room Springs Resort is home to the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring. Rising more than 1,000 feet, the sulfurous waters feed 25 pools that range in temperature from a refreshing 45 degrees to a steamy 114 Fahrenheit. Book a custom massage, facial or body treatment at the spa, enjoy poolside food and beverages, and soak your cares away with a day pass or 24-hour access for guests of the resort. Call 800-225-0934 for details.
Durango Hot Springs Resort
Three different hotels by Trimble Springs, a scenic spot in the Animas Valley, have burned to the ground, sparking rumors that Native Americans cursed this site eight miles north of downtown Durango and fifteen miles from Purgatory ski resort. But the Durango Hot Springs Resort was built with the blessings of the Southern Ute Tribe. Newly renovated, the facility now includes private Japanese-style cedar soaking tubs, sixteen mineral-spring pools, a Finnish dry sauna, a 25-meter saltwater swimming pool and a reflexology path. For more information, call 970-247-0111.
Iron Mountain Hot Springs
A refreshing update at Iron Mountain.
Courtesy Iron Mountain Hot Springs
On the banks of the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs, at the site of a historic bathhouse where the wealthy soaked while sipping cold buttermilk, Iron Mountain Hot Springs is now a thoroughly modern affair. The buttermilk has made way for locally brewed beer from the Sopris Cafe, and guests now admire the river views from sixteen adults-only soaking pools of varying sizes and temperatures, as well as a large, family-friendly freshwater pool for the kids. The locker rooms have showers, changing rooms, hair dryers and restrooms. For rates and reservations, call 970-945-4766.
Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs
Warning: Things can get raw (and adults-only) after dark at Strawberry Park, a favorite site eight miles from Steamboat Springs. But the scenery is great during daylight hours, too, as you soak at what locals call "Strawberry," along Hot Springs Creek. Twenty mineral-rich pools offer varying temperatures, and you can enjoy a watsu (in-water) or regular massage. Lodging is rustic, funky and books out far in advance, and 4- or all-wheel drive with snow tires/chains is required until May 1 (shuttle service is available). Call 970-879-0342 for details.
Dunton Hot Springs
Dunton bathhouse interior.
Just outside of Telluride, a ghost town has returned to life as an all-inclusive luxury lodge with an award-winning food program and hot springs to die for. Lithium, anyone? The waters here contain a bit, along with calcium bicarbonate, dissolved iron and manganese. Soak like an old miner in the restored nineteenth-century bathhouse or under the stars. Particularly magical in winter, Dunton has its own snowcat and many trails for snowshoeing. Nearby and not far from the town of Dolores, Colorado's only geyser (barely) bubbles like an 82-degree Jacuzzi. Find out more at 877-288-9922.
Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort
Breathtaking views of the San Isabel National Forest are yours for the sighing while you soak creekside in one of the thirty pools on Chalk Creek or in the historic bathhouse, which was built in 1867. Close to both Monarch Mountain and Ski Cooper in Nathrup, this resort allows you to steam and spa for the day; you can also find luxurious lodging and dining at the resort. For information, call 719-395-2447.
Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa
Volcanic rock is to thank for the seven natural springs welling from 35,000 feet underground to fill the 21 mineral pools at this Grand County resort. Located just 95 miles northwest of Denver and 30 miles northwest of Winter Park, the sulfate- and magnesium-rich waters range in temperature from 95 to 112 degrees. Hot Sulphur Springs also offers a variety of spa services, including massages; call 970-725-3306.
Juniper Hot Springs
Ten no-hookups campsites are the only lodging option at this rustic retreat on County Road 53 about thirty miles outside of Craig, but locals love the largely undiscovered spot for the unparalleled mineral content of its pools, which boast some of the richest waters in the world. The temperatures are unregulated and can vary from 80 to around 100 degrees. The $5 fee is cash-only and strictly on the honor system, the changing tent is a...tent, and the potty is porta. (Scarce) details are at the Craig Chamber of Commerce website
— but that's all part of the adventure!
Conundrum Hot Springs
The holy grail of Colorado’s natural hot springs, Conundrum is surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks in the majestic Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area and is a true paradise. At night, the Milky Way explodes above, and the two main soaking pools beckon at a comforting 98 degrees. Getting here is not for the faint of heart; this is a serious hike, nine miles at minimum, with a strenuous, 2,500-foot relevant gain up to 11,200 feet (GPS coordinates 39.012213, -106.8911527). But despite the difficulty in reaching it, Conundrum was overrun with visitors before the U.S. Forest Service instituted a permit system; reservations are now required to score one of the twenty camping sites. Check recreation.gov