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Hot Springs Etiquette: Ten Tips for Blending in With the Natives

The view from Iron Mountain Hot Springs.EXPAND
The view from Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

Coloradans love this state's hot springs. Unfortunately, with the influx of new residents, these special spots have been loved nearly to death. The proposed permitting system for the formerly wild Conundrum Hot Springs is evidence of that — a once beautiful, difficult to access public spring is now surrounded by more piles of poop than a thirteen-year-old’s emoji game. But it’s not only the wild places that are suffering: With increased traffic, tourists and new residents joining the regulars, Colorado’s popular attractions face a clash of cultures that threaten to ruin everyone’s enjoyment.

Most people go to hot springs to relax, but lately I’ve begun to feel we’re not all on the same page. With that in mind, here’s a hot-springs etiquette list so that you can fit in like a native.

1. No Loud Music
You may love Fetty Wap, but coming out of your tiny phone speaker it sounds like garbage...and I don’t mean the band. Ultimately, no one wants to hear your music — they want to relax in peace and quiet. Invest in waterproof headphones if Trap Queen is really integral to your soaking experience.

2. No Cannonballs
In fact, no jumping in the water at all! Not only is it unsafe in most instances, but it’s incredibly disruptive to anyone who's trying to have a peaceful float, as they’re suddenly thrust into a stormy, wavy ocean of hot water. No one wants to get splashed in the face, and plus: What are you, five?

3. No PDAs
When I worked at the venerable Rock Island nightclub, a lot of people would get caught having sex there. The staff had a stock line that we would use to break it up: “We don’t serve drinks in your bedroom, so please don’t fuck in our bar.” The same goes for hot springs: Your PDA is making everyone else uncomfortable. Get a room. Or at least a tent.

Strawberry Hot SpringsEXPAND
Strawberry Hot Springs
Kenzie Bruce

4. Drugs, Alcohol and Hot Water Don't Mix
Doing coke off your smartphone probably isn’t okay anywhere, but at hot springs, it’s downright stupid — especially if you value either. Water + phones + powdery drugs don't mix would seem like a no-brainer rule, but yes: I actually witnessed this. In general, drugs, alcohol and hot springs don’t mix. Sure, weed is legal, but don’t get so stoned you put yourself in danger, and not everyone is going to welcome the smell of your sticky blunt. More important, there’s actual science behind the need to be a teetotaler in the springs: both alcohol and hot water can leave you dangerously dehydrated, leading to dizziness, confusion or even fainting, which puts you at risk of drowning. Hot water can also lower your blood pressure, another dangerous combo with alcohol. Drunk people are obnoxious; drunk dead people pretty much end the party right there.

5. Keep Quiet
And speaking of parties, you may be there with a group of friends and having the time of your life, but use your indoor voices, even if you’re outdoors: No one cares to hear you wooting or screaming with laughter. At most hot springs, loud conversation is discouraged, especially if you’re in a place with caves where it echoes. Not everyone feels chatty, so don’t be offended if the introvert near you who's trying to de-stress in silence doesn't feel like engaging.

Keep reading for more hot-springs etiquette rules.

Nighttime soaks at Iron Mountain Hot Springs.EXPAND
Nighttime soaks at Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

6. Keep to Yourself
Dudes, women don't go to hot springs to meet you. Harassment is egregious enough on the street, but when you’re getting your bliss on and trying to shake off your work week, no one needs your cheesy pick-up line. And for God’s sake, stop staring.

7. Don't Stare
In fact, stop staring at everyone — especially people at clothing-optional hot springs. Everyone’s body is different, and the vast majority of people don’t look like they stepped out of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue ready for fun in the sun. All bodies are good bodies.

8. Give Other Folks a Chance
There’s always one really good spot in a hot spring, like that gently sloping spot where you can lean back like it’s a Barcolounger, or that perfect little waterfall that gives you a pounding shoulder massage. Don’t hog it — other people know about that perfect spot, too, so sharing is caring.

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9. No Litter
Colorado is beautiful. Help keep it that way.

Strawberry Hot SpringsEXPAND
Strawberry Hot Springs
Kenzie Bruce

10. No Selfies
For the love of all that is holy, leave the selfie stick at home. For that matter, why are you taking pictures? No one wants to photobomb your vacation pics, especially in a bathing suit. And nothing says tourist like taking a picture in every pool.

Follow these helpful hints, and even newbies can can avoid the glares of locals and maybe, just maybe, have a better experience in the end. Nothing rejuvenates like a dip in hot mineral water under a stunning Colorado sky, especially when your fellow humans grant you the peace and quiet that the Rockies deserve.

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