Look to the sky and you’ll see frost-covered fourteeners carved with magnificent ski runs. Drive around a bit and you’ll be graced by verdant forests, reflective lakes, and wildlife around every corner. No matter how hard you look, though, you’re likely to pass by some of Colorado’s hidden attractions—natural hot springs!
In Colorado, hot springs are the ultimate boon for anyone who spends time in the mountains. Coincidentally, many of them are located near popular ski destinations, though many are hidden in wilderness or national forest. They are abundant, yet elusive. Unless you know where to look!
Here are some of our favorite hot springs in Colorado to soak your tired muscles and transcend to bliss.
Ouray Hot Springs
Nestled between the snowy peaks of the San Juan Mountains and just a short drive from Telluride are the healing mineral waters of Ouray Hot Springs. Several pools of various temperature make this an ideal family destination where everyone can find their sweet spot. The public pools have undergone significant renovation in celebration of the springs’ 90th anniversary, so the pools are even better than before!
Overlook Hot Springs Spa
The perfect après-ski destination awaits at this Victorian-style hot spring in Pagosa. You’ll forget all about your tired muscles when you gaze upon the mountain and river views from a rooftop tub or chat with friends in an indoor pool. If you’ve really been hitting the slopes hard, best to indulge in a professional massage from the on-site therapists. The best part—you can BYOB (bring your own beverage) for a relaxing afternoon.
Piedra River Hot Springs
20 miles south of Pagosa Springs (Hike-in)
Steaming beside the Piedra River in the San Juan National Forest, this primitive hot spring is a great place for adventurers to soak in a secluded natural setting. A one-and-a-half-mile hike will bring you to the naturally-fed pools cordoned from the cold river water with stacks of rocks, which range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to a sweltering 107 degrees. The best time to visit is from late July to early October, when the river is not flooded with snow melt.
To get to the Piedra River Hot Springs from Pagosa Springs, drive south on US-160, then take a left on 1st Fork Rd to follow the Piedra River about seven miles to a parking area. The Sheep Creek Trailhead will bring you to your boon. If you’re lucky, you might spy a deer, an elk, or get acquainted with a local family of river otters.
Penny Hot Springs
Between Carbondale and Redstone
Nestled between towering granite cliffs and an open meadow frequented by elk, Penny Hot Springs boils up beside the shore of the aptly-named Crystal River. The enriched mineral water is a seething 130 degrees Fahrenheit at the source, but once it mixes with the cold river water, it calms to a blissful 100-108 degrees—perfect for relaxation and restoring vitality to your hard-working body.
To get here, drive south of Glenwood Springs to Carbondale, then continue on Highway 133 for about 13 miles and park at the left-hand pullout just before mile marker 55. The springs will be at the bottom of the cliff on your right. There are no facilities here, so be sure to bring food, water, and anything else you might need.
Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center
Featuring two pools filled with sparkling clear water funneled from an underground source high in the Rocky Mountains, Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center is the largest indoor hot springs in the country. It is a place for all ages to come together and enjoy a soak in the same waters the native Ute Indians have been using for centuries, near the Gunnison National Forest. The 25-meter lap pool is kept at a comfortable temperature of 84-86 degrees Fahrenheit, while the smaller soaking pool typically stands around 97-100 degrees.
Radium Hot Springs
Sitting on the banks of the Colorado River a few miles south of small-town Radium, this elusive hot spring is an adventurer’s dream. Whether you float downriver from town or hike in by foot, you won’t have much of a crowd to compete with for a spot in the large natural pool enclosed by rocks at Radium Hot Springs. On summer days, bask in the warm mineral waters then jump in the river for a refreshing dip!
To reach this spring, take Interstate 70 west from Radium, then Highway 40 to Kremmling. Turn left on Highway 9 and turn right on Trough Springs Rd after two miles. Take this road about 12 miles until you reach a jeep road, then hike about a half-mile until the first right turn down to the river and the spring.
Yampah Hot Springs Vapor Caves
Three underground rock chambers with a clean, inviting atmosphere make up the Yampah Spa Vapor Caves. These caves have provided a tradition of healing for over 120 years. Once you descend the stairs, you’ll be greeted by natural steam vapors that melt away stress and any pent-up tension you may be carrying around in no time. The caves are heated by 125-degree Fahrenheit mineral water flowing under the cave floor, carrying 34 healing minerals such as nitrate, zinc, and potassium. To make your visit extra special, indulge in a massage, private mineral bath, or a restorative facial.
Old Town Hot Springs
Having a hot springs so close to amazing skiing in Steamboat Springs almost seems like destiny—and maybe it is! Kids and families will find plenty of entertainment at Old Town Hot Springs, which features:
- Eight spring-fed soaking pools
- Aquatic climbing walls
- Tennis courts
The pools are all fed from the all-natural Heart Spring, which has been used for both physical and spiritual healing for over 100 years. Settle into the 102-degree water and feel all your worries drift away.
Whether you’re planning a retreat to a popular ski destination or a road trip through the state, be sure to stop by at least one of these natural hot springs in Colorado to heal your body, mind, and soul.
Featured photo courtesy of Eli Duke
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