I’ve spoiled myself on hot springs. While traveling in Guatemala, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, and Iceland, I sought out more than my share of good geothermal soaks.
Closer to home, Colorado is endowed with an impressive number of hot springs to explore. They’re dispersed all over the Rocky Mountain high country. Lately I’ve been tracking them down, checking them off my bucket list, and revisiting favorites. Here’s what I love most about Colorado’s hot springs:
They’re perfect for post-adventure relaxation
Whether I’ve just hiked a 14er, snowshoed through a national forest, or cycled 50 miles of mountain highways, I’m always in the mood for the same thing afterward – a good meal and a hot soak. Cottonwood Hot Springs near Buena Vista was a great stop after summiting a couple of the Collegiate Peaks in the Sawatch range. Pagosa Hot Springs was our last stop before Durango on BABRAC2013. Our pedal-weary legs appreciated it.
They’re great for parties and celebrations
For my sister’s bachelorette getaway, we spent a day at Hot Sulphur Springs, not far from Granby and Winter Park. True to girls-spa-day form, we splurged on massages. On the rowdier side, I’ve reveled in the late-night party scene at Steamboat Springs’ Strawberry Park. After dark, bags of wine are smuggled in and the antics begin.
Clothing is optional
I’m no nudist, but I do enjoy breaking out the birthday suit in natural bodies of water on occasion. Nude is the norm at Orvis Hot Springs near Ouray, both in broad daylight and at night. Signs ask visitors to respect the peace and privacy of the space by leaving all cameras and electronics behind. So I left my inhibitions and bathing suit behind as well, hung up my plush white robe, and sank into the steamy bliss.
They’re fun year-round
If I had to decide which of these two hot springs memories is my favorite — either looking up at February snowflakes floating downward toward my eyes while afloat in a hot spring, or watching for shooting stars on a cool July from geothermal waters — it would be a draw. In this brisk high-altitude climate, there’s really no wrong season of the year to add hot springs into the mountain getaway plan.
A few are still in their primitive state
While built-up hot springs resorts like Avalanche Ranch and Orvis are lovely, there’s nothing quite like finding a hot spring in its wild state and paying nothing to use it.
One of the most legendary primitive hot springs in Colorado is Conundrum Hot Springs, reachable only by an 8.5 mile trek in the Elk mountain range near Aspen. The hike is hard work, but the payoff is great – Conundrum looks like an infinity pool, hovering over a sweeping view of the valley below.
My favorite undeveloped hot spring is the lesser-known South Canyon Hot Spring near Glenwood Springs. I recommend seeking it out in the early morning, in time to catch the sunrise and increase chances of having the place to yourself.
This post is June’s addition to my Ambassador series for VacationRoost.com