If you glance to your right while driving west along Interstate 70, you can see the whole town of Idaho Springs – a historic town rich in mining history. It’s a convenient stopover for a nice lunch on your way to the many ski areas along I-70. If you have more time, it’s also a great town to visit for a day or even a few days.
Idaho Springs is the largest town in Clear Creek County with a population of approximately 1,900 people. The town is only 30 miles west of Denver and is located in Clear Creek Canyon. Local legend states that Idaho Springs derived its name from annual visits to the radium hot springs made by an Indian chief and his tribe. They journeyed there each year from Idaho to bathe in the magic healing waters.
The town was founded in 1859 by prospectors during the early days of the Colorado Gold Rush. It was the first substantial gold discovery in Colorado. Prospector George Jackson was drawn to the area by clouds of steam rising from nearby hot springs. The town was at the center of the region’s mining district throughout the 19th century and later evolved into a tourist center during the 20th century. Visitors can tour the Argo Gold Mine and Mill in town or the Phoenix Gold Mine (a working mine) not far from town.
The historical downtown area has buildings that were built between 1880 and 1910, many of which have been preserved and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the town’s claims to fame is the filming of two movies: the 1969 Robert Redford movie, Downhill Racer, and a 2008 comedy film, The Overbrook Brothers.
Idaho Springs is convenient to many local and nearby activities like walking tours, museums, whitewater rafting, trout fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. Loveland Ski Area is 22 miles farther west on I-70, the closest ski area to Denver.
Whatever activity you are doing, a nice way to relax at the end of the day (or all day long, for that matter) is in the soothing, hot mineral waters at the Indian Hot Springs. Spring and Spa packages are available. There is lodging available at the resort, but day guests are welcome to enjoy the healing waters too.
While Indian Hot Springs was discovered in 1869, the current facilities are located within the original Hot Springs Hotel which was completed in 1911. The springs have been rated as one of the top ten mineral hot springs in the world. Famous visitors like John Denver, Jessie James, and Clint Eastwood have soaked in these mineral waters.
Spring packages offer several options: Geothermal Cave Baths, Outdoor Jacuzzis, Indoor Private Baths, Mineral Water Swimming Pool, Club Mud, and Bath & Pool Combinations.
The water itself is chock full of all sorts of therapeutic minerals ranging from calcium, fluoride, magnesium, sulfate, and zinc, among others. Pure, natural hot mineral water flows from the springs at 125° F and is pumped directly into the hot mineral water baths and swimming pool.
The Geothermal Cave Baths are huge, sunken, walk-in hot tubs driven into the solid rock mountainside with mineral water ranging in temperature from 104 to 112 degrees.
The Outdoor Jacuzzi tubs are set on a redwood deck with privacy fences on three sides, offering a view of the mountains and sky on one side.
For more privacy, the Indoor Private Baths have single tubs filled with 106 degree water, and the rooms are equipped with showers and benches.
The Mineral Water Swimming Pool is a favorite with swimmers, adults, and children. Set in a tropical setting with palm and banana trees under a translucent dome, the pool has an overall temperature of 90 degrees.
Give yourself a facial or a mud bath by slathering mineral-rich clay on yourself at the Club Mud Baths. Mud baths are known to remove toxins from your pores and leave your skin feeling smooth.
You can enjoy all of the above options separately or treat yourself to a Bath and Pool Combination at a lower rate.
If you prefer massages, The Spa offers a variety of treatments ranging from deep tissue to Swedish massage, seaweed and clay wraps, and a massage using heated river rocks. Facials are available too. Spa services are offered in combination with the Hot Mineral Waters. All services and rates include the Geothermal Cave Baths.
If You Go
Idaho Springs Info: www.historicidahosprings.com
Indian Hot Springs
302 Soda Creek Road
Linda Steinmuller is a freelance travel writer and copywriter from Brooklyn, New York, who loves the outdoors and skiing, and visits Colorado frequently.
Special thanks to the Indian Hot Springs for providing the photos featured in this article!
Argo Mine and Mill photo by David Friedel.