In Hot Water: Mother Nature’s Hot Springs

No matter the season, slipping into natural hot springs is a relaxing, rejuvenating way to while away the hours. Heated by the planet’s interior, water bubbles up through cracks and fissures, typically gathering a load of minerals along the way. When the water finds its way at the surface, it’s Mother Nature’s hot tub. For all the talk about the lack of water in Colorado, we have an abundance of hot springs.

Native Americans enjoyed the benefits of many of the natural springs for centuries before white men discovered them. These days, many of those rustic spots have been modernized, with lodging, spa services, dining and other amenities.

Following are some of the places throughout Colorado to get into hot water. Unless otherwise noted, swim attire is mandatory.

Idaho Springs

The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs offers 18 pools, with two designated as adults only.

Idaho Springs — Indian Hot Springs. Close to Denver, Indian Hot Springs resort is an easy trip from town and an enticing way to end a day trip to the ski resorts. Try the indoor pool, complete with tropical foliage, the private cave baths, indoor and outdoor private Jacuzzi tubs, massage therapy and “Club Mud.” There’s also a variety of lodging and a restaurant with full bar.; 303-989-6666

Pagosa Springs

Pagosa Springs — The Springs Resort. With 18 pools, The Springs Resort has something for everyone. Pool temperatures vary from 83 to 114 degrees, with two designated as adults only. There’s also a family-friendly swimming pool, a fresh water Jacuzzi and lodging ranging from standard to luxurious. Some rooms accept pets, and Fido is greeted with a special treat and collar to wear while on the property. Roughly five hours from Denver, Pagosa Springs is a jumping-off spot for a variety of recreation, including Mesa Verde National Park and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.; 866-438-4917

Ouray Hot Springs

Ouray — Ouray Hot Springs Pool. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool has provided a family-friendly environment since 1926. This hot mineral water pool is supplied by natural springs, keeping the water crystal clear and free of the smell of sulfur. Lap-swimming lanes, two slides and other water features offer something for everyone in the family. An adjacent fitness center offers massage and exercise facilities.; 970-325-7073

Other hot springs in and near Ouray, which is 300 miles southwest of Denver: • Best Western Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs, 125 Third Ave., 970-325-4427; twinpeaksmotel• Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, 45 Third Ave., 970-325-4981;• Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings, 625 Fifth St., 970-325-4347;• Orvis Hot Springs, 1585 County Road No. 3, Ridgway, 970-626-5324;

Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs — Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Just 7 miles up the hill from Steamboat Springs, Strawberry Park Hot Springs offers rustic comfort. A series of pools in varying sizes are joined together by cascading waterfalls, while a nearby stone house and picnic area offer a break from long soaks.

old town hot springs steamboat
Steamboat’s newly-renovated Old Town Hot Springs features two waterslides and eight pools.

Enjoy massage and other body treatments as well. Camping and rustic cabins are available on the property; be sure to reserve early. Strawberry Park becomes clothing optional after sundown, so you may want to make a family visit during daylight hours.; 970-879-0342

While in Steamboat Springs, visit Old Town Hot Springs, a newly-renovated hot springs pool downtown. It’s a multi-use complex, open to the public seven days a week. It features eight hot springs-fed pools, two waterslides, a fitness center, exercise classes and massage.; 970-879-1828

Grand County

Grand County — Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa. After a major renovation a decade ago, Hot Sulphur Springs offers 22 pools and private baths ranging from temperate to scalding, as well as a solarium pool and summer swimming pool. Guests of the onsite motel or circa 1840s cabin receive two free days of pool use. Adjoining National Forest land as well as the Colorado River, and with Rocky Mountain National Park just 30 minutes down the road, the facility serves as a great jumping-off spot for recreation, or a nice way to end the day.; 800-510-6235

Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs — Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge & Pool. The Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge & Pool offers a long list of amenities, beginning with the pool. Measuring 405 feet by 100 feet (at the widest point), it’s said to be one of the largest in the world. It’s fed by the Yampah hot spring, and was a healing destination for Ute Indians for hundreds of years before being discovered by white men. A sprawling, historic red sandstone bathhouse offers modern amenities, while a 17,000-square-foot spa is slated to open in the fall of 2008. The lodge provides hotel amenities, while the kiddie pool, miniature golf, two waterslides, athletic club, gift shop and deli make for a complete package.; 907-945-6571

Yampah Spa and Salon and Hot Springs Vapor Caves. Just a few feet down the road from the Glenwood Hot Springs, visit the Yampah Spa and Salon and Hot Springs Vapor Caves. These are natural underground caves, where mineral waters flow through the cave floors at 125 degrees to create geothermal steam baths. Visitors make their way down a stairway and through a stone corridor to the caves. In addition to the vapors of the underground cave chambers, spa services include massage, facials, herbal body mud treatments and private natural mineral baths.; 970-945-0667


Relaxing in one of Colorado’s hot springs can be the perfect end to a day of skiing or hiking.

Nathrop — Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Variety is the name of the game at Mount Princeton, located in the Arkansas River valley. Recently renovated, the facilities include an odor-free, 100-degree soaking pool, a 90-degree lap pool and a 75-degree pool on the upper deck, complete with 300-foot-long water slide. Intrepid spirits can make their way to the adjacent creek and soak in a variety of pools, mixing the hot springs water with that of the chilly creek. Lodging options abound, as well, with cliffside and poolside rooms, lodge accommodations and log cabins that sleep up to eight people. The Princeton Club dining room offers meal service from breakfast through dinner, as well as a full bar.; 888-395-7799


Salida — Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center. Colorado’s largest indoor hot springs pool facility, the Salida Hot Springs features a 25-meter, 6-lane pool, kept at approximately 84-86 degrees. The odorless water is piped 5 miles from high in the Rocky Mountains. Nearby, a smaller pool is kept at 95-100 degrees. The center serves as a recreational hub for the community, with numerous aquatic classes and special events.; 719-539-6738


Durango — Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs. The only natural mineral hot springs in Durango, Trimble offers two hot pools, along with an Olympic-sized pool for family fun. The spa features dozens of massage and body treatments, and a health and wellness program focuses on rehabilitation for injuries and chronic pain. The Starlight room is made for romance, with overnight packages that include private pool access. Group facilities include pavilions and an outdoor kitchen.; 970-247-0111

Kelly Smith, a longtime Denver resident, is an editor at Colorado Parent magazine and a former editor at Mountain Living magazine. Her stories have appeared in Architecture & Design of the West, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles, Colorado Parent, Herb Companion, Log & Timber Style, Mangia, Mountain Living and Natural Home & Garden.