Maybe it’s curative minerals in the water. Maybe it’s majestic poolside mountain views. Or maybe it’s just the knowledge that the soothing liquid was heated by Mother Nature, not a power company. Whatever the reason, when it comes to a warm soak after a cool day on the Colorado slopes, nothing beats a dunk in a natural hot spring.
The Colorado Rockies are blessed with no fewer than 33 major sites where geothermally heated water bubbles to the surface. Some of these lie deliciously close to the downhill resorts. Here are five favorites.
GLENWOOD HOT SPRINGS
Location: Off Interstate 70 in Glenwood Springs, about 13 miles from the slopes of Sunlight, 40 miles from Snowmass and 41 miles from Aspen.
Facilities: Holding more than a million gallons, the largest hot springs pool in the world runs a comfortable 90-93 degrees, ideal for divers, swimmers and frolicking kids. Beside sits a 104-degree “therapy” pool. The Grill offers a breakfast and lunch menu, and there is a sport shop and athletic club. Those needing kneading will find a full array of massage and spa services available at the adjoining Spa of the Rockies.
Prices: $18.75 for adults and $11.50 for children 3-12 on Saturday and Sunday, $16.75 for adults and $10.75 for kids Monday through Friday. Prices drop at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Contact: 800-537-7946, hotspringspool.com
Nearby: The neighboring Yampa Spa Vapor Caves (970-945-0667, yampahspa.com) offer natural, underground steam baths that run 110-112 degrees.
OURAY HOT SPRINGS
Location: Off U.S. 550 in Ouray, about 50 miles over the Dallas Divide from Telluride.
Facilities: The elliptical pool holds a million gallons of hot water. There is a soaking section that runs 104-106 degrees, a warm water area at 96-98 degrees and a “cold” water section at 80 degrees. The facility includes a fitness room, a gift shop, a snack bar and Healing Touch Massage Therapy Center.
Prices: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children 7-12, and $5 for tykes 3-6.
Contact: 970-325-7060, cityofouray.com
Nearby: Two miles south of Ridgway on U.S. 550 sits the clothing-optional Orvis Hot Springs (970-626-5324, orvishotsprings.com). Prices range from $14 for adults to $5 for kids 4-12.
STRAWBERRY PARK HOT SPRINGS
Location: Six miles north of Steamboat Springs on County Road 36 (four-wheel-drive is mandatory to reach the site). Local companies offer group transport for the 4×4 deprived.
Facilities: Three rock-lined pools lie in the forest beside a mountain stream. A rock-walled massage room juts from the hillside, and a tepee provides changing facilities near water’s edge. Because of the site’s quiet, wilderness atmosphere, this is generally not a place for rambunctious offspring. After dark, it’s adults only and swimsuits are optional.
Prices: $10 for adults, $5 for teens 13-17 and $3 for kids 3-12. Bring your own towel and suit (or come after dark).
Contact: 970-879-0342, strawberryhotsprings.com
Nearby: Downtown’s Old Town Hot Springs are easier to reach and a favorite of kids. They feature water slides plus lap, kiddie and soaking pools at temperatures ranging from 98-103 degrees. Prices run $15 for adults, $10 for teens and $7 for youngsters.
MOUNT PRINCETON HOT SPRINGS
Location: Southeast of Buena Vista off County Road 162, about 68 miles south of Copper Mountain, 55 miles south of Ski Cooper and 42 miles north of Ski Monarch.
Facilities: A true hot springs resort, Mount Princeton offers lodging that ranges from lodge rooms to creek-hugging cabins. There’s a restaurant, bar and full-service spa. Winter simmering options include a 100-degree soaking pool, a 90-degree lap pool and a 75-degree pool equipped with a water slide. Views of the resort’s 14,197-foot-tall namesake peak are fantastic.
Prices: Weekdays – $10 for adults and $7 for kids; weekends – $15 for adults and $10 for the youngsters.
Contact: 719-395-2447, mtprinceton.com
Nearby: Five miles west of Buena Vista on County Road 306, the smaller Cottonwood Hot Springs (719-395-6434, cottonwood-hot-springs.com) offers natural stone soaking pools and a dry sauna. Rates are $15 for adults and $12 for kids on the weekends, and $12 for adults and $10 for kids during the week.
HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS
Location: Off U.S. 40, about 30 miles northwest of Winter Park and 15 miles northwest of SolVista.
Facilities: More than 200,000 gallons of mineral water flow through 21 indoor and outdoor pools daily, with temperatures ranging from 95-112 degrees. Facilities include an on-premise spa offering massages, body treatments and facials. No smoking, drugs, alcohol or pets are allowed at this quiet, health-oriented facility.
Prices: Day use of the outdoor pools runs $17.50 for adults and $11.50 for children. Private pools cost $15 per person per hour. A combo ticket for $24.50 allows an hour of private soaking plus use of outdoor pools.
Contact: 800-510-6235 or 970-725-3306, hotsulphursprings.com
Dan Leeth is a freelance writer in Aurora, Colorado. Check his website, lookingfortheworld.com.