The spectacular scenery of Colorado is soothing to the soul. But add soaks in mineral-rich hot spring pools to the mix, and you have a stress-busting vacation for the body, too. Plus, most Colorado hot spring properties also have spas; tack on a massage or two and you might just achieve bliss.
It’s easy to plan a road trip around a variety of Colorado hot springs, from glitzy to hippie, by checking out the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop. The full loop is 720 miles, but you can pick a segment for a shorter adventure.
Here are five springs that could easily be visited in a week.
You can buy a day pass at this attractive resort in Nathrop and use its historic bathhouse, soak in natural rock creekside pools (these are closed in spring — roughly May to July — due to annual natural flooding), and play in the upper pools, which are connected by a lazy river and include a 400-foot waterslide.
Called “the Switzerland of America,” this lovely little former mining town, nestled in a spectacular valley in the San Juan Mountains, first opened its large hot-spring pool in 1927 and has just undergone a massive renovation.
Viewing the thundering waters of the Box Springs, the source spring, is a quick and easy stroll, or for a more strenuous hike, try the five-mile perimeter trail, which winds past waterfalls and long views of the town and mountains.
Don’t let the unpromising exterior discourage you; step inside this clothing-optional facility in Ridgway, just 10 miles from Ouray, and you’ll find yourself in an intimate oasis of gardens, paths, benches and stone pools of varying sizes and temperatures.
If you would prefer not to see strangers in the altogether, stick with the indoor pools; they’re not as pretty, but swimsuits are required.
The steaming, 150-degree Mother Spring that feeds the pools here holds the Guinness World Record for deepest geothermal spring, although the plumb line ran out at 1,002 feet, so nobody knows how deep it really is. Dip in and out of 23 staggered pools set among attractive landscaped decks overlooking the San Juan River.
When you’re not immersed in hot water, explore some of the 650 miles of trails surrounding the town.
This homey little hot spring in Buena Vista is tucked into a gorgeous nook of Cottonwood Canyon and surrounded by the San Isabel National Forest. It’s a compact collection of stone pools, some thoughtfully under sunshades, with a hippie-dippy vibe; the spa menu includes reiki and tarot readings.
The nonprofit Orient Land Trust, the conservation organization that owns this glorious rustic spot, limits the number of visitors to their springs. Only donors may make advance reservations for day visits; everyone else must call the morning they hope to soak on the chance there’s room. It’s worth the effort, unless naked people make you nervous.
Most guests go clothing-free in the rock ponds and heated pools, as well as on the rugged, wildflower-lined trails connecting them.