With all the recreation and excitement Colorado offers, it’s always rewarding to visit natural hot springs. Both resorts and free primitive pools can be found. They are hidden across the Rockies in many mountain towns. Most are open to the public, although some are private and for guests only.
List of Public Hot Springs in CO
From developed, spa resorts to free, primitive, undeveloped pools, Colorado has a range of natural hot springs. You can find them on the southern Front Range or all throughout the mountains. Mostly all resorts are open year-round, and some of the primitive soaks are as well.
List of Private Hot Springs in CO
These hot springs all offer lodging accommodations and are open to overnight guests only. They don’t permit day visitors, except for Waunita Hot Springs and Aqua Hot Spring, which do from time to time, please call that former Gunnison County resort and latter Chaffee County vacation rental ahead of time. Reserve your private hot springs adventure today.
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Guide to Natural Hot Springs in Colorado
Many travelers have fondly recounted their tales of visiting local hot springs, but surprisingly few people who haven’t seen these natural wonders know what they are. Hot springs are many unique things to many different people.
To spa enthusiasts, they are an area that has many different resorts, health clubs, and spas to choose from. For nature lovers, they are a natural wonder of the world that is a perfect hideaway. For tourists, they represent a piece of American natural history that no Wild West trip can really be without.
As you book your next trip to Colorado, you should consider taking a trip to the local hot springs, where nature and history come alive. Or, plan your entire trip around discovering around 20 hot springs on this 6-day loop around the state.
Benefits of natural mineral springs water
Hot springs are natural bodies of water heated by the geothermal activity of Colorado’s dormant volcanoes. There are three major hot springs in Colorado: Glenwood Springs, Hot Sulphur Springs, and Great Pagosa Springs. Each of these was originally used by Native Americans for its rich mineral content and natural healing abilities.
The minerals in the water have long been used for their therapeutic benefits and numerous positive health effects. Natural soaking pools are also a great way to connect to nature. The majestic blue sky, tall golden mountains, and sheer natural elegance of these Colorado hot springs have also been the subject of many magazine covers.
History of Colorado’s hot springs
By the late 1880s, all of the previously mentioned major locations were filled with settlers looking to make their lives richer. Some drilled for gold and left once they realized the area was barred. Others decided to stay. Once the water’s healing abilities were noticed, these natural landmarks became home to some of the most upscale resorts in the nation.
When you visit any of the major hot springs, you can learn about the early settlers who lived there as well as the Native American cultures who revered the springs. Ghost towns are easy to spot in this area of the country, and many offer guided tours. Hiking and biking are commonplace as well among people who simply need to experience nature up close.
Since most springs reside in a major resort location, you can bet that there are plenty of health clubs and outdoor activities to choose from. Whether you want a deep tissue massage, a dip in the primitive springs nearby, or a peaceful yoga class, you will be able to find it around the springs.
There are two main types of hot springs in Colorado, developed and undeveloped. The former varies between rustic and 5-stars, and the latter is free, but sometimes requires a trek to reach.
Paid public Colorado hot spring resorts (clothing optional next)
There are plenty of developed hot springs in Colorado. Many offer complementary health services such as spas, massages, fitness centers, and aquatic workout classes to reap the full benefits of warm water. These properties typically have day-use passes in addition to overnight accommodation if you would prefer unlimited access to the soaking pools.
Avalanche Ranch – Reservations are required at these 3 soaking pools, just south of Carbondale. Day visitors can stop by between 9 am – 1 pm or 1 pm – 5 pm each day except Wednesdays to enjoy the benefits of the warm water. If you prefer unlimited access, choose between a studio, private cabins, or a covered wagon to stay on the property.
Cottonwood – A little bit west of Buena Vista you’ll find this historic gathering place of the Ute tribe. There are several pools of varying temperatures, a dry spa, and private creekside pools to rent if you need a little more peace.
Durango – This resort is located at the base of a cliff with stunning views of the San Juan National Forest and the Animas River Valley. There are 22 total pools on the property, 12 of them are ADA accessible and 3 allow children.
Eldorado Springs – These springs are centered around a large pool with multiple slides and diving boards that visitors enjoy year-round. You might recognize the name of the popular bottled water brand. It is undergoing a large renovation as of summer 2022 and is expected to open for the following season with revamped offerings.
Glenwood Hot Springs – There are over 100 rooms to choose from at these hot springs resort that offer complimentary breakfast and unlimited access to the pools. Known as the “Spa of the Rockies”, it boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool as well as a full-service spa to relax even more.
Healing Waters – Located in Pagosa Springs, this resort and RV park has a main pool as well as smaller soaking tubs to choose from. They are all filled with warm mineral water. The resort also offers aquatic fitness classes, unique spa treatments, and massages.
Hot Sulphur Springs – You’ll find these natural pools scattered on a hillside in the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. They are outdoor pools, with an indoor one that is cooled down for lap-swimming. There are over 20 different ones to enjoy, and if you choose to stay at one of the on-site accommodations you will have after-hours access to soak.
Indian – One of the closest developed springs you’ll find to Denver. This resort offers both a hot spring-filled swimming pool and two historic vapor caves (clothing-optional in the adults-only male or female caves), equipped with multiple hot springs-filled soaking tubs. Additional family-oriented, hot springs-filled swimming pools are also available.
Iron Mountain – If you want gorgeous alpine views while you soak, Iron Mountain in Glenwood Springs is a great option. There are several geothermal heated pools to choose from that are connected via a heated walkway. Many of the pools are surrounded by a “quiet zone” to ensure maximum relaxation.
Joyful Journey – About 30 miles south of Salida, you’ll find this hidden gem. There are 3 naturally filled pools with some of the clearest and warmest water in the whole state. In addition to the outdoor pools, there are smaller indoor tubs available to rent.
Mount Princeton – One of Colorado’s most popular, this resort features two year-round swimming pools. There are multiple small creekside pools available on a first-come, first-served basis so make sure to get there early and grab a spot. A short walk up the hill will lead you to an infinity pool, which has a lazy river and a 400-foot water slide!
Old Town – Located in Steamboat Springs and offers both a year-round 25-yard lap pool and a children’s pool. The eight outdoor pools are open year-round, while the water attractions and children’s areas are summers only. The resort also has a full-service spa and fitness center to round out your wellness vacation.
Ouray – The city maintains this hot springs complex that has millions of gallons of warm water to enjoy. There is a kid’s area, lap pool, soaking tubs, and more for all types of visitors to relax in. Views of the nearby mountains are unbeatable and add to the ambiance while you soak.
Overlook – These pools are located within a building in historic Pagosa Springs. There are several indoor tubs to choose from, or you can venture to the rooftop for great views of the town and the San Juan Mountains while you soak.
Sand Dunes – This pool is fed by a well that runs 4,400 feet deep and has a natural temperature of 118° that is brought down to about 100° for swimmers to enjoy. The property also has a full-service restaurant and multiple rental options if you prefer to stay overnight.
Salida – Boasts the largest indoor hot springs swimming pool in the state. The water is crystal clear and pumped in from nearby Poncha Springs. The pool is very family-friendly and parents often can take advantage of the amenities like a lap pool or even a facial while the kids play. There are also several private soaking tubs to rent if you prefer a little more peace.
Splashland – This large outdoor pool is extremely family friendly and community oriented. There are water aquatics classes, pool parties, and plenty of things for kids to enjoy. It has been open in Alamosa since 1955.
Sunwater Spa – A relaxing retreat right in Manitou Springs, this spa offers 7 outdoor soaking tubs. They each offer great views of Manitou and the surrounding mountains, and are filled with beneficial minerals. Sunwater also has a cold plunge pool, spa services, massages, and more to take advantage of.
The Springs Resort – Stay at this 79-room resort in Pagosa Springs and enjoy 24-hour access to 23 soaking pools. The property overlooks the San Juan Valley and also offers spa services on-site.
Twin Peaks Lodge – These warm mineral pools are uniquely pet friendly and offer a serene getaway in the San Juans. There are two outdoor pools and an indoor adults-only one to choose from. Day guests are allowed and they also offer overnight accommodation options.
Wiesbaden – With 6 natural, continuously flowing hot spring pools to choose from and a bonus seventh pool nestled in a vapor cave, Wiesbaden has plenty of room to spread out. They offer overnight accommodation on their Ouray property, and also allow day guests between 10 am – 8 pm.
Yampah Vapor Caves – These natural steam-filled caves are the only of their kind in the whole country. After descending into the ground through a stone corridor, you’ll find yourself in a serious of underground steam rooms fueled by hot spring water running through the floor. Definitely a unique experience.
Clothing-optional Colorado hot springs
Mineral hot springs are often made more enjoyable for some by going au naturel. Several hot springs permit this and allow nudists either after dark, on certain days, or full-time.
The aforementioned paid public resort of Indian Hot Springs offers some clothing-optional soaking. It does not require swimsuits when using their hot springs-filled tubs in adult male or female caves.
Dakota – Located in the Sun Belt of Colorado near Penrose, this 70-foot-long soaking pool sees around 350 days of sun each year. There are great views of the Front Range while you enjoy the mineral-rich water. Clothes are optional at this location, but on Tuesdays, everyone must wear a swimsuit.
Desert Reef – Tucked away in Colorado’s Sun Belt, these springs are nudist-friendly, however only females and couples are admitted, no single males. It was originally intended to be an oil well, but after drilling down over 1,000 feet down they only found hot water. Now, the public can enjoy the benefits of this warm mineral spring.
Orvis – Stay at this quaint resort near Ouray and enjoy the benefits of several soaking pools. Clothing is optional and there are also private yurts where you can get a massage to relax even more.
Strawberry Park – Situated fifteen minutes from downtown Steamboat, these springs allow guests to go naked after the sun sets. However, it’s adults only after dark due to the clothing-optional nature of the pools. There are several on-site accommodations to choose from, including tent sites, rustic cabins, a train caboose, and covered wagons.
Valley View – Hidden in a forest at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, this resort has seven unique ponds scattered through the property. Guests can choose to stay in a variety of rustic accommodations to gain overnight access to the soaking pools, perfect if you want a bit more privacy. Most visitors choose to enjoy the water in the nude.
Free primitive Colorado hot spring pools
If you’re looking for a more natural hot springs experience and are willing to hike a little bit (or a lot) you’ll be rewarded with beautiful scenery while you soak. All of the following springs are free to access and some even have campsites nearby for an overnight experience without resort prices.
Conundrum – The long, 9-mile hike to these high elevation springs makes it a great option for those looking for a more private experience. There are reservation-only campsites available just past the springs, and you will be right among the famous Maroon Bells.
Nathan’s Hippy Dip – This is a free option on the banks of the San Juan River in Pagosa Springs. It’s easily accessible with no hike to reach, but because it’s of convenience and downtown location, it gets busy, so head there early for the best chance to find a nice spot to soak in this single pool built up by river rocks.
Penny – This primitive soaking area is located just off Highway 133 near Carbondale. It is free to enjoy the warm mineral water, and most visitors choose to soak in the nude. The “hike” is merely a short walk from the parking lot, so this is a good option for those looking for an easy approach.
Piedra River – You’ll find warm mineral pools on the banks of the Piedra River in the San Juan National Forest, only a few miles from Pagosa Springs. This spot requires a 3-mile round-trip hike to reach, and many of the pools are merely sectioned off by rock walls created by visitors.
Radium – Situated southwest of Kremmling, this spot is one of the more frequented hike-to springs since the 1.1-mile trail isn’t too arduous. Cliff jumping and rafting are also popular activities in this area of the Colorado River.
Rainbow – These natural springs are also along the river near Pagosa Springs, offering two warm soaking pools to enjoy. It is a 4.5-mile hike each way, so many visitors choose to camp out for a more relaxing experience. The best time to visit this area is early summer through fall.
South Canyon – Only 15 minutes from Glenwood Springs and a short hike will reward you with a large warm pool of mineral water to enjoy. It has beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, but can sometimes draw some questionable visitors due to ease of access and proximity to the highway.
So not all hot springs in Colorado require a fee. Some of these primitive hot springs are located roadside, others require a hike ranging from 1/8 mile to 6 miles.
There are many additional undeveloped hot springs, most of which are on private land and therefore inaccessible. Some are riverside and reachable by boat. Rafting expeditions often will visit one if there’s an opportunity to. Whitewater Rafting LLC out of Glenwood Springs includes a stop at remote hot springs on the Colorado River.
Private Colorado hot spring resorts
Some hot springs are completely private and only available to guests of the resort or rental properties. This is a great way to avoid the usual crowds of public hot springs while pampering yourself with a relaxing vacation at any of the following spots.
4UR Ranch & Wagon Wheel Gap Hot Springs – Disconnect from life at this gorgeous all-inclusive ranch in the San Juan Mountains. They have yoga classes, an on-site bar, countless guided outdoor activities, and a children’s program. There are two mineral hot spring soaking pools to enjoy for overnight guests.
Antero Hot Springs Cabins – These cozy cabins each have their own, private soaking pool so you’ll never have to share with other guests. Antero also offers a variety of other spa services to round out your wellness retreat.
Aqua Hot Spring – Rent out a beautiful cabin year-round in Nathrop’s Chalk Creek Canyon. It has multiple bedrooms, two bathrooms, and of course, natural hot springs pool. There are some select single-day-use passes available on certain dates in the month, call ahead to find out.
Box Canyon Lodge – This small lodge in Ouray has 4 soaking tubs on its property, perfect for warming up on a cold day. The tubs are naturally filled and right on the mountainside for alpine views while you soak.
Deer Valley Ranch – This dude ranch is located in Chalk Creek Canyon just up the road from Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and some other private hot spring overnight rentals. It has its own hot springs-fed hot tubs and swimming pools, two of each.
Merrifield Homestead Cabins – Choose from two refurbished cabins in Buena Vista and enjoy the natural spring-filled private hot tubs on the property. It’s right near downtown so you’re never far from restaurants and other experiences.
Dunton – This luxurious all-inclusive retreat in a restored Colorado ghost town has everything you need for a relaxing getaway. There are multiple natural hot spring pools on the property, as well as private cabins for rent.
Treehouse Hot Springs – A private creekside rental in Nathrop that resembles a large treehouse. There is a large indoor hot springs pool for guests to enjoy, or simply run a bath in one of the 5 bedrooms to soak in the warm mineral water.
Waunita Hot Springs Ranch – This cozy, family-owned bed and breakfast is nestled among the Rockies in Gunnison and offers easy access to numerous outdoor activities. They have a large soaking pool for all guests to use, as well as a smaller tub for private soaking.
Every location comes with lodging nearby and local activities to keep you entertained while you’re there. Some items to consider bringing include sunscreen, sunglasses, a towel, flip flops, drinking water, a bathing suit, and a flashlight (if you’re going at night). Lastly, we would like to suggest bringing a camera to your hot springs excursion.
Whichever Colorado hot springs you decide to visit, make sure you relax and soak up your surroundings. In the end, it comes down to which type of ambiance you like and what part of the state you prefer when choosing which one to explore. Happy hot spring hunting!
Other States and Countries With Hot Springs
Most of America’s thermal hot springs are located out west. Starting in Colorado and head north, south, or west and you’ll run into some springs. There are a few natural springs back east and in the midwest as well. And the rest of the world has its hot spring gems, from South America to the Far East.
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