The Historic Hot Springs Loop in Colorado is a great way to see some of the state’s most beautiful scenery. The loop is a spectacular 800-mile route taking you past numerous hot springs, abandoned mining towns, and awe-inspiring mountain landscapes, making for a fascinating drive. To top it off, you’ll experience the healing waters of hot springs along the way. The Historic Hot Springs Loop might be a perfect choice if you’re looking for an interesting road trip.
The hot springs are open year-round, and each season offers its own unique advantages. I don’t think there is a wrong time for soaking in the hot springs. I’m sure each person would have a different opinion about the seasons. To me, fall would be the ideal time. The air is a bit cooler, but not frigid, and the hot springs feel superb.
There are 93 developed and undeveloped hot springs in Colorado. The Historic Hot Spring Loop is a series of 11 towns in Colorado that have developed hot springs in them.
We visited six of the eleven towns on the loop. There are several other towns on the loop located in Chaffee and Saguache Counties.
All visits to the hot springs were comped, and many of our stay, meals, and some of our transportation costs were hosted. All opinions are my own.
Our first stop on the Historic Hot Springs Loop was Pagosa Springs. It is home to the world’s deepest hot springs. The Pagosa Mother Spring’s mineral waters feed three spas, and the thermal waters are utilized by many local businesses and heat town sidewalks in the winter.
1. The Springs Resort
We stayed at The Springs Resort, where the mother spring is located. They have 23 terraced hot spring soaking pools at various temperatures nestled along the San Juan River. Eighteen pools are for family soaking, and there is also a huge cool water pool.
Adults can enjoy the five soaking pools in a gated area with a key card required to enter. We enjoyed the adult-only area.
The Springs Resort provides 24-hour access to the soaking pools for resort guests. We arrived at the resort around 2 a.m., and it was wonderful to head to the pools for a long soak before going to bed. Day guests are permitted to stay until 9 p.m.
We participated in the enrichment activities provided by the resort. Forest bathing hikes, aqua yoga, and aqua sound baths were a few activities that we enjoyed as part of our stay.
The Springs Resort offers spa services as well. I enjoyed a magnesium muscle melt treatment in the spa area. The core of the treatment is magnesium, one of the thirteen minerals in geothermal water. Magnesium is vital to muscle function and energy generation in the body. The muscle melt treatment helps ease muscle tension, melts away stress, and uplifts the spirit.
2. Overlook Mineral Springs Spa
You will find that the Overlook Mineral Springs Spa is only a short walk from The Springs Resort. It is located across the main street going through the town.
Overlook Mineral Springs is an adult-only spa providing soak tubs inside and outdoors. Some are for single private soaks, and others are available for multiple people to enjoy. We soaked in the rooftop tubs overlooking the town. It is a quiet and relaxing atmosphere away from the crowds.
3. Healing Waters Resort And Spa
The third spa in Pagosa Springs is the Healing Waters Resort and Spa. It offers a large family swimming pool, European-style steam rooms, and group and private soaking pools.
Pro Tip: I recommend staying at The Springs Resort, so you have 24-hour access to the soaking pools and the extra enrichment activities.
Durango is an old west town that showcases the Durango & Silverton Railroad providing views of the Animas River and the rugged San Juan mountain sides. Downtown Durango offers some fun shopping, delicious eateries, stagecoach rides, history, and haunted history tours.
4. Durango Hot Springs Resort And Spa
The Durango Hot Springs Resort and Spa is about 5 miles north of Durango and was recently redesigned and is still expanding. Nature lovers will enjoy soaking in pools sitting against the forest with mountain views. Nano-meter and micrometer oxygen bubbles increase the health benefits and purity. They are infused into the thermal waters.
A sizable resort-style family swimming pool is a hit during the summer at the Durango Hot Springs. There are several family hot spring soaking pools and a splash area where a large mining bucket fills with water and dumps on anyone under the bucket. A lawn separates the family area from the adult-only pools giving adults a quiet and relaxed space to enjoy.
A reflexology walking path, eight private Japanese-inspired cedar soaking tubs, and sixteen natural mineral hot springs are available for 26 unique thermal mineral water features. Additional soaking tubs are slated to be added this year. Reservations are required.
While in Durango, we stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Durango. It was an excellent location along the Animas River. We could watch rafts go by from our balcony and riders on the bicycle trail along the river.
Pro Tip: When you leave Durango, drive to the next hot spring town along the San Juan Scenic & Historic Byway. It is a 70-mile drive, but I would allow two hours for this jaunt since it offers dramatic scenery and includes the “Million Dollar Highway” segment, known as one of the most scenic drives in America.
Ouray is a quaint western town known as the “Switzerland of America.” The town has lots of small shops and eateries and is known as the “Jeeping Capital of the World.” There are some great hiking trails; in winter, they are home to the Ouray Ice Park for the best ice climbing in Colorado.
5. Ouray Hot Springs
Nestled in a valley in the San Juan mountains is the historic Ouray Hot Springs. Surrounded by mountain peaks capped with snow, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool and Fitness Center has five pools. Three of which are geothermally heated.
The pool temperatures range from 75 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
The facility features waterslides, lap lanes, a climbing wall, and other activities in a family-friendly environment. There is also an adults-only area that is a bit quieter for soaking.
Pro Tip: If you prefer to soak au naturel, visit Orvis Hot Springs near Ridgway, which offers clothing-optional pools.
Carbondale is a designated Colorado Creative District. Walking down the streets, you will see creative organizations, artists, and artisans of all varieties. It’s the ideal place to enjoy galleries, art walks, and other creative pursuits.
6. Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs
On the outskirts of Carbondale is the Avalanche Ranch. It features three tiered natural hot springs pools designed around the Crystal River valley’s natural landscape and rock formations.
Cascading down, each pool is a bit cooler. The largest and coolest pool is fed by a waterfall in front of a rock grotto.
Guests staying at the ranch have 24-hour availability to the springs. There is limited paid public access, and reservations are required.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Marble Distillery Inn. It is gorgeous and within walking distance to most things in the town of Carbondale.
Glenwood Springs is home to two different hot spring soaking experiences, plus vapor caves that use the same hot springs to heat the caves.
It also has other fun things to see and do. The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is America’s only mountaintop theme park, and riding the gondola up the mountain is an experience. Once on top, you can visit the caves or enjoy the amusement park. There are many hikes in the area worth exploring, and if water activities are on your list, check out Defiance Rafting for a whitewater or float adventure.
7. Glenwood Hot Springs Pool
Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is known as the “Spa of the Rockies,” it is the world’s largest mineral hot spring pool, with water temperatures in the mid-90s. Lap lanes and a diving area are available in the pool’s deep end. There is also a large soaking pool with temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
A great family destination all ages will enjoy. A splash pad, pool for children, and two children’s water slides are part of the Sopris Splash Zone. Shoshone Chutes, a tube ride that resembles white water rafting, will entertain teens, tweens, and adults.
8. Iron Mountain Hot Springs
Tucked into the Colorado River bank, Iron Mountain Hot Springs has 25 soaking pools ranging from 98 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. You can relax and rejuvenate in pools as you listen to soft music and view the surrounding mountains and the river in a quiet zone. Some pools have smooth stones on the bottom to enjoy reflexology as you soak. Each pool is filled with pure, untreated thermal mineral water.
There is also a family pool with fresh water that is approximately 93 degrees with a jetted spa nearby.
They currently have an experimental pool in which they match the chemical composition of the water to a hot spring elsewhere in the world.
A vast expansion is underway and will add additional adult-only soaking pools in a private area, plus ten more experimental pools.
The Iron Mountain Hot Springs currently offers three-hour time slots and requires a reservation for soaking.
9. Yampah Spa And Vapor Caves
The Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves have spa services using mineral water and are the only known natural vapor caves in North America. The vapor caves were a unique experience we had never tried before.
You descend 22 stairs into a cave area with several rooms, each at a slightly different temperature. The hot spring bubbles through the cave at 125 degrees, creating natural geothermal steam. The moist heat helps you sweat out the impurities in your system to purify both body and mind.
While we were there, we were also treated to a mineral bath. All visits are by reservation only.
Pro Tip: You will want to stay for more than a day to experience all Glenwood Springs has to offer. The Hotel Glenwood Springs is a great family hotel just steps from the Adventure Park Gondola. They have an indoor waterpark that kids love. The Hotel Denver is a beautiful historic luxury boutique hotel, and The Hotel Colorado is one of the Historic Hotels of America known as the “Grand Dame of the Rockies.”
Steamboat Springs was the last town we visited on the loop and featured two fabulous hot spring experiences.
10. Old Town Hot Springs
Located in downtown Steamboat Springs, the Old Town Hot Springs is a family destination with lots of activities for all family members. There is a children’s splash area, family soak areas, cold water lap lanes, a diving area, a climbing wall that falls into a warm pool, waterslides, and adult-only soaking pools.
11. Strawberry Park Hot Springs
The historic Strawberry Park Hot Springs is nestled in the forest among the mountains. It is a very natural setting located about 20 minutes from Steamboat, with several miles on a dirt road, but it is worth it (I promise). You can reserve a shuttle to do the driving for you.
There are pools at varying temperatures, and you can view the hot spring bubbling out of the ground and down the hill and mixing with the river water creating soaking pools.
Reservations are required for day visitors. You can also stay on the premises and receive access to the soaking pools from opening to closing.
Pro Tip: I recommend staying at the Best Western Plus Deer Park Hotel in Craig, Colorado. It was a bit out of the way, but a fantastic place to stay for our time in Steamboat. We were booked for one night and enjoyed the hotel so much that we stayed an extra night.
If you’re looking for a road trip that will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado and let you relax and rejuvenate in natural hot springs along the way, be sure to check out the Historic Hot Springs Loop!
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