Heed the call of the outdoors this summer with a camping adventure along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop (CHHSL). The 720-mile loop drive features five destination towns, 17 unique hot springs, an abundance of camping options and it travels through some of the state’s most scenic landscapes. Here’s a little sampler of what you can expect to encounter while camping on the CHHSL:
- Spectacular waterfalls and wildflower meadows in Pagosa Springs
- World-class rafting on the Arkansas River in Chaffee County
- Authentic cowboy culture including horseback riding and rodeos in Steamboat Springs
- Off-roading in Ouray, the jeeping capital of the world and Gold Medal fishing waters in Ridgway
- Miles of award-winning paved and dirt trails for biking and hiking in Glenwood Springs
Camping Makes Everything Better
Camping is much more than setting up a temporary shelter in a beautiful natural setting, although it is that. It’s also an activity that makes us feel good—really good. Research suggests it improves relationships with the friends and family who camp with us, boosts our mood, relieves stress, inclines us to exercise, encourages respect for the environment, enables us to put things in perspective, increases mindfulness and helps us to get a good night’s sleep. Wow, and that list doesn’t even include how good those s’mores roasted round the campfire taste every time we’re out camping.
Where to Camp on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop
Whether you prefer rough camping with no hookups in the backcountry, an upscale glamping experience with all the amenities or, something in between, there’s a campground or RV park on the CHHSL that’s the ideal spot for you to commune with nature. All the campgrounds listed below are also within a few miles of some of western Colorado’s best geothermal springs, some are even conveniently located at the hot springs themselves.
Pagosa Springs. Reach back into the past in this southwestern Colorado town where ancient history lives in the present tense. Pagosa Springs is at the doorstep of several opportunities to experience the fascinating past of the region’s first inhabitants. Chimney Rock National Monument is conveniently close by, but after setting up camp, you can easily visit Mesa Verde National Park and other cultural attractions as a day trip. Pagosa is also home to the world’s deepest hot spring and boasts three geothermal attractions—each one distinct. The Springs Resort and Spa features 24 terraced pools along the San Juan River. At Overlook Hot Springs Spa, enjoy a cocktail while soaking in rooftop tubs. Relax in the mineral rich waters of a large outdoor pool and smaller indoor pools at Healing Waters Resort & Spa. As for camping, this quaint town is surrounded by 2.5 million acres of national forest land with plenty of places to pitch a tent or park an RV.
- Blanco River RV Park
- Bruce Spruce Ranch
- East Fork Campground
- Happy Camper RV Park
- Lake Capote
- Mountain Landing Suites & RV Park
- Pagosa Pines RV Park
- Pagosa Riverside Campground
- Pagosa Springs RV Park
- Pass Creek Yurt (beds are provided, but you’ll need to bring your own sleeping bags)
- Sombrilla Springs (fully furnished luxury glamping tents)
- Teal Campground at Williams Creek Reservoir
- West Fork Campground
Chaffee County. This is Colorado 14er country. With 15 towering peaks, all over 14,000 feet, the region attracts a devoted following of mountain climbers. While Salida is a favorite stopping-off point for backpackers trekking the Continental Divide Trail, a 3,100-mile hiking route from Canada to Mexico, there are also plenty of places to go for more leisurely day excursions and mountain bike rides. The county’s three hot springs towns, Salida, Nathrop and Buena Vista offer visitors several geothermal hot spots—Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, Historic Cottonwood Hot Springs, Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center and Antero Hot Springs Cabins—at which to relax after playing in the great outdoors. At the end of the day, camping under the stars in this neck of the woods is just one more peak experience to be relished.
- Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
- Arkansas River Rim Campground & RV Park
- Arrowhead Point Camping Resort
- Buena Vista KOA Kampground
- Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park
- Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa
- Four Seasons RV Resort
- Heart of the Rockies Campground
- Monarch Spur RV Park
- Mount Princeton RV Park and Cabins
- River Runners
- Snowy Peaks RV Park & Rentals
- Valley RV Park
- Wilderness Expeditions RV Park
Steamboat Springs. Complement your CHHSL camping trip with big outdoor adventures in Steamboat Springs. A small mountain town, Steamboat Springs packs a punch with its access to the great outdoors, and in particular, their wide-open spaces. Here you can fish on the river for a quiet escape, run and bike through their network of trails, or horseback ride through the valley. For downhill fun with a twist, take a turn on the town’s alpine slide. And, when it comes time to beat the heat make a splash on the Yampa River and nearby lakes with paddle sports, tubing, boating and more. Steamboat Springs has two hot springs. Old Town Hot Springs in downtown is convenient for family fun; Strawberry Park Hot Springs is more remote and clothing-optional in evenings.
- Dry Lake
- Dumont Lake
- Granite Campground
- Hahn’s Peak Lake
- Pearl Lake State Park
- Routt County Fairgrounds
- Seedhouse Group Site
- Stagecoach State Park
- Steamboat Lake State Park
- Steamboat Springs KOA Holiday
- Strawberry Park Hot Springs (in addition to tent camping, glamping options include covered wagons and a train caboose!)
- Summit Lake Campground
- Yampah River State Park
Ouray & Ridgway. Billed as the outdoor recreation capital of Colorado, Ouray is surrounded by take-your-breath-away scenery and picture-perfect backdrops for memorable high-country camping trips. With so many panoramic views, it’s no wonder hiking, biking and jeeping are all go-to choices for outdoor adventures. In nearby Ridgway, the Uncompaghre River, Ridgway Reservoir, an extensive trail system and a world-class skate park are the highlight activity centers. Between the two towns, there are many options for hot springs soaking on your camping trip including the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, the Historic Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings and Orvis Hot Springs, a clothing-optional choice that also offers limited camping. Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs and Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs offer private soaking pools for guests. For road-trippers, an overnight at either one of them could be the perfect pick-me-up midway through a week-long campout.
- 4J RV Park & Campground
- Amphitheater Campground
- Angel Creek Campground
- Basecamp 550 (fully furnished glamping tents available)
- Orvis Hot Springs
- Ouray KOA Holiday
- Ouray RV Park & Cabins
- Ridgway State Park
- Thistledown Campground (tents only)
Glenwood Springs. Less than three hours from Denver, Glenwood Springs is an easy drive that culminates with several unusual scenic wonders. Narrow Glenwood Canyon carved by the Colorado River over time is spectacular for rafting, fishing, biking, and trainspotting but a hike to Hanging Lake tops the list of things-to-do for many visitors. Closer to town, the mountain-top Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park features a network of spectacular caves and is another family favorite activity. Three hot springs provide multiple opportunities to relax. The pool at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort has added the new Sopris Splash Zone for even more aqua-themed adventure at this historic property. Iron Mountain Hot Springs features 16 soaking pools and a freshwater family pool situated along the Colorado River. The Yampah Vapor Caves is the only naturally formed steam cave in North America. Spend a whole day absorbing all the mineral goodness or go for a quick visit before heading back to camp for a guaranteed good night’s rest.
• Ami’s Acres Campground
• Glenwood Canyon Resort (fully furnished glamping tents available)
Get Happy. Go Camping.
For summertime smiles nothing beats a camp out in Colorado hot springs country—Pagosa Springs, Chaffee County, Steamboat Springs, Ouray and Ridgway, Glenwood Springs. See the map and start your journey on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop today!