Combining Thermal Vibes with Winter Chill on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

A visit to a natural mineral spring complements any winter activity. Central Colorado is home to eight geothermal soaks along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop. This 3-day itinerary highlights a few unique locations that are soul-warming.

A tropical paradise in the middle of Colorado in wintertime? Yes! Sand Dunes Recreation provides a warm welcome to everyone in its 10,000-square-foot heated greenhouse where guests soak amongst hundreds of exotic plants. The pools are easy to navigate; one with zero-entry gradual slope access. As the name suggests, this natural hot artesian oasis is close to Great Sand Dunes National Park in the San Luis Valley near Alamosa. The poolside Mile Deep Grille features tasty finger foods, salads, sammies, burgers, Mexican favorites, pizza, and seafood while the Steel Box Bar provides adult beverages and upscale small plates.

The snow-capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range flank the 30-mile drive north to Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa. This is a place of rest and healing. The waters are a soothing 98°-108°F (37°-42°C) with beneficial minerals such as boron, calcium, lithium and magnesium.

A meditative walk through the labyrinth under the starlit sky is inspirational. Or participate in a restorative yoga session. Accommodation choices include comfortable motel rooms, yurts, tipis, a 2-bedroom house, or RV and campsites. Dinner and breakfast using locally sourced fruits, vegetables, grains and meats are included with each stay.

On Day 2, continue north on US 285 to the adventure-town of Buena Vista which is famous for its abundance of mountaintops above 14,000 feet in altitude. Deerhammer Distillery is well-known for its craft whiskies, however, the lunch menu offers elevated comfort food selections.

Enjoy more rejuvenating waters at nearby Charlotte Hot Springs owned by generations of the Merrifield family who established roots in the late 1800s. Take a stroll through the lush year-round botanical gardens with flowers, waterfalls, fish ponds and parrots.

A stay at the French-influenced Surf Hotel feels like a splurge with its pure splendor and spectacular riverside location. The Wesley & Rose Lobby Bar serves as the primary gathering spot to imbibe in specialty cocktails followed by seasonally-inspired cuisine and decadent desserts. There is also a full roster of live entertainment performed by local musicians.  

To complete this excursion, explore the backcountry. Rocky Mountain Adventure Rentals offers exhilarating snowmobile tours with professional guides who will provide detailed instructions for beginners on how to navigate safely through the terrain. Riders can go to the top of Cottonwood Pass Road at over 12,000 feet to experience unforgettable panoramic views of the Continental Divide of the Rockies.

If you need to warm up one last time before heading home, stop at Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa in Buena Vista or Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Nathrop.

For more travel tips about the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, visit https://www.cohotspringsloop.com/

Watch the video series to see this itinerary in action. YouTube.com/playlist

Wandering Eyes: See Colorado Culture & History Up Close

The bee-hive shaped coal cooking ovens visible along Highway 133 past Carbondale near Redstone are what remains of the thriving steel industry in the Crystal River Valley.

Wandering Eyes: See Colorado Culture & History Up Close

Wandering in this case refers to the 800-mile Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, where in addition to soaking in the state’s geothermal waters, visitors can also get an eyeful of sights that add cultural and historical context to their hot springs vacation.

The Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop (CHHSL) is bubbling with things to do—besides taking a dip in the 23 unique geothermal springs in eight Colorado destinations, visitors can also fully immerse themselves in cultural and historical experiences of the region by exploring a mix of fascinating heritage sites all along the 800-mile route.

What is there to see? Plenty—everything from mining towns to natural wonders—and you won’t want to miss any of it. The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.” While the main attraction may be soaking in Colorado’s historic hot springs, these side trips offer a genuine sense of place and are worth a gander if you’re in the vicinity.

Steamboat Springs: Just 45 minutes from Steamboat Springs, Hahn’s Peak is a former mining village and a bona fide piece of living Colorado history. Explore 15 historic structures including a one-room schoolhouse, miner’s cabin and the history museum. You can also climb to the summit of Hahn’s Peak, elevation 10,839 feet above sea level, where there’s a fire lookout tower dating to 1912.

Glenwood Springs: Famous Old West gunslinger, John “Doc” Holliday died in Glenwood Springs on Nov. 8, 1887. Best known for his participation in the shootout at the OK Corral in Arizona and his skill dealing cards at the gaming tables, Doc arrived in Glenwood Springs to “take the waters” as a treatment for consumption. A pauper at the time of his death, he is buried somewhere in Linwood Cemetery, the resting place of Glenwood’s pioneer citizens. His memorial marker overlooks the town and is routinely decorated with decks of playing cards and coins left as a tribute.

Carbondale: The coal coking ovens visible along Highway 133 past Carbondale near Redstone are what remains of the thriving steel industry in the Crystal River Valley. Built in 1899, at the height of production, the bee-hive-shaped brick structures once produced an astounding 6 million tons of coking coal a year! A roadside attraction, they are a quick stop when visiting nearby Avalanche Hot Springs.

Ouray: Weather-beaten remnants are all that’s left in these ghost mines and towns that once flourished in the San Juan Mountains. Among the most photogenic is Yankee Girl, a gold mine in the Red Mountain Mining District, accessible by hiking or jeeping. Discovered in 1882, it was considered the mother lode and became one of the most profitable mines in U.S. history.

Durango: Hop aboard for a historic train ride through the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railway dates back to the 1800s and was built to transport ore between remote mountain mines and the bustling town of Durango. While the precious metal mines have long since shuttered, the historic train has been in continuous operation since 1882 and now offers riders a goldmine of photo ops on every trip.

Pagosa Springs: Ancestral Puebloan peoples made their home in the desert southwest, leaving behind archaeological remains like those preserved at Chimney Rock National Monument. These early inhabitants incorporated their knowledge of astronomy into the design of their community, using the natural chimney-like pinnacles to frame the heavens. Today Chimney Rock is recognized as one of the premier archaeo-astronomical resources in North America.

Saguache County: Baca National Wildlife Refuge spans 93,000 acres in the San Luis Valley. The refuge supports an abundance of wildlife through a diverse combination of shrublands, grasslands, wetlands and riparian corridors. With the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a backdrop, the landscape is a stunning setting for wildlife viewing.

Chafee County: Getting creative is easy to do in Salida. The town is home to the first designated creative district in the state which includes a thriving population of artists and makers of all kinds, as well as other types of creative entrepreneurs. A sampling of what you’ll find in Salida’s Creative District includes locally-owned restaurants, bars, microbreweries, a distillery, a film production studio, approximately 40 retail stores, a boutique hotel and 30 artist-owned or run galleries.

Saguache County: Stretched between Salida and Buena Vista, Brown’s Canyon National Monument is a destination dream-come-true for outdoor enthusiasts. To add on adventure to your hot springs vacation, head to the Arkansas River in Brown’s Canyon for exceptional whitewater rafting and Gold Medal water trout fishing.

If you’re ready to embark on a journey that will not only leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, but culturally enriched as well, keep Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop in your sights while vacation planning. It’s heritage tourism at its finest, where the present meets the past with a splash of excitement!

The Formation and Allure of Geothermal Wonders on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

geothermal waters bubbling to earth's surface creating a formation of mineral deposits

When it comes to captivating natural wonders, few can rival the allure of natural thermal springs that percolate to the surface all along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop (CHHSL). Amid the breathtaking landscapes of Western Colorado, these geothermal marvels are a source of relaxation and healing. But have you ever wondered how these enchanting pools of warm, mineral-rich water come to be? Get ready to take a quick plunge into the geology, minerals and temperatures that give rise to these Colorado hot springs.

The Geology Behind the Magic

The formation of hot springs on the CHHSL is intimately connected with the geology of the region. Western Colorado was once covered by a shallow inland sea. After the waters receded during the Jurassic and Cenozoic about 170 to 40 million years ago, there was a major mountain-building period. In a process called plate tectonics, the earth heaved and shifted, giving birth to the Rocky Mountains and a concentration of natural hot springs.

All this geological activity caused pressure and heat to build up deep within the earth. In hot spring heavy areas, this geothermal heat escapes through fractures and faults in the earth’s crust, pathways for hot water to rise to the surface. Colorado’s mountainous terrain is riddled with these faults and fractures; these pressure release points are where hot springs proliferate.  

Minerals: Source of Therapeutic Properties

One of the most captivating aspects of hot springs is their mineral-rich water, long been believed to possess therapeutic properties. The minerals found in hot springs vary depending on the geological composition of the region where they are located.

Common minerals found in the springs along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, silica and lithium. These minerals picked up from the surrounding rocks and dissolved in the superheated water, infuse CHHSL hot springs with their specific beneficial properties.

For instance, calcium and magnesium are thought to alleviate muscle cramps and joint pain. Silica, known for its skin-rejuvenating properties, leaves skin feeling smooth and refreshed. Lithium is a natural mood booster helping soakers feel peaceful and relaxed. The combination of these minerals creates a healing experience that is unique to each hot spring along the 800-mile loop.

Temperature: From Mildly Warm to Scalding Hot

Hot springs also exhibit a wide range of temperatures, from pleasantly warm to lobster-pot intense. The temperature of a hot spring is directly influenced by the depth from which the water originates and the geological processes that heat it.

In some hot springs, the water comes from shallow depths and has relatively low temperatures, ranging from 80˚ to 100˚F (27˚ to 38˚C). These pools offer a comfortable and relaxing experience, perfect for soaking away stress and soothing sore muscles.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are extremely hot springs that can reach temperatures of 140˚F (60˚C) or higher. The upper limit for a safe soaking is around 108˚F (42˚C). For soaking at these higher temperatures, industry experts recommend bathing for short intervals. Water that is 113˚F (45˚C) or higher can cause second and third-degree burns within just a few seconds. Where the natural spring water is intensely hot, the temperature must be amended either by allowing the water to cool naturally or by adding cold water to create a comfortable and safe temperature for soaking.  

Mother Nature’s Tour de Force

All 23 hot springs along the 800-mile CHHSL are geological masterpieces, crafted by powerful tectonic forces over millions of years. Enriched with an array of minerals in a spectrum of temperatures, discover these enchanting pools of warm water made by Mother Nature.

EV Charging Stations Closing the Gap for Drivers on Colorado’s Historic Hot Springs Loop

With Colorado expanding the grid for drivers of electric vehicles, it’s easier than ever for EV owners to leave the city behind and explore destinations further afield, including geothermal sites along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop.

Colorado’s scenic byways have long been a favorite means of exploring the state’s majestic landscapes. With the rising popularity of electric vehicles (EVs), the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is expanding the grid for EV charging stations to tap into both tourism and conservation interests. The routes selected for charging station expansion include Colorado’s Scenic Byways, many of which conveniently overlap with the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop (CHHSL).

Colorado’s Electric Byways Are Powering Up

Ensuring that EV drivers have access to dependable charging infrastructure is essential, and this is one of CDOT’s primary goals. Guidelines stipulate that Colorado Electric Byways must have sufficient charging infrastructure in place for EV travelers to complete their journey along the byway. While newer model EVs can go 250 to 300 miles on a full charge, CDOT is taking a more cautious approach to guarantee safety and reliability for drivers. For designation as a Colorado Electric Byway, dual-port DC fast charging stations must be located at least every 100 miles within the start and terminus of the byway.

Just as some traditional fuel vehicle owners might fill up at a half tank while others wait until the low fuel light illuminates. EV owners also have varied comfort levels and opinions on when it’s best to recharge. However, if using CDOT’s parameters of 100 miles between charging stations, the CHHSL isn’t quite a closed loop. The greatest distances between hot springs destinations without charging facilities occurs on the section that stretches from Salida to Pagosa Springs and onto Durango.

Plugging In on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

EV drivers can jump in on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop at any number of points. Along the route, there are numerous EV charging stations, most conveniently located at gas stations, shopping centers and hotels. Some are even situated in town parks or ski areas in Colorado. And as EVs continue to rise in popularity, there are more and more charging stations popping up in Western Colorado all the time.

For the best experience, map your hot springs trip out ahead of time by using an app like ChargeHub which provides a complete and up-to-date list of Colorado EV charging stations. Here are a few places to plug in along the CHHSL or within close proximity of the route.

Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Aspen, Paonia, Crested Butte, Buena Vista, Leadville, Durango, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Montrose, Ridgway, Salida and Telluride

EVs produce zero emissions, which means they don’t contribute to air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Driving the CHHSL using EV charging stations along the way is a great way to experience both Colorado’s amazing natural hot springs and its beauty while minimizing your environmental impact.

Consult the map and hit the road to start your CHHSL journey today!

Soaking in Hot Springs is Good Therapy

woman floating

Take a mindful self-care journey along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop. 

For centuries, cultures around the globe have been drawn to geothermal water. These natural resources are still used to enhance wellness and boost immune systems. Resorts along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop give guests the opportunity to reset and rejuvenate the body and mind. 

The formal term for the practice of thermal bathing for health purposes is called balneology. It’s a wonderful way to improve overall wellbeing. Not only are there physical benefits but also mental advantages. Regular soaks are thought to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, asthma, depression, fibromyalgia, skin conditions and sleep disorders.

Let’s break it down into three basic components: water, heat and minerals. 

WATER

The human body is made up of about 60% H2O so aquatic immersion seems like a natural thing to do. Hydrotherapy is used in a variety of ways to help increase mobility. When floating in a pool, buoyancy cushions joints and encourages muscles to decompress. This provides an ideal environment for low-resistance movement.

For some serenity, find a remote spot and focus on the sound of a trickling waterfall – it automatically calms the mind.

HEAT

Deep within the earth, magma heats pockets of water which then rises to the surface through fissures. This forms a hot spring.

Submerging in warm water is relaxing and simply feels good. Slightly elevating the body’s temperature can stimulate circulation which in turn increases blood flow. Breaking a sweat helps remove toxins and can even burn calories. Breathing will be easier, too, because steam can clear sinuses and open airways. 

MINERAL CONTENT

Soaking in super-saturated minerals enables the body to absorb these nutrients through the skin. Each hot spring has a unique mix of elements when it percolates through different layers of rock. Hot Springs of America lists common minerals found in these waters and how they help promote good health.

  • Boron encourages healthy bone development and building muscle mass. It helps manage arthritis and osteoporosis, and boosts brain activity.
  • Calcium promotes healthy bone growth. Maintaining proper levels of calcium reduces chances of colon and breast cancer.
  • Chloride is essential for the proper balance of body fluids. An electrolyte, it helps maintain proper blood volume, blood pressure and pH.
  • Fluoride promotes hardness and stability of bones and teeth.
  • Iron increases resistance to stress and disease, as well as preventing fatigue. It also promotes healthy skin, hair and nails.
  • Lithium has a calming and mood-stabilizing effect. It promotes brain health and alleviates depression.
  • Magnesium is important for the breakdown of fatty acids and cholesterol. It helps maintain hormone levels, along with regulating heartbeat and blood pressure.
  • Manganese also assists in the breakdown of fats and cholesterol. It contributes to healthy bone metabolism and growth.
  • Nitrogen is needed to make proteins in muscles, skin, hair and nails.
  • Phosphate is critical for energy storage and metabolism. It assists in kidney, muscle and nerve function.
  • Potassium reduces high blood pressure and cholesterol. It is also vital for heart and kidney health.
  • Silica is not considered an essential nutrient, but studies have shown that it can prevent the thinning of hair and plays a vital role in assisting calcium in bone growth.
  • Sodium is another electrolyte that is necessary to maintain the body’s fluids system. It also plays a pivotal role in enzyme operations, plus nerve and muscle functions.
  • Sulfate is a compound found in every cell of the human body. It helps relieve nasal congestion and is essential for production of collagen and maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. It also helps flush toxins and purify the body.
  • Zinc helps with proper functioning of the immune and digestive systems. It plays a key role in thyroid function and healthy vision.

For a geothermal pilgrimage, make the trek to these mountain towns:

Happy Camping on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

tent in pagosa springs

Summertime is camping season, the ideal time to enjoy all the Colorado mountains have to offer including hot springs soaking. From remote wilderness sites to luxe glamping tents and everything in between, find your perfect camping experience along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop.

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
  • Hinman
  • Meadows
  • 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!

Colorado Hot Springs Loop Sample Itinerary

The ultimate hot springs itinerary is a 800-mile/1200-km route along several roads designated as Colorado Scenic Byways. Starting from any of the eight resort towns, take a week to 10 days to really experience these special places.  

From Denver, begin the trip in Chaffee County—the communities of Buena Vista, Nathrop and Salidaalong the Top of the Rockies and Collegiate Peaks byways. Then travel south to Saguache County, home of the majestic San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains. Continue just 100 miles southwest to Pagosa Springs. The next stop is Durango, just 60 miles west. After weaving through the San Juan Skyway and the Million Dollar Highway, in 70 miles Ouray is the next stop. The West Elk Loop goes 142 miles through wine country, fruit stands, orchards and organic farms on the way to Carbondale. Nestled in the same Roaring Fork Valley and only 13 miles away is Glenwood Springs. Finally, 114 miles of canyons and ranchlands to Steamboat Springs completes the journey.  

CHAFFEE COUNTY: Buena Vista, Nathrop, Salida   colorfulcolorado.com 

Mount Elbert, the highest point in Colorado at 14,433 feet, towers over Chaffee County. Fifteen “14ers” (14,000-foot peaks) dominate this area along the Continental Divide, creating prime terrain for the eruption of hot water from the earth. The same topography formed the Arkansas, the state’s most popular whitewater rafting river.  

Outside of Buena Vista, Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort is a full-service retreat with five geothermal pools, a spa and club, 30 log cabins and 40-plus hotel rooms. Wade into Chalk Creek to access the natural hot pots.  

SAGUACHE COUNTY   mystic-colorado.com 

Nestled between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains, Saguache County, pronounced “Sa-watch,” captivates with its natural wonders. The name’s origin, rooted in the Ute language, alludes to “blue earth” or “sand dune,” fitting descriptions for this scenic haven. As one of Colorado’s least populated areas, it’s a serene retreat. Outdoor enthusiasts revel in hiking, camping, biking, fishing, and wildlife experiences. Unique attractions abound, including the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado Gators reptile farm, UFO Watchtower, and historical sites along the Old Spanish Trail. Amidst this beauty, hot springs like Joyful Journey, Sand Dunes Recreation, and Splashland Hot Springs Swimming Pool offer rejuvenating escapes.  

PAGOSA SPRINGS  visitpagosasprings.com 

According to Guinness World Records, the Great Pagosa Hot Springs is officially the World’s Deepest Geothermal Hot Spring. This mother spring not only supplies the resorts but is also a heating source for downtown sidewalks and several businesses, including a brewery. 

Terraced along the bank of the San Juan River are the 23 mineral pools of The Springs Resort & Spa. Each spot is a different size and temperature. The Lobster Pot, for example, sizzles at 110°F. While you’re there, check out the mineral deposits that have built up for centuries creating huge iron-colored formations; the rope bridge over the pond allows close inspection. Hotel guests can take a dip any time with 24-hour access.

DURANGO  durango.org 

Durango, a town embracing the 21st century while honoring its western heritage, blends modernity with its cowboy past. Its vibrant atmosphere, enriched by college students, infuses energy into arts, culture, and dining. Strolling past Victorian architecture or embarking on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge steam train invokes a journey through time. Durango’s year-round appeal offers skiing, dogsledding, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fly-fishing, and more. Nearby Mesa Verde National Park and San Juan National Forest offer exploration opportunities, while Durango Hot Springs & Spa, against the Animas Valley backdrop, invites relaxation.

OURAY ouraycolorado.com 

Ouray is a Switzerland look-alike. Brightly painted Victorian buildings line Main Street and lodges resemble chalets. In the summertime, Ouray has earned the title of Jeeping Capitol of the World, while the Ouray Ice Park offers the best ice climbing in Colorado during the cold-weather months. 

Odorless sulfur-free thermal waters bubble up nearly everywhere and include the Ouray Hot Springs Pool & Fitness CenterWiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and LodgingsTwin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs, and Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs.

CARBONDALE   carbondale.com 

Located in the Roaring Fork Valley, Carbondale, rooted in its agricultural past, thrives as a hub of local and organic food production. This culinary tradition fuels local restaurants with a vibrant farm-to-table ethos. Framed by Mt. Sopris and the Roaring Fork River, the town fosters a lively outdoor culture, offering year-round adventures like cross-country skiing, ice climbing, fat biking, and fly-fishing in Gold Medal Waters. Designated as a Colorado Creative District, Carbondale buzzes with artistic energy, hosting galleries, art walks, and creative events, making it an ideal haven for artists and art enthusiasts alike. A stay and dip at Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs completes the experience.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS   visitglenwood.com 

At two blocks in lengthGlenwood Hot Springs Resort is considered to the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. The source, Yampah Spring, flows 3.5 million gallons of water daily. The award-winning spa and 107-room lodge are also geothermally heated.  

The infamous Doc Holliday once came to the town for the healing vapors to treat his tuberculosis. Fans pay homage to the dentist and gunslinger by making the trek to his memorial in Linwood Cemetery or by sipping a beer under the Doc Holliday Saloon neon gun sign.  

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS  steamboatsummer.com  
There is a true Western vibe in Steamboat Springs, so channel your inner-cowboy. For a rustic wilderness setting, soak at the creekside Strawberry Park Hot Springs, built using unique stone masonry. Stay in a secluded cabin or campsite right on the property. 

Float downstream on an inner-tube along the refreshing Yampa River near downtown Steamboat Springs. Festivals celebrate hot air balloons, rodeos, eats, libations and tunes. Wintertime brings famous Champagne Powder® to Ski Town, USA®. Howelsen Hill is the largest natural ski jumping complex in North America and Colorado’s oldest ski area in continuous use for over 100 years. 

Stay in the Loop: Colorado’s Historic Hotels and Hot Springs

Dive into both Colorado history and hot springs on your next vacation! The 720-mile Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop is a year-round driving route that showcases the state’s authentic Wild West past with historic lodging, as well as its kick-back-and-relax hot springs.

Steamboat Springs wasn’t always a world-class ski town; first, it was a ranching community. The fertile Yampah Valley drew homesteaders to settle in and lay down roots. Among the first to arrive was James Crawford in 1874. Crawford convinced others to join him and by 1885, five families called Steamboat Springs home. As the town grew, Crawford was elected mayor and was among the first to recognize the tourism potential of the hot springs. Under his direction, the first bathhouse was built at the site of Old Town Hot Springs. In the 1950s, Steamboat was instrumental in popularizing skiing and ski jumping in the U.S. In addition to Old Town Hot Springs, Steamboat is also home to Strawberry Park Hot Springs.

  • Hotel Bristol. Established in 1948, this small historic hotel located in downtown Steamboat Springs exudes charm and reflects the town’s Old West heritage. A clapboard exterior complemented by Victorian-style fretwork belies the modernity of its guest rooms. During the summer, the street-front hotel is bursting with colorful blooms; in winter it is aglow with fairy lights.
  • Rabbit Ears Motel. Since 1952, the iconic pink neon sign featuring an enormous rabbit with big ears has welcomed visitors to have fun on their vacation in Steamboat Springs. For a brief period, the sign was considered tacky and a source of controversy; now it is a historic landmark and a favorite place to stay in the heart of Steamboat Springs.

Glenwood Springs is a fabled Colorado hot springs town. Mining engineer, entrepreneur and town founder Walter Devereux saw an uncut jewel as he surveyed the rough and rowdy encampment once called Defiance. His vision, which required re-routing the Grand (now Colorado) River, included an upscale, European-style resort catering to well-to-do visitors from around the globe. The hot springs pool opened in 1888 and the Hotel Colorado followed in 1893. Glenwood Hot Springs Resort and Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves have been mainstays of Glenwood Springs ever since. More recently, Iron Mountain Hot Springs joined the hot springs scene in 2015, adding yet another option for geothermal soaking.

  • Hotel Colorado. The Hotel Colorado was once called the “White House of the West” when President “Teddy” Roosevelt was in residence. The 26th president liked visiting the area for its big-game hunting. According to local legend, the teddy bear stuffed animal was invented here by hotel maids to console the president after an unsuccessful hunt. Relaxed western ambiance pervades this Glenwood Springs landmark.
  • Hotel Denver. The site that is now Hotel Denver was originally a hodgepodge of businesses that included two rooming houses—one owned by the Kendrick family and the other by the Boscos. In 1915, the Kendrick portion became known as the Star Hotel. In 1938, Mike Bosco bought out the Kendrick’s and the two hotels merged. Past guests include Chicago gangster Diamond Jack Alterie and movie star Clark Gable. Today, the Hotel Denver has a 1920s art deco influence and all rooms feature beautiful quilts and Tiffany-style lamps.
  • Ponderosa Cabins. Established in 1939, these historic log cabins located in West Glenwood Springs have been completely renovated. Stylish mid-century modern interiors are a delightful contrast to the rugged, western exterior. Each cabin is fully furnished and has a convenient kitchenette.

Ouray & Ridgway each got their start harvesting the natural resources available in their respective areas. For Ouray it was mining silver in the surrounding hard rock hillsides and mountains; for Ridgway, abundant timber and a nearby river on which to transport it was foundational. However, as with most booms, both industries eventually went bust. Forging a new way forward, Ouray and Ridgway embraced adventure tourism. Today, Ouray is known worldwide for its Jeeping and ice climbing, Ridgway for its trails, camping and boating opportunities. The region’s geothermal hot spots include Ouray Hot Springs Pool, the Historic Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings, Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs and Orvis Hot Springs.

  • The Beaumont. This three-story Victorian stunner dates to 1887 and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. In the lobby, the hotel’s grand staircase is a magnificent focal point. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover once stayed here. The hotel features 12 beautifully appointed rooms.
  • The Historic Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings. Originally known as Mother Buchanan’s Bath House in 1879, this site later became the Bates Hospital and Sanitarium in the 1920s. With hot springs, steam caves and spa services, the Wiesbaden continues to be a wellness destination and offers an array of interesting accommodations that include small guest rooms, suites, an apartment, a hillside cottage and a historic house.
  • The Historic Western Hotel Restaurant & Saloon. Established in 1891, the Historic Western Hotel exudes an authentic old west character with tin ceilings, stained glass windows and a grand entrance. Built in the Victorian Italianate style, it is one of the largest remaining wooden structures on the Western Slope of Colorado. The hotel offers two suite rooms and 12 smaller, original “boarding rooms.”
  • Orvis Hot Springs. With just six guest rooms, staying at Orvis Hot Springs is a peaceful and relaxing experience. The addition of guest room accommodations in the 1980s was part of a major property-wide renovation. In addition to 24-hour access to the very private and beautifully landscaped clothing-optional hot springs, a community kitchen allows overnight guests to prepare meals and eat communally. The resort also offers tent sites and limited RV camping.
  • Hotel Ouray. Built in 1893 to serve as law offices, this brick structure in downtown Ouray is Victorian in style and welcomes guests with a refined blend of western hospitality and up-to-date amenities. A major remodel in 1993 upgraded the essentials, which included plumbing, electrical wiring and air conditioning. Fifteen guest rooms effortlessly blend the best of the past and the present.
  • Elmo Hotel. Another 1880s gem, the St. Elmo was built by Mrs. Kittie Heit. The hotel catered to the region’s miners who loved the proprietress, calling her Aunt Kittie for her many acts of kindness and charity. The St. Elmo is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. It operates as a bed and breakfast with nine finely decorated rooms.

Pagosa Springs is named after the prolific geothermal springs found there. Derived from a similar sounding Ute Native American word, the moniker translates as “healing waters.” As early as the 1860s the U.S. Army became interested in the healing properties of the hot springs and began to document their efficacy. Word of this “fountain of youth” spread quickly, attracting visitors and settlers to the area. The Mother Spring is designated as the world’s deepest by “Guinness Book of World Records.” Pagosa Springs boasts several hot springs, including The Springs Resort & Spa, Overlook Hot Springs and Healing Waters Resort & Spa.

  • Healing Waters Resort & Spa. Original owner Cora Woods built the first accommodations, along with a swimming pool, in the 1930s, which she called The Spa Motel. The property was purchased again in 1950 at which time several more motel rooms and a bathhouse were added. Today, the historic hot springs offers a variety of lodging options, including a bunkhouse suite, mini-suite, guest rooms and cabins.
  • High Country Lodge. This classic American motor lodge was built in 1975 and renovated in the 2000s. It is ideally situated between Pagosa Springs and Wolf Creek Ski Area. A Western vibe permeates the property, which includes guest rooms as well as private cabin accommodations. In winter, guests take turns on the Lodge’s tubing hill and warm up by a roaring fire in the main lobby; come summer, there are nearby nature trails for exploration.

Chaffee County, which includes the towns of Buena Vista, Nathrop and Salida, has a long history of attracting rugged types. The area is home to more 14,000-foot peaks than any other county in the state, which draws outdoor enthusiasts to its abundant natural wonders. In the 1800s, with the discovery of silver, Chaffee County became a thriving Colorado boomtown. The bustling industry, coupled with the arrival of the railroad, inspired many hearty souls to come to this part of the state to seek their fortunes. Its unique hot springs include Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, Historic Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa, Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center and Antero Hot Springs Cabins.

  • Amigo Motor Lodge. Channeling nostalgia for the Great American Road Trip, this 60-year-old motor inn in Salida has a fresh new look and feel. Completely renovated, as its name implies, the Amigo has a friendly and welcoming vibe. Tasteful, mid-century modern rooms feature southwestern touches and luxury beds and linens.
  • Historic Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa. In Buena Vista, the site’s original hotel and sanitarium was constructed in 1878 by the Reverend and Mrs. Adams, M.D. A female physician, Dr. Adams was known for her medical expertise and use of the hot springs for healing. Unfortunately, the building was destroyed in 1911. The current lodge features guest rooms on two levels as well as dormitory-style lodging.
  • Manhattan Hotel. The Manhattan Hotel is a historic boutique hotel located along the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Salida. The hotel is situated on the second floor and like many historic properties of similar age, it does not have an elevator. Several rooms feature personal balconies with seating, meant for enjoying the surrounding beauty, both day and night. While the exterior is an ode to Western history, guest rooms are invitingly luxe and modern.
  • Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. The first accommodations at Mount Princeton were constructed in 1860 to serve the mining community. Eventually, a large and ornate hotel occupied the site, but when the mining industry went bust and the railroad left, the property fell into disrepair. In the 1960s, a 20-room motel was added; but it was a massive renovation in the early 2000s that included the historic lodgings and the addition of new cabins that transformed the resort into a destination property.
  • Palace Hotel. Constructed in 1906, the Palace Hotel in Salida is a red brick beauty located in the artsy downtown district. In 2009, the property underwent a major renovation that took three years to complete, restoring it to its former Victorian grandeur. Also added were energy-saving features like Thermopane windows and rooftop photovoltaic cells to provide renewable energy. The Palace Hotel features 14 luxury suites.

For a Colorado vacation like no other, stay in the loop—The Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop. Learn more and plan your vacation today.

Take a Classic Car Cruise on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

mcclure pass

The Colorado Scenic & Historic Byway connections between five premier locations along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop transform the 720-mile drive into a motorist's dream—as much about the journey as the destinations.

The Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, spanning over 720 miles and connecting five premier locations, is a trek to some of the state’s most healing waters. In addition to sizzling hot springs experiences, this journey gives drivers a chance to behold the state’s diverse beauty via Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways.

These connections not only make the drive enjoyable but are also perfect for classic car motorists, with breathtaking views and numerous opportunities to stop along the way, to show off those wheels.

Start With: Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway (Copper to Granite, 42 miles)

The Top of the Rockies scenic byway is a fantastic starting point and introduction to Colorado’s diverse landscape. Drivers will cross the Continental Divide and pass two of the state’s highest peaks—Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, at 14,440 and 14,421 feet, respectively.

In addition to a majestic backdrop, there are opportunities to make historic stops in Leadville—a once-booming mining town. Check out the lavish Victorian houses, the long-since abandoned silver mines, and the Tabor Opera House to get a unique peek into the area’s past.

Up Next: Collegiate Peaks (Granite to Salida, 57 miles)

Welcome to Chaffee County, home to the highest concentration of 14,000-foot mountains in North America: the Collegiate Peaks. These glorious 14ers, with names reminiscent of the Ivy League—Mt. Yale, Mt. Harvard, Mt. Princeton—rise 7,000 feet above the Arkansas River Valley. Drivers cruise through an impressive and ever-unfolding landscape, filled with lush riversides, national forests and public lands.

Once you’ve made it through the mountainous byway, pull over for a pit stop at one of Chaffee County’s hot springs to soothe, relax and recover.

  • Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center. This community center facility is the largest indoor hot springs in North America, with its lap, soaking, and private pools.​
  • Mount Princeton Hot Springs. Known as a scenic overnight or day retreat, Mount Princeton Hot Springs is packed with amenities, like a historic bathhouse, creekside hot springs, a waterslide, and a spa and health club. ​
  • Historic Cottonwood Hot Springs. With a relaxed and back-to-nature vibe, Cottonwood Hot Springs is a peaceful stop with a quiet-zone and alcohol-free pools, as well as various lodging options.

The next stop is Pagosa Springs, about a 150-minute drive from Salida. Be sure to enjoy the beautiful Wolf Creek Pass on the way—stopping at the scenic overlook, Continental Divide, and the gushing Treasure Falls. Once you’ve arrived in town, the “Pah gosah” Mother Spring aquifer, which translates to “healing waters,” awaits, filling three different hot springs facilities.

  • The Springs Resort & Spa. Located right on the San Juan River, The Springs has 23 pools open to the public and offers 24-hour soaking access to overnight guests.
  • Overlook Hot Springs. With rooftop soaking tubs and expansive views of the valley located in downtown Pagosa, Overlook is a one-of-a-kind experience.
  • Healing Waters Resort & Spa. This family-friendly facility has overnight options, as well as a large pool and private baths.

Back on the Road: San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway (Durango to Ridgway, 81 miles)

After a rejuvenating soak, drivers can keep the fun going by continuing to Durango, a gateway to the San Juan Skyway. This winding road will take you through the San Juan Mountains, including two jaw-dropping passes and Weminuche Wilderness sights, leading up to a jaunt through the silver-boom town of Silverton.

The byway then follows the Million Dollar Highway, a road known for steep cliffs and tight turns—the beautiful-yet-staggering Red Mountain Pass included. Pull off to admire expansive views and canyon waterfalls before arriving in Ouray.

Known as the “Switzerland of America,” Ouray is surrounded by powdered-sugar peaks in the distance. Four public hot springs facilities are available in the Ouray-Ridgway area as well as several private soaking experiences, which allow drivers to take a pit stop at the geothermal waters, taking in the enchanting views.

  • Ouray Hot Springs Pool. This recently renovated oval-shaped pool has incredible mountain backdrop views, in addition to a mix of fun and relaxing features, such as an activity pool, an overlook infinity-style waterfall, and a hotter soaking pool.​
  • Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and Lodgings. Wiesbaden is home to hot springs and rare vapor caves tucked deep inside the mountain, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and private outdoor spa—all heated with geothermal water.​
  • Twin Peaks Lodge and Hot Springs. There are both indoor and outdoor soaking opportunities at this Ouray hot springs lodge.​
  • Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. Situated on a terraced hillside, the soaking pools are built into the stair-stepped wooden deck that overlooks the town. ​
  • Orvis Hot Springs. Located in Ridgway, Orvis Hot Springs is a beautifully landscaped facility with both indoor and outdoor soaking options, famous for their au naturel, clothing-optional policy.

Keep Going: West Elk Loop Scenic Byway (Hotchkiss to Carbondale, 118 miles)

While known as a must-see fall leaf peeping opportunity because of its aspen foliage, the West Elk Loop is picturesque year round. The trail winds through orchards and local farm-fresh produce—apples and cherries—before crossing through the North Fork Valley’s jaw-dropping McClure Pass.

The West Elk Loop meanders along the Crystal River, suggesting a stop at the historic Redstone settlement. Here, there are opportunities to enjoy the Redstone Castle—where you can tour the grounds and marvel at its impressive past.

Continue through the Roaring Fork Valley to Glenwood Springs, where two rivers converge, and several hot springs experiences await.

  • Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. This resort is home to the world’s largest hot springs pool, as well as a lodge, spa and an aquatic adventure zone. ​
  • Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Boasting 16 soaking pools and a freshwater family pool, Iron Mountain is located on the bank of the Colorado River, with stunning mountain views. ​
  • Yampah Vapor Caves. These vapor caves are a rare setting for a natural, geothermal steam bath with detoxifying benefits. An on-site spa provides further wellness opportunities.

Finally: Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway (Meeker to Steamboat Springs, 113 miles)

Rounding out the Loop is the Flat Tops Scenic Byway, which includes six historic stops and miles of unpaved road ready for exploration. This leg of the trip begins in Meeker and passes through Buford, Trappers Lake, Ripple Pass and Yampa from there.

There are several impressive scenery changes along the way; stop at overlooks to see geologic lava flow formations, rugged plateaus, sweeping alpine meadows and a shimmering Trappers Lake. A 10,343-foot pass puts riders high above the timberline, before introducing the outskirts of Yampa, which includes views of agricultural herds and expansive ranches on the way to Steamboat Springs.

Once in the historic town named for the whistling, train-like sound the hot springs made when it came out of the ground, be sure to visit those famed pools.

  • Old Town Hot Springs. Old Town is a recreational, multi-use complex with family-friendly fun packed into its geothermal waters.​
  • Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Strawberry Park is located outside of town, in a rustic and smaller venue, nestled against the banks of Strawberry Creek. There are lodging and camping options available.

For a breathtaking road trip with hot springs stops along the way, visit Colorado Hot Springs Loop and Colorado Scenic Byways today—celebrating their 30th anniversary.

Make a Splash with Hot Springs and Rafting in Colorado

rafting in Colorado

From mild and wild to hot and steamy, the ultimate water-centric Colorado outdoor experience begins with a drive along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop for a Centennial state combo that features the best of whitewater rafting with geothermal soaking.

After a bountiful winter of heavy precipitation, snow in the high country is finally melting. With each passing day, spring run-off is swelling rivers—the Arkansas, the Colorado, the San Juan, the Yampa, and the Uncompahgre—creating a whitewater rafting season that by all indications looks to be a banner year.

In addition to the iconic mountain and canyon scenery associated with a river rafting trip, the western half of the state is sprinkled with geothermal hot springs, many in convenient proximity to members of the Colorado River Outfitters Association. In fact, rivers and hot springs often occur in tandem in nature. In Glenwood Canyon, for example, and in spots along the San Juan River, hot springs bubble up within the river. For the enjoyment of their guests, rafting and guide services often create makeshift pools with river rock walls for impromptu riverside soaking. Unfortunately, soaking in wild springs is usually limited before it’s time to hop back aboard the raft for the remainder of the trip.

To thoroughly enjoy and plan for both—rafting and hot springs soaking—take a drive on the newly created Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop. The 720-mile loop drive connects the state’s best rafting outfitters with 19 hot springs attractions in five Western Colorado towns. Spend a week or more exploring them all or, make jaunts on the route for a shorter excursion, either way, rafting and hot springs are a classic Colorado combo and the CHHSL bundles both neatly for easy vacation planning.

Chaffee County, Colorado
Snowmelt from the Collegiate Peaks where an abundance of the state’s famed 14,000-foot peaks are located, swells the Arkansas River creating prime conditions for Colorado rafting. The towns of Salida, Nathrop and Buena Vista are home to a concentration of river guides and outfitters. Rafting highlights in this part of the state include paddling the Arkansas River through Brown’s Canyon National Monument. Class III rapids, Pinball, Zoom Flume and Staircase are a rollicking good time for beginner and intermediate river runners.

Chaffee County is also home to diverse hot springs that run the gamut from a community pool in an artsy mountain town to a new-age mountain hideaway surrounded by tall pines and an upscale luxury getaway to cozy cabins with private hot springs soaking tubs.

Hot Springs
Mount Princeton Hot Springs at the base of the Chalk Cliffs, offers a variety of soaking experiences including creek-side hot springs. There’s also a spa, 400-foot (122-meter) waterslide and a lazy river in summer.

Historic Cottonwood Hot Springs is situated off the beaten path in the serenity of the San Isabel National Forest. The soaking experience focuses on peace, tranquility and healing.

Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center is a community pool and the largest indoor hot springs facility in North America. It features lap lanes, a smaller communal soaking pool and private soaking pools.

Antero Hot Spring Cabins feature three unique cabin accommodations. Each charming cabin has a hand-crafted private hot spring pool just outside the door.

Rafting Outfitters
American Adventure Expeditions

AVA Rafting & Ziplining

Browns Canyon Rafting

Independent Whitewater, Inc.

Noah’s Ark Adventure Program

Performance Tours

River Runners

The Adventure Company

Wilderness Aware Rafting

Pagosa Springs, Colorado
One of the state’s most scenic hamlets, Pagosa Springs is all about water-based recreation and relaxation. Its spring skiing is among the best in Colorado. Come May and June, the San Juan River which runs through town is churning with whitewater thrills. Among the most popular excursions is a trip through Mesa Canyon. Later in the season, the river mellows and is ideal for family-friendly floats and carefree tubing trips.

Any Colorado town with “springs” in its name is a water-worthy destination and Pagosa Springs is no exception to the rule. It boasts three geothermal attractions, all very different, yet collectively relaxing experiences. A fun fact: the town also holds the record for the deepest hot spring ever recorded!

Hot Springs
The Springs Resort & Spa is open to lodge guests 24 hours a day and features 23 therapeutic mineral hot spring pools overlooking the San Juan River.

Overlook Hot Springs has rooftop soaking tubs with unimpeded views of the San Juan Mountains, the river and downtown Pagosa Springs!

Healing Waters Resort & Spa welcomes visitors to relax and soak in its therapeutic warm springs that are 100 percent natural mineral water with nothing else added.

Rafting Outfitters
Pagosa Outside

Ouray & Ridgway, Colorado
The dramatic landscape in this neck of Colorado only adds to the adventure inherent in a whitewater rafting trip. Craggy cliffs, tight canyons and roiling rapids are the ultimate Colorado adrenaline rush. As you paddle and float for miles, take in panoramas of the majestic San Juan Mountains, expansive mesas and historic ranchlands.

The towns of Ouray and Ridgway are ground zero for geothermal activity as well. Between the two, there are five different locations for a soothing après-river soak. A modern new pool is a central feature in Ouray, but visitors can also seek out more off-the-beaten-path locales including one in Ridgway that is clothing optional.

Hot Springs
Ouray Hot Springs is ideally suited to both family fun and relaxing soaking. It features a slide, rock climbing wall and lap lanes; a hotter pool set away from the splash zone is the perfect spot for a quiet soak.

Historic Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa is a full-service spa and home to hot springs and a rare vapor cave amenity tucked deep inside the mountain. Private soaking is also an option.

Orvis Hot Springs in nearby Ridgway is beautifully landscaped and open 24-hours a day. It retains an ultra-relaxed vibe with its au naturel clothing-optional policy.

Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. Situated on a terraced hillside, the soaking pools are built into the stair-stepped wooden deck that overlooks the town.

Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs is one of the few places that also offers hot springs soaking in both outdoor and indoor settings.

Rafting Outfitters
RIGS Adventure Company

Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Blessed with the fortune to have not one, but two rivers that converge on the hot springs town, rafting is a warm-season activity that tops the list of visitor activities. For one of the best sight-seeing tours of Glenwood Canyon, a river rafting trip is hard to beat. The Roaring Fork River also offers seasonal opportunities for rafting with views of Mt. Sopris to the south.

With three hot springs attractions from which to choose, visitors can warm up and relax by either immersing themselves in the soothing hot springs water or, alternatively with a mineral-rich, geothermal steam bath.

Hot Springs
​Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is an historic resort and famous as the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. The resort is also home to the Sopris Splash Zone, a family-friendly aquatic park at the west-end of the property.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs boasts 16 natural springs soaking pools and a freshwater family pool terraced on the bank of the Colorado River.

Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves is a rare place where you can go underground for a natural, geothermal steam bath. The mineral-dense vapors have a detoxifying effect.

Rafting Outfitters
Blue Sky Adventures

Defiance Rafting Company

Lakota Guides

Whitewater Rafting

Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Flowing through downtown Steamboat Springs, the Yampa Rivers swells during spring runoff season creating perfect conditions for paddling on Class III and IV rapids. As flows taper off later in the season, outfitters switch from rafts trips to renting inner tubes. Paddle or float, either is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day in Colorado.

In addition to river adventures, experience all the other things this authentic Western town has to offer from balloon tours to pro rodeos. Plan to also visit the geothermal springs; Steamboat offers two locations for taking a hot springs dip.

Hot Springs
Old Town Hot Springs is operated by the City of Steamboat as a recreational facility and welcomes one and all for a soak in its beautiful, newly remodeled multi-use complex.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs is located outside of town. Small, rustic and a little bit quirky, it’s built along the banks of Strawberry Creek. After dark, it becomes clothing optional.

Rafting Outfitters
AVA Rafting & Ziplining

Plan your Colorado hot springs and rafting vacation today! Learn more about the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop and the Colorado River Outfitters Association.