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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

Watch the video series to see this itinerary in action.


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