Five hot springs communities in western Colorado have banded together to create a new “springs-to-springs” travel itinerary that links many of the thermal springs that flow so freely in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Based upon the same concept as a scenic driving loop, this 720-mile route connects 19 hot springs facilities, each of which provides a unique—and relaxing—experience for visitors of all ages.
Soaking in Colorado’s mineral waters is a tradition that dates back to the Ute and other Native American tribes that once lived in these areas and revered the healing waters. After Caucasians arrived, they quickly realized the potential both for healing and profit and developed a variety of pools, caves, and other facilities to serve the increasing number of visitors who came to enjoy the waters’ therapeutic benefits.
Much of the loop’s charm is visiting the many scenic and historic sites along the way, but the undisputed highlight is experiencing the great diversity of hot springs facilities that Colorado has to offer. These include sweating in a steaming vapor cave in Ouray; soaking in terraced pools next to a gurgling mound of opal in Pagosa Springs; and relaxing in a creekside “hot pot” with snow-capped peaks towering above your head at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. (View the Colorado Tourism Office’s map here.)
In Glenwood Springs, you can choose between soaking in the world’s largest hot springs pool or a series of more intimate pools of varying temperatures perched along the banks of the Colorado River. Steamboat Springs, by contrast, offers both a soak in a rustic wilderness setting at Strawberry Park and a modern multi-use complex with speedy waterslides.
If you can’t choose, you’ll just have to follow the entire route.
Visit: Information about the Historic Hot Springs Loop, as well as each individual destination, is available at Colorado.com.