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The pure, unrivaled delight of sinking into a steamy pool of natural, mineral-rich, hot springs water can be a compelling reward for hiking miles into the backcountry to one of Colorado’s rare wild hot springs. Thanks to the state’s dozens of commercial hot springs pools, however, anyone who doesn’t want to navigate a long, steep, rugged trail—or can’t, perhaps because they use walkers, wheelchairs, and other mobility aids—can still enjoy the blissful experience.
Fed by aquifers with waters superheated by molten rock and naturally infused with minerals, these pools, most of which are open year-round, bring the luxury of our state’s underground baths to the surface in a variety of shapes, sizes, and temperatures. The following ADA-compliant sites welcome people of most abilities and mobilities with ramps, benches, handrails, hydraulic lifts, wider doorways, lower surfaces, and other modifications that facilitate safe passage from parking lot to deck to hot springs pool. However, if you don’t see your favorite hot springs site listed here, give them a call. Chances are, they’re prepared to accommodate you, whatever your needs are (beyond utter relaxation, that is).
Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, Glenwood Springs
Two-and-a-half hours west of Denver on the other side of jaw-droppingly gorgeous Glenwood Canyon, this 134-year-old Colorado icon, home to the largest outdoor hot springs pool in the world, offers three ADA-accessible watery options. The 100-foot long, recently renovated, toasty 104-degree Therapy Pool has improved lighting, a ramp, and railing. (Planned installation of therapy jet chairs and power shower clusters for upper-body massages has been delayed due to supply chain issues, but look for them in the future.) Sloping entrances, rather than steps and ladders, in the new children’s play area, Sopris Splash Zone, provide seamless, zero-entry access to a tepid, shallow pool that’s suitable for tender young skin. And soakers can ease into more temperate waters in Hanging Lake Pool via an ADA-compliant lift. Though smaller and shallower than the resort’s main pool, Hanging Lake Pool, as well as the Therapy Pool and Sopris Splash Zone, boast the same 15 naturally occurring minerals that make hot springs soaking so therapeutic. Some of the resort’s men’s and women’s locker rooms, showers, and a family/gender-neutral changing room are wheelchair accessible. Extend your visit—and your bliss—by booking one of three ADA-accessible hotel rooms at the on-site hotel, The Lodge.
Old Town Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs is known as the gateway to Strawberry Hot Springs, but this northwestern Colorado mountain town is home to another delightfully charming soaking spot worthy of the three-hour drive from Denver. Family-friendly and ADA-compliant, Old Town Hot Springs combines small, quiet soaking pools and large activity pools for a crowd-pleasing experience sure to satisfy hot springs fans of all ages. The outdoor soaking and swimming facility has two lifts that can be used to access any of its plethora of pools. The Main Hot Pool, where morning aquatic fitness classes are held, is kept at a moderate 98 degrees, or warm up in three steamy 102- to 104-degree Spa Pools. Visitors can also swim in the temperate Lap Pool and splash to their hearts’ content in the shallower, cooler Kiddie Pool. Take the elevator upstairs to the gym for a selection of ADA-accessible workout equipment, and if you’re new to strength training, ask about a free Smart Start session, a 30- to 45-minute orientation on proper equipment usage and care. Whether you end up sweating from exertion or just the hot water, take advantage of ADA-friendly locker rooms for a refreshing rinse.
Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center, Salida
For an indoor hot springs adventure, make the three-hour drive from Denver to this warm and vibrant facility, home to the largest indoor hot springs pool in the country. Located in the heart of downtown Salida, this rec center welcomes soakers of most mobilities. From two ADA parking spots, a convenient ramp and push-button automatic doors provide entrée to the lobby, which features a picnic table ideally sized to accept wheelchairs. (Forgot your mobility aid at home? No problem; simply ask to borrow a wheelchair or walker.) Then take a dip in the Lap Pool or the Leisure Pool, both of which are accessible via lift. Less surefooted soakers can also access the Leisure Pool via a zero-depth entry (a gently sloping entrance from pool deck to pool) and the Lap Pool via ramp and handrail. The all-gender changing rooms, including showers and toilets, are wheelchair-accessible; the men’s and women’s locker rooms each have an ADA-compliant toilet stall and shower; and the women’s locker room has a compliant changing stall. Fill your water bottle at the chair-height drinking fountain/filling station located in the locker rooms’ main hallway.
Ouray Hot Springs Pool, Ouray
Thanks to its quaint architecture, cavernous canyons, towering peaks, and plethora of hot springs, Ouray is known as the Switzerland of America. A 5.5-hour journey southwest from Denver, the alpine town is also home to an expansive array of outdoor hot springs soaking and swimming pools at Ouray Hot Springs. This city-owned facility welcomes guests with a Hot Pool (98 to 101 degrees), Lap Pool (78 to 86 degrees), Shallow Pool (88 to 92 degrees), and Activity Pool (78 to 84 degrees), all fitted with lifts, ramps, handrails, and benches that allow for assisted dunking in the mineral-rich waters. Overhead canopies provide a respite from the sun, while wraparound underwater benches give the weary adventurer a place to rest and soak up views of the Sneffels Range. The changing rooms are ADA-compliant, and there’s even a submersible aquatic wheelchair (call ahead for availability) made of PVC pipe, so you don’t have to drench your own mobility aid.
Hot Springs Soaking Safety Tips
- If you are pregnant, have high blood pressure or other medical conditions, or are on medication, check with your doctor before soaking at a hot spring.
- Hydrate before, during, and after soaking. Most sites allow poolside metal or plastic water bottles but not glass, which could break and force the pool to shut down.
- Soak for 10 minutes at a time; then get out and drink some water to prevent overheating.
- Get out of the water immediately if you feel dizzy, nauseated, or faint.
- Hot springs post their daily temperatures on their websites, on social media, and poolside. This will give you a good idea of whether or not each pool is within your comfort zone. Before you get in, test the water against your skin. If you’re entering via a mobility device and can’t reach the water yourself, ask a trusted friend to test it for you.
- Don’t drink hot springs water. The minerals and site-specific additives, like chlorine, could make you sick.
- Commercial sites close down temporarily if lightning danger exists. Pool attendants will alert soakers when this happens. Pay attention and get out of the pool; they’ll let you know when it’s safe to get back in.