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The first thing to know about cold plunging—the act of dunking yourself in frigid water for an extended period of time—is that it may induce total bliss, pure agony, or both. “It’s completely subjective,” says Justin Weiss, founder of Colorado cold plunge group Ice Church.
What’s more definitive is that the practice is heating up thanks to its purported health benefits, including remedying chronic pain, inflammation, and post-workout soreness. (There are dangers, too, such as hypothermia and cold shock, so start slowly, don’t dunk alone, and make sure you have dry clothes and a place to warm up quickly.) Weiss battled fibromyalgia for years until he discovered cold immersion in 2015. “In a few days, my pain was melting away,” he says. But finding the right place to take a plunge can be, well, mind-numbing, so we’ve rounded up four of our favorites for breaking the ice.
Best for jet-setters
There are 32 mineral and freshwater pools at this Glenwood Springs hot spot, but only one is chilled. The frosty, 55-degree tank fits four and features reflexology stones at the bottom so you can massage your tootsies as they freeze out. After your plunge, warm up with a trip around the globe—the resort has 12 tubs with mineral water formulas that mimic famous international hot springs, including Iceland’s Blue Lagoon and a Japanese onsen. From $40 for three hours
Best for serious athletes
This LoHi fitness rehab center has a slew of post-workout resources, including three cold plunge pools ranging from 40 to 52 degrees, which it claims can help diminish inflammation and assist muscle recovery. Expect an intense experience: Each pool is equipped with jets that prevent your tiny body hairs from trapping air bubbles against your skin and warming them. $29 for a 24-hour pass
Ice Church in Crestone (or Boulder or Denver)
Best for people craving companionship
Founded by Weiss in 2019, Ice Church hosts casual outdoor gatherings every Sunday in Crestone and, occasionally, in Boulder and Denver. Although water temps are on the cooler side (about 29 to 39 degrees) and each dip takes place in a horse trough, Weiss says the events are far from hardcore. Instead, there’s a focus on community, and Weiss will coach you through the experience, starting with pre-plunge breathing exercises. Some weeks, he says, “we’re eating sushi and sausage and oysters in the bath.” $15 to $60; times and locations vary
Clear Creek in Golden
Best for DIYers
You’ll find Denver-based Ironman athlete and cold-water immersion enthusiast Eric Hinman’s favorite spot for an outdoor dunk next to Golden’s public library in Clear Creek. Access is easy (park at the library), and the deep, natural swimming hole is big enough for group outings. Hinman visits year-round but cautions to be on the lookout for ice patches that could trap you under the water during winter. Free