Spring is around the corner. My daughter, just an elementary sprout, informed me just yesterday that the first day of spring is only a week away, arriving March 20th. With the promise of warm weather on the way, my feet start itching to travel.
Colorado, a friend once told me, is the “perfect” place to live. Not too cold, and not too warm. Skiing is in your back yard, and there’s a spot for hiking, canoeing, and camping at every turn. And if you want water? Well, there’s the mighty Colorado River. But rivers, lakes, and oceans just don’t cut for me anymore. When I travel, I always pray for one thing: Hot Springs.
Luckily, Colorado has more than just a few natural hot springs dotting its mountainous landscape. From luxury resorts to hideaways you’d say are “in the rough,” there’s a natural hot springs for every personality. Where will you go? Here are five great hot springs to visit this year. With naturally hot water bubbling out of the earth all year long, you won’t have to wait for summer. You can go now, even if there’s still a little snow on the ground.
- Indian Hot Springs. You don’t need to visit Maui to enjoy a tropical paradise. The Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs, Colorado, will satisfy your desire for palms and banana trees. The swimming pool, covered with a translucent dome, is continually fed with 115 degree hot mineral water, and typically settles at a temperature between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus–you can go now! This pool is open all year round from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. If you want a more rustic experience, you can hit the geothermal caves with water between 104 and 112 degrees.
- Dunton Hot Springs. Architectural Digest listed Dunton Hot Springs as one of the four luxury resorts that will “inspire your next vacation.” This one, for me, is going to be a can’t miss vacation hot spot. The resort website calls it a “small and exclusive resort nestled deep in the San Juan Mountains.” But the best part–it’s a perfectly restored ghost town. There are eight beautiful tents you can rent for “luxury glamping.” Plus, you can also go hiking, fly-fishing, or cross country skiing. However, this one’s not cheap. Plan to spend at least $300 for one night, but know every dollar is travel well-spent.
- Glenwood Hot Springs. Maybe family friendly is the way you want to go. If you want water slides and diving boards, look no further than Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. This resort has a huge 117-room lodge, cabana rental, kiddie pool, slides, swim lessons, and lots for kids to do. In fact, kids swim free and stay free. Glenwood’s waters are called “Yampah,” which means “Big Medicine. It was first discovered by a party of explorers in 1860, and folks have been visiting there ever since. To enjoy Glenwood in its entirety, you might want to wait to visit in summer , but it’s definitely worth a stop.
4. Rainbow Hot Springs. Maybe it’s time to leave the kids behind and hike. Twenty miles north of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, you’ll find the trail to Rainbow Hot Springs. It’s a 4.5 mile mile breathtaking hike one way. And when you get to the top–pure heaven. And for this hidden spot–clothes are optional. The two pools are not huge, with room for only 6-10 people in the lower pool, typically around 95 degrees. The upper pool is a bit warmer, around 105 degrees, but there’s only room for about three people. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. The trail isn’t a paved sidewalk, so you’re likely to get a close to nature on your way there. There’s a campground at the bottom, but plan a whole day for the hike. It usually takes between 5 and 8 hours to complete. Visit Uncover Colorado for more information on how to get there.
5. Mystic Hot Springs. Totally boho and completely unique, Mystic Hot Springs was the highlight of my travels last summer, and I’ll be sure to stop back this year. While it’s not in Colorado, Mystic Hot Springs is just a short drive off I-70 that cuts straight through the state. It’s not the kind of place you’ll get 5-star treatment and a heated towel when you’re finished, but it’s a stop you likely won’t forget. We were greeted by a pair of very vocal geese as we made our way up the hill. No one was there, so we dropped our fees in the container by the door and explored the gorgeous, natural landscape and steamy, therapeutic pool. Past visitors had dotted the landscape with artistic installations made from rocks, plants, and branches. If you’re completely infatuated, you can spend the night in one of the many painted buses or rustic cabins. There’s also accommodations for campers and RVs. If you’re a music junkie, Mystic Hot Springs also has live music events, and has hosted over 700 bands at their off-highway venue.