Artfully designed pools

1/4

The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, has 24 mineral pools sourced around a mother spring—recognized as the deepest in the world.

Million-dollar views

2/4

Driving on the Million Dollar Highway—one of Colorado’s most scenic roads—to reach the relatively low elevation of Ouray where you can wind down in on of several geothermal offerings.

Colorado oases

3/4

The tallest sand dunes in North America are in Great Sand Dunes National Park, and a treasure trove of hot springs is waiting to be explored here in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Gorgeous soak settings

4/4

Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a beautiful addition to your geothermal Colorado adventure. Intricate stone masonry provides a gorgeous natural setting to kick up your feet and reflect.

The Ultimate Colorado Hot Springs Road Trip

Just like with the photo opportunities, there is no shortage of hot springs offerings in this part of Colorado.
Prepared By:

Whitney James

Adventure & Storyteller

Colorado’s Historic Hot Springs Loop in a Week

Start / End

Denver International Airport

States Covered
National Parks

Browns Canyon National Monument, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Baca National Wildlife Refuge, Chimney Rock National Monument, Colorado National Monument, Rocky Mountain National Park, Dinosaur National Monument

Total Distance

887 miles / 1428 km

Suggested Days

4-10

Suggested Seasons

Summer

#ThisIsMyRoute

Overview

As you embark on your epic Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, take the road less traveled and explore some of the state’s hidden gems. Along the way, you’ll get to see some of Colorado’s most famous parks and vistas while discovering lesser-known sights, soaking in healing hot springs in between. Designed to be enjoyed as a loop, you can also pick and choose which destinations will work for your travel plans. Approach it clockwise, counterclockwise, or simply use it as inspiration for an existing itinerary. No matter how you incorporate Colorado’s historic hot springs into your journey, you’re sure to enjoy the benefits!

Preparation

You have the opportunity to do a bit of everything on this road trip: hike, mountain bike, river raft, sightsee, and of course soak in some of the best hot springs in the Rocky Mountain region. As a result, every traveler’s packing list will look a little different! Prepare for your favorite activities and don’t forget the essentials. When adventuring in Colorado during the summer months, layers, sunblock, and extra hydration are crucial to making the most of your time in the mountains. A daypack, reusable water bottle, and hat will take you far.

Itinerary

CHAFFEE COUNTY

Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa in Colorado

3 HOURS, 23 MINUTES — 158 MI/254 KM

Begin your journey in Chaffee County, Colorado. Punctuated by the snowcapped Collegiate Peaks and the natural playground of the Arkansas River below, this also happens to be one of the most abundant destinations for hot springs enthusiasts in the entire state. You’ll want to spend at least a couple days here exploring the nearby trails, whitewater rafting or fly fishing, mountain biking the IMBA Epic Monarch Crest, and soaking in the thermal waters of the Arkansas River Valley.    

Optimize your tub time in Chaffee County by staying at one of the following destinations: Antero Hot Springs Cabins, Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa, Merrifield Homestead Cabins & Hot Springs, or Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Each boasts its own personality and charm, as well as a variety of thermal waters to kick back in and relax after all that outdoor adventure. Just passing through? Don’t miss the family-friendly Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center, home to one of the largest indoor hot springs pools in the country.

For those looking for a way to experience a unique take on Chaffee County, spend the day exploring Browns Canyon National Monument. Afterward, make time to catch a flick at the vintage, outdoor Comanche Drive In Theater—one of only 305 drive-ins left in the United States.

SAGUACHE COUNTY

Splashland Hot Springs in Colorado

1 HOUR 5 MINUTES – 64 MILES / 103 KM

Continue on the historic hot springs loop southbound to Saguache County. Only a short drive from Chaffee County, it’s here you’ll discover the tallest sand dunes in North America at the aptly-named Great Sand Dunes National Park.

While these vast deposits of sand are worth a visit in themselves, there is a treasure trove of hot springs waiting to be explored here in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Consider staying in a tipi and enjoying an exclusive fine-dining experience at Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa, or opt for a quiet morning at the clothing-optional Valley View Hot Springs. Sand Dunes Recreation offers guests a particularly luxurious experience in the middle of the San Luis Valley: the Greenhouse, a geothermal pool where you can order tapas, craft beer, and wine. Families won’t want to miss Splashland Hot Springs, an Alamosa institution dating back to the 1950s with several seriously fun slides.

After you’ve sampled the best of Saguache County hot springs, seek some solitude in the nearby Baca National Wildlife Refuge. This 93,000-acre preserve is an ideal setting to photograph migratory birds and resident wildlife, and enjoy the variety of ecosystems that make up the wild San Luis Valley.

PAGOSA SPRINGS

Healing Waters Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs

1 HOUR, 46 MINUTES – 95 MILES / 153 KM
MORNING

Your road trip continues to the beloved southern Colorado mountain town of Pagosa Springs. Popular in the winter thanks to its proximity to the legendary Wolf Creek Ski Area, summertime visitors are often drawn by a series of local, easily-accessible waterfalls. And nearby Chimney Rock National Monument—showcasing an astounding 118 known archaeological sites dating back to the time of ancestral Puebloan people—is not to be missed.

As always on this road trip, you’ve got options when it comes to lodging and soaking in Pagosa Springs. Those who prefer a resort experience will love the nationally recognized The Springs Resort, where 24 mineral pools are artfully designed and sourced around a mother spring—recognized as the deepest in the world. Otherwise, catch some shut-eye in the cozy cabin-style rooms at Healing Waters Resort & Spa. For those hoping to drop in without a reservation on their way through town, try Overlook Hot Springs Spa. Here, rooftop pools offer great views of historic downtown Pagosa Springs for yet another take on the diverse Colorado hot springs experience.

 

DURANGO

Durango Hot Springs in Colorado

1 HOUR, 13 MINUTES – 60 MILES / 97 KM

Just over an hour down the road sits the celebrated, historic mountain town of Durango. A center for  adventure in the well-traveled four-corners region, Durango draws visitors year-round. Don’t miss a train ride on the 141-year-old Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad—arguably the best way to enjoy a double-dose of history and views of the pristine San Juan Mountain views during your time in Durango.

Get off the beaten path by spending a day at Purgatory Resort. In the wintertime, this ski resort flies under the radar while receiving 260 inches (660 cm) of snow annually. And in the summer, there’s even more to do on the mountain including an alpine slide, mountain coaster, lift-accessed downhill mountain bike trails, hiking, and more. Once you’ve had your fill of gravity-fed fun, head to Durango Hot Springs. This luxurious destination has amenities for all types of visitors. Thirty-two different mineral pools, cold plunges, a swimming pool, and private, cedar-planked soaking tubs offer a particularly romantic retreat in the Animas Valley.

 

OURAY

View of Box Canyon Lodge in Ouray, CO

1 HOUR, 48 MINUTES – 70 MILES / 113 KM

After your time in Durango, continue north over Red Mountain Pass to the town of Ouray. You’ll be driving on the Million Dollar Highway—one of Colorado’s most scenic roads that demands you keep your eyes on the yellow line! Take your time to pull over (where safe) to take in the views and appreciate the thin mountain air at over 11,000 feet. Once you wind down to the relatively low elevation of Ouray at 7,800 feet, consider an afternoon at Box Cañon Falls Park and Nature Center. With a variety of hiking trails culminating at a roaring 285-foot waterfall, this is definitely a must-see feature for any southwestern Colorado road trip!

Just like with the photo opportunities, there is no shortage of geothermal offerings in this part of the state. Overnight at one of the local lodges: Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings, or Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs. Each of these historic properties has a European vibe with their own special twist on soaking, from vapor caves to waterfalls. For those in a hurry to make it back to reality, you can always squeeze in a quick workout and swim combination at Ouray Hot Springs Pool & Fitness Center.

 

CARBONDALE

Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs in Carbondale, Colorado

3 HOURS – 133 MILES / 214 KM

The next stop on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop is the town of Carbondale. Nestled into the heart of the Roaring Fork Valley between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, this up-and-coming hub has a lot to offer, from great restaurants and easy lodging to its convenient location. Not only is it within striking distance of the world-famous photography locales of Maroon Bells and Mushroom Rock, but hidden gems abound. Take a scenic guided horseback ride at Redstone Stables, or cast a line in the blue-ribbon Roaring Fork River that runs right through town.

When it comes to soaking, the family-owned Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs in the adjacent Crystal River Valley delivers on views and serenity. Open year-round and for both day visitors and overnight guests, it’s part basecamp for adventure and part restorative retreat. Avalanche Ranch features all-natural geothermal waters with added health-boosting minerals, so you’ll depart feeling renewed and ready to tackle the remainder of the loop.

 

GLENWOOD SPRINGS

Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

23 MINUTES – 13 MILES / 21 KM

Only 23 minutes away is Glenwood Springs, a hamlet for hot spring fun located just off Colorado’s main thoroughfare. Don’t be discouraged by the proximity to the highway—there’s plenty of room in the three hot springs located within city limits!

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort boasts a gargantuan pool with a diving area, lap lanes, and room for kids to play. It even has a “river ride” that simulates a whitewater rafting experience! Alternatively, the river-side Iron Mountain Hot Springs features 32 soaking pools, each ranging in personality and healing properties, in addition to a family-friendly pool. For a truly different experience, don’t miss the 130-year old Yampah Spa. Their steam baths are located underground, creating a series of vapor caves that offer a full-body detoxifying experience. Cold water spigots provide a respite from the heat, as does rotating between the caves and the outdoor deck.

After all that soaking along the Colorado River, see the landscape from above via the newly renovated Glenwood Gondola. This 10-minute tram ride up the side of Iron Mountain offers stunning views of the Roaring Fork Valley and Mount Sopris in the distance. Keep your eyes peeled for birds of prey! If you have time to go further afield, Colorado National Monument is two hours west. A legendary monument to take in towering red rock formations and spot bighorn sheep, you will also find world-class mountain biking, hiking, and camping nearby.

 

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Old Town Hot Springs near Steamboat Springs, Colorado

2 HOURS, 10 MINUTES – 115 MILES / 185 KM

The final stop on your grand Colorado hot spring tour is Steamboat Springs. Located right on the banks of the Yampa River in the northwestern corner of the state, Steamboat Springs is popular year-round for mountain bikers, skiers, and families looking to spend some time playing in the mountains. Often combined with Rocky Mountain National Park, Steamboat Springs has miles of trails, great dining and shopping, and two sensational hot springs.

Start right in town at Old Town Hot Springs, where no reservation is required to drop in and enjoy a variety of amenities. The pair of 230-foot water slides will delight kids of all ages, while adult-only soaking pools offer a quieter option for discerning guests. The other option is Strawberry Park Hot Springs—a beautiful finale for your geothermal Colorado adventure. Here, intricate stone masonry provides a gorgeous natural setting to kick up your feet and reflect on the past week. (Pro tip: travelers with kids will want to book a reservation during daylight hours, when clothing is required!)

The best under-the-radar destination in the Steamboat Springs region is arguably Dinosaur National Monument; one of the only places in the United States where you can view dinosaur bones still embedded in sandstone. Petroglyphs, river rafting, hiking, and camping are all at your fingertips in this monument. Continue your road trip westward to Dinosaur if you have time, or reluctantly turn the rental car back towards Denver International Airport (and Rocky Mountain National Park) to begin your journey home.

 

 

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