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12 Essential Springs of SW CO: Soak Your Summer Sores

12 Essential Springs of SW CO: Soak Your Summer Sores

Piedra Hot Springs
Built out right in the Piedra River, temperatures are regulated by diverting frigid river water and hot spring water with rocks.

As if we aren't spoiled enough already with soaring mountains, tumbling rivers and four glorious seasons. But Southwest Colorado is nothing less than an embarrassment of treasures, and few things will make you feel richer than relishing the pure bliss of a naturally-fed hot spring.

From primitive pools found deep in the forest to umbrella-bedecked cocktails at a resort, there's a hot spring waiting for you. Whether you feel you've earned it or not, fall is a great time to get your soak on. Here's a list of some of our favorite spots to check out next time you're wanting the perfect complement to an adventurous day - or simply an excuse to take a different kind of adventure.

FREE (but you'll earn it):

Rainbow Hot Springs: Because nothing good comes easily, you'll need your hiking shoes and plenty of water for this hot springs excursion. Drive 16-miles north of Pagosa Springs on Highway 160 towards Wolf Creek Pass. Before you reach Treasure Falls, look for a sign on the left side of the highway for West Fork Campground (CR-648). Drive seven miles to West Fork Trailhead for the start of a five-mile hike through downed trees as a result of the West Fork Fire.

Along the way, wildlife, newly-sprouting grass and waterfall sightings remind you that life goes on. Your reward is your choice of campsites near a couple of hot springs found along the San Juan River. Rainbow Hot Springs can either be swamped with others seeking isolation just like you, or a total win: the place all to yourself. For more details, click here. Roundtrip journey: moderate, 10-miles, 1,955-feet elevation gain. On-leash dogs allowed. Best season: April till September. Clothing optional. 

Piedra River Hot Springs: On the other side of Pagosa Springs lies the Piedra River Hot Springs, another hike-to and clothing-optional destination for soakers. Best visited after the snow has melted, take Highway 160 from Durango to Pagosa Springs. Turn left before Chimney Rock turnoff onto First Fork Road/CR-166/USFS-622. Follow this dirt road 6.7-miles to Sheep Creek Trailhead. Built by stacking stones to block out the cold river water, these hot springs are constantly altered by visitors, but, like any primitive soaking spot, be sure to clean up after yourself, taking only photos, leaving only footprints - or new pools. Roundtrip journey: 3-miles. For more info, click here.

FREE (and almost too easy):

Rico Hot Springs: You've probably driven past this little oasis (emphasis on little...) on your way from Durango to Telluride. After leaving Rico on Highway 145, take a right on the gravel road before the bridge. Take the next left on a small road leading to a metal building. A short walk takes you to the first of two pools on the banks of the Dolores River; the second one is found 100-yards upstream. Details found here.

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Truth be told, there are no "cheap" hot springs in Southwest Colorado. There's free, moderately expensive, and then there's luxury. I suppose cheap would be the equivalent of taking a bath in your own home. You'll pay for it, but you'll hardly notice your water bill. Moving on.

$$:

Ouray Hot Springs Pool: This regional classic first opened in 1927 and was renovated in 2017. Open year-round, this sulfur-free pool is great for families, or post-adventure clean-up, if you're looking for a shower and a good place to recap under the awe-inspiring cliffs around Ouray. Located at 1230 Main Street, Ouray. Call 970.325.7073 for more information. Open Monday through Friday, 12:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. and on weekends from 11:00 a.m. till 9:00 p.m. Clothing required. $18/adults, $12/kids. Group rates available.  

Orvis Hot Springs: Don your swimsuit - or not - for Ridgway's totally nude or clothing optional, naturally-landscaped hot spring pools. Relax outside in one of four pools, or soak in your choice of an indoor pool or two private tubs. Located at 1585 CR 3, Ridgway. Open daily 9:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m. $22/adults all-day, $18/1-hour soak, $12/children 4-12, Free/children 3 and under. Fully-remodeled rooms are available for lodging, as are RV/tent camping options. Please check the website for further details. Call 970.626.5324 for reservations.

Trimble Hot Springs: The local’s choice. This family-friendly location 8.5-miles north of Durango celebrates an outdoor, Olympic-sized pool open April till October, heated to 81-degrees, and two therapy pools over 100-degrees year-round. Saunas and a full spa are available for anyone looking for that extra level of pampering, or simply kick it with a picnic on the shaded, grassy lawn. Get the kids into swim lessons, and enjoy free access with their fee. Located at 6475 CR 203, Durango. Call 970.247.0212. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. till 9:00 p.m. and Tuesday's till 8:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and a week during spring and fall. Clothing required. $19/adult, $13/child, $12/senior, $3/3 and under. Local rates with ID - $15/adult, $11/child, $11/senior, $3/3 and under. Best deal: 10-punch pass for $130.

Overlook Hot Springs: If big resorts and noisy crowds aren't really your thing, check out Pagosa's other hot springs option across the street. The aptly-named Overlook Hot Springs overlooks historic downtown Pagosa Springs from their array of relaxing rooftop or indoor pools. Coupons can be found in fliers throughout town. Wine and beer are available for purchase at the front desk, and massage treatments can be booked by calling 970.264.4040. Located at 432 Pagosa Street, Pagosa Springs. Open year-round daily from 10:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m. and Friday & Saturday till 11:00 p.m. Swimsuits required. Private tub room available by reservation for $60 per hour for two people. Otherwise, $14/adults, $9/child or senior.   

$$$:

The Springs Resort: While this is considered a pricier option, The Springs actually offers the most affordable (manicured) hot springs access in the region with $8 entry fees offered on Tuesdays. But with food, beverages, spa treatments and lodging also available on-site, this year-round soaking destination gets bumped up to nearly first class. It's also in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world's deepest geothermal hot spring, recorded 1,002-feet deep - at least! With 23 pools and temperatures ranging from 83 to 114, bring the family or enjoy time for two at this well-developed resort spilling into the San Juan River. For an extra fee, take advantage of five “Deluxe” adult-only pools. Located at 165 Hot Springs Blvd, Pagosa Springs. Call 970.264.4168. Open daily from 7:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m, and from Memorial to Labor Day till midnight. Clothing required. No outside alcohol or glass containers. Local rates (residents within 60-miles of Pagosa Springs) $8 on Tuesdays; $14/adults, $11/children under 13 from Wednesday through Monday. Otherwise, rates range from $26 to $53, with monthly passes available, too.

Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings: Renowned for their alluring vapor caves found in the basement, the casually-elegant Wiesbaden is the perfect stay-cation getaway for couples looking for a bit of romance. While the caves and outdoor pool are open to the public for up to 3 hours at $15 per guest, you can enjoy unlimited use of both and a discounted fee at the Lorelei private hot spring ($75/hr for non-guests & $35/hr for guests). With off-season just around the corner, take advantage of the winter/spring special from October 15 till May 15. Receive $35 off any room, a complimentary 1-hour soak in the Private Lorelei Hot Spring and $25 off massage treatments. Specials valid Sunday through Thursday. Located at 625 Fifth Street, Ouray. Call 970.325.4347. Lodging Rates: $129-$345.

Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs: Mountain views and mineral pools are the name of the cozy game at Twin Peaks Lodge. To soak in the only hot springs in Ouray that touts 24-hour access, call 970.239.4715, or check out their website for rates and all the details. Located at 125 3rd Ave, Ouray. 

Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs: The best of all worlds, the Box Canyon Lodge boasts excellent service, prime location and private hot springs for hotel guests. For rates, please visit the website or call 970.325.4981. Located at 45 Third Ave, Ouray.

$$$$:

Dunton Hot Springs: You'll think you died and went to ghost town heaven when you feast your eyes on this rustic chic paradise nestled in the mist and pines of the San Juan National Forest. Dunton Hot Springs is the only resort in Colorado to be awarded the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, and for good reason. Lavish decor, stone fireplaces, hand-hewn log cabins and natural pools dotted throughout the property both contrast and fit the surrounding wilderness. Your stay also includes organic, locally-sourced food and beverages. Your phone won't work here, so unwind with someone you love, or reserve the entire town for up to 44 people. We won't spoil your reverie with a price tag, but let's just say someday you should totally treat yourself to this.

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