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Soak it all in on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

Back in 2016, representatives from five Colorado destination marketing organizations got together and brainstormed; what did they all have in common? It wasn’t long before Glenwood Springs, Ouray, Pagosa Springs, Chaffee County, and Steamboat Springs came to the realization that each of their destinations all have long histories of hot springs.

Looking at a map, you can connect the dots with these five locations. These destinations did the very same, officially forming a 720-mile loop, aptly naming it the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop (CHHSL).

Visiting the world’s deepest hot springs during my first week of work

For the past several years, I’ve worked for the public relations firm that does the project management for the loop. On my second day of work, I even embarked on a four-day road trip, where we were able to stop at every destination.

With over 19 different hot springs attractions and facilities, the CHHSL is an amazing piece of Colorado tourism. As a hot springs connoisseur myself, I love this loop and the amazing diversity at each and every stop. If you ever find your way to Colorado, this scenic road trip is an incredible way to experience the state through its healing waters, with a little something for everyone.

5 Incredible Destinations

These incredible destinations are located in the western part of Colorado, connected by incredible drives and scenic byways.

Glenwood Springs

I’m lucky enough to live nearby Glenwood Springs, and am even luckier to have an intimate knowledge of the area’s hot springs. There is immense history in this valley, as Native Americans considered the geothermal waters sacred and healing. The historic sandstone bathhouse in town is a reminder of Glenwood’s booming past, welcoming former presidents, outlaws, and world-renowned figures to the hot springs and the also-historic Hotel Colorado.

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The three hot springs facilities offer completely different experiences. Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is the world’s largest hot springs pool—the size of a football field, and has a family-focused vibe (especially with the recent addition of the Sopris Splash Zone), along with the award-winning Spa of the Rockies. Iron Mountain is an incredibly relaxing experience, with 16 smaller soaking pools overlooking the Colorado River (we usually take visiting guests here). Yampah Vapor Caves has the only naturally occurring vapor caves in North America, and has a rich and sacred Native American history.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs in the evening
Photo: Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

Hot Spring Sites

Chaffee County

Within Chaffee County, the towns of Salida, Nathrop, and Buena Vista await, each with their own unique hot springs. In addition to the stunning geothermal waters, Chaffee County is known for its incredible access to the Rocky Mountains; the Collegiate Peaks—a mountain range with more 14,000′ peaks than any other county in Colorado—is both breathtaking and ready to be explored.

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Photo: Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

There are several hot springs in Chaffee County. Mount Princeton is a high-caliber resort with a spa, showstopping mountain views and river hot pocket soaking. Cottonwood Hot Springs is a low-key and rustic option with crystal-clear waters. The Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center is home to the country’s largest indoor hot springs pool, with private tub opportunities as well.

Hot Spring Sites

Pagosa Springs

Located in southwest Colorado, Pagosa Springs is a quiet town with endless recreation possibilities. It’s surrounded by the Weminuche Wilderness, San Juan National Forest, and the majestic San Juan Mountains and is packed full of history. Wolf Creek Ski Area is famous for getting the most snow in Colorado each year, Chimney Rock National Monument is close by, and Pagosa’s aquifer holds the official world record for the deepest hot springs in the world.

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Photo: Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

The Springs Resort and Spa sits on the banks of the San Juan River, featuring 23 small mineral pools, a hotel, and a full-service day spa; note: hotel guests get 24-hour soaking access. Healing Waters Resort and Spa is non-pretentious, affordable, and offers lodging. Overlook Hot Springs is housed in a Victorian building downtown, with outstanding rooftop views overlooking the San Juan Mountains.

Hot Spring Sites

Ouray and Ridgway

Known as the “Switzerland of America,” Ouray is a small mountain town in southwest Colorado, with Ridgway less than a few miles away. These towns are an iconic vision of the state’s mountain scenery, with endless opportunities to explore—hiking, Jeeping, ice climbing, or walking through the quaint downtown areas.

Ouray Hot Springs 2018
Photo: Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

Ouray Hot Springs is a gorgeous facility with historic local roots; my first-ever hot springs experience was here with my family, when we decided to take a day-trip on New Year’s Day. It has an iconic oval shape and in-your-face mountain views. Orvis Hot Springs is a secluded clothing-optional facility that has lodging and a technology-free policy. There are also private soaking experiences and vapor caves at lodges and hotels in the area.

Hot Spring Sites

Steamboat Springs

Known for its trademarked Champagne Powder snow and its western heritage, Steamboat Springs is a recreational paradise. Chad and I have traveled to Steamboat to celebrate several special occasions, including a wedding anniversary, birthday trip, and beer festival.

old town

I have been lucky enough to collaborate with both of Steamboat Springs’ famed hot springs. Old Town Hot Springs is a multi-use, family-oriented complex with water slides and a splash-friendly vibe. Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a secluded and rustic site with more of a low-key, all-natural setting. Both are amazing and fun in vastly different ways.

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Hot Spring Sites

Road Trip Fever

For more information about the CHHSL, head to colorado.com/hotspringsloop.  Where will you start your hot springs loop journey?

P.S. If you do intend to travel the CHHSL, let me know! I’ll meet you in Glenwood Springs and join you for a soak.

 

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25 thoughts on “Soak it all in on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

  1. This is a great guide. Will need to make a trip to Colorado, this would be a great trip for my little ones.

    1. I’ve found Colorado to be incredibly camper-friendly! My parents recently got an Airstream, and it’s been so fun to tag along to several of these destinations, with the hot springs all close by. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. This is such a useful guide, I loved reading it! I’ve always wanted to go to Colorado! Thanks for sharing your experience! 🙂

    melissakacar.blogspot.com

  3. This looks like such an amazing trip to take! How wonderful to be able to take advantage of naturally occurring hot water, what a treat. Fab post, lucky you to be the PR for the loop 🙂

    1. They are definitely set in some of the most scenic areas I’ve ever seen, which is incredible. I hope you’re able to visit some day! Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a kind comment.

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