What comes to mind when you think of Colorado in the winter? Rocky Mountains covered in snow, world-class skiing, and endless breweries? What about hot springs?
The same geological forces that made Colorado a spectacular mountain paradise also created more than 90 hot springs in the state. Ranging from undeveloped natural springs rife for discovery to the largest hot spring pool in the world, there’s a hot springs destination in Colorado for every traveler.
When planning your visit to Colorado this winter, it’s likely that snow activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice climbing are at the top of your list.
But be sure to schedule some time to warm up and soak your sore muscles in one of the many natural hot springs around the state.
Sitting in a natural hot tub that’s being heated by volcanic activity in the earth while snow falls around you is a uniquely Colorado winter experience you can’t miss.
Choose from a wide range of experiences with our guide to Colorado’s best hot springs — from family-friendly resorts to clothing-optional camping.
1. OURAY HOT SPRINGS
Ouray has been called the Switzerland of America, and for good reason. The town is surrounded by towering mountains that mimic the extreme peaks of the Alps.
Ouray Hot Springs offers sweeping views of the surrounding 13,000-foot mountains from a convenient location in town on Main Street.
The springs are sulfur-free — meaning smell-free — and rich in minerals just like the surrounding mountain peaks that drew miners looking for gold and silver.
The location is family-friendly, with a large steaming pool and a children’s play area. There are also separate areas for adults to swim, soak, and relax.
In the colder months, the temperatures are kept from 96-106 degrees, making it an ideal warming pitstop at the end of a long day of winter activities in the surrounding mountains.
2. SAND DUNES POOL
For a change of scenery, check out the Sand Dunes Pool near Great Sand Dunes National Park. In addition to the swimming pool fed by a deep artesian well kept around 98-100 degrees and a hotter therapy pool at 106 degrees, this dune-view hot spring also offers tent and RV camping.
You can explore the towering dunes by day, soak in the naturally-warmed waters in the evening, and park your campervan or compact RV overnight.
Sand Dunes Pool has recently added “the Greenhouse” — a covered hot spring-fed, adults-only pool area with multiple soaking tubs, a large pool, sauna, and a bar.
There are 10 hookup sites and 10 dry sites to choose from. Campers are offered a discount on using the pool and facilities. Sandboards can also be rented for your day of adventure in the dunes.
3. STRAWBERRY PARK HOT SPRINGS
When visiting Steamboat Springs, a hot springs soak is a must. Just a 15-minute drive north of town, Strawberry Park offers a laid back, rustic hot spring experience with multiple developed stone pools with a sandy gravel bottom (unlike the more “swimming pool” feel of other options).
In the winter, brave souls can dunk themselves in the freezing mountain creek that runs through the property in between hot soaks for a polar bear plunge experience. The pools closest to the source are the hottest, with the coolest option still a toasty 102 degrees.
After sunset, the park becomes an adults-only and clothing optional affair. You may need a flashlight or headlamp to light your way if you plan to stay after dark, as they keep the lighting dim.
If road conditions are bad, 4-wheel drive or snow tires may be required for the drive from Steamboat Springs to Strawberry Park.
Reservations are currently required to control crowds and allow space for social distancing.
4. GLENWOOD HOT SPRINGS
Glenwood Hot Springs is perhaps the most famous in Colorado because of the sheer size of its main pool, which makes it the largest hot springs pool in the world.
Glenwood Hot Springs is about an hour from Aspen to the south and Vail to the east. After a long day of skiing or snowboarding some world-class mountains, what better way to unwind than in the world’s largest hot pool?
The main pool is larger than a city block, and multiple Olympic-sized swimming pools could fit inside. It’s kept at a comfortable 90-degree temperature year-round, fed by the Yampah Springs in the Glenwood Canyon.
Yampah is a name given to the springs by the Ute tribe, and it means “Big Medicine” – appropriate for the magnitude of Glenwood Hot Springs pool as well as the medicinal benefits of soaking in its natural waters.
This is another family-friendly option, and also a bit of a tourist destination in itself. Situated between some of the premier ski resorts in the country makes this the perfect après ski destination.
5. IRON MOUNTAIN HOT SPRINGS
If you’re in Glenwood Springs but not looking for the huge pool or kid-friendly vibes of the Glenwood Hot Springs, relative newcomer Iron Mountain Hot Springs might be the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Instead of an oversized pool, Ironwood offers 16 separate smaller pools kept at higher temperatures with age restrictions. Their larger family pool allows kids and is kept at a lower 94 degrees, but the resort’s focus on quiet and relaxation makes it more geared for adults.
Visitors over 21 can drink alcohol while soaking in the natural hot tubs (although no glass is permitted). An on-site café serves food if you work up an appetite, and fire pits add to the cozy atmosphere on powder days.
The property is set along the Colorado River, and each of the pools provides views of the river as well as nearby Iron Mountain.
6. VALLEY VIEW HOT SPRINGS
A far cry from the tourist crowds and huge pools of Glenwood Hot Springs, Valley View Hot Springs is an isolated and remote hot springs resort in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, about 45 minutes south of Salida.
Many visitors here take advantage of the secluded location and the bathing suit optional policy of the resort, creating a hippie, back-to-nature vibe.
Seven pools of varying temperatures and sizes are spread throughout the property. Four of them are in the woods, and accessible by short trails through the wilderness.
Valley View is closed for most of December, but reopens in time for New Year’s festivities, making it a perfect late winter getaway for those who are comfortable with the human form and looking to get away from it all.
Cabins, camping, and primitive RV sites are available and can be reserved two weeks in advance as a non-member (members can make a reservation three months in advance). The resort also offers communal bathrooms, showers, and fire pits.
7. JOYFUL JOURNEY HOT SPRINGS
If you find yourself near Salida in the San Luis Valley seeking hot springs, but the nudist vibes are just a little too natural for you, check out the many experiences available at Joyful Journey.
You can enjoy amazing views of the Sangre de Cristo range from the naturally heated pools, weekend yoga, and art classes.
Native American tribes consider this region to be sacred and the energy of the earth is said to emanate from the waters that spring from it. The pools are varying degrees of hot, from 98 up to 108 – the hottest one considered therapeutic for those suffering from arthritis or other joint or muscle conditions.
Massage and other spa services are also available, making this a relaxing pitstop in between adventures. This is another hot springs destination that offers camping, from RV and tent sites to tipis and yurts.
8. MT. PRINCETON HOT SPRINGS
If you’re looking for a resort-style experience, look no further than Mt. Princeton Hot Springs.
Located 15 minutes from the charming town of Buena Vista, 2.5 hours from Denver, and surrounded by classic Colorado mountains, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs offers lodging, restaurants and bars, a full spa, several large pools plus natural rock pools along Chalk Creek.
The resort is historic, and the mineral pools and original bathhouse are from the 1800s, though it has also been expanded and modernized. Soaking in the natural creekside pools is an unforgettable experience. With multiple pools and even a waterslide, this is a great option for families.
The Best Ways to Enjoy a Colorado Winter
With so many unique hot springs experiences in Colorado, you are sure to find at least one or two perfect pit stops for a little rest and relaxation in between your outdoor adventures.
Hot springs are the perfect way to rejuvenate your body after a whole lot of mountain fun. They’re also the most amazing and adventurous way to keep warm in the snowy winter months.
And despite being home to the world’s best skiing, you don’t have to be a downhill skier to enjoy Colorado winters. Colorado winter activities go well beyond the ski slopes.
From snowshoeing to ice climbing, fat biking to cross-country skiing, there’s something for everyone. You can even ride on a dog sled, take a snow coach to a high-altitude eatery, or of course, soak in a natural, bubbling hot spring.