Colorado is blessed with lots of healing waters. Here are our picks for après-anything soaking.
1. Glenwood Springs
Three hours west of Denver on I-70, this historic resort at the intersection of the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers was once a rough-and-tumble place, hosting guests as diverse as Teddy Roosevelt and Al Capone. Before them, Ute Indians resided here, wintering by the large natural hot pool and steam caves. They called the mineral waters yampah, which translates to “big medicine.” Nowadays, the area is full of amenities, plus opportunities for outdoor adventure in every direction. The main attractions remain the Hot Springs Pool (more than 2 blocks long) and Yampah Spa Vapor Caves. Info: visitglenwood.com
2. Strawberry Park Hot Springs
Head 7 miles north of Steamboat Springs to find this series of outdoor soaking pools with an au natural feel. While some hot springs are reminiscent of a swimming pool, here you’ll bask in rocky grottoes surrounded by evergreens; massage and watsu body therapy round out the experience. Note: at night, it’s adults-only and bathing suit optional (strawberryhotsprings.com). Looking for something a little more kid-friendly? head to Old Town Hot Springs in downtown Steamboat, which features waterslides and a climbing wall (oldtownhotsprings.org).
3. Hot Sulphur Springs
This quiet complex west of Grand Lake features a series of small, soothing pools, some blazingly hot. We like moving from warm to roasting, then going back the other way and finishing off with a tingling-cold shower. We also recommend the Canyon Motel on the main drag (I-40) in town. It’s a modest looker inside and out, but it is one of the friendliest places we’ve ever slept, thanks to an owner who goes the extra mile. More info: hotsulphursprings.com, canyonmotelcolorado.com
4. Pagosa Springs
Also favored by the Utes, this area’s name comes from the tribe’s word for “healing waters.” Located 20 minutes from New Mexico, the town is surrounded by millions of acres of pristine wilderness, national forest, and ranch land. The hot springs complex has a hotel and spa, and the 22 pools overlook the San Juan River (some from feet away). Try the waterfall pool, where a good pounding from the falling water provides delightful therapy for sore shoulders. Info: pagosahotsprings.com
5. Conundrum Hot Springs
No crowds, no chemicals, no fee, and they’re the most scenically blessed hot springs in Colorado. So what’s the catch? To get to these pools above 11,000 feet in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen, you must hike 8.5 miles on rugged trail. Google a photo of the place though, and you’ll see why it’s become a pilgrimage site for backpackers. Hiking directions and map: backpacker.com/article/12356