On a recent cold Colorado winter night, we leave the warmth of the bath house and scamper across the frigid sidewalk dotted with patches of ice and snow, clinging to our towels. “Which one are we going to?!” I eagerly ask my friend Nikki, who’s scampering alongside me. We make a beeline for the nearest cloud of steam rising from the ground, toss our towels aside and gingerly step into the steaming hot water, lowering our chilled bodies into its warmth.
This scenario played out time and again as Nikki and I spent a few days visiting a handful of the 19 natural hot springs found in the Rocky Mountains along the 720-mile Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop.
Natural hot springs are essentially nature’s hot tubs: Hot water filled with minerals flows from deep inside the earth, bubbling up to the surface through springs and rivers. This natural phenomenon happens throughout the world, and soaking in the mineral-rich waters has long been believed to increase wellness and promote relaxation.
Here we take a look at the hot springs we recently visited in Colorado, all of which are open year-round and the perfect places to soak aching muscles from myriad outdoor activities, or to simply soak your cares away. And here’s an insider’s tip: pack a bathrobe and a pair of flip-flops no matter the season; both will keep you comfortable when going from one tub to the next.
Three historic hot springs can be found in Glenwood Springs, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains between Aspen and Vail, and about a three-hour drive from Denver.
The underground hot springs vapor caves at the Yampah Spa, the only known natural vapor caves in North America, opened for commercial use in 1887. Inside the caves’ three rock chambers, 125-degree water flows through the floors, creating a natural hot mineral water steam bath that averages 110 to 112 degrees in temperature. Upstairs, mineral baths and spa treatments compliment the cave experience.
Glenwood Hot Springs opened in 1888 and features the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool filled with water from the Yampah spring (Yampah means “Big Medicine” in the Ute Indian language), from which 3.5 million gallons…