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  • Relaxing in the Strawberry Hot Springs pool in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
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    Starting Point: Steamboat Springs, Family-friendly Destination in the True West

  • Family touring Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
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    Glenwood Springs: Water, Water Everywhere

  • Aerial view of the town of Ouray, Colorado, and the Ouray Hot Springs Pool
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    Ouray: The Scenery of Switzerland, the Adventures of Colorado

  • Hot air balloons floating over Pagosa Springs, Colorado
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    Pagosa Springs: The Deepest Hot Springs in the World

  • Family fun at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Chaffee County, Colorado
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    Chaffee County: Soaking Up Central Colorado

Aerial view of U.S. Highway 550, Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway, near Ouray
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Mike Boruta

Colorado’s Historic Hot Springs Loop: Spring-hopping, Relaxation, Adventure and Scenic Drives

  • Route distance:
    1465.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Whether you’re visiting for the legendary winter ski season or enjoying the sunny summer weather, you can count on Colorado’s abundant natural hot springs any time of year.

Colorado’s Historic Hot Springs Loop traverses more than 1,100 kilometers around the state’s beautiful pools of naturally steaming mineral springs, where you’ll find outstanding outdoor recreation along with charming resort towns for the ultimate vacation experience.

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Relaxing in the Strawberry Hot Springs pool in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
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Starting Point: Steamboat Springs, Family-friendly Destination in the True West

Steamboat Springs is three hours from Denver, so pick up a rental car when you arrive at Denver International Airport (DEN). Be sure to take pictures of the distinctive rock outcroppings at Rabbit Ears Pass as you approach Steamboat Springs. Known for having some of the best snow sports in the USA, Steamboat is also a bastion of American Western heritage. If you’re not on the slopes, you can visit a dude ranch, see a rodeo, participate in a real cattle drive and pick up an iconic Stetson cowboy hat. Kids and adults alike will love the myriad outdoor activities, from skiing in the winter to tubing on the Yampa River in the summer. After all that play, there’s nothing quite like soaking in the Old Town Hot Springs. Heart Spring, the main pool, pumps more than 800 liters of water per minute at a steaming 39 degrees Celsius. There are eight pools in all, as well as two slides, an aquatic rock wall and playgrounds open seasonally. Nearby, the hot springs at Strawberry Park offer a more rustic experience among the towering mountains and aspen trees. Book a massage treatment before heading out to Glenwood Springs, the Land of Water.

183 km
2.5 hours by car
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Family touring Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
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Glenwood Springs: Water, Water Everywhere

The road to Glenwood Springs can be as tranquil or thrilling as you want. If you’re in an all-wheel drive vehicle in the summer and the weather is good, the Flat Tops Scenic Byway takes you through unpopulated wilderness and high mountain passes on an unpaved road. It’s a real adventure if circumstances allow it. Otherwise, enjoy the mountain scenery as you head to Glenwood Springs, a haven for year-round outdoor activities: hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding and water sports on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers. Glenwood is also known as the Land of Water for water-centric features like the Yampah Vapor Caves, a natural underground steam room, and the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. The “big” pool at Glenwood Hot Springs contains more than 3.7 million liters of bathtub-temperature water, while the smaller therapy pool offers a restorative soak in the warmer 40-degree Celsius water. Just down the road, Iron Mountain Hot Springs has soaking pools right on the Colorado River – the location and views are unbeatable. Don’t miss the thrill rides, cave tours and aerial tram ride at the mountaintop Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. There are plenty of great lodging options in town. Sleep well, because you’re traveling to “Switzerland” next. 

283 km
3 hours by car
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Aerial view of the town of Ouray, Colorado, and the Ouray Hot Springs Pool
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Ouray: The Scenery of Switzerland, the Adventures of Colorado

Situated in a narrow valley almost completely enclosed by jagged mountain peaks, the old mining town of Ouray (rhymes with “hooray”) has earned it the nickname the “Switzerland of America.” As with other nature-loving Colorado towns, Ouray has plenty of ways to play outside, from off-roading and fly fishing in warmer months to backcountry skiing and ice climbing at the Ouray Ice Park in the winter. Ouray’s five hot springs are sulfur-free and range from an updated family-friendly facility (with pools of varying temperatures, an activity pool and lap swimming) to naturally landscaped pools, vapor caves and private soaking options. Hikers looking for a challenge can venture up the Old Horsethief Trail to the Bridge of Heaven, boasting some of the best bird’s-eye views of the imposing landscape. A less strenuous option is to hike some or all of the Ouray Perimeter Trail, an easy eight-kilometer path offering photo-worthy views of the city’s landmarks and surrounding mountains. On your way to the next destination, visit the ghost town of Ironton, where several ramshackle buildings stand as a reminder of the town’s gold-mining history.

210 km
3 hours by car
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Hot air balloons floating over Pagosa Springs, Colorado
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Pagosa Springs: The Deepest Hot Springs in the World

The drive to Pagosa Springs takes you through the lush scenery of the San Juan National Forest. Once in Pagosa Springs, you’ll see how the town’s slogan, “Refreshingly Authentic,” rings true, especially when you soothe your body and spirit at the three downtown hot springs facilities. Take in views of the San Juan River while enjoying a hot soak at The Springs Resort & Spa, relax in a rooftop tub at Overlook Hot Springs, or go for a swim and stay in a mountain cabin at the Healing Waters Resort & Spa. Explore the surrounding national forest and wilderness areas featuring more than 1,000 kilometers of trails. Learn about the ancient Pueblo Indians who once inhabited the sacred grounds of Chimney Rock National Monument, which now hosts solar eclipse and lunar events among the ruins. Browse the small art galleries and antiques shops in downtown Pagosa Springs, take photos of the historic buildings, then grab a pint of locally handcrafted beer with a casual meal. Warm weather in Pagosa Springs brings tubing to the San Juan River. Try it if you’re in town during the summer. Your final stop is ahead, and the relaxed atmosphere will be the perfect end to your journey.

More information
225 km
2.5 hours by car
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Family fun at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Chaffee County, Colorado
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Chaffee County: Soaking Up Central Colorado

Chaffee County boasts the highest concentration of 4,200 meter (14,000 feet) mountain peaks in the state – 12 in all. It’s comprised of 80 percent protected public lands and boasts 100 percent natural and odorless hot springs. The towns to visit are Salida, Buena Vista and Nathrop, historic mountain towns with a laid-back atmosphere and loads of free or inexpensive outdoor activities. With the Arkansas River flowing through the cities, water sports are especially enticing. Soaking in Chalk Creek at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Nathrop is a can’t-miss experience. Hot springs bubble up right into the cool creek water. Sit in one of the small pools made by stone circles, and if you get too hot, just pull off a stone to let in more cold water. Mount Princeton also has multiple hot springs pools, a historic bath house, a 122-meter water slide and relaxing spa treatments.

You can also spend some time relaxing and enjoying the swimming and soaking pools at the public Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center, touted as the largest indoor hot springs in North America. Book your final overnight stay at Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa. You won’t find late-night parties or noisy crowds here – just a peaceful hot spring and comfortable lodging with stunning mountain views. You’ll be relaxed and rejuvenated for the drive back to Denver, about three hours from Buena Vista.

Official Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop Travel Site

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The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway travels to Pikes Peak’s summit

Destination

Colorado Springs

Denver Union Station at dusk

Destination

Denver

The historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train hugs a mountain

Destination

Durango

Winding road through the Colorado National Monument landscape

Destination

Grand Junction

View out from Balcony House, a 13th century cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park

Destination

Cortez

Hiking along the Blue Lakes Trail in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness area

Destination

Telluride

Fly-fishing on the East River

Destination

Gunnison Valley