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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

  • Soaking amid mountain scenery at the Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa in Saguache County, Colorado
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    Saguache County: Mountain Splendor and Supreme Stargazing

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

  • Colorful landscaping surrounds a plunge pool at Durango Hot Springs & Spa
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    Durango: A Vibrant Downtown Surrounded by Mountain Wonderlands

  • Bathing in a hot spring in Ouray, Colorado
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    Ouray: The Scenery of Switzerland, the Adventures of Colorado

  • Enjoying thermal waters and snowy surroundings at Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs in Redstone, Colorado
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    Carbondale: A Designated Colorado Creative District

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

  • Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
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    Steamboat Springs: Family-friendly Destination in the True West

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

Colorado’s Hot Springs Loop: Relaxation, Adventure and Scenic Drives

  • Route distance:
    1,200 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 1,200 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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Family fun at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Chaffee County, Colorado
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Chaffee County: Soaking Up Central Colorado

Your starting point, Chaffee County, is about three hours from Denver, so pick up a rental car when you arrive at Denver International Airport (DEN) and prepare for a ride full of magnificent mountain views. Chaffee County boasts the highest concentration of 4,200-meter 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 well-rested for the drive to your next stop, the mountain oasis of Saguache County.

142 km
2.25 hours by car
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Soaking amid mountain scenery at the Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa in Saguache County, Colorado
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Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

Saguache County: Mountain Splendor and Supreme Stargazing

The San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains signal your arrival in Saguache County, a vast destination known for starry skies, eclectic towns and geothermal pools. The county’s name (pronounced “Sa-watch”) comes from the Ute language; interpretations including “blue earth” and “sand dune,” hint at the region’s natural wonders. Abundant and varied recreation areas here permit trail sports, camping, fishing and other unique adventures.

Go sand sledding in Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, visit historic sites along the Old Spanish Trail and gaze at celestial wonders at one of several International Dark Sky Places. Saguache County is one of the least populated areas in Colorado – you’ll notice the absence of traffic lights – and the night skies over the San Luis Valley offer some of the best stargazing sights in the world. Experience the evening spectacle from one of Saguache County’s many hot springs. Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa, Sand Dunes Swimming Pool, Splashland Hot Springs and Valley View Hot Springs welcome you to unwind in warm, mineral-rich waters. Enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep before moving on to the charming town of Pagosa Springs.

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148 km
2.25 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, 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 ancestral Puebloan people 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. A drive to Durango is ahead, promising picturesque views of mountains and canyons.

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97 km
1.25 hours by car
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Colorful landscaping surrounds a plunge pool at Durango Hot Springs & Spa
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Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

Durango: A Vibrant Downtown Surrounded by Mountain Wonderlands

Find Durango in an adventure-rich region known as the Four Corners, where southwestern Colorado meets neighboring states Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The area’s dramatic landscapes provide recreation opportunities in all seasons. Top activities include mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, horseback riding, skiing and dog sledding. Nearby, Mesa Verde National Park and the San Juan National Forest offer additional avenues for discovery. Arrange a ranger-led tour of Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see cliff dwellings and learn about the Ancestral Puebloan people who lived there over 1,400 years ago.

Stroll through downtown Durango, a National Historic District, to shop, dine and admire 19th century architecture. Durango is both a thriving college town with modern amenities and a historic community with deep Western heritage. For a taste of the town’s distinct culture, take a scenic ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge steam train, and then sip Colorado beer at a local brewery. Thirteen kilometers north of Downtown Durango, set against the picturesque Animas Valley, Durango Hot Springs & Spa is a soothing spot to recharge after a lively time in town.

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113 km
1.75 hours by car
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Bathing in a hot spring in Ouray, Colorado
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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.

304 km
3.5 hours by car
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Enjoying thermal waters and snowy surroundings at Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs in Redstone, Colorado
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Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop

Carbondale: A Designated Colorado Creative District

Make your way to the Roaring Fork Valley for a wellness retreat in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Carbondale’s setting at the base of the snow-capped Mt. Sopris and along the Roaring Fork River makes it an inspiring destination for open-air fun. Try cross-country skiing, ice climbing and fat-tire biking in winter, or go road biking or mountain biking in the warmer months. The region’s Gold-Medal Waters offer fantastic fly fishing.

Carbondale was founded on cattle ranching and farming, and the community’s agricultural roots continue to thrive. Local food production, much of it organic, sustains farm-to-table restaurants in and beyond town. Carbondale is also a designated Colorado Creative District, where makers of all interests draw inspiration from the magnificent landscape. The quaint downtown is an inviting place to enjoy galleries, art walks and annual events. Enhance your day of exploration with a plunge at Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs. The grounds feature tiered natural pools that blend seamlessly into the scenery of the Crystal River Valley. Savor the tranquility as you plan your upcoming trip to Glenwood Springs, also known as the Land of Water.

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21 km
0.5 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 calm 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 Resort 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 more than two dozen soaking pools right along the Colorado River – the location and views are unbeatable. Don’t miss the thrill rides, cave tours and aerial gondola ride at the USA’s only mountaintop theme park, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. There are plenty of great lodging options in town. Sleep well, because you’re traveling to Steamboat Springs next.

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