9 Lesser-Known Hot Springs in Colorado

From family-friendly to vapor caves, add these natural wonders to your list

Colorado hot springs
Getty Images/Thomas Northcut

When the air grows chilly and snow blankets the ground, Mother Nature knows how to combat the cold.

Colorado is home to more than 30 different hot springs. Some are modern and integrated with luxurious spa treatments. Others are outdoors, surrounded by mountains and under the canopy of the sky. From rugged to historical to naked to family-friendly, complete with water slides and waterfalls, Colorado’s hot springs are a highlight for visitors. They're great to visit year-round, from winter to summer. Many are open all year, too. 

Some, like Glenwood Springs, Pagosa Springs and Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat, are well known among locals and visitors.

But there are plenty of other lesser-known hot springs scattered across the state worth a visit, too.

Here are nine Colorado hot springs you may not know about. The last one is more popular, but it has made some notable renovations, so it's worth a revisit.

  • 01 of 09

    Trimble Hot Springs, Durango

    Durango
    Getty Images/Sarah Palmer

    The Trimble Hot Springs in Durango are the only naturally hot waters open to the public in the area north of Durango. The water here is rich in minerals, particularly calcium bicarbonate, with sodium and iron. The pools are chemical free.

    Trimble Hot Springs has a rich history, dating all the way back to Ancestral Puebloans in the years 1000 to 1200.

    The springs were eventually discovered by Frank Trimble (the namesake of today’s hot springs), who is said to have healed his rheumatism and injuries in the healing waters. This led him to build a hotel on site, which eventually evolved into the public pools north of Durango today.

    The other health benefits of hot springs may include increased metabolism, soothed muscles, better sleep, help with arthritis, improved circulation and detoxification, according to the Trimble Hot Springs.

    The water comes from three water wells that reach about 123 degrees, but the water cools by the time it reaches the therapy pools (or else you couldn't sit in it), typically down to about 100 to 110 degrees. The community pool tends to be a bit cooler (rarely above 104); for a hotter experience, head to Half-Moon Pool.

    Can’t handle the heat? The Olympic pool is filled with regular water and only reaches about 82 degrees. It’s a great way to cool off and ideal for younger kids.

    At the Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs, blend your swimming and soaking with massages and other spa treatments for the ultimate in self-care.

  • 02 of 09

    SunWater Spa, Manitou Springs

    SunWater Spa
    SunWater Spa

    SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs is pretty unique — much more than just hot water. SunWater offers yoga, Thai yoga, Watsu (like water shiatsu) and other fitness classes, plus access to a luxurious spa.

    The hot water here is collected in cedar wood tubs, and the temperature is controlled via solar panels. Relax in one of seven public pools, with views of Pikes Peak. Or for a quieter experience, request the one private tub. Don't overlook the spa options, too. Hot springs and spa treatments go hand in hand. 

    Note: Because it’s kept in cedar, the water does have a slight yellow or reddish hue to it, but that’s just the oils of the wood, which is said to have even more additional health benefits. Cedar oil can make the skin healthy and sooth your lungs, the spa says. Plus, it smells lovely. That's not something you usually say about hot springs water (the minerals can sometimes stink like rotten eggs). 

    Mineral water comes from the Seven Minute Spring and is typically between 100 and 104 degrees — so a little milder than many Colorado hot springs. 

  • 03 of 09

    Waunita Hot Springs, Gunnison

    Gunnison
    Getty Images/Gunnision

    Waunita Hot Springs in Gunnison features one of the biggest, private pools in Colorado, entirely filled by geothermal hot springs water. It’s one of the cooler hot springs, at about 95. For a slightly warmer soak, the nearby hot tub is kept around 100. It’s soothing, but not intense.

    Although Waunita is pretty big, it's still not well known, maybe because it's a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Denver.  

    As the name suggests, Waunita Hot Springs has a history dating back to native tribes, who were drawn to the region for the healing waters. Even today, it maintains the historical feeling. The lodge it remote and unplugged.

    This is a great place to go for a weekend getaway. Beyond the hot springs, guests of the lodge can go horseback riding, fishing, hiking, skiing, ride ATVs and more. The soothing waters are a great way to treat your muscles after an active day outdoors. 

    Gunnison itself is all about nature. It includes a national recreation area, national park and plenty of lakes, mesas and places to ski. Visitors looking for an authentic, friendly Western experience will love Gunnison. It's worth the drive for a staycation not too far from Denver.

  • 04 of 09

    Wiesbaden Hot Springs, Ouray

    Hot springs

    Aimee Heckel 

    This isn’t Germany, although it might look and feel like it, at least a little bit from the inside. The Wiesbaden Hot Springs and Vapor Caves are in Ouray, Colorado. This intimate, historic, European-style lodge is even heated via the geothermal water — a whole new level of environmentally friendly living. You can't go in this water if you smoke tobacco to keep the water pure. 

    Wiesbaden is home to an Aveda salon and spa that incorporates the natural hot springs. The vapor caves are a popular attraction. Relax inside these natural, dim, ever-flowing caves inside a 108-degree pool, before or after your massage, body wrap, facial or other spa treatment. Then head to the slightly cooler, outdoor pool, typically kept between 99 and 102 degrees. The dramatic mountain views from the pool are soothing. 

    For something extra special, book time in the private, outdoor soaking pool.

    This water, which reaches temps upwards of 134 degrees (yow!) comes from the San Juan Mountains. It’s chemical free and not re-circulated. The water constantly flows through the pools.

    Plus, there's something otherworldly about hanging out in dim, underground caves.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Avalanche Ranch Cabins and Hot Springs, Redstone

    Avalanche Ranch
    Avalanche Ranch

    This is worth the drive, but you won't want to leave. Stay in a log cabin in Redstone, overlooking the Crystal River, and get 24/7 access to three natural hot springs pools on tiered levels.

    The Avalanche Ranch Cabins and Hot Springs are settled on 36 acres of high-end, mountain camping.

    Go snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, take a ride on a covered wagon, go sledding, hike the trails and go fishing. Wrap up your active day with a dip in the hot springs, not far from the cabins. Sit under a three-foot waterfall, under the dramatic glory of Mount Sopris, and enjoy the view and remote relaxation in nature’s warm waters.

  • 06 of 09

    Antero Hot Springs Cabins, Nathrop

    Mount Princeton
    Getty Images/chapin31

    Guests at the Antero Hot Springs Cabins in Nathrop have their own private hot springs pool, right outside the door of their cabin.

    These large, hand-shaped pools are filled with water from a 135-degree hot springs pool on the Antero property. The soaking pools tend to be around 100 to 112 degrees, but if you need to cool it off, each tub has a cool water faucet, so you can adjust the temperature to your liking. Of course, since these hot springs are private, clothing is optional.  

    Bonus: Antero’s hot springs, in the beautiful San Isabel National Forest, have a low concentration of sulfur, which means they don’t have that strong, rotten-eggy odor that some sulfur-high mineral water has.  

    Choose from a variety of different sized cabins, including a chalet with a full kitchen, fireplace and grill that can hold up to 10 guests. All cabins feel remote and private, surrounded by massive rock cliffs, near a creek and wetlands and settled between Mount Antero and Mount Princeton.

    While here, go fishing, biking, skiing, hiking and looking for wildlife. 

  • 07 of 09

    Desert Reef, Florence

    Desert Reef Hot Spring in Florence, in south central Colorado (not Italy), is a hot springs getaway in Royal Gorge County. The proximity to the famous Royal Gorge Bridge and the surrounding activities (a dinosaur museum, whitewater rafting, ziplines, hiking) makes this hot springs a great part of a full adventure. 

    This hot water was actually discovered by Conoco Oil drilling, not an earthquake or other natural cause, like many other springs. The water Conoco found was 132 degrees hot, but by the time it’s in Desert Reef’s pools, it’s cooled to about 100 degrees in winter.

    One appeal to this hot springs is it’s only about 90 minutes from Denver and less than an hour away from Colorado Springs. Also, the environment is different than you might expect in Colorado. Instead of mountains and cliffs, this water is surrounded by desert (hence the name).

    The hot springs features a waterfall, large deck and mild weather year-round. It’s also low in sulfur, which is good news to people with sensitive noses. 

    Note: This hot springs claims to be both family-friendly and clothing-optional — European style.   

  • 08 of 09

    Orvis Hot Springs, Ridgway

    Orvis Hot Springs

     Aimee Heckel

    Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway is another clothing-optional hot springs. A highlight here is its Lobster Pot hot springs, named for its extreme temps that peak at 114.

    If that’s not your style, there’s plenty more to choose from. Orvis, in the San Juan Mountains, has seven hot springs pools with temps from 98 to 112 degrees. Each has a different mineral content, too, so you get seven uniquely different hot springs experiences at this one location.

    Check out the gravel-bottom pond (the source of the hot water), or stand under a waterfall and get massaged by the hot, rolling water. Sit on the underwater rock bench, or alternate your hot dip with a cold plunge. The grounds here are immaculately manicured, with colorful flowers and trees that wind through a garden that feels like the Garden of Eden. The naked bodies lying around add to that feeling, ahem, Adam and Eve. 

    Or head indoors, where you can find two private pools for people who want to get out of the elements or be nude in privacy. 

    Note: Orvis is tech-free, meaning leave your smartphone or iPod in the car or in one of the lockers.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Ouray Hot Springs, Ouray

    Ouray Hot Springs
    Getty Images/Matt Inden/Miles

    The Ouray Hot Springs in Ouray is much bigger and better known, but it underwent substantial renovations in the past few years. So even if you think you know this hot springs, you might not know it anymore. The multi-million dollar project improved the infrastructure, waterfalls and more, as well as added a new bathhouse. 

    This hot springs is great for families and features a slide, lap lanes, obstacle course, water volleyball, a diving board and a shallow area with benches for kids. It has all kinds of different ways to play and get active while soaking in the minerals of the water. 

    The sulfur-free Ouray Hot Springs boasts three different pools of different temps (from 80 to 105 degrees).

    Ouray County itself is a hot springs paradise, with five different springs, each unique but all relaxing. Not to mention the views. Ouray is built in a valley, surrounded by mountains on every side that earn it the name "the Switzerland of Colorado."