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Melnq8 Feb 7th, 2010 12:51 AM

Colorado Hot Springs - where to go?
 
I'll be in CO for a few weeks in April to visit family. I'm a former CO resident, so I know the state pretty well, but I'm not familiar with the various hot springs.

I'm looking for a good place to relax and enjoy the hot springs for a few days, but I can't decide where to go. I'd prefer to avoid large pools (like Glenwood). I'll be based in Colorado Springs, but drive distances aren't an issue (weather providing of course).

I thoroughly enjoyed Ouray a few years back - loved the small outdoor hot tubs at the Box Canyon Lodge surrounded by forest - something similar would be ideal.

Places I'm considering are Mt Princeton (near Buena Vista), Pagosa Springs, and Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat.

I'd appreciate any feedback on any of these (including lodging) and/or suggestions on others to look into.

martym Feb 7th, 2010 03:52 AM

How about Hot Sulphur Springs--lots of pools of different temperatures-spa services. There is lodging there-tho we have never stayed there. http://www.hotsulphursprings.com/

furledleader Feb 7th, 2010 12:09 PM

I've never soaked at Mt. Princeton, so I can't tell you anything beyond what the website would. I have been to Pagosa Springs and Strawberry Park, but never stayed at their associated accommodations. I have stayed at Hot Sulphur Springs.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs is an idyllic and rustic hot springs area with 4 large pools located in Hot Springs Creek approximately 6 or 7 miles west of Steamboat Springs. The last 2 - 3 miles of road to this springs is on what is generally a well maintained, yet somewhat winding, dirt road that during the summer is accessible with a passenger car. During winter though, driving this road is restricted to vehicles with 4-wheel drive or tire chains. Due to the number of vehicles in the past that have become stuck along this route during snowstorms (or before the county has cleared the snow from the road) and needed to be towed out, the local law enforcement authorities are VERY strict about this rule and will fine you very heavily if they find you driving this route without the proper vehicle or equipment (think $250), and will fine you even more heavily if you become stuck (think $1,000). That said, the road is usually plowed within 24 - 48 hours after a snowstorm, and easily passable with a standard 4WD vehicle and some common sense. The alternative is to use one of the many shuttle services from town to Strawberry Park.
Strawberry Park Tours: 970-879-1832
Sweet Pea Tours: 970-879-5820
Alpine Taxi: 970-879-TAXI
Parking at Strawberry Park is limited (maybe 20 vehicles at most in their small parking lots) and parking along the road is forbidden, making the shuttle option even more attractive to some. Strawberry Park is primitive when compared to the Steamboat Springs Health & Rec Center in downtown Steamboat, but the natural masonry-walled hot springs pools setting right in the middle of Hot Springs Creek is absolutely idyllic. A trail about 100 yards long takes you from the parking area and ticket booth down to the river. Because the length of this trail is unlit at night, it is imperative to bring a flashlight if you will be there after dark. If you forget a flashlight, a small (and barely adequate) one can usually be purchased at the ticket trailer for about $3 if they haven't run out of stock that day. On very cold days (or nights), the length of this trail can chill you well before you reach the water, or return to your vehicle. Bringing warm clothes to change into after soaking in the pools in frigid temperatures is a must, even though those clothes will be cold by the time you are ready to put them back on.
There are no lockers at Strawberry Park. A trail to a new restroom facility forks off to the right from the main trail about halfway to the pools. The only heated changing area is about three-quarters of the way down the main trail, has only 2 partitions, and acts as a massage room during the day. A large, unheated, non-partitioned teepee and a small open air, unheated building at the bottom of the trail also provide areas to change. If it is cold out, I would suggest wearing your swimsuit under your clothing until you reach the teepee or building at the bottom of the trail, and then just take off your clothes down to your swimsuit and get into the water as quickly and safely as possible. The bottoms of the pools are hard-packed sand and very comfortable in bare feet. The steps and walkways in and around the pools are stone, and can be slippery and icy in cold temperatures. After dark (and because there are no lights down by the pools it becomes REALLY dark), use of the pools is restricted to adults over the age of 18, and the wearing of swimsuits becomes optional. Yet don't expect a naked bacchanalia after dark. Most people retain their suits, and those that don't are generally far from ostentatious about it.
On-property cabins are available for rent, but are rustic. Check the website for details. Don't expect televisions.
No credit cards accepted.

Pagosa Hot Springs (aka The Springs Resort) (Pagosa Springs)
http://www.pagosahotsprings.com/
(165 Hot Springs Blvd.) Taking U.S. Hwy 160 into downtown Pagosa Springs it’s hard to miss the steam and vapor rising from the Pagosa Hot Springs, just south of the highway and across the San Juan River. If you don’t see it though, just turn south off of Hwy 160 (Pagosa St.) at 4th St., which turns into Hot Springs Blvd just before it crosses the river. Take the bridge across the river and the hot springs will be there on your right.
One of the top 3 hot springs in Colorado IMHO – on so many levels. I just wish I was able to visit this very nice hot springs more often, as it just seems to have so many of the quintessential aspects of what I picture a hot springs to be. Aesthetically pleasing, there are 15 separate pools of various sizes and water temperature terraced creatively on the gentle bluff of the south bank of the San Juan River, and another 3 pools actually anchored right in the river. In addition, there is a 225 square foot, 95 degree Jacuzzi pool that spills its water into an adjacent 85 degree swimming pool large enough to accommodate lap lanes.
Water temperatures vary from a “cool” 83 degrees to a scalding 114 degrees F. The pools that edge into the river are some of the coolest as they merge the hot springs water with the cold mountain river water. The San Juan River flowing through Pagosa Springs is popular for other recreational pursuits, and as you soak in the spring’s pools it’s not unusual to see rafters and kayakers paddling by, or fly fishermen plying the currents for some of the big brown and rainbow trout that prowl its pockets and runs.
There are separate, heated, men’s and women’s changing lockers, and shower facilities in the strikingly attractive bathhouse. This Mediterranean style building has radiant heated tile floors that keep your toes-ies warm even in the deepest cold of winter, and a map of the pools displaying their hourly-measured temps. If you forgot your towel, you can rent one here…and even rent a robe if the fancy strikes you. If I lived in Pagosa Springs I’d seriously consider selling my backyard hot tub and just buy a yearly pass to this beautiful springs.
The on-site Springs Resort Hotel offers about 50 rooms of varying size and accommodation. It’s heating and hot water system are geothermically derived from the hot spring and the rooms are appointed with custom designed furnishings. Springs Resort Hotel guests enjoy a separate, exclusive entrance to the hot springs as well as 24 hour access. The on-site spa and salon offer a wide range of comfort amenities.
Just down the road is the Spa At Pagosa Springs (http://www.pshotsprings.com/)
offering its own lodging facility of about 15 rooms. There is a mineral spring swimming pool, outdoor soaking tub, and indoor baths on-site, all open to the general public as well as guests.
A wide range of other lodging opportunities run the gamut from chain motels/hotels to B&B’s, to guest ranches.


Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa (http://www.hotsulphursprings.com/) is on the western end of the little county seat of Grand County, just before Hwy 40 enters Byers Canyon. Turn north off Hwy 40 at either Park St. or Aspen St. Go 1 block to Spring St. and turn left. Cross the bridge over the Colorado River and then cross over the railroad tracks. Ample parking is available on site
One of my favorite hot springs areas because it is little known, and a little out of the way. With 22 pools (including a solarium pool, therapy pool, & summer swimming pool) located on a hillside overlooking the Colorado River between Granby and Kremmling, this spa facility also offers such amenities as massages, herbal wraps, & hot rock therapy. The pools vary in size from secluded 2 person pools to those able to hold 20 or more. Most of the pools are lined either with tile or hard plastic. The natural, hot spring water is heavily infused with lithium and sulphur (so be forewarned about the odor). There are heated men’s & women’s locker/changing/shower/restroom areas. Check out http://www.discovercolorado.com/deals/activities.php (or click on the “lodging” tab of the resorts website) to check if they are offering a $4 off per person coupon online to the hot springs.
There is an on-site motel, and a cabin for rent. Because the spas owners want to encourage an atmosphere of rest and relaxation, the motel rooms have no TV, phones, or radio. Yet the spas motel lies within half a block of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad tracks and on any given night up to 3 freight trains can rumble through, disturbing the rest & relaxation of any but the most sound of sleepers.
Other lodging exists within an easy walk including the eclectic and quaint Riverside Hotel (with slanting floors and antique-paraphernalia covered walls), the historic Stagecoach Inn Bed & Breakfast, the Canyon Motel, and the Ute Trail Motel (the latter two offering discounts to the hot springs with an overnight stay).
Fine dining can be found at the Riverside Hotel (no credit cards accepted) – most nights depending upon the whims of the owner, who may also be your maitre de, waiter, and chef. The County Seat Grill & Pub is casual and offers a good selection of American comfort foods.


So..... if it's quiet, peaceful and "away from it all" that you want, I'd say Strawberry Park, hands down - just remember the on-site lodgings are somewhat rustic. You could find lodging in Steamboat Springs if Strawberry Parks' lodgings aren't to your liking.

Pagosa Springs' hot springs are right across the street (and river) from downtown Pagosa Springs, so you won't find it as quiet & peaceful as Strawberry Park, but the lodging is much less rustic.

Hot Sulphur Springs is somewhere in between Strawberry Park and Pagosa Springs as far as "quiet & out-of-the-way" go, but the on-site lodging is ascetic, and the noise of the trains at night can be a deal breaker.

Melnq8 Feb 7th, 2010 02:03 PM

Wow, furledleader, that's fantastic! Thank you so much for taking the time to post all the details. I didn't realize a 4WD was needed for Strawberry Park, although I can certainly see why.

Pagosa Springs Resort does indeed look very nice on their website. I've been through Pagosa many times, but have never bothered to stop. I guess it's time I take a closer look.

I'll take a look at Hot Sulphur Springs as well.

Thank you!

Melnq8 Feb 7th, 2010 03:34 PM

furledleader -

Do you have a specific lodging recommendation at Hot Sulphur Springs? Are the trains an issue with all town accommodation or just at the resort and spa itself?

furledleader Feb 7th, 2010 07:17 PM

I don't recall the trains being as much of an issue the times we stayed at the Riverside Inn as they were when we stayed at the hot springs lodging - but I don't know why that would be since the Riverside is maybe only a block further away from the tracks than the hot springs lodging. I just don't remember it being an issue. Since the Stagecoach Inn B&B, Canyon Motel, and Ute Trail Motel are even further away from the tracks, I imagine the noise is even less of an issue there.

I've never stayed at the Stagecoach Inn. The Canyon Motel and the Ute Trail Motel are just very basic family owned single level motels - nothing fancy. The Riverside Inn is.........different. It's like staying in Hot Sulphur Springs in the 1890's. It's not "fancy", but it is clean, comfortable and quaint.

coloraotours Feb 7th, 2010 07:54 PM

I vote strongly for Mount Princeton, especially since you don't want drive to far Mnt.Princeton is one of my favorite hot springs in Colorado, and I've been to most of them, I take tourists there, plus I drive from Colo Sprgs. So I know that road should be fine in April.
Also just for one evening you can go to Dakota Hot Springs, though it's closing optional except for Tuesdays. Just 40 minutes south on HWY 115 to town of Penrose.

Melnq8 Feb 7th, 2010 09:54 PM

Thank you both.

coloratours - Is there a reason Mt Princeton is your favorite? Have you stayed there overnight? Any comments on the accommodation?

I've not heard of Dakota Hot Springs, I'll give it a google.

Melnq8 Feb 7th, 2010 10:02 PM

Interesting about Dakota Hot Springs...admission is higher for men than for women? Maybe it has something to do with being clothing optional...

Vttraveler Mar 21st, 2010 05:59 AM

I am bringing this thread up again in hopes that someone can provide more details on the Mount Princeton hot springs and resort. We are thinking of staying there in late May for one or two nights.

martym Mar 21st, 2010 08:40 AM

I assume you've looked at their website http://www.mtprinceton.com/ If so, if you could be a little more specific as to the details you want more info on, you will probably get some helpful responses. Or, if you don't get responses, you might want to start a new thread to ask your questions.

Vttraveler Mar 21st, 2010 08:50 AM

Yes, I have looked at the web site. I am wondering about how the restaurant is (quality and price). Also I assume Nathrop is very small and would have a limited selection of other places to eat? The resort seems to be somewhat isolated which is both a pro and a con

martym Mar 21st, 2010 01:35 PM

You are correct, the resort is somewhat isolated, but has a gorgeous setting. The food at the restaurant is not outstanding, IMO--but is ok and not what I consider expensive. Here is a website I found with their menu (don't know how recent it is). There is no where to eat in Nathrop--it is basically a gas station and a little store, as I recall.

Buena Vista is the closest town--it is about 10 miles away

here are websites for three Buena Vista restaurants (there are others)

http://www.mothersbistrobv.com/

http://www.eddylinepub.com/

http://www.globalgarage.org/Menu.pdf

Salida is about 20 miles away and has some good restaurants--here are three of the many.

http://www.laughingladiesrestaurant.com/

http://www.thebutcherstable.com/

http://amicassalida.typepad.com/ I love their pizza.

Hope this helps.

Vttraveler Mar 21st, 2010 03:15 PM

Thanks for the info on eating options. It does look like a beautiful spot, and the rooms are reasonable.

martym Mar 22nd, 2010 03:19 AM

Oops--here's the website for the Mt Princeton restaurant http://www.restauranteur.com/princetonclub/

Vttraveler Jun 13th, 2010 07:55 AM

A quick report back for anyone looking for hot springs info on this thread in the future: we did spend one night in one of the "cliff side" rooms at the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs resort in late May. It is a spectacularly beautiful spot and we enjoyed our short stay. The hot spring pools were closed due to spring run off but we soaked in the bigger pools in the late afternoon and the next morning. We ate dinner at the restaurant and it was fine but anyone staying longer might want to venture out to Buena Vista or Salida for some variety.

We were disappointed that the Laughing Ladies Restaurant in Salida was closed the next day--it looks good.

Melnq8 Jun 14th, 2010 05:30 PM

Thanks for reporting back Vttraveler!

coloraotours Jul 27th, 2010 11:01 AM

I'm glad you went to Mnt Princeton! I've been there too at the end of May. So, we might have been there at the same time and have seen each other in the pools :))


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