Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort

Always near the top of any attraction list for reasons to visit Colorado are its hot springs.

Here in the Upper Arkansas Valley, there are plenty of toasty springs providing for a relaxing and/or invigorating day or night experience.

A visit to any one of the area’s hot springs can create wonderful memories. Soaking in natural mineral water after a summer hike, a winter ski day, or a successful day of hunting makes for a year-round treat. 

Among the area’s premier hot springs are Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, Cottonwood Hot Springs and Spa and Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center.

Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, located off CR 162 in Chalk Creek Canyon west of Nathrop, features two man-made pools heated by hot springs and a historic 101-year-old bathhouse nestled along Chalk Creek. Its upper pool area includes two additional pools and a 400-foot water slide. The resort offers both kids’ swimming lessons and scuba lessons.

In addition to general access pools, Mount Princeton has opened a premier spa center featuring a large pool that is covered in winter, a series of cascading hot springs pools and a full range of spa services. The $35 spa day pass includes access to all pool areas.

The series of cascading pools allows guests to select their temperature, as the cascade flows from the hottest pool downward, each successive pool a bit cooler than the last.

One of the more famous features of Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort is the many hot springs flowing below the main pool areas directly into the creek. These dozen or so “hot pots” allow guests the special experience of sitting in a hot pool while dipping hands into the chilly waters of Chalk Creek.

“Our hot springs are odorless; its one of the major differences from other hot springs in the state,” said Scott Peterson, Mount Princeton’s marketing director. “People really love staking out a hot pot among the rocks to soak in thermal water, while the cool creek flows next to them.”

The historic Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn and Spa is just off CR 306 west of Buena Vista. Located on the banks of Cottonwood Creek, these historic hot springs first opened in 1878. The resort just completed the remodel of its main lodge. The comfortable setting is considered among Colorado’s most welcoming, more relaxed settings.

Salida’s Hot Springs Aquatic Center is one of the largest indoor hot springs pools in the country. The location includes two large pools at two different temperatures. In addition to soaking and open swimming (there are lap lanes available at all times), recreational options include swimming classes, yoga classes and water aerobics classes.

A unique feature of the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center is the private soaking hot mineral spring water pools

Each pool can accommodate 2-3 people at a time. There is also space for changing and showering, with bathrooms nearby.

This sparkling clear and odorless water was enjoyed by the Ute Indians, who believed it healed mind, body and spirit.

After every use, each private soaking pool is drained, sanitized and yours to refill with fresh chemical free water as hot as you wish.

Reservations are not required, but recommended, and can be made at the pool or by calling 719-539-6738. All reservations must be paid in advance.

On the southern end of this high country vacation mecca is Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa, located in Moffat, at the gateway to the San Luis Valley. The rejuvenating hot springs pool is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and comes with a view of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The hot springs resort includes a variety of stay alternatives, from traditional hotel rooms to RV and campsites to tipis and yurts.

While the major hot springs resorts tend to get the most attention, the valley is home to several smaller hot springs where visitors can enjoy soaking in private. Alpine Hot Springs Hideaway, Antero Hot Springs Cabin and Creekside Hot Springs Cabin are all located in Chalk Creek Canyon below the Colorado Trail that winds along the Continental Divide.

The off-season can be a good time to visit the hot springs along Chalk Creek, when the creeks are running lower so they aren’t engulfing the hot springs pools along their banks.