Photo: Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock

Relax and Rejuvenate at These 8 Alpine Colorado Hot Springs

Colorado Steamboat Springs Aspen Colorado Outdoor Hiking Epic Stays
by Tim Wenger Oct 16, 2023

Nothing caps an epic alpine excursion like a soak in a thermal hot spring. Colorado is one of the best places in the country for exactly that experience, with dozens of spring-fed hot pools scattered across the Rockies from Steamboat Springs up north to Pagosa Springs down south. Each location is different, and that goes for both the pools themselves and the experience of visiting (and sometimes traveling to) each.

Before you hit the road, take a second to get up to speed with the best practices for visiting Colorado hot springs. The hot springs below are on a mix of private land (as is the case with hot springs resorts) and public land. Either way, they aren’t your home, so loud noise, obnoxious behavior, and nudity (outside of specified times and locations) are not acceptable or permitted. Always follow Leave No Trace principles and pack out everything you pack in (including empty beverage containers). Colorado hot springs etiquette is to not overcrowd the pools — give people space, and don’t overstay your welcome.

No matter which part of the state you plan to visit, here are the best Colorado hot springs resorts and primitive hot springs pools.

Now, let’s get soakin’.

The best wild Colorado hot springs

Piedra River Hot Springs (Pagosa Springs)

Piedra River Hot Springs are the “hack” of Colorado hot springs. North of Highway 160 between Pagosa Springs and Durango, this natural soak is hidden alongside the Piedra River and is reachable via a one-mile hike from the parking area. There are multiple pools available for soaking during most of the year, though in particularly low-water times (often late summer and early autumn), some areas may be too low for comfort. Spring is the best time to visit, once the snow has melted from the trail. The pools will be at their deepest and the warm water feels great after a day spent hiking in brisk mountain air.

How to get to Piedra River Hot Springs: Drive 20 miles west of Pagosa Springs on Highway 160 (or 40 miles east from Durango). Turn onto County Road 166 just past Chimney Rock. Continue up the dirt road for 6.7 miles. You’ll see the parking area at the intersection with Monument Park Road. Hike one mile from the Sheep Creek Trailhead.

Radium Hot Springs (Kremmling)

radium hot springs in colorado

Photo: Flystock/Shutterstock

Just west of Kremmling, Radium Hot Springs is among the most picturesque of wild Colorado hot springs. There’s one pool tucked off the Colorado River, and it’s hardly ever visited by anyone other than locals — probably because few others how to get there. But it’s a chance to soak near the Colorado Rover headwaters overlooking the river basin with the mighty Rockies rising on both sides. You’ll need Chacos, Keen river shoes, or the equivalent to pass the hike to get here.

How to get to Radium Hot Springs: You’ll need an AWD or 4WD vehicle. Exit Interstate 70 onto Highway 40 north. At Kremmling, turn left onto Highway 9. Proceed for two miles to Trough Springs Road and turn right. Proceed for 12 miles until it hits a 4×4 road, and follow the road for about a mile to the river. Park, make your way down to the river, and walk upstream for a couple minutes until you see the hot spring pool underneath a rock outcropping.

Traveling in Colorado? Check out Matador’s Colorado accommodation guides to the best places to stay across the state: 

Conundrum Hot Springs (Aspen)

conundrum hot springs colorado

Photo: Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock

In the Maroon Bells Wilderness outside Aspen, Conundrum Hot Springs is Colorado’s most epic — but you have to work for the reward. Reaching Conundrum requires an 8.5-mile hike with 2,400 feet of elevation gain. Fortunately, Mount Sopris, The Maroon Bells, and the rest of the Elk Mountains are your backdrop for the hike, which literally couldn’t be more beautiful.

Because of the effort of reaching Conundrum, many people opt to camp in the vicinity and make an overnight trip out of it. Because of this, the springs can turn into a bit of a party scene after dark on busy evenings. There is now a permit system in place for camping, due to issues with overcrowding in recent years. For the most peaceful experience, start hiking at dusk and plan to hit the springs in the late morning.

How to get to Conundrum Hot Springs: From Aspen, turn right at the Highway 82 roundabout onto Castle Creek Road. Proceed for five miles and turn right on Conundrum Road. Proceed for 1.1 miles to the trailhead parking area. Pparking is prohibited along Conundrum Road and you will be ticketed or towed, so only park in the lot.

The best Colorado hot springs resort stays

Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Photo courtesy Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa
Photo courtesy Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Now and then, something that once was, becomes something much better. The newly refurbished Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa proves this. The resort just north of the southwest Colorado town of Durango came under new ownership in 2020. This brought with it $14 million in renovations that have transformed the tired Trimble Hot Springs into a pristine mountainside relaxation oasis with 32 hot spring pools, two cold plunge tubs, and multiple food and drink options.

There’s also plenty for kids to do, with the entire east side of the resort dedicated to families. I visited with my wife and two-year-old daughter on a fall afternoon and the springs were a perfect compliment to the nearby hiking along Cascade Creek. Temperatures in the pools range from lukewarm to roasting, and it’s easy to alternate between them without feeling like you’re awkwardly encroaching on other parties (something that is rife in other, more swamped, hot springs resorts).

How to get there: From Durango, head 10 minutes north along the scenic Highway of Legends. Turn left at Trimble Lane, and you’ll see the parking area. From Grand Junction, head south on Highway 50, which becomes Highway 550 past Montrose (the same Highway of Legends), with the total drive taking about 3.5 hours.

The Springs Resort (Pagosa Springs)

pagosa springs hot springs

Photo: Victoria Ditkovsky/Shutterstock

Pagosa Springs hot springs tops many of a list of visitors’ “must-see sights” in Colorado. And the Springs Resort & Spa, downtown on the San Juan River, is an ideal setup for a relaxing mineral bath getaway. With 24 riverside geothermal baths ranging in temperature from lukewarm to the roasty “Lobster Pot,” you’d have to stay a weekend in order to try each one. The property also has a cafe and spa, and hotel guests can use the pools 24 hours a day.  If you’re not staying there, you  can buy a day pass online to use the pools on a reservation basis between 9 AM and 10 PM.

Insider’s tip: Add a dose of Scandinavian flare to your experience by moving from the hot springs to the much colder river, then back into the springs. It’s basically a homemade Scandinavian spa experience, and while it may or may not do much for your body, it’ll definitely help focus your mind.

How to get to Pagosa Hot Springs: Take US Highway 160 into Pagosa Springs from either the east (Denver, Colorado Springs, Alamosa) or west (Durango, Grand Junction). Turn south on to Hot Springs Boulevard and proceed for about half a mile. The parking lot will be on your right.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs (Glenwood Springs)

Iron Mountain Hot Springs opened in 2015 on the west side of town as an alternative to the busy Glenwood Hot Springs pools downtown. Similar to The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Iron Mountain Hot Springs offers a collection of small tubs along the Colorado River, each at a different posted temperature. You’ll need a reservation for a three-hour soak, with tickets starting at $40 per person. The resort has 17 pools and the onsite Sopris Cafe offers healthy snacks and smoothies, along with treats for the kiddos.

Insider’s tip: Iron Mountain Hot Springs is one of the only Colorado hot springs resorts that serves beer. It’s in the cafe adjacent to the pools.

How to get thereTake Interstate 70 to Exit 114 (Midland Avenue) in Glenwood Springs. Follow it to Devereux Road and turn left. Drive for two miles and the resort will be on your left after crossing the Colorado River.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs (Steamboat Springs)

strawberry park hot springs

Photo: Teri Virbickis/Shutterstock

Strawberry Park Hot Springs toes the line between wild natural experience and well-maintained Colorado hot springs resort. You’ll need to either book a stay in the onsite lodging options (including mountain cabins, a train caboose, a shepherd’s wagon, or a campsite) or reserve a day spot in advance and pay $20 (cash only) at the door to visit between 10 AM and 10 PM.

The wild part comes in after the sun goes down as that’s when the clothes come off. Strawberry Park Hot Springs is clothing-optional after sunset. Be advised that it gets quite dark, and guests don’t take kindly to people flashing their cell phone lights on them when they’re in birthday-suit mode.

How to get there: From downtown Steamboat Springs, head north on 7th Street. Merge onto Missouri Avenue, then North Park Road, then Strawberry Park Road. Take a left where Strawberry Park Road merges with County Road 36. Follow County Road 36 to the resort.  Note: this road is steep and in winter, is often icy and/or covered in snow. You will need a 4WD vehicle with high clearance capable of off-road driving.

Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa (Moffett)

If you’ve been to Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, you’ve felt the vibe — that eerie, unexplainable, exciting feeling that there’s something more out there much bigger than you out there. (Figuratively, of course. Or literally —  elk are pretty large.) That feeling is why the town of Crestone, just up the road from Joyful Journey Hot Springs, is known as Colorado’s spiritual crossroads. It’s a haven for new-age thought and home to dozens of spiritual sites spanning religions, beliefs, and eras.

This seemingly magnetic pull extends to Joyful Journey, a collection of maintained hot springs (and a motel). It’s a judgment-free place to loosen your mind and soul and — because the place is cannabis friendly —  maybe get inspired for an upcoming run of Dead shows. The pools face the majestic Sangre de Cristos, so whatever your spiritual flavor, it’ll be enhanced by some incredible views.

How to get there: If coming from Denver or Salida, head south on US 285, and turn off onto Highway 17. Joyful Journey will be shortly ahead on your left on County Road 58EE. If coming from Alamosa, head north on Highway 17 to County Road 58EE on the right.

Discover Matador