Fortunately, for those that prefer a more rustic and primitive experience, numerous undeveloped hot springs are still available, although many of these are slightly more difficult to access. These natural geothermal pools provide a more secluded location for bathing, often with incredibly beautiful views of the surrounding natural areas.
Here are 9 of the best natural hot springs in Colorado.
Best Natural Hot Springs in Colorado
Finding natural hot springs of the undeveloped and primitive sort is actually quite hard in Colorado thanks to the prevalence of geothermal spas and resorts. To make the search easier, we’ve rounded up 9 of our favorite natural hot springs that the Centennial State has to offer.
1. Penny Hot Springs
As far as natural hot springs in Colorado go, Penny Hot Springs is easily accessible and just about as scenic as they get.
Roughly 15 minutes from the town of Carbondale, this hot spring is located alongside the gorgeous Crystal River. Several primitive rock-lined pools capture the hot water source and keep the cold river water at bay. Adjust the temperature of the pools by moving the rocks to let in more or less river water. The largest pool is about 20 feet across and 2 feet deep with a sandy bottom.
The source water is roughly 130°F, although most of the pools, especially the ones near the river, are significantly cooler than that. Always test the water temperature before entering to ensure that it’s not too hot for you. Arrive early to beat the crowds as this area is often filled to the brim with visitors in afternoons and on weekends.
Learn more about Penny Hot Springs.
2. Strawberry Hot Springs
Location: Park Range
Honestly, Strawberry Park Hot Springs might just be one of the most beautiful natural hot springs in the entire country.
This quintessential Colorado hot spring isn’t exactly primitive. But despite its built-up rock-lined pools, it still relies on its natural source to fill its five spacious pools with warm, mineral-rich water. Temperatures vary from pool to pool depending on their proximity to the nearby river. The hottest of the pools typically sits around 104°F.
In addition to the rustic pools and lovely surrounding scenery, Strawberry Hot Springs in Colorado is notable for the variety of on-site lodging offered, including rustic cabins, a remodeled caboose, a handful of covered wagons, and a large tent camping area.
Learn more about Strawberry Hot Springs.
3. South Canyon Hot Springs
Location: Glenwood Springs
Nestled deep in the rugged Rocky Mountains, South Canyon Hot Springs is located near the resort town of Glenwood Springs in an area well-known for its abundant geothermal activity.
It boasts just two undeveloped pools that require a short 1/8-mile hike to reach. The primary pool ranges anywhere from 100°F to 112°F so make sure to test the water before entering. The actual size of the pool varies depending on the time of year you visit as well as the recent weather.
Remember that this is a very primitive pool. It’s not developed in any way, although plastic chairs might be available. The area is popular for nude bathing and can be a party hot spot on weekend evenings. Like most popular Colorado hot springs, arrive early or during the week if you prefer to soak by yourself.
Learn more about South Canyon Hot Springs.
4. Radium Hot Springs
Another classic Colorado hot springs, Radium Hot Springs is best for those that prefer a slightly cooler soaking pool as the average temperature hovers around 80°F.
An authentic primitive hot springs experience if there ever was one, the main soaking pool is set alongside a slow-moving section of the Colorado River. Large rocks block off the pool from the river, although an ample amount of river water seeps through, thereby lowering the overall temperature. The large rocks across the river can be jumped across – although doing so is dangerous and you must exercise caution if you decide to participate.
The nearby Mugrage Campground is the ideal place to camp for a few days while enjoying this warm spring. It’s a roughly 20-minute hike away and is notable as a free dispersed camping area.
Learn more about Radium Hot Springs.
5. Conundrum Hot Springs
Location: Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
Few natural hot springs in Colorado are more famous among locals than Conundrum Hot Springs.
Sitting at over 11,000 feet in elevation, not only does it have several spacious, rock-lined primitive pools with warm, mineral-rich waters, but it’s also located in an absolutely beautiful setting deep in the mountains – the only catch? It requires a long and difficult 8.5-mile hike to reach. Luckily, plenty of backcountry camping is available in the surrounding area.
Yet despite the lengthy hike, Conundrum Hot Springs still receives dozens of visitors per day during the summer months. As a primitive geothermal area located deep in the backcountry, it’s incredibly important to pack out all of your trash, go to the bathroom responsibility (including pack all of your fecal waste out), and follow all of the other leave no trace principles. A permit system is now in place to limit the number of visitors and to ensure responsible use.
Learn more about Conundrum Hot Springs.
6. Rainbow Hot Springs
Location: Weminuche Wilderness Area
All lovers of hot springs should plan a trip to the beautiful Rainbow Hot Springs while visiting Colorado.
This primitive hot spring is tucked away along a narrow, fast-moving section of the Colorado River deep in an isolated section of the Weminuche Wilderness Area. It requires a 4.5-mile hike (each way) to access. But the extra effort is well worth it as this is one of the most secluded natural hot springs in Colorado.
Rainbow Hot Springs consists of two main pools. Both are rock-lined and located adjacent to the river. The rock lining captures the warm mineral water but individual rocks can be moved to let it more river water to better adjust the temperature. Both pools are relatively large and hover between 95°F and 105°F depending on a variety of factors.
Learn more about Rainbow Hot Springs.
7. Valley View Hot Springs
Although the springs at Valley View Hot Springs are completely natural and relatively primitive, a small fee is required to use them.
The area surrounding these relaxing hot springs is maintained by the Orient Land Trust. Not only do they help maintain the water quality and temperature of the springs, but they also help minimize the number of visitors to ensure that the springs are available for people to use for years to come. Another goal of this non-profit organization is to keep the surrounding land pristine and to protect the animals that call it home.
As far as the actual hot springs go, you have plenty of different bathing and swimming options to choose from. A number of tubs and pools are available at a variety of different temperatures. Basic amenities include a bathhouse and a sauna, making Valley View the perfect Colorado hot springs for those that prefer something slightly more developed than most.
Learn more about Valley View Hot Springs.
8. Piedra River Hot Springs
Location: Pagosa Springs
Piedra River Hot Springs is another one of the best natural hot springs in Colorado for those that prefer a rustic soaking experience.
They are situated next to the Piedra River and require a short hike to reach. Visitors have several pools to choose from, depending on the pool size and water temperature that is preferred. Like many hot springs next to rivers, you can adjust the water temperature by moving around the rocks to let more or less river water into your pool.
The temperature of these geothermal pools usually hovers around 100°F. They are notable for their mineral-rich waters which many people claim have restorative properties. The remote location makes this a perfect destination for those that love seclusion. This is a clothing-optional area so nudity should be expected.
Learn more about Piedra River Hot Springs.
9. Rico Hot Springs
* Rico Hot Springs is currently located on private land. Using them is no longer allowed unless you have express permission from the property owners.
Rico Hot Springs are a surprisingly well-kept secret for just how good they are for soaking.
Less than 35 miles from Telluride, these mineral pools are small and primitive. They consist of two small manmade tubs that are heated with naturally-warm mineral-rich water. The main tub is usually around 100°F.
Both of the pools that make up Rico Hot Springs are situated alongside the gorgeous Dolores River. Since their discovery, they’ve been a popular destination for in-the-know locals, although they strangely haven’t yet become that popular with visitors.
Learn more about Rico Hot Springs.
Best Hot Springs Resorts and Spas in Colorado
Primitive hot springs offer a truly incredible experience. Bath in their therapeutic mineral waters while enjoying the peace and quiet of their natural settings.
But not everyone wants something so rustic. For those that prefer the most amenities possible, including on-site dining and lodging, a hot spring spa or resort is likely for you.
Luckily, Colorado has you covered. Here are a few of the state’s best hot spring spas and resorts:
- Glenwood Hot Springs Resort – Chief among the best hot springs resorts in Colorado is the ever-popular Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. In addition to the spacious, naturally-heated swimming pool and soaking tubs, this resort complex boasts a lodge with over 100 rooms as well as a variety of other spa and massage services.
- Ouray Hot Springs – Tucked away in the San Juan Mountains, one of the most beautiful and rugged mountain ranges in the United States, Ouray Hot Springs is a veritable paradise for hot spring lovers. The natural geothermal mineral pools range from 75°F to 104°F. Although the majority of the minerals are retained, the sulfur is filtered out to eliminate the sulfuric smell commonly associated with hot springs.
- Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa – First used by the Ute Indians, the source for the modern-day Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa has now been developed into one of Colorado’s go-to hot spring hotspots. 21 mineral baths and pools are available to bath in ranging from 95°F to 112°F.
- Iron Mountain Hot Springs – Located in the town of Glenwood Springs, Iron Mountain Hot Springs draws visitors from around the world. It boasts a plethora of rejuvenating natural mineral pools, including a large swimming pool, in a beautiful and relaxing setting.
- Dunton Hot Springs Resort – Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Telluride, Dunton Hot Springs Resorts is famous for its soothing geothermal pools, absolutely breathtaking natural scenery, and location within a historic Colorado ghost town.
These five hot spring spas and resorts are just the tip of the iceberg in Colorado – there are literally dozens of others, ranging from rustic to completely modern, in the state.