Vacationland: Splish Splash Ahhh — Hot Springs

The Ute Indians were said to be the first to enjoy the stress-relieving healing properties of the geothermal springs that percolate from the within the volcanic matter of the Rocky Mountains.

Settlers began enjoying the springs in the late 1800s. Near the turn of the century, many of the water rights were reserved and pool facilities began to be developed in various gold mining communities.

Springs with the Glenwood Hot Springs pool that was built by Walter Devereux in 1888. During the 1940s, the pool and nearby Hotel Colorado operated as a U.S. Naval hospital for injured World War II veterans.

The springs in Ouray also have a long history.

The town of Ouray was first known as “Uncompaghre,” a Ute word meaning “hot water springs.” Chief Ouray was known to have lived near the Weisbaden Hot Springs and used them often.

As the miners, and later the railroad, brought more people through the area, the business of hot springs also developed.

At the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs in Ouray, the springs were opened to the public as a healing sanitarium in 1925. Since then, it has had a number of owners and remodels. The current lodge is on part of the original property and offers terraced tubs on the mountainside.

Western Colorado’s hot springs themselves are as varied as their histories.

The water filling the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs in naturally high in sulfur and other therapeutic minerals.

The water at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is sulfur- free and thus, smells nicer.

Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway is known for being “clothing optional,” but also for its unique lithium water. Some think lithium is a mood enhancer and provides a feeling of tranquility for those who soak in the waters.

Hot Tips for Hot Springs

• In winter, many soakers prefer to wear a knit hat to keep their ears and heads warm, especially when snow is falling.

•g Take quarters. Most of the hot springs locker rooms have coin-operated lockers.

Some also have massaging bubble chairs that require quarters.

•g Wear sunblock, even in the winter. It’s easy to forget that the sun’s rays are magnified by the water and the likelihood of getting a sunburn increases at higher elevations.

•g Drink lots of water. Soaking isn’t a vigorous activity, but it still causes the body to sweat and dehydrate.

•g Don’t wear jewelry. The minerals in the hot springs will tarnish most metals.

•g Wear an old swimsuit and take toiletries.

At some hot springs, the smell of sulphur will linger on your swimsuit and in your hair. Most locker rooms have showers and sinks where you can rinse your suit.


Ouray Hot Springs Pool,

1230 Main St., Ouray. (970-

325-7073, discover-ouray/hot-springspool. php)

g Orvis Hot Springs, nude and clothing optional, 1585 County Road 3, Ridgway. (970-626-5324,

g Weisbaden Hot Springs and Spa, 625 Fifth St., Ouray (970-

325-4347, weisbadenhotsprings.


• Box Canyon Lodge, 45 Third Ave, Ouray. (970-325-4981,

• Glenwood Hot Springs, 415 E. Sixth St., Glenwood Springs.

(970-945-6571, hotspringspool.


• Yampa Spa: The Hot Springs Vapor Caves, a place to steam only, 709 E. Sixth St., Glenwood Springs. (970-945-0667,

• Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs,

12863 Colorado 133, Redstone.

(970-963-2846, avalancheranch.




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