"Colorado's oceans."

That's how Deborah Frazier describes the natural phenomena of hot springs in her book, "Colorado's Hot Springs."

In a landlocked state, having a free-flowing, balmy source of mineral-rich water seems like a miracle.

Hot springs are special. Maybe it's because they're Mother Nature's ready-made remedy for exhausted, sore muscles left over from skiing, hiking or rafting. Maybe it's that these soaking spots are conveniently nestled in the gorgeous crevasses of Colorado's landscape, providing an instant scenery worthy of the "aaaahs" uttered when you inch yourself just a tiny bit deeper into the hot water.

Since at least the 1800s, people have sought solace, comfort and respite in these amazing waters. The Ute Indians had their favorite soaking spots, pioneers used them, tuberculosis patients hoped they would cure them, and tourists have come from all over the world to experience Colorado's hot springs.

And now, soakers have a potential road map if they want to make a trip out of visiting them.

Last year, travel marketers from Pagosa Springs, Ouray, Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs and Chaffee County formulated a plan to promote their hot-springs destinations. This led to the creation of a 720-mile route linking the towns and promoting 19 different hot springs in a loop around the state, according to Vicky Nash, the chief executive officer of Resort Trends Inc, who is heading the campaign.

The plan is to help advertise hot springs to potential visitors in some of Colorado's border states — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico — as well as Southern California and Texas and internationally in Japan and China.

Hot springs are a popular interest in Colorado, and Nash noted that it is one of the top phrases visitors search for on Colorado.com. But while individual communities and resorts marketed their individual venues, there never has been a joint effort.

"In the past, there have been no efforts to encourage vacationers to visit multiple hot springs as the main focus of their trip," Nash wrote in an email.

The goal of the new hot-springs campaign is to present a possible road-trip vacation for visitors who might spend a few nights in multiple locations, with unique experiences in each place.

Hence, the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, to encourage potential soakers to build a trip around visiting the healing, magical waters.

The loop highlights Steamboat Springs in the north, Pagosa Springs in the south, Buena Vista and Salida on the eastern edge and Ouray on the western side of the route. Of course, there are more hot springs in Colorado, but these communities offer uniquely different experiences and are a good place for beginning soakers to start.

In "Colorado's Hot Springs," Frazier reviews the 44 hot springs available for public use, but also notes there are 93 large hot springs located around the state, clustered in the mountains. Like the hot springs along the historic route, each soaking spot is unique and offers a different experience.

Some you can drive right up to, others are a reward after a long hike. The variety includes everything from a luxury resort-style soak to the rustic, build-your-own-little-pool-with-rocks experience in a roaring creek.

Some are on public lands, others are private. Some you can use for free, and others require a fee. There are still others that are secret, private soaking holes accessible only to those who know them or own them. Some are clothing-optional, and some have slides for the kids.

Many hot springs have been used for centuries for therapeutic reasons. In fact, doctors published testaments to the healing benefits as long ago as 1890. Dr. J.L. Weaver, a U.S. Army surgeon, recounted the progress of the chronically ill soldiers he brought to Pagosa Springs for experimental treatments, according to the hot springs resort.

Pagosa Springs is home to the world's largest, deepest hot springs. The waters are as salty as the ocean and have been noted to relieve arthritis symptoms. Other minerals present in hot springs waters, including magnesium and sulfate, are touted for helping to detoxify the body and promote health.

Steamboat Springs offers two completely different hot springs experiences not far from each other. The Old Town Hot Springs is right in town, and the Strawberry Park Hot Springs is about 30 minutes outside town in the mountains. Old Town is developed. Strawberry Park is primitive, and visitors should note that four-wheel drive is required in the winter to get there. The drive to Strawberry Park is a bit rough and visitors should know that the springs fills up fast, and staff closes the facility when it reaches capacity.

The hot springs in Chaffee County are especially varied. From the spa-like Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort to the more rustic Cottonwood Hot Springs, these springs are stretched along the spine of the Collegiate Peaks for dramatic views while soaking.

And then you have the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, which is receiving a complete remodel of its facilities this year and will reopen in 2017 with brand-new soaking pools to enjoy in the shadow of the craggy San Juan Mountains. In the meantime, there are a few private hot springs in the area to enjoy, which all feature sulfur-free waters for those who don't care for the rotten-egg smell found at some other springs.

Whichever hot springs you choose, you really can't go wrong.

Even a few minutes of letting yourself melt into mineral-rich water will ease the tensest of individuals. You can almost see the coils unwinding inside some folks.

Forget about work or that pile of socks that needs to be folded. Thaaaat's it. Forget about the election. You are sooo relaaaaxed.

It's clearly time for a road trip.

Go to colorado.com/hotspringsloop for information about the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop.

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