Magazine article Sunset

Heavenly Hot Springs

Magazine article Sunset

Heavenly Hot Springs

Article excerpt

10 Colorado hot spots for a soothing winter soak

Photographs by Douglas Merriam

Shrouded in misty steam and edged by fluffy snowdrifts, a hot springs seems especially warm and welcoming on a cold day in the mountains. If you get a winter chill in Colorado, you don't have to look far for a dip: According to the Colorado Geological Survey, 93 hot springs and geothermal wells dot the state.

Since the late 1850s, visitors have come to Colorado for rejuvenation in a natural brew of minerals, salts, sulfurs, and warm water. Early habitues included everyone from gun-slinger Doc Holliday to President Teddy Roosevelt. But during the mid-20th century, interest in mineral baths faded.

Today, thanks to our stress-filled lifestyles, hot springs are in vogue again, and in recent years, a number of Colorado classics have been given facelifts. We've searched out 10 of the best thermal resorts in the state-including the most luxurious and the largest. All are developed hot springs that rise from natural sources and all offer spa treatments. See map (above) for locations.

BEST RIVERSIDE SETTING

1 The Springs Resort In southwest Colorado, the Springs pools jut from terraces along the sun-dappled San Juan River. There's an array of 17 pools-from Clouds in My Coffee to the Waterfall-with temperatures ranging from 84[degrees] to 114[degrees]. The waters are as salty as the ocean and carry a whiff of sulfur. On-site, you'll find a Mediterranean-style bathhouse, a juice bar and cafe, a sports shop, and a spa.

WHERE: 165 Hot Springs Blvd., Pagosa Springs.

COST: Pool use free for hotel guests, $13 ($15 Fri-Sat) for nonguests, $5 for nonguests ages 4-7. Rooms from $99.

CONTACT: www.pagosahotsprings.com, (800) 225-0934, or (970) 264-4168.

BEST MOUNTAIN SETTING

2 Ouray Hot Springs Pool Owned and run by the city of Ouray, this huge outdoor pool holds almost 1 million gallons of water, which bubbles up from natural springs. It's loaded with just about every mineral but sulfur, so the water has no odor. Do laps in the cooler lanes, or bask in a 104[degrees] soaking section and drink in the views of the rugged San Juan Mountains.

WHERE: 1200 Main St. (within Ouray Hot Springs Park), Ouray.

COST: Pool use $8, $6 seniors and ages 7-17, $3 ages 3-6.

CONTACT: (970) 325-7073.

BEST POOLSIDE DECK

3 Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and Lodgings Tucked into the mountain-side, a 105[degrees] outdoor waterfall pool called the Lorelei is enclosed for privacy, yet it's angled so the pool and its deck look out to views of the snow-dusted San Juans. There's also a natural vapor cave with a 108[degrees] soaking pool. You don't have to be a hotel guest to use the baths, but do book ahead to soak in the Lorelei. Spa treatments run from massages to reflexology.

WHERE: 625 Fifth St., Ouray.

COST: Lorelei use $70 per hour for one or two nonguests, $35 per hour for one or two lodge guests. Rooms from $120.

CONTACT: www.wiesbadenhotsprings.com or (970) 325-4347.

MOST LUXURIOUS

4 Dunton Hot Springs This cluster of 1800s cabins includes a former Pony Express stop. The setting, high in a snowy mountain meadow, is striking. The dozen handsome cabins were lovingly restored, and most have Western-style decor-in one, an elk-skin bedspread covers fine linens. Guests can try a massage or soak in the bathhouse, the meadow pool, or a spring sheltered by a tepee.

WHERE: Off State 145 on W. Fork Rd., about 30 miles southwest of Telluride; call for directions.

COST: Use of pool, bathhouse, and other hot springs areas is for guests only. Rooms from $250 per person, including meals.

CONTACT: (970) 882-4800.

MOST FAMILY-FRIENDLY

5 Trimble Hot Springs "Marilyn Monroe soaked here," this hot springs' website proclaims. …

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