Nude Hot Springs and Vapor Caves Are This State’s Perfect Après-Ski
Plus ghost town hot springs, the world’s deepest geothermal springs, and a million-gallon pool.
Sure, you can aprés with cocktails at the resort after a day shredding powder anywhere, but Colorado is always a step ahead when it comes to improving winter. Not only are the days here sunny and not as terribly frigid as some states, with fluffy snow softening the jagged Rocky mountains into a giant winter playground, the state even offers a coveted post-jaunt activity: hot springs.
Across Colorado, piping water bubbles up into steamy pockets of land, melting nearby snow, inviting weary snowball fighters to strip down and sink in, and enveloping the landscape in a misty steam. It’s almost unfair that a state with so many world class ski resorts has equally world class hot mineral springs. Even better, many are located within just a short drive from each other. It’s almost like the two activities were meant to be together.
Like the ski resorts, hot springs across our state come in all styles. Some are built up with water slides and lodging onsite, while others have a clothing-optional, hippie vibe. Some are situated in old ghost towns, and some sit in underground caves. For this article, we focused on hot springs that are within a 45-minute drive of a ski resort, making it easy to get between the two. That way, if you want to spend multiple days skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or just making snow angels, you can rest up in between in mineral goodness. Your muscles will definitely thank you more.
The Springs Resort & Spa + Wolf Creek Ski Area
About 30-minutes from the town of Pagosa Springs, where The Springs Resort and Spa is located, Wolf Creek Ski Area is legendary. With around 430 inches of snowfall a year, it gets more powder than any other resort in the state. And unlike most Colorado resorts, it’s not owned by some massive conglomerate like Vail Resorts. As such, it has a super chill, yesteryear vibe with cheaper lift tickets and fewer crowds.
There are a number of hot spring options in Pagosa Springs, but The Springs Resort and Spa is the most well-known. It has 23 natural pools set along the San Juan River. The water here is drawn from the Great Pagosa Spring, which—at more than 1,000 feet deep—is considered the world’s deepest geothermal spring. The pools are all different temperatures, with the hottest sitting at a steamy 114 degrees.
Rooms at the resort are comfy and modern luxe, with 24-hour access to the pools. Taking a dip under the stars when no one else is around is quite the memory.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs + Steamboat Springs
When it comes to pairing hot springs with ski resorts, you don’t get any closer than Steamboat Springs and Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a personal favorite for au natural soaking. One of the original hippie hot springs, Strawberry Park hasn’t changed its look for decades. Though today you can’t get away with drinking and smoking weed in the pools anymore, the springs are still clothing optional after dark, when kids are also not allowed.
Located just over five unpaved miles from downtown Steamboat, you’ll need chains or a 4WD vehicle to get to the springs—or you can book the hot springs’ shuttle. The soaking pools have sandy bottom floors and are heated to 104 degrees. The ambiance is stellar, with towering mountains and deep green forests surrounding you.
If you can’t make it out to Strawberry Park, the Old Town Hot Springs downtown offers a geothermal soaking experience, albeit in a more commercial setting with two waterslides and an aquatic rock climbing wall.
Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa + Winter Park
Colorado’s longest continually operating ski resort pairs perfectly with its longest continually operating hot springs. Winter Park Resort, located just 70 miles from Denver, has been welcoming snow riders for 82 years. It’s located about a 40 minute drive southeast from Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa, which has been open for more than 140 years.
The mineral water at Hot Sulphur Springs Resort, located in the tiny town by the same name, bubbles up from seven natural volcanic springs at about 126 degrees. The resort’s 21 pools vary in temperature from 95 to 112 degrees. There are also smaller baths here that can be rented individually. The resort has basic lodging, though many people choose to stay in Granby or Fraser, both closer to Winter Park.
Orvis Hot Springs + Silverton Mountain
You need to be pretty badass to ride the ultra remote Silverton Mountain, which boasts Colorado’s steepest terrain and has just one lift. It offers affordable heli-skiing ($184 per drop is a serious steal), as well as guided skiing that lets you shred the backcountry gnar safely.
Regardless of what you choose, after a day playing on this mountain, you’ll definitely be deserving of a long soak. Luckily, the out-of-this world beautiful Ouray, with lots of dining and sleeping options, is just 30 miles away. In a narrow box canyon surrounded by Insta-perfect mountains, Ouray has a few different hot springs options. The Ouray Hot Springs Pool in the center of town is one choice. We prefer Orvis Hot Springs in nearby Ridgeway. The clothing-optional pools are set both indoors and out, with water temperatures between 65 and 112 degrees. There is also a drinking water fountain with natural lithium water. It is said to sooth the body and bring tranquility to the mind.
Dunton Hot Springs + Telluride
If money isn’t an issue, you really must experience Dunton Hot Springs, just 25 miles southwest of Telluride, which is also home to some of Colorado’s best skiing. The springs are part of an all-inclusive resort, so in this case you’ll likely stay at the hot springs and leave to ski. If you did want to sleep elsewhere, though, Dunton does offer day visitor packages that include dinner.
The rugged luxe resort, which took over an 1800s ghost town, offers accommodations in hand-built cabins from that time period. They’ve been upgraded with modern amenities and are the epitome of mountain chic. Many of the cabins have their own indoor or outdoor hot spring fed tubs and all come with wood burning fireplaces and decks with views.
There are five hot spring pools on the property. The water here is rich in dissolved iron, manganese, and some lithium and heated between 85 and 105 degrees. Improved circulation, peripheral blood vessel opening, and the conversion of blood sugar to energy are all benefits of taking a dip in this water.
If you want to ski, but don’t want to drive yourself over the mountain to Telluride, which can take up to two hours in winter, then ask about heli-skiing directly from Dunton. The resort also has an excellent spa for an extra dose of pampering.
Glenwood Hot Springs + Aspen
About 45-minutes north of Aspen, the fun mountain town of Glenwood Springs hosts three unique hot springs resorts. The oldest, dating back to 1888, is Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. Its claim to fame is having the world’s largest hot springs pool with more than a million gallons of water fed by the Yampah spring.
Iron Mountain Hot Springs Resort is the newest hot springs resort in Glenwood Springs. It features 17 soaking pools set right alongside the Colorado River, including one devoted to families.
Glenwood’s third geothermal attraction, Yampah Spa is the only place in North America (and one of only a few places on the planet) where you can take a steam bath in a completely natural vapor cave. There are three underground rock chambers where you can absorb the mineral-rich steam.