In early June, we were in need of a Colorado vacation to escape the constant rain and somewhat chilly weather we were having in the Denver area, so we set off on a long weekend trip to explore some of the hot springs in Colorado.
Our itinerary throughout the northwest area of Colorado included Hot Sulphur Springs, Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs hot springs pool and Yampah vapor caves, and a small little-known hot spring known as Penny hot springs. This Colorado hot springs itinerary entailed about 9 hours of drive time round-trip from west Denver and we did it over four days/three nights.
Colorado Hot Springs Tour Stop #1 – Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa
We got an early start on Thursday morning, and a little less than two hours later arrived at our first stop on our Colorado hot Springs tour – Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa. This commercial spa was the most expensive stop on our hot springs tour, but not our favorite hot springs. It costs $17.50 per adult ($11.50 per child). Explore and relax in the 20 or so hot spring pools, most of which are smaller man-made pools, with one larger natural pool (elk pool). For more privacy, you can rent one of a couple small private baths in the lodge. Be aware that children are restricted to a few of the lower pools (includes a summer swimming pool), with the majority of the hot spring pools reserved for adults only. Because these springs are sulphur, there is an odor that takes a little getting used to.
If you choose, you could stop here for the night and stay at the resort. Pool admission is free if you are staying at the resort. However, be aware that the train runs right by several times a night, and that the town of Hot Sulphur Springs is very small, shuts down early at night, and only has a few restaurant options. We chose to only spend a couple hours here our first morning before continuing on Colorado Highway 40 west to Steamboat Springs for our first overnight stop.
Colorado Hot Springs Tour Stop #2 – Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs has two commercial Hot Springs: Strawberry Park Hot Springs and Old Town Hot Springs. We chose to bypass Old Town Hot Springs, as it is a commercially built-up springs in the center of town. However, it would be great stop if you have children along for the trip. Kids will love the water slides and the large hot springs pool suitable for splashing around and playing, as well as a kiddy pool. A smaller adults-only hot spring pool and a couple spa pools are also available. In addition, there is a lap pool with swimming lanes. Adult admission is $12, and child admission is $4-$7 depending on age. Waterslide passes are extra.
As we were travelling without children, we instead chose Strawberry Park Hot Springs, and it was our favorite stop. Located about 7 miles north of Steamboat Springs, Strawberry Park Hot Springs are pools built of rocks in a very natural setting. The last two miles or so of the road is dirt and a bit bumpy. In summer, it is fairly easy to take your vehicle up the road, but in winter, it is advisable to take one of the shuttles. Otherwise, make sure your vehicle is equipped for four-wheel driving in winter conditions (appropriate snow tires or chains).
Strawberry Park Hot Springs charges $10 for adults, and $3-$5 per child (depending on age). Children under age 18 are only allowed during the day. After sunset, the pools are “clothing optional” and an adult-only environment. For a complete review of Strawberry Hot Springs see here.
Colorado Hot Springs Tour Stop #3: Glenwood Springs
After an afternoon at Strawberry Park Hot Springs and spending the night at a hotel in Steamboat, we started out the next morning down Colorado Highway 131 to I-70 and then over to Glenwood Springs, and spent our remaining two nights in this area. It takes about 2.5 hours driving time from Steamboat Springs to Glenwood Springs. Glenwood Springs has two hot springs features worth checking out: Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Yampah Vapor Caves.
Glenwood Hot Springs Pool has a huge 400 foot long pool, and a somewhat smaller (although still very large) hot therapy pool. Be aware that although these pools are fed by the hot springs, they are also treated with chlorine, so they are not “all natural” hot springs. Great for kids, the large pool has waterslides, and lots of room for playing in the water.
Adult (12+) admission is $13-$18 (Depending on season, and whether it is a weekday or weekend), and child admission is $8-11. Waterslide passes are extra. There is also miniature golf for a nominal charge. If you stay at the hotel pool admission is free.
For a more adult atmosphere, try the Yampah Vapor Caves in Glenwood Springs. The caves are heated by hot springs, and make a natural “steam room”. Once you descend down the stairs, you will find a labyrinth of different size caves with marble benches for sitting or reclining. Quiet rules are enforced for peaceful steaming, and it is not a good environment for younger children. Admission is $12. There are small hot spring baths available for an extra charge (individual or couple). Yampah Vapor Caves also provides massages and spa services.
Colorado Hot Springs Tour Stop #4 -Primitive Hot Springs (non-commercial)
If you want a more rustic setting for your soaking, search out one of the more primitive non-commercial hot springs in the area such as Penny Hot Springs or Conundrum Hot Springs. Conundrum hot springs is an eighteen mile round-trip hike in the Maroon Bells area of Aspen. We passed on this, as most people backpack in and make an overnight trip of it. Not being prepared for such a hike, we sought out Penny Hot Springs. Located about 30-40 minutes south of Glenwood Springs, take Colorado Highway 82 South to Carbondale, and then 131 towards Redstone. It is located at a pulloff just before mile marker 55 along the Crystal river. I
f you pull off and look over the riverbank, you will find an area with two small shallow pools surrounded by rocks. These pools are quite small and very shallow when we were there, although we had them all to ourselves. It is quite different from the commercial hot springs, but is a little small adventure. Both Conundrum and Penny Springs are free as they are on public land. Swimsuits optional.
We really enjoyed our tour of the North Western hot springs of Colorado, with Strawberry Park Hot Springs being our favorite stop, followed by the Yampah vapor caves. We are already planning another trip to do the hot springs in the southwestern part of the state!