Take a road trip to the healing hot springs across the Four Corners
The idea that hot springs have healing powers is accepted all over the world, and we’re lucky, because our little corner of the country is rich in geothermal-heated mineral water. The Ute Indians and other tribes who settled in this area called the hot springs “miracle waters” because of their incredible curative powers. After all, soaking in the springs has been known to reduce symptoms of arthritis and muscle pain, improve metabolism, support bone health, and provide eternal life (just making sure you were still paying attention on that last one ... but I guess you never know). Plus, who doesn’t love relaxing in hot water?
You don’t have to go far to find some incredible hot springs in this area, which you should totally take advantage of. We took a little road trip to find the best options within a 3-ish hour drive of Durango, and here they are.
DurangoDurango’s only real hot springs is Trimble Spa & Natural Hot Springs. Don’t get fooled by the extra two hot springs on the map; one is a monument on the west side of the highway that you can’t actually soak in, and the other is located on private property. Over the years, Trimble has been everything from an upscale hotel to a dude ranch that offered hunting camps. At one point, a series of fires destroyed the original structures, but the property’s access to healing waters remains unchanged. Soak in one of the two outdoor pools, sweat it out in the sauna, or enjoy a day of picnicking on-site in a beautifully landscaped area. Unfortunately, the Olympic swimming pool is closed for the summer, but you can still enjoy the hot water pools, spa services, and live music most Sundays. Locals can get in for $14, and it’s $10 for seniors and kids.
Trimble Spa & Natural Hot Springs is located at 6475 Co Rd 203, Durango.OurayHead north of Durango on the Million Dollar Highway and you’ll find a wealth of hot springs. The most obvious choice is Ouray Hot Springs. A soak in the sulfur-free mineral pool means you’ll get the benefit of healing waters without smelling like boiled eggs afterward. They offer five main pools with various heat options; a cooler lap pool and activity pool with a climbing wall and inflatable obstacle course, as well as a heated shallow pool, a hot pool, and two pools divided by an infinity edge waterfall known as The Overlook. Plus, there are water slides. $18 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for the kiddos.
Ouray Hot Springs is located at 1220 Main Street, Ouray.If large-scale hot springs aren’t your thing, look to the three hotels in town with more secluded hot springs access. Soak in their outdoor pool or make your way underneath Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings to access the vapor cave soaking pools. They also have a secluded private pool if you want to fork over some extra cash. Stay at the lodge and your soak is included in the rate, or visit the pools for $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends.
Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings is located at 625 5th Street, Ouray. Down the street, there are two more hot springs lodges. Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs is my personal favorite because their three pools are open 24 hours a day, but you have to be a guest to access them. The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs are also guest-access only; their four outdoor redwood hot spring tubs give you a great view of the mountains behind the lodge.
Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs is located at 125 3rd Ave, Ouray; The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is located at 45 3rd Avenue, Ouray.RidgwayIf you’re already in Ouray, you should absolutely, totally, 100 percent take the 9-mile drive north to Orvis Hot Springs. This clothing-optional springs is absolutely gorgeous, with lithium-rich waters that will melt away your stress and soothe your anxiety (maybe necessary when bathing sans clothing). Soak in the main pond and dig your feet into the pebble-lined bottom, or visit the island pond and dip your head under the cascading waterfall. Those who are gluttons for punishment should pop into the 114-degree lobster pot to see how long they can last. After about 5 minutes we were red-skinned and super dizzy. There are a handful of indoor soaking pools, too. Feel free to stay the night in one of the bed-and-breakfast-style rooms, or camp for a more rustic experience. If you’re just soaking, it’s $22 for adults and $10 for kids.
While you’re up there, make sure to stop in at Colorado Boy in Ridgway. They not only have killer beers, but they also have the best pizza in the state. Yes, I called it the best in the state. Grab a pie and tell me I’m wrong.
Orvis Hot Springs is located at 1585 Co Rd 3, Ridgway.Pagosa SpringsIf the smell is an indicator of a hot spring’s healing activity, then Pagosa is the place to go. These sulfur-rich mineral pools are guaranteed to relax your body from the inside out, but be aware that the odor does tend to cling to your skin for a day or so (and it may be apparent in the bathroom later, too; just saying).
The Springs Resort & Spa is one of the largest hot springs we’ve ever been to. They have 23 soaking pools, including five adult-only pools overlooking the San Juan River. If you get too hot and you’re feeling brave, pop into the river to cool off. With so many different pools, there’s something for everyone. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a place that has a fully stocked bar in the middle of the resort. It does get packed, though, so the extra $20 for the adult-only admission is totally worth it when it’s busy. I don’t recommend sneaking in because you need a code to get in AND out. We may or may not have had to sit in lounge chairs waiting for people to exit before making a surreptitious dash out the gated door. Go on Tuesday for $8 local’s access, or pay the regular local’s price of $14 for adults and $11 for seniors and kids.
The Springs Resort & Spa is located at 165 Hot Springs Blvd., Pagosa Springs.For a more low-key experience, go across the street to Overlook Hot Springs Spa. The outdoor experience includes two large pools on the roof for a soak with a view or six individual courtyard tubs. They also have five indoor pools and some private pool options. Grab a beer or wine at the front desk and schedule a massage to make a day of it. The pricing is pretty similar here. $14 for adults and $9 for seniors and kids.
Overlook Hot Springs Spa is located at 432 Pagosa Street, Pagosa Springs.If you still haven’t gotten your fill, head south of Pagosa and hike into Piedra River Hot Springs. You’ll want to wait for the snow to melt off the trail to experience this secluded hot springs, but it’s totally worth the 3-mile round-trip hike. This is a primitive experience, so bring water and be prepared to face the elements. For a longer hike, look to Rainbow Hot Springs on the north end for a 4.5-mile one-way hike.
DuntonLet me start out by saying I’ve never been to Dunton Hot Springs. It looks like a fully amazing cabin-in-the-woods destination, but I simply don’t have a few grand to shell out for a weekend experience. Yes, you read that right: the least expensive room is almost $1,200 a night, and some of them are as much as $2,200 PER NIGHT. The good news is the rate includes all meals and beverages (including some alcoholic beverages) for two. But still. We could buy two plane tickets to Europe for that price. If money isn’t an option, these springs look absolutely breathtaking. But the thought of shelling out that kind of cash is enough to take our breath away.
Dunton Hot Springs is located at 52068 West Fork Road 38, Dolores.Northern New MexicoGet out of town to New Mexico for some captivating hot springs action. You can do the loop either way, but I started by heading south on 550 past Cuba toward Jemez Springs. Stop in at the newly remodeled historic Jemez Springs Bath House. All the proceeds for this clothing-optional springs go back to the village. It’s $12 for a 25-minute soak or $18 for 50 minutes, and keep in mind they don’t allow children under 14.
Jemez Springs Bath House is located at 62 Jemez Springs Plaza, Jemez Springs, NM.For a more picturesque experience, Jemez Hot Springs (formerly Giggling Springs) is located down the street. The four outdoor pools are nestled alongside the Jemez River and the view is nothing short of stunning. This spring is also limited to ages 14 and older, and it’ll run you $25 for an hour or $40 for two.
There are several primitive options here, too. Hike into Spence Hot Springs near Soda Dam, McCauley Hot Springs close to Battleship Rock, and San Antonio Hot Springs in the Santa Fe National Forest. Or take advantage of the proximity to Valles Caldera National Preserve and Bandelier National Monument and work up a reason to soak.
Jemez Hot Springs is located at 40 Abousleman Loop, Jemez Springs, NM.On your way back up to Durango, take the long way and visit Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa. First of all, the food from the restaurant comes from the nearby Ojo Farm. The salad we ordered was harvested that morning; it doesn’t get fresher than that. They don’t even make you dress, just don on a robe and dine Lebowski-style. The springs themselves are simply fantastic. There are several pools all featuring different minerals: lithia, iron, and arsenic, along with a combination Kiva pool, water from the Soda Spring, and a mud pool. We have to admit that we weren’t in the mood to slather clay mud all over our bodies, but it looked pretty cleansing. Stay the night and access the pools as part of your lodging rate, or pay for day access at $24 a person on weekdays and $38 on weekends for guests ages 13 and older.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa is located at 50 Los Banos Drive, Ojo Caliente, NM.While you’re in the area, you may as well visit the Ghost Ranch. It was Georgia O’Keefe’s home for years, but it has a pretty crazy history; in the nineteenth century, a pair of serial killers lived there.
Ghost Ranch is located at 280 Private Drive 1708 Highway, US-84, Abiquiu, NM.