It is hard to top Coloradans’ love for almost anything outdoors when there are tons of activities one can enjoy outside their Denver luxury homes no matter what the season is. ATV riding is great for summer, visiting parks sound pleasant during spring, skiing and snowboarding are must-do activities during winter, and soaking up in Colorado hot springs is healing all-year round.
A hot and natural bath at one of Colorado’s natural hot springs can surely be healthy and calming for both the body and mind. However, the crowding at many popular Colorado hot springs may ruin the supposedly serene experience.
If you want to avoid the large crowd and do not mind some hiking, here are five hidden but great and free natural hot springs in Colorado that you should visit!
Penny Hot Springs
Those who are not interested in resort-style hot springs should check out Penny Hot Springs located near Carbondale. It is named after Dan Penny, a local hotelier who built a lodge and bathhouse along the Crystal River in 1960s and was bulldozed over because of complaints about people bathing nude. However, it was rebuilt and reopened to the public in early 1990s.
The Penny Hot Springs is only an extremely short walk to the east from the Highway 133. The spring pool sectioned off with large rocks is about 15-20 feet across, 2 feet deep, and can hold around a dozen of people. There is also a unique formation called “Hell’s Gate” which is formed from the large granite cliffs on the both sides of the river at the Penny Hot Springs.
Radium Hot Springs
Located near the town of Kremmling and only about two hours’ drive away from the city of Denver, Radium Hot Springs is a natural and primitive hot springs pool found on the banks of the Colorado River. It combines the cold Colorado River water with hot mineral water from the underground which brings the water temperature down to about 80⁰ F.
Although the hike to the Radium Hot Springs is only about a mile long, it is rated moderately difficult. The hot springs is mostly frequented only by the locals who know about it but it is popular to a few rafters, boaters, and kayakers as well.
Piedra Hot Springs
A peaceful hot springs bathing is definitely possible at the Piedra Hot Springs isolated deep into the San Juan National Forest, near Pagosa Springs. Its shallow pools are built by stacking stones which can be easily rearranged to block out the cold river water and maintain the hot spring water full of minerals. The water temperature at this hidden spring is 100° at average. Given its location, the Piedra Hot Springs do not only offer natural hot waters but also a chance to view plenty of wildlife including deer, elks, and otters.
You may take the Sheep Creek Trailhead for a three mile roundtrip to reach the hot springs. The best time to visit the Piedra Hot Springs is during summer, after the winter snowfall has most definitely melted.
Rainbow Hot Springs
Rainbow Hot Springs is another remote and free natural hot spring near Pagosa Springs. It is located deep into the San Juan National Forest and is consisted of three natural pools along the west fork of the San Juan River. It also features a waterfall which adds to the already beautiful scenery surrounding the hot spring.
In order to reach Rainbow Hot Springs, a 6-mile hike and about 1,500 feet of climbing through the West Fork Trail starting from the West Fork Campground on the west side of the Wolf Creek Pass is necessary. With a long and moderately difficult hike, it is better to have a multi-day backpack trip to the Rainbow Hot Springs than just one day.
Conundrum Hot Springs
Located in the Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen, Conundrum Hot Springs is the most remote natural hot spring in Colorado. In fact, it requires a challenging eight and a half-mile hike with a 2,500-foot elevation from the Conundrum Creek Trailhead. It passes the Conundrum Creek three times before reaching the hot springs sitting high in the Rocky Mountains.
The best time to visit the Conundrum Hot Springs from July through September because the campsites and trails are usually snow covered and can be in inaccessible from October to late June. Starting last year, a permit which is available at the Recreation.gov website only is necessary to visit and stay at the Conundrum Hot Springs.
Whether you are missing the warmth of Colorado during winter or you just need some healing after a long day, go outside and hike your way up to soak in hidden but great natural hot springs in Colorado!