Soaking in hot springs is about the only winter activity you will find me partaking in. Relaxing in these natural hot tubs from mother nature is one of the best ways to enjoy the Rocky Mountains at any time of the year. Snowflakes melting into the warm water makes it that much more enchanted.
One of the best parts about living in Denver is that only an hour or two drive, you can escape the bustle of the city for a mountain getaway and feel like you are in a whole new world. Forget that stressful work week with picturesque snow-capped peaks, fresh mountain breeze and soaking in natural mineral water.
Here are my 5 favorite hot springs within a few hours drive from Denver.
Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, CO
~3 Hour Drive from Denver
Strawberry Park Hot Springs is on every top hot spring list and for good reason. It gives you the natural nature-experience, balanced by being clean because it is maintained by the park. Even though the pools have been manmade and constructed for many people to enjoy, they are surrounded by rock and stone giving it that organic feel. The pools are deep and offer many places to sit and lounge. At night, it becomes clothing-optional and adult-only. It is a cash-only facility because they do not have the internet, so come prepared. They also require you to mail in your reservation for an overnight stay in one of their rustic cabins or campsites. They recently extended their hours to Midnight, giving you even more late-night soaking fun. You have to drive up a mountain road to get there, and Nov 1-May 1 there is a traction law, meaning your car must be 4WD/AWD with snow tires. This is the only hot spring on the list without my own photo because I have only been when it’s been dark, which has always made for a long, cold walk back to the car. Visit their website for more info.
Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, CO
~2.5 hour drive from Denver
Iron Mountain Hot Springs is a relaxing spa with clean facilities and epic views. It sits in a valley in the middle of Glenwood Springs surrounded by gorgeous mountain views. The last time I was there, I watched a bald eagle sore around the river so serene. Iron Mountain features in-ground hot tub style pools that vary in temperature up to 108 degrees so you can find the right one for your liking. They offer spa treatments and even have a cafe that serves wine, beer, and light snacks. It is $30 for a visit, and there are no overnight accommodations. This is my favorite commercial hot spring for a relaxing afternoon with my favorite local canned brew and incredible views. Visit their website for more info.
Penny Hot Springs in Carbondale, CO
~3.5 Hours from Denver
Penny Hot Springs is perfect for a quick dip after a hike or to enjoy late-night when camping in the nearby national forests. Penny Hot Springs is not commercialized – yet. The last time I was there a sign read “Changes Coming Soon For Penny Hot Springs.” In the meantime, this local favorite is just off the Highway 133, just north of mile marker 55. There is no cell service, but there is a small area to pull off and there are usually cars making it easy to find. You walk down to the Crystal River and there you will find steam coming off of natural hot pools formed from rocks in the river. If the river is high, they can be washed out, unfortunately, but I have enjoyed it in every season. I have had the pleasure of meeting cool hippies enjoying some brews, and have enjoyed watching a pack of Big Horn Sheep graze across the river. If you are okay with getting a little dirty, this is hands down one of my favorite hot spring experiences.
Valley View Hot Springs in Moffat, CO
~3.5 Hours from Denver
Valley View Hot Springs sits on the Orient Land Trust which preserves the natural wonders of the San Luis Valley. They have campsites, a variety of room types, and private cabins all for rent at an affordable price. The most expensive accommodations – a large cabin – is $75 a night making this a super affordable getaway. To make a reservation, you have to become a member, but I have to say, it was worth the $30 and now I have the motivation to come back often. Valley View is a very communal place with an open-air kitchen with supplies to share and an evening fire with smores supplies ready to go. There are several pool options with a quick hike between, however, the main pool is the only one hot enough for my liking once the sun goes down. They close the gates at 10pm, but if you are staying on property you can enjoy the hot springs late-night. The only thing I would warn a first time visitor is that this a clothing-optional facility. My favorite thing about valley view is you can really disconnect, and in the morning you get an epic breakfast view. Visit their website for more info.
Mount Princeton Hot Springs in Buena Vista, CO
~2.5 Hours from Denver
Mount Princeton is a resort that sits in Chalk Creek Canyon with wonderful mountain views. It has something for everyone and is a great place for families, friends or romantic getaways. There are large cabins to hotel rooms available for rent which grants you 2 days of soaking time. There is a delicious high-end restaurant with a rotating menu serving breakfast and dinner. Their facilities feature several pools of various temperatures, a steam room, multiple saunas, spa treatments, kid-friendly pools, and adult-only pools. They do unfortunately close all the facilities at 10pm even if you are staying overnight. In the summer, there is a waterslide and you can even rent mountain bikes to hit a nearby trail. The Cliffside Rooms have an incredible mountain peak view to enjoy your morning coffee. My favorite part about this resort is they have riverside pools formed from rocks similar to Penny Hot Springs, making it feel organic even though they are maintained at a nice resort facility. There is no sulfur in their mineral water, which is a plus because I am not a fan of the smell of sulfur water. Visit their website for more info.