There’s a season for everything, and fall in Colorado is the season for relaxing/rejuvenating. Autumn is one of the best times to visit the state’s numerous hot springs—it’s sunny and warm during the day, but lower morning and evening temps are made for steamy luxuriating. While it’s fun to get your heart pumping with hikes to remote geothermal pools, the state is home to plenty of relaxing hot springs that bestow the wellness benefits of natural, mineral-rich water without a trek. In fact, research shows the calcium, sodium bicarbonate, and silica found in hot springs can give everything from your skin to your mental state a boost (even without a cardio workout beforehand). Bookend some of the best natural spa offerings in the state with only-in-Colorado experiences perfect for autumn.
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1. Mount Princeton Hot Springs
Spend a morning near Salida, mountain biking among fall foliage on a segment of the Colorado Trail. Then head to this spa resort in nearby Nathrop. A day pass gets you access to the creekside soaking pool, family-friendly exercise pool, Biergarten-adjacent infinity pool, and the hot springs pools located right in Chalk Creek—all of which offer stunning views of the surrounding 14,000-foot peaks. Stay in the cliffside hotel or luxury cabins at Mount Princeton.
2. Joyful Journey Hot Springs
Find your zen in the spiritual center of Colorado, Crestone—an area the Native Americans considered one of the most sacred in the country. The former mining town in the southwest part of the state is now home to a Ziggurat, Hindu temple and ashram, Zen center, several Tibetan centers, and more. (Those who find spirituality in nature can journey to the 750-foot summit of the tallest sand dune in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park.) Continue your meditative experience at one of Joyful Journey’s three natural hot spring pools, where the water is said to be encoded with energy from the earth.
3. Old Town Hot Springs
Go horseback riding through 8,000 acres at Saddleback Ranch just north of Steamboat Springs. Later, if you’re up to it, pass a couple hours on a caddle drive (you’ll move cattle, round up strays, and perform health checks with working ranch staff). Soak your weary muscles in the 100-plus-year-old pools at Old Town Hot Springs, which were once used for sacred physical and spiritual healing by the Native American Ute Indians. Cap off a Western-inspired day with the generous delicious helpings served at the Mad Creek BBQ & Saloon.
4. Hot Sulphur Springs Resort
Soar over the Continental Divide—and even get a peek at Rocky Mountain National Park—in a hot air balloon to take in the fiery fall colors of autumn in Colorado. Once you’ve had your fill of the Winter Park/Fraser Valley area from above, venture on to the quaint town of Hot Sulphur Springs, which was named for the geothermal pools that line the canyon along this stretch of the upper Colorado River. At the aptly named resort, follow your soak in one (or more) of the 22 pools and private baths with a poolside deep tissue or Swedish massage.
5. Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa
Climb aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in downtown Durango for a half-day excursion through southwest Colorado’s Animas River Canyon, which lights up in the fall with bright yellow Aspen trees lining the banks. This steam train dates back to 1882 and provides an authentic taste of railroading history, but you can follow it with a thoroughly modern (and indulgent!) experience at Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa. The 16 natural soaking pools and eight private Japanese-inspired cedar soaking tubs are infused with nano-meter and micro-meter oxygen bubbles, which increases the purity and health benefits of the water.
6. The Springs Resort
You could spend all day tracing the footsteps of the Ancestral Puebloans that once dwelled on the grounds of Chimney Rock National Monument, a seven-square-mile area at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains packed with 200 preserved ancient homes and ceremonial buildings. But when your feet have had enough, head over to Pagosa Springs and visit The Springs Resort for a soothing soak in one of 25 pools—fed by the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring—located on the banks of the San Juan River. Up the wellness factor with a sound bath, yoga in the woods, forest bathing, guided meditation, or a spa treatment.
7. Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
The town of Glenwood Springs sits on a hotbed of geothermal activity. Before you lose yourself in the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, or the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves, tour downtown for a taste of mountain resort life. Have a romantic dinner at fine-dining establishment Moonlight Restaurant and Bar, which opened in early 2022; stroll through the shops in Glenwood’s core shopping district along Grand and Cooper Avenues; and visit the Doc Holliday Museum, which pays homage to the infamous gambler and gunfighter.
8. Ouray Hot Springs
Ouray is one of the best-preserved mining towns from the late 1800s. School yourself in local history at the Ouray County Museum, housed in the original St. Joseph’s Miners’ Hospital; the Ouray Alchemist Museum, a recreation of a frontier pharmacy; and, just out of town, the Ute Indian Museum on the original homestead owned by Chief Ouray of the Tabeguache band of the Ute tribe. Then visit Ouray Hot Springs, geothermal pools once frequented by the Utes and surrounded by 13,000-foot peaks; there are three natural hot springs on the property sourced from the ground near the Box Canyon Waterfall.
9. Cottonwood Hot Springs
In Buena Vista, at the foot of the Sawatch Range in south-central Colorado, shop your heart out: Browse works from local and regional artists at Rock Run Gallery, pick up handcrafted products at Sundance and Friends, source sustainable goods at Little Elk Trading Company, and stock up on outdoor gear at The Trailhead. Then, drive up to Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa, which feels removed from reality tucked in the San Isabel Forest. Indulge in healing spa treatments inspired by traditional and holistic medicine and native ceremonies. Rest your head for the night at the boutique Surf Hotel back in town.
Ready to soak up all that Colorado has to offer this autumn? Head to Visit Colorado for the insider secrets you need for an ultra-rejuvenating escape. Relaxation and fun, here you come!