Winter Guide to Chaffee County Hot Springs

By Sue Bjorkman

Hot Springs Heaven

 

There is nothing quite as ahhh-mazing as warming up, relaxing and rejuvenating chin-deep in blissful natural hot springs. Geothermal-rich Chaffee County has springs of continuous pure, mineral-rich hot water bubbling beneath its surface, inspiring several resorts and a recreation center. Winter hot springs. From the earliest days, hot springs were believed to have medicinal, therapeutic and spiritual qualities; a gift for body and soul. These odorless steamy pools provide a year-round retreat but are especially appreciated in winter after an adventurous day on the slopes or trails. Our local hot springs businesses all have the wonder-water in common, but each have their own signature styles and amenities, too. Explore them all!

Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort and Spa

This secluded get-away is named for Mt. Princeton, one of Chaffee County’s famous “Fourteeners.” Surrounded by breath-taking mountain views, this resort offers lodging, a premier spa, dining and event facilities all centered on a haven of hot springs.

The “hot pots” in Chalk Creek allow a unique and completely natural experience. Recline on the shallow, sandy edges of the creek and let the relaxation flow. The resort’s main section features a Historic Bathhouse dating back to 1867 leading to a pair of man-made pools (one for soaking, one for exercise) heated by the natural springs. The Upper Pool area, perfect for active families, offers two additional pools, a lazy river and a 400-foot long waterslide.

The new Adults-Only Spa & Club area features several pools, as well as a sauna and steam room, for quiet relaxation. A full array of pampering Spa services elevates the whole experience. Fitness and water exercise classes are available, too. Refresh with fresh juices, light fare and specialty cocktails at the Juice Bar.

Stay at the Main Lodge or a cozy cabin in the woods. Celebrate with a Chalk Creek Martini while dining at the Princeton Club Restaurant. Mt. Princeton’s large event center and catering services make this a winter wedding venue beyond compare.

15870 County Road 162, www.mtprinceton.com

Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn and Spa

This historic resort, located about five miles from Buena Vista along Cottonwood Creek, first opened in 1878. Surrounded by the San Isabel Forest and the Collegiate Peaks, it is a magical, woodsy and restful setting. Steam rises from the four gravity-fed hot mineral pools while snow often covers the surrounding rocks. Each pool is kept at a different temperature for the perfect soak. The water has exceptional mineral qualities, with 15 different minerals from Arsenic to Zinc. Guests are welcome to enjoy the dry sauna, too. The atmosphere is intended to be a respectful Quiet Zone for the ultimate in peaceful relaxation. No lifeguard is on duty, no alcohol is allowed and it switches to adults-only after dark.

The Spa offers Reiki, massages, body treatments, reflexology, or even a Tarot Card reading. Three lodging options are available: Lodge hotel, dormitory and cabins. The dormitory has a co-ed or women only option. The Creek Side Cabins vary in size but all have their own private hot springs pool. You won’t find TVs or phones here. And you won’t miss them.

18999 CR 306. www.cottonwood-hot-springs.com

Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center

One of the largest indoor hot springs pools in the country, this is also the only publically operated aquatic facility within 100 miles. Part of the City of Salida’s Parks and Recreation Department, this family-friendly environment features two hot springs pools filled with mineral-rich water. The water is piped directly to the pools from underground springs eight miles away, as it has been for about 80 years. This building, pools and underground hot water transmission line were originally constructed as part of a 1937 Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) project that employed about 200 men during the Great Depression. There is no need for chlorination or chemicals, as fresh water is continuously piped in. Life guards are on duty at the large 25-meter, six-lane Lap Pool that maintains a temperature of 84-86 degrees. The smaller Leisure Pool is kept at 97-100. Small private soaking pools are also available.

Open swim times are held every afternoon, while drop-in water fitness classes (over a dozen offered every week) are held most mornings. Join in on water yoga, water volleyball, splash fitness or even learn to roll and recover in a kayak. Its convenient location near lodging and restaurants makes even a quick dip an easy and welcome respite.

410 W. HWY 50, http://salidarec.com/public-pool/

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