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Top 5 Colorado Hot Springs You Can Hike To

Posted by Suzanne Akin on
Colorado outdoor scene

Coloroda hot springs infographic

 

Penny Hot Springs 

Location: Carbondale

Roughly 15 minutes from the town of Carbondale, this hot spring is located alongside the gorgeous Crystal River. Several primitive rock-lined pools capture the hot water source and keep the cold river water at ease. You can adjust the temperature of the pools by moving the rocks to let in more or less river water. The largest pool there is about 20 feet across and 2 feet deep with a sandy bottom.

The source water is roughly 130°F, although most of the pools near the river are significantly cooler than that. Be sure to test the water temperature before entering to ensure that it’s not too hot. Arrive early to beat the crowds as this area is often filled to the brim with visitors in afternoons and on weekends.

  • Distance: a few feet from the parking lot
  • Starting point: 3.2 miles north of the main entrance into Redstone, along HWY 133
  • Nearest town: Carbondale, CO
  • Clothing is required

 

Conundrum Hot Springs

To find the famous Conundrum Hot Springs, hikers pass through 8.5 miles of expansive meadows, surrounding mountain peaks, and thick aspen groves. With an elevation gain of 2,400 feet, the strenuous journey crosses Conundrum Creek three times, with the third crossing requiring wading in the creek.


The best time to visit is July through September, as snowfall makes the trailhead and campsites inaccessible during the winter.


  • Note: Due to the popularity of the area, a permit for all overnight users is required.
  • Distance: 17 miles round trip
  • Starting point: begin at the trailhead at the end of Conundrum Creek Road
  • Nearest town: Aspen, CO
  • Clothing is optional

Location: Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

 

Sitting at over 11,000 feet in elevation, not only does it have several spacious, rock-lined primitive pools with warm, mineral-rich waters, but it’s also located in an absolutely beautiful setting deep in the mountains – the only catch? It requires a long and difficult 8.5-mile hike to reach. Luckily, plenty of backcountry camping is available in the surrounding area.

Despite the lengthy hike, Conundrum Hot Springs still receives dozens of visitors per day during the summer months. As a primitive geothermal area located deep in the backcountry, it’s incredibly important to pack out all of your trash, go to the bathroom responsibly, and follow all of the other leave no trace principles. A permit system is now in place to limit the number of visitors and to ensure responsible use.

Rainbow Hot Springs

Rainbow Hot Springs is a primitive and isolated hot spring, north of Pagosa Springs. Although it involves a 9 mile hike round trip, the soak is well worth it. You’ll be rewarded with exceptional views and a therapeutic, relaxing time in one of the most secluded natural hot springs in Colorado.This primitive hot spring is tucked away along a narrow, fast-moving section of the Colorado River deep in an isolated section of the Weminuche Wilderness Area.

Rainbow Hot Springs consists of two main pools. Both are rock-lined and located adjacent to the river. The rock lining captures the warm mineral water but individual rocks can be moved to let in more river water to better adjust the temperature. Both pools are relatively large and hover between 95°F and 105°F.

  • Distance: 9 miles round trip
  • Starting point: West Fork Trail, just beyond the West Fork Campground
  • Nearest town: Pagosa Springs, CO
  • Clothing is optional

South Canyon Hot Springs

Location: Glenwood Springs

Nestled deep in the rugged Rocky Mountains, South Canyon Hot Springs is located near the resort town of Glenwood Springs, which is  well-known for its abundant geothermal activity.

The primary pool ranges anywhere from 100°F to 112°F so make sure to test the water before entering. The actual size of the pool varies depending on the time of year  and the recent weather.

This is a very primitive pool, so  It’s not developed in any way, although plastic chairs might be available. The area is popular for nude bathing and can be a party hot spot on weekend evenings. Like most popular Colorado hot springs, arrive early or during the week if you prefer the spring to yourself.

South Canyon Hot Springs is a 0.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Glenwood Springs, Colorado that features hot springs and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for walking and nature trips and is best used from June until August.

  • Distance: 0.2 miles round trip
  • Starting point: just after the bridge along South Canyon Creek Road (CR 134).
  • Nearest town: Glenwood Springs, CO
  • Clothing is optional
  •  

Radium Hot Springs

Location: Kremmling

Another classic Colorado hot spring, Radium Hot Springs is best for those that prefer a slightly cooler soaking pool because the average temperature hovers around 80°F.

An authentic primitive hot springs experience if there ever was one, the main soaking pool is set alongside a slow-moving section of the Colorado River. Large rocks block off the pool from the river, although an ample amount of river water seeps through, thereby lowering the overall temperature. The large rocks across the river can be jumped across – although doing so is dangerous and you must exercise caution if you decide to participate.

The nearby Mugrage Campground is the ideal place to camp for a few days while enjoying this warm spring. It’s a roughly 20-minute hike away and is notable as a free dispersed camping area.

The short steep hike climbs up to a plateau, where a well-maintained dirt path follows the Colorado River to several dispersed campsites. Continuing just over a half-mile a steep descent guides hikers down to the hot springs.

  • Note: when the Colorado River runs high, the hot springs are typically washed out and not accessible.
    • Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
    • Starting point: the trailhead is accessed along HWY 11 or from the Mugrage Campground parking lot.
    • Nearest town: Bond, CO
    • Swimwear is required

     

     

     

     

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