February 12, 2020
Welcome to our round-up of all seven publicly accessible natural hot springs in Colorado! These are all free to visit, so it's extremely important to be respectful and leave no trace when you visit these special places. In addition to lots of beautiful photos of each hot spring, we've included the dates photos were taken so you can get a real feel for what each hot spring is like during different times of year. We've also created a map showing where each hot spring is located in the state. You could even plan a Colorado road trip to visit more than one hot spring! Keep in mind that because most of these hot springs are located on the edges of rivers, they can be washed out and inaccessible during the snow melt in spring.
Radium Hot Springs are located on the Colorado River between Bond & Kremmling (just north of the Vail Valley region). The trail is a short and moderately difficult 1.5 mile loop trail up and across a mesa, then steeply down to a beautiful scene of the famous river and its surrounding cliffs.
The springs themselves are all natural and primitive; the spring mixes with river water for an average water temperature in the 80s. In the spring, during high water due to snow melt, the pool is frequently washed out.
*We recommend alltrails.com for detailed trial notes and up to date hiking information, closures, etc.
Above image courtesy of Uncover Colorado, date taken is unknown.
Above image courtesy of Instagram via @cheyennemoles_5, taken on Jan 5 2020! Brr!
Above image courtesy of @sevintravel via Instagram, taken on December 15 2019
Suspected (but not confirmed) Radium Hot Springs, above photo by @rossbernards in March 2018. By the way, his nature photography is amazing and you should really check out his website!
South Canyon Hot Springs is a 0.2 mile short and accessible out and back trail located near Glenwood Springs. They're located on the South Canyon River, which is an offshoot to the south of the Colorado River, just west of Glenwood Springs. These natural hot springs are very popular due to their accessibility so please take care to clean up after yourself and help maintain their beauty for all to enjoy.
Above image courtesy of @aspentrailfinder via Instagram, taken on May 8, 2015
Above image courtesy of @dbishe via Instagram, taken on May 1, 2014
Above image courtesy of @atsaloglaki, via Instagram taken on January 20, 2020
Easy to access off highway 133, south of Carbondale, these hot springs are located along the Crystal River (a southern offshoot of the Roaring Fork) and are very easy to access. The parking pull off can be found between mile markers 56 and 55. There are no signs for the springs, but they can be seen from below the pull off. You'll be able to see the pool because it is sectioned off with large rocks to keep the cold water from coming in; temperatures vary, and can be adjusted by adjusting the rock wall. As with most of these natural river hot springs, they can get flooded out during the spring when snow is melting.
Above image courtesy of @currentlycolorado via Instagram, taken on March 21 2019
Above image courtesy of @jessgenova via Instagram, taken on October 7 2019
Above image courtesy of @ColoradoDaddy2015 via Instagram, taken on February 24 2019
Of all the hot springs listed here, this one the most challenging to reach...Conundrum Hot Springs is the highest hot spring in North America at 11,200 ft!
Get ready for a 16 mile hike (round trip) to get here. Trail reports estimate 5-8 hours to hike in, then another 3-4 hours to hike back out. Starting elevation is high at 8,000 feet, and ends at 11,000 ft so make sure you're up for the challenge!
The trail is packed with wildflowers, river scenery, and wildlife so the payoff is huge. Permits are required for camping in the area, so check out recreation.gov to get those taken care of.
Above image courtesy of @following.my.bliss via Instagram, taken on August 7, 2019.
Here's a sneak peek of the hike in to Conundrum ... not bad, either!
Image above courtesy of @duhitsmari via Instagram.
And here's a video tour of the Conundrum hike & hot springs themselves! This gives you a really good feel for the experience. Skip to 2:45 for the actual hot springs.
A very short easy hike (0.1 miles) leads to these natural hot springs off the Dolores River, just outside of Rico, Colorado. If you haven't heard of Rico before, it's a little town in southwestern Colorado - about an hour northeast of Cortez in the San Juan Mountains. Unfortunately, these hot springs are currently marked as CLOSED on all trails; it appears they may be located (or access to them is located) on private land.
Above image courtesy of @Wayland_trail via Instagram, taken on October 9, 2018
Image courtesy of @bottle_beach via Instagram, taken on Sept 29, 2019
Above image courtesy of @Laurenanjune via Instagram, taken on April 4 2016
At three miles round-trip, near Pagosa Springs, Piedra involves a fairly short but steep (there’s a big descent near the beginning) hike along the Sheep Creek Trail. At the edge of the Piedra River, you’ll find around a dozen pools of varying depths and temperature, all of which change constantly. These are usually flooded out in the spring, just like most of these natural hot springs. Local wildlife loves this spot - there have even been reports of river otters living nearby! Another interesting thing to check out while in the area is Chimney Rock, a lunar observatory sacred to the Ancestral Puebloans.
Image courtesy of @blue_bel18 via Instagram, taken on Sept 11 2017.
Above image courtesy of @danahalferty via Instagram, taken on July 9 2019.
Image courtesy of @ghostnthemachine via Instagram, taken on July 25, 2017.
Rainbow Hot Springs is another one that requires a fairly big hike in, but the payoff is worth it! Located in the San Juan National Forest near Pagosa Springs, you'll need to conquer a 10 mile out and back trail to reach these hot springs. One perk: there's a great waterfall you'll spot along the way.
There was an avalanche in the area in 2019 with some resulting trail washouts, but hikers report that the trail is still passable and the hot springs are active.
Above image courtesy of @Christy.360 via Instagram, taken in August of 2018.
Above image courtesy of @ashleyelisa via Instagram, taken on August 18, 2019.
Image above courtesy of @adventuresofbuddythelab via Instagram, taken on July 27, 2018
Above image courtesy of @autumnmalio via Instagram, taken on December 3, 2018
If you enjoyed the post, check out some of our other Colorado adventure round-ups.
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December 04, 2020
The majesty of Colorado's Sawatch Range. Words & photography by Wilder Ruth.