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Let Off Some Steam at Hot Springs in Ouray

The same geothermal activity that forced molten gold and silver into cracks in the twisted bedrock of the San Juans is still active today. The geologists tell us that superheated water flows under the whole valley floor, from the falls and walls of the Box Cañon, to the great seismic rift of Ridgway. But if you don't have the time or inclination to dig into the valley floor a thousand feet or so, you can trade some of your hard-earned gold and silver for a soak in one of these springs that are open to the public.

Ouray Hot Springs Swimming Pool and Fitness Center

The first European Settlers of the valley first built this 750,000-gallon pool in the late 1800s, and you can’t miss it driving into Ouray. With five pools ranging from 75° to 104°, the adults-only overlook pool has postcard views of Mt. Abrams while the big, shallow wading pool stays around body temp - making it perfect for all ages. There are eight lap lanes for those who want to get in a little workout while kids love the waterslides, climbing wall, and inflatable obstacle course open from memorial day to labor day. There is no morning access, so factor that into your plans.

The Wiesbaden

This spring is worth the price of entry for the vapor caves alone — one of the unique hot springs in the world. Vapor-caves pool is hot, at about 115°! The outside pool is just right for apres ski soaking at 102° - 108° year-round and has spectacular mountain views. The water in all features is chemical-free and not recirculated in any way. Daily and hourly rates for public access and a private waterfall and soaking pool by the hour (10 am to 5 pm). Local tips: entry to springs included with massage; make sure to call ahead to make an appointment and arrive early to soak. Also, a stay in the lodge, or victorian cabins, gives you access to after-hours soaking and underground vapor cave lounging.

Twin Peaks Lodge and Hot Springs

The actual hot springs pool is getting a complete renovation this season at the Twin Peaks, so the spring water will not be available until Jan 1st, 2022. Twin Peaks is an excellent choice for a weekend getaway in Ouray, especially if you plan on visiting any of the other hot springs. There is still a jacuzzi tub available, not spring water fed, and so the room rates are very reasonable during the shoulder season. This spring comes out of the ground at a scalding 156°. So, they even have to maintain a considerable vault of cold water just for mixing. This pool also has no chemicals added. Oh, and this one has a pizzeria and drinks on site. New year pool party, anyone?

Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs

Four old-school wooden tubs that range from about 106° to 98° are set in the hillside and accessible by a series of staircases. Another unique spring experience, and likely the only place in the world where you can climb into a cedar tub that is continuously geothermally fed and chemical-free. Each tub has a unique mountain view, so make sure you bring your selfie stick. No public access to the hot springs unless you book an overnight, so Box Canyon Lodge is an obvious choice for a family weekend or a couples retreat. The facilities range from single queen beds to family apartment-style suites. This place is also very family-friendly, with a communal grass courtyard with picnic tables.

Orvis Hot Springs

Down the road near Ridgway, Orvis Hot Springs is another local favorite and is the only clothing-optional spring in the area. During the colder months, even the most modest will feel comfortable going au natural here in the evenings due to early sunset and the massive amounts of steam coming from the pond. This property features ten soaking tubs, a sauna, and a cold plunge, each with a unique vibe. The main pond is big and comfy, and the hot water comes bubbling up through the gravel bottom and you can feel it if you dig your toes in. Bathing suits are required in the family-friendly indoor pool. The lodging has a very “European” feel with shared bathrooms and a shared full kitchen. Local tip: camping is available on site and overnight guests get 24-hour access to the hot springs!

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