I consider myself a bit of a hot springs connoisseur.
I love bobbing in a naturally heated pool of water (kind of like a dumpling in a bucket of soup), especially after a rigorous day of skiing, hiking or mountain biking.
I’ve dipped a toe or 10 in geothermal springs across the western United States. The best are springs that burble up at the side of otherwise cool rivers, in the back country. They’re not developed, other than the rocks that someone stacked around them to trap the warmth.
Some require a long hike in, like one I stumbled upon while backpacking the High Sierra Trail in California. The small, hidden soaking pools tucked among pine forests in the Jemez area of New Mexico rank at the top, too, as do the more developed springs like Strawberry Springs near Steamboat, with its hippie vibe, and Pagosa Hot Springs & Resort, just down the road in southwestern Colorado.
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I’ve spent blissful hours soaking at Glenwood Hot Springs, Ouray Hot Springs, Mount Princeton Hot Springs, and Salida Hot Springs, all in Colorado; Boquillas Hot Springs in Big Bend National Park in Texas; and Heise Hot Springs in Idaho, too.
This week I added a new one to the list: Durango Hot Springs and Resort, located not far from Purgatory Ski Resort.
If you’ve visited Durango before, you may remember funky old Trimble Hot Springs. I never visited the place but know a few folks who loved it and were sad to see things change.
Changes at Durango Hot Springs
A new owner took over in 2019, turning the once humble destination into a much fancier resort. Today Durango Hot Springs features 41 soaking pools and water features, including what looks like a giant mining bucket near the entrance that slowly fills with water and tips over, gushing what looks like a bathtub full of steamy water over anyone standing beneath it, every 7 minutes.
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Unlike some hot springs, these don’t smell like sulfur, but they are loaded with minerals. In all, 32 minerals, including lithium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, fluoride, silica, and iron are found in the water. The resort’s website describes the benefits of each.
Temperatures in the soaking pools, staggered along a hillside, range from the mid-90s up to 112 degrees. The owners tout a special filtration system that infuses the water with oxygen bubbles. (Don’t worry, it’s not like soaking in Topo Chico – you can’t feel a difference.)
Indigenous people used the geothermal pools hundreds of years ago. Later, pioneers soaked in the warm water, and the first hotel went up in 1882. A newspaper ad in 1884 described the old springs as a health resort – with a bar and billiard parlor on site. (It later burned, as did a building that replaced that original structure, according to the Animas Museum.) Marilyn Monroe visited in 1950s.
I made two visits to the hot springs last week. Nothing’s better than sitting in an outdoor tub filled with naturally heated water while snow sifts down on your head after a day of cat skiing in waist-deep powder.
If you go to Durango Hot Springs
The resort is located just north of Durango near the intersection of Highway 550 and Trimble Lane.
Proper swim attire is required. Remove jewelry or it might tarnish. Admission is $39 for adults or $15 for children. A special “club area” that includes private changing rooms, shows and private soaking tubs, costs extra.
The springs is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Reservations are recommended. During the summer, bands perform each Tuesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m.