Location: Villa Grove, CO
Resorts: 28 out of 50
It’s no secret that we love hot springs. There’s nothing better than after a day on the slopes to relax with a beer in a steaming mineral bath. There are plenty of hot springs in Colorado, but there aren’t a lot of natural hot springs. We’re talking about the kind that don’t have spas, massages, indoor pools, resorts — see the Disney World style Pagosa Hot Springs. We want the ones off the beaten path.
Enter the Valley View Hot Springs. It’s part of the Orient Land Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving this area of the San Luis Valley. Once you get past the entrance gate, there are a few cabins, a communal firepit, and a handful of parking places for RVs.
On our way to Wolf Creek, we swung off the main road and took the seven mile dirt road detour to Valley View. The scenery is beautiful (it’s Colorado) and strange (why are there shoes on every fence post?). Admission is $12 and gets you access until 10 at night. Another $12 plus camping fees gets you in for the night.
All the pools are outdoors and have no lights so bring a headlamp. We went straight for a sunset hike up the mountain to the upper pool. It’s about a mile with some ice on the trail, but well worth the effort. Then down to the waterfall pool and finally the hot tub. All the pools were around 95 degrees with the hot tub being artificially heated up to 105.
The whole place has an offbeat, yet friendly vibe. Valley View is entirely off the grid. Cell phones are banned in and around the pools. Nudity is encouraged. And they only allow in a certain number of people per day to preserve the place. Reservations are highly recommended if going in the summer.
It’s not all rock pools. There is an outdoor pool next to the hot tub and a killer sauna. There are also showers which we desperately needed. For $24, it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night…we decided to save the other $29 it would have cost to stay until morning and get a lift ticket at Wolf Creek.
The Cheat Sheet:
Valley View Hot Springs
Villa Grove, Colorado