BYTrevor Hughes , USA TODAY Published 8:12 a.m. ET March 17, 2017 | Updated 8:33 a.m. ET March 17, 2017
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInColorado's amazing hot springs FullscreenPost to Facebook

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The largest hot springs pool in the world, the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort has long been a destination for locals and tourists alike.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Tucked into the end of Glenwood Canyon, the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort has long been a favorite for travelers driving between Denver and the West.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen The Native Americans who lived in and traveled through Colorado knew of the state's abundant hot springs, and often stopped to use them. Glenwood Springs, Colo. is home to the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, one of the oldest developed hot springs sites in the state.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen This is the original fizzing hot springs pool built in Glenwood Springs, Colo., one of the state's oldest commercial hot springs resorts. People used to drink the water for its reputed healing properties, and even today tourists are known to dip in a cup for a sip.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A fence surrounds the original hot spring pool in Glenwood Springs, Colo. Heated deep beneath the ground, a portion of the water fills the resort's pools, and the rest pours into the adjacent Colorado River.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen In addition to providing hot water for the hot springs pools, this original spring also provides the heat used to warm the nearby hotel at Glenwood Springs Resort.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen The historic spa building of the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort stands next to the main pool as the winter sun sparkles on the clear water.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A lap swimmer enjoys the clear mineral waters of the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort lap pool.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Jackson Mammele and his wife "You," -- yes that's her legal name -- soak in the hot springs of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A lifeguard monitors swimmers at the world's largest hot springs pool, the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, in Glenwood Springs, Colo.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A lifeguard sits on the edge of a pool at Glenwood Hot Spring Resort.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Jackson Mammele and his wife "You," -- yes that's her legal name -- soak in the hot springs of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, using pool noodles for comfort and flotation.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colo. is the state's newest hot springs, and can easily be reached by car, bus or even Amtrak's California Zephyr train, which runs between Chicago and San Francisco, stopping at Denver and Glenwood Springs, among others, along the way.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A couple admires the view off the edge of a hot springs pool at Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colo.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Colorado's hot springs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Some are natural rock pools alongside rivers, while others are classy spa-like resorts. Here at Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colo., the pools feature tiled steps with gravel bottoms. Other hot springs feature Jacuzzi tubs or swimming pools.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A couple gazes off the edge of an infinity hot spring pool at Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colo.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Many hot springs resorts offer both small soaking pools and larger swimming pools, which lower temperatures, suitable for cooling off. Here, bathers soak in the large pool at Iron Mountain Hot Springs.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Matt Olig is reflected in the sunglasses of friend Julia Renken as they soak in a pool at the Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colo. The two took Amtrak's California Zephyr from Denver for a getaway trip to Glenwood Springs and were waiting for their return train to arrive before heading home.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A woman soaks in the winter sun on the side of a pool at Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colo.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Mount Sopris looms over Glenwood Springs, Colo. and the Iron Mountain Hot Springs, alongside the Colorado River.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen At night, the Iron Mountain Hot Springs pools glow beneath Mount Sopris.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen The Joyful Journey Hot Springs in Colorado's San Luis Valley, are a locals' favorite.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Bathers at the Joyful Journey Hot Springs soak in the natural hot springs, which bubble up from the nearby meadow. The springs are surrounded by windows to keep the area deer herds from accidentally wandering into them at night.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Joyful Journey Hot Springs has a geodesic dome heated by the natural hot springs, allowing plants and flowers to grow year-round.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Roses growing inside the Joyful Journey Hot Springs geodesic dome, which is heated by the natural hot water. These roses were blooming inside on Dec. 30, despite below-freezing temperatures outside.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Soakers at The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colo. will find pools of many different temperatures, including the Lobster Pot, which is typically the hottest. The pool is adjacent to the San Juan River, and people often duck into the river to cool off from this hottest of hot springs.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen The Springs Resort and Spa gleams on a winter night, its lights reflected in the adjacent San Juan River as it flows through downtown Pagosa Springs, Colo.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Steam fills the air above The Springs Resort and Spa in downtown Pagosa Springs, Colo. The blue-lit pedestrian bridge links the resort to the town.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colo. features a large central pool crossed by a wooden pedestrian bridge.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A couple enjoys a quiet moment watching water drops fall at The Springs in Pagosa Springs, Colo.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Chris Feller of Canyon Lake, Tex., drinks a beer in a hot spring pool at The Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colo. The Springs Resort is a popular destination for Texans, although it takes about 14 hours to drive there from their major cities.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen College students Madison Dickson and Emily Waddell, both of Durango, Colo., pose for a photo in a hot springs pool at The Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colo. The Springs Resort is a popular destination for locals and tourists, particularly Texans visiting the area to ski at nearby Wolf Creek ski area.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen The Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort is a full-featured resort, with lodging and spa treatments, and is a popular wedding venue.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen The chalk cliffs near the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort gleam in the morning sun as steam rises from one of the hot springs pools.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Kids play in the natural hot springs pools alongside Chalk Creek at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Hot water seeps out of the ground on the right, mixing with the cold water from the creek. Bathers pile stones to make their own pools, and adjust the temperature by changing the amount of river water flowing into them.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Bathers soak in the large pool at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. The resort remains popular year-round.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Bathers soak in pools they've built alongside Chalk Creek at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A morning exercise class stretches in the steam rising from a hot pool at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Shrouded by steam rising from the hot water, these bathers are enjoying the free and natural hot springs along the San Juan River in Pagosa Springs. Boiling hot water seeps out from the riverbanks and bathers build stone pools to capture it.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Bathers Thomas and Tim Kowalski, (they're cousins) along with friend Rosemary Jacobsen, soak in a a natural hot spring pool in Pagosa Springs, Colo. alongside the San Juan River.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Strawberry Park Hot Springs is off-the-grid - there's solar power but they only accept cash payments to enter.  Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Kaitlyn Taylor of Nashville, Tenn., center, walks across the snow-covered parking lot of the Strawberry Park Hot Springs near Steamboat Springs, Colo., while talking to her friend Libby Lewis of Chicago. Visiting the area on vacation, the two said they were astounded at how beautiful Colorado's hot springs are.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Bathers at Strawberry Park Hot Springs near Steamboat Springs, Colo. enjoy pools of varying temperature, alongside the Hot Springs Creek, which offers barely above-freezing waters in which to cool off.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Water coming out of the Strawberry Park Hot Springs hot spring steams in the cold winter air, running downhill to fill pools for bathers. The boiling-hot water kills off surrounding vegetation.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Bathers enjoy soaking in warm water at Strawberry Park Hot Springs near Steamboat Springs, Colo. The large pools have stone benches beneath the surface around the edges, making it easier to soak for long periods.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen A woman splashes cool water on herself as she sits on a stone step of a pool at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs near Steamboat Springs, Colo.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Visitors to Strawberry Park Hot Springs can rent cabins and stay overnight, which means they're allowed to go skinny-dipping when the sun goes down!   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen The entrance booth to Strawberry Park Hot Springs is an old truck, covered in license plates. The hot springs only accepts cash for entrance fees, and will rent you a towel too.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreen Strawberry Park Hot Springs is open to all during daylight hours, but limited to adults only after dark, when it becomes clothing optional.   Trevor Hughes/USA TODAYFullscreenReplay1 of 492 of 493 of 494 of 495 of 496 of 497 of 498 of 499 of 4910 of 4911 of 4912 of 4913 of 4914 of 4915 of 4916 of 4917 of 4918 of 4919 of 4920 of 4921 of 4922 of 4923 of 4924 of 4925 of 4926 of 4927 of 4928 of 4929 of 4930 of 4931 of 4932 of 4933 of 4934 of 4935 of 4936 of 4937 of 4938 of 4939 of 4940 of 4941 of 4942 of 4943 of 4944 of 4945 of 4946 of 4947 of 4948 of 4949 of 49AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow Captions

Many hot springs resorts offer both small soaking pools and larger swimming pools, which lower temperatures, suitable for cooling off. Here, bathers soak in the large pool at Iron Mountain Hot Springs.(Photo: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY)

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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Just finding the legendary Strawberry Park Hot Springs often feels like a little adventure.

These waters a few miles outside of town can only be reached via a steep, winding dirt road that in winter is strictly limited to SUVs and cars with four-wheel drive and adequate tires. There’s no big sign in town pointing the way, and you’re likely to have to pause to let a herd of elk cross the road as you drive.

But getting there is absolutely worth the effort: These off-the-grid hot springs offer several large soaking pools alongside a freezing-cold creek that’s great for cooling off. Family friendly during the day, the springs are limited to adults only once the sun goes down, due to the clothing-optional policy.

And the thing is, as great as Strawberry Park is, there’s a totally different kind of hot spring option right in downtown Steamboat Springs, Old Town Hot Springs, and there are three other options within a two-hour drive both east and west. In fact, Colorado’s geology means you’re rarely far from a chance to take a dip, no matter where you are. With so many options, the kind of experience you have is entirely up to you, from streamside rock pools to high-end spas with natural steam rooms and massage therapists.

Colorado is home to more than 30 developed hot springs, and also informal “hobo-style” springs found alongside rivers near Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Pagosa Springs.

Because there are so many options, we visited eight hot springs around the state to give you a sense of what’s available. More information is available from the state, which has organized a 750-mile driving tour of some of the best options. Hours and prices may vary, so check websites for the most up-to-date information.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInBeautiful Colorado: 50 postcard-perfect images FullscreenPost to Facebook

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Colorado is a land dominated by the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains and a rich cultural heritage.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen The southwestern portion of the state more closely resembles the American desert Southwest, particularly near Cimarron Ridge.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway passes through the farm country of Eastern Colorado, with a string of 14ers jutting up from the landscape in the distance.  Matthew Inden/MilesFullscreen Many of Colorado's dreamy mountain towns, including picturesque Breckenridge, started out as mining villages.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen The aspen is the quintessential Colorado tree, and in autumn, they put on quite the colorful leaf-peeping show.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Buena Vista means "good view" in Spanish, and that couldn't be more true for this community at the base of the Continental Divide.  Matthew Inden/MilesFullscreen In springtime, Colorado's mountain trails put on a colorful show of wildflowers, including the state flower, the purple and white Columbine.  Getty Images/FuseFullscreen Denver International Airport, with its iconic white peaked architecture, is the fifth busiest in the United States and a gateway to the Rocky Mountain West.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Colorado's historic railroads, like the Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad, are an excellent and family-friendly way to experience the majestic scenery of Colorado.  Matt Inden/MilesFullscreen With 180 craft breweries and counting, Colorado has more per capita than any other state. If beer's not your thing, but you like to drink, you'll also find more than 40 craft distilleries.  Matt Inden/MilesFullscreen Colorado is more than just mountain peaks. The Eastern Colorado plains burst into a riot of color during the summer sunflower season.  Flickr/messycupcakesFullscreen Colorado, a true four seasons destination, transforms into a sparkling winter wonderland once the snow begins to fall.  Digital Vision/ThinkstockFullscreen Just east of Steamboat Springs lies the town of Kremmling, a sportsman's paradise and host of an annual ice-fishing tournament.  Matt Inden/MilesFullscreen An outdoorsman's dream, Colorado has 54 peaks that top out at over 14,000 feet.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Come winter, Colorado becomes a winter sports paradise with 25 ski resorts enjoying some of the country's most reliable snow conditions.  Matt Inden/MilesFullscreen Students from around the country and the world come to learn at Colorado's universities, including the prestigious Air Force Academy.  Flickr/Beverly & PackFullscreen Known as "the city nestled between the mountains and reality," Boulder enjoys panoramic views of the Flatirons in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Ancestral Puebloans, Colorado's earliest residents, carved more than 150 rooms into the rock -- a structure known as Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen The Browns Canyon portion of the Arkansas River takes white water rafters past five 14ers and beneath the Royal Gorge Bridge -- the world's highest suspension bridge.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen It's the 38th state in the Union, and offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, once you get west of the eastern plains. Denver is the gateway to the Rocky Mountains.   Getty Images/Thinkstock Fullscreen In the San Juan National Forest just west of Pagosa Springs, the towering pillar known as Chimney Rock juts into the Colorado sky.  Matthew Inden/MilesFullscreen Denver, Colorado's capital city, has the nation's largest park system, with over 200 parks in the city limits.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen By population, Denver is the smallest city in the country which has four pro sports teams: the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche.  Matthew Inden/MilesFullscreen The Dallas Divide in Southwestern Colorado represents fall leaf-peeping at its best, when the band of aspens running along the base of Sneffels Range transform into a sea of yellows and reds.  Sreedhar Yedlapati/HemeraFullscreen Visiting Fairplay is like stepping back into Colorado's earliest days, when grizzled gold miners and ranchers began to populate the state.  Getty Images/Comstock Fullscreen Fly-fishers looking to fill their creels with trout love the rivers, lakes and reservoirs of Colorado.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Garden of the Gods, a collection of red sandstone formations just outside of Colorado Springs, is one of Colorado's most-visited attractions.  Flickr/Jasen MillerFullscreen Some of the ancient, twisted juniper trees found within Garden of the Gods are more than 1,000 years old.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen The Colorado River and snowmelt from the Continental Divide carved out 16-mile-long Glenwood Canyon over the course of 3 million years. Today, it's a premier destination for hiking, rafting and biking.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Colorado's 100-plus golf courses offer some of the country's best variety and spectacular scenery. Few places in the world let you golf and ski in the same day.  unknownFullscreen Great Sand Dunes National Park, one of four national parks in the state, is home to the tallest dunes in North America. The tallest are over 8,000 feet.  Getty Images/Comstock Fullscreen Wispy waterfalls cascading from moss-covered rocks into pools of teal water make Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs one of Colorado's most surreal sights.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Discover Colorado's rich frontier herigate by taking a trip along Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway, where you'll find historic Beckwith Ranch.  Anna Zoromski/MilesFullscreen 450-foot-tall Independence Monument is the tallest red rock formation in Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Lake San Cristobal, Colorado's second largest natural lake, is a favorite with fishers and boaters.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Crested Butte, a 19th century mining town and wildflower capital of Colorado, holds tightly to its Western roots.  Denise Chambers/MilesFullscreen In Rocky Mountain National Park, Loch Vale is a popular hike suitable for hikers of all abilities.  Flickr/Steven BratmanFullscreen Colorado's Maroon Bells -- two sister 14er peaks -- are the most photographed of the state's mountains.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen In Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Spanish for "mountain view," miles of wetlands give way to snowcapped peaks in an area popular with migratory birds, like sandhill cranes.  Matt Inden/MilesFullscreen Mount Evans Scenic Byway -- the highest altitude paved road in North America -- leads to the stunning peak of the same name, as well as several alpine lakes.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Jagged Mount Sneffels just above the tree line, it's 14,150-foot peak looming over the surrounding aspen-covered landscape.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen With 170 miles of trails, Colorado's Mount Zirkel Wilderness attracts backpackers to its rugged backcountry beauty, where you're almost guaranteed to see elk and moose.  Flickr/Jeremy WhiteFullscreen Colorado is home to the best single-track mountain biking trails in the world.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreen Fed by clear spring water, the pools of Ouray Hot Springs maintain temperatures between 98 and 105 throughout the year.  Matt Inden/MilesFullscreen Small town Pagosa Springs, located in Southwestern Colorado at the base of the Continental Divide, is famous for its own sulfurous hot springs.  Matthew Inden/MilesFullscreen The town of Palisade sits in the heart of Colorado's quickly expanding wine region. Currently, the state has more than 100 vineyards.  Denise Chambers/MilesFullscreen The iconic song "America the Beautiful" was inspired by Katherine Lee Bates's trip to the top of Pikes Peak in 1893. Millions of visitors have ridden the Pikes Peak Cog Railway since.  Flickr/Richard MasonerFullscreen Steamboat Springs in Colorado's northwestern region has a distinctive cowboy culture. Come during July for the annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo.  Matthew IndenFullscreen Mother Nature played a part in the construction of one of the nation's most famous outdoor venues, the sandstone-surrounded Red Rocks Amphitheater just outside of Denver.  Flickr/David FulmerFullscreen The 104-degree waters of Strawberry Hot Springs are the perfect place to warm up after a day on the slopes at Steamboat.  Flickr/Brian BennettFullscreen At sunrise, the glassy waters of Sprague Lake reflect the pink-hued peaks of the mountainous Continental Divide.  Getty Images/iStockphotoFullscreenReplay1 of 512 of 513 of 514 of 515 of 516 of 517 of 518 of 519 of 5110 of 5111 of 5112 of 5113 of 5114 of 5115 of 5116 of 5117 of 5118 of 5119 of 5120 of 5121 of 5122 of 5123 of 5124 of 5125 of 5126 of 5127 of 5128 of 5129 of 5130 of 5131 of 5132 of 5133 of 5134 of 5135 of 5136 of 5137 of 5138 of 5139 of 5140 of 5141 of 5142 of 5143 of 5144 of 5145 of 5146 of 5147 of 5148 of 5149 of 5150 of 5151 of 51AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsRead or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2nz9hQw
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