A Soaker's Paradise at the Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs
The first light of the day pierces billowing clouds of steam, painting an other-worldly scene as dawn breaks at the Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs.
Hot mineral waters splash down my back as I watch it unfold. There is a cup of coffee in my hand, the San Juan River is flowing coldly below, and only a few other bathers are up, wandering from pool to pool through the steam and sulfurous smells. I have the "Serendipity" pool, with built-in waterfall back massager, all to myself. It has a long view of the other pools, bathhouse, river and, up the other bank, the small town.
I've visited a respectable number of Colorado hot springs over the years. Each has its own character, features and landscape, and each defied my expectations in its own way. But this, I think, is what I have always imagined a hot springs should be: a cascading, mineral-caked network of natural pools, cool morning air and warm, soothing water.
There are two other commercial hot springs along this bend of the San Juan in downtown Pagosa Springs: Healing Waters Resort and The Overlook Hot Springs. All originate from a mother spring, the Great Pagosa Aquifer, a yellow-caked, multi-colored pool just behind my room at the Springs Resort.
The Springs Resort: Winter nightly rates from $199, includes 24-hour access to 23 pools. "Ski and soak" packages include a pair of lift tickets to Wolf Creek Ski Area, 23 miles up the road. Tel. 800-225-0934