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Soaking Sanctuaries

IF YOU’VE ALWAYS DREAMED of relaxing in a steaming mineral pool overlooking a rushing river amidst the deep valleys and snowcapped peaks of this beautiful state, here’s your jam: We give you four of the best backcountry hot springs in Colorado.

Of course, getting to these special spots requires a little bit of walking. It is important to note that, while a post-ski soak in one of these springs would be a dream-come-true, avalanche hazards also become prevalent, and many of the roads may be inaccessible to vehicles in the winter. Always do your research on the best season to recreate in these backcountry destinations.

Rainbow Hot Springs

Located along the San Juan River, the 7-mile round-trip hike here is worth the journey on its own. The trail takes you past picturesque waterfalls, through thick forest, and over old wooden bridges to a collection of two main pools right at the river’s edge. This is one of the most isolated hot springs on our list, but the seclusion and reward of soaking your weary muscles after a 4.5-mile hike makes it a must-visit on any list.

Conundrum Hot Springs

Situated in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, these hot springs sit at a lofty 11,200 feet above sea level. The strenuous 17-mile round trip hike is nothing to scoff at and takes you through difficult terrain at high elevation. The trail is typically backpacked as a two-day trip and requires obtaining a permit from due to the fragile nature of this ecosystem. However, Conundrum’s springs should be on everyone’s bucket list due to the jaw-dropping mountain scenery everywhere you look. The lengthy journey to get here will make these panoramic pools all the more enjoyable.

Radium Hot Springs Kremmling

Don’t be fooled by the mileage! Although it’s only a short 1.4-mile out-and-back hike, the trail is steep and direct, bringing you straight down to the mineral pools. These primitive springs are located right on the banks of the Colorado River, which typically cools down the temperature to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, the pool gets washed out by snow melt each year and has to be rebuilt by visitors, so take caution when visiting in the spring.

Piedra River Hot Springs

Also known as the “Sheep Creek Hot Springs” by locals, these turquoise gems in the San Juan mountains range from a scalding 140 degrees to more moderate temperatures along the river. While many of the hot springs on this list draw their own large crowds, these pristine pools are reported to boast the most serenity and provide an escape from civilization on a 3-mile round trip hike.

—Ariella Nardizzi

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