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Cottonwood Hot Springs

When the Spanish explorer Ponce DeLeon landed on what is now Florida, United States he was said to be searching for the mystical fountain of youth. Many stories and fables have formed about these mystical fountains that turn the old young again.

The mystical fountain of youth is in real life, hot springs.

What is a Hot Spring

Hot springs are formed when volcanic hot gas and rock heats water pushing hot water to the surface. Very hot springs often shoot out of the Earth, these are called geysers; the most famous of the geysers is Old Faithful in Yellowstone. You would not want to get in these geysers though as you would literally boil to death.

Hot Spring Near Denver

Hot Springs Temperatures

There are many hot springs that have temperatures suitable for humans from 102 to 112 degrees and Colorado has a number of them. Colorado is blessed to have a number of the best hot springs in the World; one relatively close to Denver, and a personal favorite is Cottonwood Hot Springs.

Minerals in Hot Spring Water

Hot Spring water is comprised of many minerals and elements from the depth of the Earth that can have a calming effect on the body, although how anyone reacts to these elements, if at all, is up to the individual. The list of elements in hot springs can include:

  • Sulfur
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Silica
  • Boron
  • Lithium
  • Iron
  • Others depending on the hot spring and location.

Cottonwood Hot Springs Colorado

Cottonwood Hot Springs is located in the San Isabel National Forest outside of Buena Vista, Colorado. About 2.5 hours from Denver, it is worth the travel. Click Here for the Map

Why Cottonwood Hot Springs?

Natural Looking Pools

Nice natural looking man-made pools. Sure, many of us want perfect natural pools made my nature but in reality, hot springs are a hole in the ground where hot water comes to the surface. In other words, big muddy ponds if you're lucky. Cottonwood, like other Colorado hot springs like Strawberry Springs, created natural looking pools from rocks creating clean and large hot spring pools with places to sit, room for everyone, easy to clean, yet that look naturally created and made from natural material.

Cold Plunge

Really good hot springs will have a cold stream or River nearby where adventurous individuals can soak in 104 degree hot spring water, then immerse themselves in frigid cold water. This sudden change seemingly opens up chakras and awareness shocking the system into consciousness. It's fun if your heart can handle it.

Camping, Motel, and Private Cabins

This blogger initially signed up to camp on site with my 9 year old daughter. After realizing it was going to be freezing I moved us into the motel which was lovely. There are also very nice private cabins that have their own hot springs, and a dormitory for a lower cost stay with many others for the adventurous traveler on a budget.

Cool People - Hot Springs

One of the most interesting things about hot springs anywhere in the United States are the people you meet there. At Cottonwood the pools are large enough that there is plenty of room for people, and the people at hot springs are often travelers who have been many places and are looking for other cool places to go. While some people are in hot springs in a meditative state, others are open to talk and learn from each other; the difference is obvious and easy to tell.

The employees who work at the Springs are adventurous young people who are making stories of their own. Cool to talk to and see what they are up to. (I.E. skiing in Toas, working in Buena Vista, living in a van with their dogs).

Beautiful View, Beautiful Drive

Regardless, if you drive South to Colorado Springs and then go up into the Rockies or if you go directly into the Rockies, the drive to Cottonwood Springs from Denver is glorious. You will enjoy the journey as much as the Springs.

Other Favorite Colorado Hot Springs

  • Strawberry Hot Springs - Near Steamboat Springs (New second favorite after Cottonwood)
  • Glenwood Hot Springs
  • Iron Mountain Hot Springs

While the above are our favorite here is a List of ten Colorado Hot Springs Here.

How to Prepare for Hot Springs

To prepare for visiting a hot spring first, take water. Be sure to have a non-plastic, non-glass water bottle that has a clean closeable lid. The larger the better. If you are going in the daytime be sure to have a hat or sunglasses; sitting in the hot pools under the sun is fun but having a respite from the sunlight is a must. A hat that can get wet or sunglasses will keep you from squinting at everything. A robe is a nice amendity to have at a hot spring especially in the Winter cold. When you get out of the hot water the cold will hit you fast, having a robe to put on in between pools or when you're finished, it's nice to have a robe to put on to keep you warm. Sandals, crocks, or water shoes work great as most hot springs have rocky bottoms, and often it can be slippery around the pools getting in and getting out.

Birthday Suits?

Finally, be prepared for potential nudity. Now that hot springs have become more main stream clothing is becoming more of the norm. Many hot springs are now clothing optional after dark if at all; historically hot springs are enjoyed naked and there are many people who will still wish to experience hot springs in their birthday suit. If you're concerned about this call ahead to find out the policy if there is one. In a hot spring on National Forest or public land expect there to be nudity.

Children and Hot Springs

Children can enjoy hot springs but there are many things to consider. Every child is different and every hot spring is different; some springs may have rules about kids at the spring, if the spring is private be sure to call ahead to confirm. If your child is experienced with hot tubs they should be fine. Be careful that they take breaks and that they don't run around like it is a pool. There are often slippery locations, dark areas, uneven ground; hot springs are not a playground. Also, many people have a sacred experience in hot springs where they are letting go of their stress. Relative quite helps people chill, relax, and let go; if you bring your kids be sure they understand this and are prepared to not be to loud. There were many kids at Cottonwood Hot Springs when we visited and everyone had a great time.

Energy Release, What to Expect

Hot Springs can be a little more intense than a hot tub. The minerals in the hot spring water like Boron, Magnesium, and Lithium can make the body feel sluggish or even sick. The hot water itself, as high as 112 degrees in some springs can also make you feel woozy or sick about 5-15 minutes after you first get in. When this happens don't freak out. Sit on the side of the hot spring up out of the hot water, drink your water and give your body some time to acclimate. After about 10 minutes out of the water you will be able to get back in. Drink plenty of water. This can also be a great time to cold plunge!

Bonus Tip

While hot springs become more popular the amount of time you can spend in the private hot springs becomes more limited. Often, you can purchase a 1-2 hour at a time stay. BUT, if you get a campspot on location, or stay on location at a cabin, inn, or what have you, you can get full access including night time to the hot springs. If you're really trying to enjoy the hot spring consider staying on location for the most time in the spring, and having relaxing digs between your soaks.

Fountains of Youth

The hot mineral water of hot springs help releases the stress and crud that builds up in our bodies from our daily lives (I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, just experience). Walking into the hot springs in Oregon it always seemed like the people coming out where as clear as a crystal, smiling, calm, and happy. While the people coming in where tense, stressed, and rushing. This releif of stress is why I think hot springs are the Fountain of Youth Ponce De Leon was looking for so long ago.

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