Colorado: Home of Hot Springs and Breathtaking Views

The drive from Nebraska to Colorado consisted of a whole lot of flat farmland, so it was a welcomed change to be driving among the mountains on our way to Avalanche Ranch to experience hot springs. 

Within half an hour of leaving Denver, where we stayed the night before, we were hit by breathtaking views. Mountains rose high above the road, some covered in evergreens and snow, others speckled with bush-like foliage. There were also mountains formed of a deep red stone (thus, the name Redstone, CO).

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My ears started to pop as the elevation quickly changed with each winding turn. We drove in what felt like a never ending curve – turning right then left, over and over. We drove through mountain tunnels, and up and down steep slopes. All the while I was all too aware of signs which read “watch for falling rocks” and “avalanche zone.” It was the most challenging driving I have done on the trip so far, but it was also the most entertaining.

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After three hours, we arrived at Avalanche Ranch looking to relax and take in the view. We pulled up to find a quaint, but charming ranch along a semi-deserted road outside a small town. A golden retriever greeted us, but quickly became disinterested and took a nap once we started checking in.

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We made a reservation in advance online and we were able to sign the release form digitally. I highly recommend you do this, as the ranch also has lodging and the guests who are staying there get first dibs. No one wants to drive out of the way only to be disappointed. There are two time slots for day visitors, and the afternoon slot of 1pm-5pm made most sense for us. For $18 + $2 for a towel, we were on our way to the pools.

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The change room consisted of cubby storage shelves, a single shower and a bench. It wasn’t big by any means, but there were less than 15 people at the pools, so it didn’t pose a problem. We brought flip flops, but they weren’t necessary. You also have the option of bringing your own beverages, but no glass is allowed. I was driving, but the view and hot pool really warranted a good [plastic] glass of red.

There were three pools ranging from warm to hot. I’m not a fan of the cold pools which often accompany the hot spring experience, so I was totally happy with the fact that things were all about warmth. The hottest pool was 104 degrees, and despite the mountains, the outdoor temperature was quite mild – we left our winter coats in the car.

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The pools are filled with mineral water from the mountains and therefore it’s chemical free. This meant a bit of algae is present in the water and on the small stones which cover the bottom of the pools, but it wasn’t anything which bothered me and I can barely tolerate lakes in northern Ontario. The staff must scrub the stairs, as they were smooth, but not slippery. Since the water isn’t filled with copious amounts of chlorine, my skin was smooth and soft after I left, and I didn’t smell like I had been dipped in a vat of bleach. In the natural setting, a heavy chlorine smell would have just felt wrong.

After a couple of hours of wadding, floating and sitting, we braced ourselves for three more hours of driving to our next stopover, Utah. Driving through the mountains at night was a bit scary for a noob like me. With a speed limit of 75 miles, endless bends in the road and little to no light, it was intense. If time had permitted, it would have been great to get in some skiing during the day, and then head to Avalanche Ranch for the night. Next time!

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