Relax, rejuvenate at The Springs

  • May 03, 2021
  • Northwest Prime Time

I just had one of the best nights of sleep ever! This is a remarkable feat coming from someone with insomnia issues, who often tosses and turns the hours away as her brain refuses to turn itself off. So, you’ll forgive me if I sound giddy with enthusiasm.

I credit this heavenly night’s rest to The Springs Resort & Spa. Located in the charming little hamlet of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, the property is known for having the most geothermal hot-spring-fed pools in the state.

When I say you have options when it comes to soaking, that’s an overstatement. There are actually twenty-four 100% mineral-water pools, including a mineral-water swimming pool, with temps ranging from 83-114 degrees Fahrenheit. Feel free to try them all because each offers a unique experience. It’s not only the temperature, but the size, shape, location and even the view that differs from one pool to another. You can be assured you’ll find at least one to satisfy your comfort level.

The “Great Pagosah Spring” was discovered hundreds of years ago by inhabitants of the Southern Ute Tribe. The Native Americans held it in great esteem for its healing and rejuvenating qualities. “Pagosah” is the Ute word for “healing waters.”

Later, the first settlers in the area came upon it after noticing human footprints leading from the bubbling ground. Then in the mid-1800s, the U.S. Army got in on the act and began studying the medicinal effects of the springs, concluding that the waters were highly beneficial.

The first bath house was built in 1881, four years after Pagosa was designated a town, and visitors came from all over to “take the waters.” This boon lasted for several decades, but once rail service to Pagosa ceased and the field of medicine made notable advances, health tourism declined. It wasn’t until the 1950s that interest in this pursuit resumed.

The 50s saw the rise of motels and The Springs Resort, which was originally called The Spring Inn, began to attract travelers. One of its most famous visitors was John Wayne, who came to Pagosa to film the movie, “The Cowboys.”

Though the Inn went out of business in the 1980s, it got a second chance at life when it was purchased by new owners in the early 90s. If you were to have soaked at the place back then, you would have had your choice of only four plastic tubs, which were fed by a garden hose and often corroded.

The Great Pagosah Spring, which sits outside the resort’s entrance building, actually holds the title of “World’s Deepest Measured Geothermal Hot Spring.” It was measured at one time to a whopping 1,002 feet deep. Admire it, but know that it’s much too hot for soaking. The spring’s major role is feeding the geothermic mineral water to each of the twenty-four soaking pools.

A sign outside each of the pools gives the temperature of the water, and these temps are checked at various times of the day and altered accordingly. I felt like Goldilocks, as I sampled each, eventually finding my favorites like The Cliffs, which is reached by a watery pathway leading across the Golden Pond. Or Top O’ The Morning, with its waterfalls. I also loved Twilight, tucked into a quiet corner, with its view of the San Juan River. And I had fun in several of the pools right on the river’s edge, where I could get an up-close look at the kayakers coming down the river. There’s also access to the river in “the burg” when you want to cool off between soaks for some contrast bathing.