The deepest geothermal hot spring in the world is at the Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This small town in the southwest corner of the state has three resorts with soaking pools fed from the Mother Spring.
I got to the Springs Resort right at sunset, which was about 5pm thanks to the time change. I quickly checked in and settled into my room in the main building. The rooms at Springs Resort are oversized. Mine room has a large seating area, kitchenette with a fridge, microwave, coffee maker and sink, bathroom with a tub/shower and large bedroom. The bedroom has a second door adding extra soundproofing to the room for a quiet night’s sleep.
Hungry from drive and skipping lunch, I headed over to the Grill on property and ordered take out. I ate my dinner of a bean burger and sweet potato fries while watching the Yellowstone Season 4 premiere. Not exactly a relaxing series to watch, but I enjoyed the downtime none the less. As a nightcap I took a quick soak in the VIP guests only area of the 24 soaking pools then drifted off to sleep.
I started the next day with sunrise visits to the Mother Springs and soaking pools. The Mother Spring is on the ground of the Springs Resort. It’s next to the lobby. The Mother Spring is usually around 140°F but can fluctuate between 130-144°F depending on the season and weather. Guinness World Records certified it as the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring at a level of 1002 feet. That’s as far as the plumb line could go when they measured so it’s actually depth is unknown. It was the Southern Ute Tribe to first discover the Mother Spring.
Pagosa was the name given to the springs by the Utes. “Pah” is a Ute word meaning water and “gosa” means boiling. The phrase “healing water” is the widely accepted definition. The Southern Utes believes the hot spring was a gift from the Great Spirit. Legend has it that a plague fell on the Utes and all of the medicine men were unable to find a cure. In desperation, a tribal council was called to the banks of the San Juan River where they built an enormous bonfire to send a message to their gods asking for help. The tribal council danced and prayed around the great fire until exhausted into slumber. When they woke, they found the fire had burned out and in its place was a pool of boiling water. By drinking from and bathing in the waters from the boiling springs the Utes were healed. What a wonderful legend!
I spent a quiet hour enjoying the soaking pools. Sipping coffee while soaking at sunrise with the views was a great way to start a chilly morning. The pools are 89-114°F. The temperature is based on flow volume through pipes from the Mother Spring. The faster the flower, the warmer the pool temperatures. The slower the flow, the cooler the temperature. The pools get temperature checks every two hours. My favorite coffee and soaking spot is a small pool named Clouds in My Coffee. It has a temperature around 102°F and the view is outstanding. It’s like a perch high up on the terrace of pools into the San Juan River. As an overnight guest of the Springs Resort, you get 24-hour access to the soaking pools. It’s a special amenity for guests.
From 8-9a I did something I had never done and it’s counting as one of my adventures in my year of 50 places to 50. I took an aqua yoga class in a geothermal pool. The instructor Will started the class with neck rolls then eye rolls, another part of yoga I hadn’t experienced before. With head still I moved my eyes going around the clock. Will cued us to close our eyes to re-set then we did it counter-clockwise. I immediately decided I needed to add this simple exercise to my morning route. I loved doing sun salutations in the pool and then on to balancing poses. I do yoga regularly and the wobble from the water took a few moments to get used to but I quickly found I was able to go deeper in the postures while in the therapeutic hot spring pool. The float exercise was a moment to let go and relax. Ironically, one of the harder moments in class for me. We closed class with a wonderful meditation. I loved the affirmation Will shared of, “I flow with the rhythm of the river of life.” I stayed soaking for just a bit longer but most of the class followed Will for a cold plunge in the San Juan River. “Contrast bathing” of a hot soak immediately followed by a cold immersion is an ancient practice that’s been know to help build the immune system, treat allergies and other ailments.
Post aqua yoga class, I grabbed a quick breakfast at the cafe. The peanut butter crunch crepe with peanut butter, bananas and granola was delicious and filling. I only had about an hour before I headed over to the spa for their signature Magnesium Muscle Melt. It’s a body scrub treatment and it’s fabulous. It’s a scrub with magnesium, one of the minerals found in the soaking pools. Hot towels help the scrub melt into the skin and then followed by a rich shea butter which is blended with Tree of Life essential oil to bring an earthy element to the treatment. My therapist Theresa was a delight and she laughed when I said I was not getting up and going back to facing the real world. I went for a short walk enjoying the blissful serenity I was in on a beautiful day in Pagosa.
For a late lunch I walked over to Kip’s Grill and Cantina. I started with chips and salsa while sipping an Arnold Palmer (ice tea and lemonade). I debated between the nachos or fish tacos. My server Michelle said the fish tacos are the locals’ favorite but she loves the nachos. I decided to try the favorite and went for the tacos topped with cheese and avocado and a side of their cilantro, lime and sour cream dipping sauce. They were outstanding and so was the service. I commented to Michelle how much I appreciated her nurturing and serving spirit with table of one and what I saw while dining. I’ve been to Pagosa multiple times and this is my favorite dining experience and there wasn’t even a cocktail or glass of wine involved!
Late afternoon I went for a walk stopping at the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership domes. There are three of them. Two are filled with plants, trees and herbs. One is under construction and it looks like its going to be a hydroponic greenhouse.
I continued on and enjoyed the late fall scenery of the conservation wetlands as the sun was quickly setting.
On the way back to the Springs, I popped in Root House Coffee, my favorite coffee shop in Pagosa. It was closing time but I was still able to order a peppermint tea and the pimento cheese with crackers snack pack. I was still full from lunch but I knew I would want something later for a light dinner as I retreated to my room for a relaxing evening.
After an early morning segment for The Weather Channel on the deepest geothermal hot spring in the world and hot spring destinations, my morning will likely include another aqua session in a geothermal pool followed by a forest bathing hike. I’ve been want to try the ancient Japanese ritual and got to chance on this visit. I realized I need more meditation in the woods in my life!
Jennifer Broome has traveled extensively across Colorado, including visiting Pagosa multiple times. Check out blog How to Spend a Winter Day in Pagosa Springs for days off the slopes this winter. For another unusual spot near Pagosa, check out blog on Colorado’s only geyser.