Your Oasis in the Mountains

Article & Photos by Dede Ogden

As we drove through the Colorado Mountains with snow covered the peaks and clear blue skies. I couldn’t help but see lush valleys, tall timbers, and sparkling rivers that captivated me. Around a corner and to my right, directly off the San Juan River, steam rose into the air.

There within the 2.5 million acres of national forestwas the deepest geothermal hot spring in the world according to The Guinness Book of World Records. 1002 feet deep with the healing powers of the minerals, called The Great Pagosa Hot Springs. Named originally by the Ute Indians, Pagosa Springs is located outside of Durango. In the 1800’s several bathhouses were constructed and the town grew around the Great Pagosa Hot Springs that are fed by a Mother Spring that taps into the Pagosa Springs aquifer.

Today 5 relaxation terraces and 23 therapeutic pools all range between 83 to 114 degreesFahrenheit along the banks of the San Juan River.  Find your “ONE pool” to help relieve symptoms of arthritis, eliminating body toxins, strengthen bones and benefits that improve your musculoskeletal system while preventing fatigue and aiding in digestion. A short walk to the Mother Spring revealed an intense sulfur smell and thick  team that you could barely see through. The Mother Spring is a constant temperature between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the season.

If you’re feeling adventurous, move from one pool to another while listening to the lapping sound of the San Juan River. As I watched people soak in these partysized pools I couldn’t help but remember the movie “Dante’s Peak” where people lost their lives in the hot

springs fed by a volcano. The bathhouse manager eased my mind when I learned these geothermal pool temperatures are maintained daily by staff to check for even a 3-degree change. Signs at each entrance show the pool’s name with their temperatures that vary depending on the size of pipes entering each pool from the Mother Spring. The stories fascinated me about how these miraculous mineral springs had natural healing effects on people. People would come and take buckets of water home to help their acne and to ease their asthma. One visitor actually took tap water from the springs and soaked their cat in it. They swore that their cat got better.

Some recommendations include avoid drinking large amounts of the water or not showering after bathing to keep in the minerals so they can heal your body. With a mineral combination of Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Chloride, Fluoride, Iron, Sulfate and Zinc to name a few, its no wonder the waters have a natural laxative effect.

Daily passes at the Bathhouse include a robe, towel, locker and showers to enjoy the mineral rich soaking pools. A cantina offering food and drinks sits perched above the San Juan River amongst the 23 springs. Kids enjoy the springs in their designated area to give privacy for adults. 24-hour access to the springs is an extra special treat if staying on the property. I couldn’t help but smile as we soaked in the mineral pools gazing out at the river and seeing the recent snowfall gathered on the terrace and palapas throughout the property.

Whether you’re looking for rest, relaxation or adventure in the warmth of the spring or the coolness of the mountain air, Pagosa Springs has it all. These hot mineral springs still hold an allure and aura of mystery. People continue to attest to the curative powers of the springs and the invigorating experience.


Dede Ogden is a travel writer when she gets to escape her job as a Cardiac Imaging Specialist focusing on people’s health and their hearts. She’s always on the lookout for new adventures that invigorate her mind, body and spirit. Maybe it’s in the ocean on a catamaran or driving in a sand buggy throughout the desert with the wind whipping through her hair. She’s got her camera at her fingertips to capture unique moments and to help tell a story.



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