America's Most Beautiful Natural Hot Springs
From rustic to resort-chic, you’ll find a mix of natural bathing holes and man-made spas that channel the miracle water into temperature-specific pools perfect for a romantic getaway or relaxing retreat. Some are on public land in national parks, others are in hotels, restaurants, and—praise be—bars. Some require hiking boots and a map; others just a credit card. No matter what vibe you’re after, taking a dip in these restorative thermal waters is a surefire way to soak your winter blues away.
Colorado About a half-hour from the Wolf Creek Ski Area, you can soak your sore muscles post-ski in Pagosa Springs at The Springs Resort and Spa, where 23 natural pools sit along the banks of the San Juan River. Named Pagosa, the Ute word for “healing waters,” by the Southern Ute Indian tribe who first discovered these miracle springs, the geothermal waters contain 13 minerals that are dispersed to pools of varying temperatures—some of which reach up to 114 degrees. While Colorado’s mountain towns are more than blessed with hot springs, this one happens to plunge to a staggering thousand feet deep—earning it a Guinness World Record. The real selling factor, though, is that 24-hour access means you can take advantage of the dark sky community and stargaze any time you want.
Arkansas Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas, a bucolic landscape nicknamed “Valley of the Vapors” for the steam billowing from its abundant thermal waters, Hot Springs National Park is the Disneyland of natural hot springs. Since the early 20th century, “Spa City” has attracted everyone from gangsters and politicians to professional ballplayers, all of whom flocked to soak in the ornate, Gilded Age bathhouses on Bathhouse Row. Today, only two of said bathhouses, Quapaw and Buckstaff, are actually used for bathing, and feature traditional tubs in lavish facilities that look like something on the Titanic. Quapaw has both private rooms and a massive communal area with numerous pools ranging in temperature from 95ºF to 104ºF, while Buckstaff has been offering private soaks—plus a full range of other spa services—since 1912. Al Capone isn’t usually someone to take advice from, but hell, he had good taste in hot springs.
Utah With temperatures that range from a brisk 65°F to a steamy 134°F, the various pools at Utah’s Crystal Hot Springs have been a soothing balm for centuries. Long before the town of Honeyville was established, Native American tribes and Chinese railroad workers soaked up some of the most mineral-rich waters on the planet here—a tradition that continues today, but now with the addition of warm water slides and waterfall grottos. Open year-round, the resort boasts three mineral hot tubs, a soaking pool, and an Olympic-size pool, plus an on-site campground with tent and RV sites.
Arizona The definitional oasis in the desert, Castle Hot Springs is a beacon of relaxation and luxury in Arizona’s Bradshaw Mountains, about an hour north of Phoenix (as well as from Scottsdale, the “Spa Capital of the US”). In centuries past, local tribes like the Apache and the Yavapai basked in these crystal-clear springs, which, at 120°F, are among the hottest non-volcanic springs in the world. Now home to a lavish resort with perfectly manicured lawns and al fresco tasting menus, the natural pools are picture-perfect in their canyon confines, surrounded by green-tinted rocks and cacti. The springs are only accessible to resort guests, which adds to the overall peace and quiet of the whole experience.