My friend Nicole had never been to Colorado, let alone a hot spring. I wanted to try to get her an amazing Colorado experience in the few days we had together, so I decided on mountains, dunes (see our previous blog post here) and hot springs. All of this was within a reasonable distance from Denver, and not too far from each other. For the full Colorado experience, I determined hot springs with clothing optional were the most appropriate choice.
Whether you’re a Colorado native, a transplant or just a visitor, hot springs are always a great choice. Our state has a number of natural hot springs to choose from. Each unique in their own way; some have been turned into resorts and are semi commercialized, others are so remote you have to hike your way to them.
I decided to take Nicole to Valley View Hot Springs, which I had never been to. This place stood out to me mostly because it was easily accessible without having to hike, and was in the middle of nowhere. The grounds are run by Orient Land Trust. Just 3 hours and 20 minutes outside of Denver, this place is a hidden gem. The next closest town is Moffat, which is 40 minutes away. If you’re looking for a true secluded experience, this is it. Your cell won’t have much service, and the only place on the grounds with internet is the lobby. Please note, unlike some hot springs, Valley View is clothing optional at ALL hours.
We arrived after sunset and were greeted by the friendly staff who gave us the run down of the grounds. We didn’t get a glimpse of the grounds until morning, which by the way are beautiful. For some reason, I love arriving to places at night so I can be surprised when I wake up. Upon arrival, we made some pasta and headed to the springs immediately. It was a chilly night in mid November, but as soon as we entered the pool, all was right with the world.
Valley View has a variety of soaking springs you can find along nature trails. Each are different temperatures and offer different scenery and views. The springs towards the top are the coolest, and the ones closest to the bottom near the sauna/pool are the warmest. You can find people congregating there at night when the temperature drops. The grounds also have a heated spring swimming pool and a sauna. Bonus about the sauna? There’s a cold temperature little dipping pool inside to cool off. Valley view is surrounded by grassy plains mostly, but you can see still the mountains. Each spring is surrounded by grass and trees. By the time we arrived, many of the leaves had fallen, but it was beautiful nonetheless. I loved it because it felt less commercialized than places like Steamboat and Glenwood Springs. The best part of the area was that there was virtually nothing around. which allowed for us to be one with nature and provided crystal clear views of the night sky and the Milky Way. Be sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight, the grounds are completely dark when the sun goes down.
Here are a few shots of the pools, don’t mind the rain and fog:
Floating on my back, naked in a hot spring, staring up at the stars, and thinking about how amazing life is was easily one of my favorite moments I’ve had in Colorado in the past 2 years. Talk about being present. The water drowned out the sounds of fellow guests, and the warmth of the springs held me tight as I reflected; thinking about nothing and everything at the same time. There was a small meteor shower to top it off. I could have easily cried tears of joy in this moment.
The amateur photographer I am, I decided try my hand at some night shots, braving the cold. Lets just say, it’s time for me to upgrade my Canon Rebel because it isn’t achieving the shots I want. Suggestions are welcome.
If you’re new to the hot spring game and are concerned about nudity, my best advice is to just be open. No one here cares what you look like, or if you decide to keep your swimsuit on. Do whatever feels most comfortable to you. Maybe it’s as simple as taking your swim suit top off when its dark, and keeping fully covered during the day. For many people, being totally nude and one with nature is liberating. We met many people who chase hot springs, but keep coming back to this one as their most favorite place. What we found entertaining was meeting people at night, without ever knowing anything but their voice and stories, and then in the daylight, realizing we had already met them the previous night and shared an excellent conversation.
Overall, I highly recommend Valley View and would love to go back. It is open year round and offers camp sites, car camping, RV site parking, and cabin and commune stays. We opted to stay in the Sunset House, which had a private bedrooms, but a shared kitchen and a shared bathroom. The lobby does offer some snacks if you’re hungry, but don’t rely on it to have everything. The kitchen as everything you will need to cook a meal and store your food. Another pro- even after you check out, you have access to the grounds until 10pm. I felt that all of it is extremely reasonably priced and it does claim to be family friendly. Although it was not common, I did see one family with children. Bonus? You can bring your furry friend to some areas of the ground for a small fee!
What to bring:
-warm fuzzy robe
-towel for the springs
-headlamp or flashlight
-hat if your head gets cold
-towel for a shower/camping
-Do your grocery shopping before coming unless you want to drive 40-50 minutes to a store
-stay hydrated, hot springs can dehydrate you
-make a reservation prior to coming visit, see the website or call 719-256-4315
-Visit Great Sand Dunes National Park while you’re here! It’s only about 1.5 hours away and totally worth it, check out our previous blog post for details
If you have any other favorite hot springs or cool spots and would like to share, feel free to send me an email with a short post and a photo to kayley at tribeoutdoors.co for the chance to be featured on our page.