Ouray’s Hot Springs
Swimming and soaking
Open year round
Showers, lockers, changing areas
By Liz Simpson
There is something magical about watching steam rise off water into chilly mountain air. Relaxation follows naturally, like the exhale after an inhale. Ouray is a magical place and part of that enchantment is the little town’s hot springs. Visitors can experience Ouray’s hot springs in a few different places; we were fortunate enough to try out two.
(Photo: http://ourayhotsprings.com/ )
Ouray Hot Springs Pool and Fitness Center was updated recently. It is gorgeous! Not only were the facilities excellent — clean showers, ample changing space, helpful and friendly staff — but the outdoor space was stunning. We’ve visited public hot springs in other countries and were met with a distinctly Soviet-feeling experience with lots of cold concrete and harsh, square corners, so we were wary about trying the pool out. In addition to a large lap pool, the center features multiple pools of varying temperatures. The layout is beautiful with curving lines and a landscaped lawn. There’s a pavilion, picnic tables, and — I think — even a fish pond. The highest pool features a sort of infinity edge that pours into a lower pool as a waterfall… I think that was my favorite part. Looking out over the waterfall I could see Ouray before me and snowy peaks beyond that. The water was warm, the view was perfect, and I could’ve stayed there all day. (Visit the Ouray Hot Springs Pool website for more photos!)
Since we wanted to get the full Ouray hot springs experience, we also visited the Wiesbaden vapor caves. The Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and Lodgings has a super hot pool deep inside underground caves and a hot tub temperature pool outside. The underground pool is in the mountain beneath the Wiesbaden lodge and it is incredible. Changing areas and showers are available to visitors prior to entering the caves, which guests access from inside the lodge. The caves are a study in geology all on their own — I was fascinated by the formations of minerals created by the flow of the water over years and years. The inner cave is hot, steamy, and prehistoric feeling… like being in Earth’s womb. I’ve never really enjoyed being in caves and certainly have never felt so comfortable in one. This is a place where, if I hadn’t felt like a turkey on a rotisserie, I would have stayed for hours. After the deeply grounding energy of the caves, I appreciated the mountain air and sunshine in the pool outside even more. Since we visited in fall, neither the center nor Wiesbaden was busy and we were able to lounge as long as we wanted. I took my time moving back and forth between the outdoor and cave pools, savoring the unique spaces and the variation in water temperature. (Check out Wiesbaden’s website for great pictures from inside the caves!)
After showering and dressing, we made our way back into the world, but we were not the same as before. The hot springs have a way of slowing life and changing my perspective, reminding me that moments spent gazing at the mountains (from outside or from within) are precious and perfect. I’ll be back, Ouray.