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Soaking in Celebration: Blissful Birthdays in Hot Springs

When I was 26, I decided I needed to find a tradition for my "adult" birthday. Let's be honest...adult birthdays are weird. Very rarely do you wake up to a special breakfast, balloons, and lots of presents. Usually, you go to work. Sometimes you spend the evening with friends and family, but sometimes you just spend the evening alone. I decided I needed to start a tradition, on my birthday, of doing something (1) I loved, (2) that made me feel good, and (3) could be done with friends or alone.


The Four Corners area of southwest USA is somewhat of a hot springs meca, so I decided I would visit a new hot springs each year on my birthday.


I've been spending my birthdays at hot springs since I was 26 and it's the best birthday tradition. Here is my list of hot springs birthdays:


  • Age 26 Valley View Hot Springs, Moffat, Colorado 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥💧

  • Age 27 Jemez Springs Bath House, Jemez Springs, New Mexico 🔥🔥🔥🔥💧

  • Age 28 Riverbend Hot Springs & Sunnyville Hot Springs Resort, Truth or Consequences, Colorado 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥💧

  • Age 29 Durango Hot Springs, Durango, Colorado 🔥🔥🔥💧🔥🔥🔥💧

  • Age 30 Gamla Laugin, Flú∂ir, Iceland 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥💧

  • Age 31 Wiesbaden Hot Springs, Ouray, Colorado 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥💧

  • Age 32 Wiesbaden Hot Springs (again) & Lorelei Pool, Ouray, Colorado 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥💧



Bubbling Birthdays: The Ultimate Hot Springs Birthday Guide

Are you looking for your own hot springs bliss? I've crafted 2 incredible itineraries of Colorado & New Mexico hot springs:


Itinerary 1: Ageless Joy: Journey through New Mexico and Colorado's Hot Springs Haven

Traverse from the deserts of New Mexico to the mountains of Colorado, visit 4 natural hot springs, and several historic Puebloan sites.

Fly into Albuquerque's International Sunport and head directly to Jemez Springs, New Mexico (1 hour, 15-minutes).


Jemez Springs, New Mexico

Stop by Soda Dam on the drive into the town of Jemez. While you can't soak in these springs, it's pretty cool to see the 7,000+ year-old build-up of calcium carbonite.


Once you are in the town of Jemez Springs, you have several choices on where to stay & soak. The Jemez Hot Springs has several small cabins for $200 and up, or there are several other accommodations like the Laughing Lizard Inn, where you'll also get a $10 discount to the Jemez Hot Springs. If you don't stay at Jemez Hot Springs or the Laughing Lizard, a one-hour pass costs $25. (Jemez Hot Springs is closed on Tuesdays.)


If you want a more "private" experience, you can rent a bathtub at the Jemez Springs Bathhouse for $18 - $25. (My friends and I did this one year, it's really kind of fun to be put in 3 tubs separated by a curtain and laugh and talk while soaking!)


While you are in Jemez Springs, you should also check out the Jemez National Historical Landmark (open Wednesday - Sunday, $7 per person.) The site is home to a 700-year-old Puebloan village and a 17th-century Catholic mission.


Ojo Caliente, Taos County, New Mexico

Make sure to leave Jemez Springs with ample time! It's less than a 2-hour drive to Ojo Caliente, but you want to make sure to enjoy the wonder and beauty of Valles Caldera National Preserve.


If you also have the time, drop into Bandelier National Monument. This is a fascinating historical site where early humans carved dwellings into the soft volcanic tuff. The monument has been inhabited by humans for at least 11,000 years. Bandelier has several options for hiking trails, but even taking the 1.4-mile Main Loop Trail will show you the beauty & history Bandelier has to offer.


Ojo Caliente is one of New Mexico's most well-known hot springs resorts. I recommend staying at the lodge if you can afford it. The adjoining restaurant is delicious and you'll get complimentary soaking too. (A day pass is $45 - $65, depending on the day you come in.)


Pagosa Springs, Colorado

From Ojo Caliente take the 2.5-hour drive to Pagosa Springs in Colorado. Again, make sure to leave with enough time to drive through Chama and admire the gorgeous views outside the car window. The drive through Chama, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful drives in the southwest. Stop for lunch in Chama at Local, a restaurant that strives to serve food made with local ingredients (as the name suggests).


Once again, if you have the money I suggest staying at the Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs. A day pass at the Resort will cost $60, and soaking is complimentary with lodging.


Durango Hot Springs, Durango, Colorado

The final hot spring on our itinerary is located in Durango, Colorado, a 90-minute drive from Pagosa Springs.


If you have time – and are visiting between May 15 - October 15 – you can take a tour at Chimney Rock National Monument. This is another Puebloan historical site with over 200 homes. Since 2023, there has been a $20 entrance fee.


Durango Hot Springs is about 15 minutes outside of downtown Durango. Since the Pandemic, Durango Hot Springs has required a reservation, although I've never been turned away (just make sure to call ahead). During the Pandemic the hot springs also underwent. pretty major renovations, adding multiple smaller pools on the hillside. There is now an "adult only" section (which I love), and a cafe. The hot springs have a $39 fee for a 2-hour soak.


If you are staying in Durango, you'll have to find somewhere other than the resort, as the hot springs do not have lodging.


After Durango Hot Springs, you could choose to fly out of Durango-La Plata County Airport or drive the 3-hour, 45-minutes back to Albuquerque.


Total Drive Time: 6 hours, 50 minutes – 355 miles

 

Itinerary 2: Mile-High Birthday Bliss: Celebrating YOU in Colorado's Hot Springs

Visit 5 of Colorado's most iconic hot springs and travel through the most beautiful mountains – Colorado's Rockies.

Fly into Denver International Airport, rent a car, and head directly to Mount Princeton Hot Springs in Nathrop, Colorado. It's a beautiful 2-hour, 45-minute drive through the Rocky Mountains.


Mount Princeton Hot Springs, Nathrop, Colorado

Mount Princeton Hot Springs has a resort attached to the hot springs. Staying at the Springs includes entrance to the hot springs on the day of check-in, your full stay & on the day of checkout, discounts on spa treatments, and free mountain bike, fat bike, or ski rentals. If you don't want to stay at the resort, can get day passes for $40 ($45 on the weekends) until 9 PM.


Ouray, Colorado

Ouray, Colorado: you have a couple of hot springs to pick from in Ouray. I've been to both the Ouray Hot Springs ($26 day-pass) and Wiesbaden Hot Springs & Lodge ($25 for 2 hours), but you can also stay at Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs and gain access to their 7 red cedar hot spring tubs. If you want to "catch 'em all", stay at Box Canyon & visit the others during your downtime.


While you are in Ouray, I highly recommend visiting Box Cañon Falls & Nature Center. There is a $7 entrance fee, which is well worth it. The falls are beautiful and the geology of the area is fascinating.


From Ouray, it's time to drive the million-dollar highway to Durango. This is a beautiful & scenic drive (if a little terrifying). I suggest stopping as much as you can to take pictures (and let the locals pass!) or just catch your breath! If you have time, the little town of Silverton is also interesting to walk around. I recommend Coffee Bear for some food & a cup of jo and the San Juan County Mining Heritage Museum to learn some history.


Durango Hot Springs, Durango, Colorado

Durango Hot Springs is my hometown hot springs. Locals can get an annual discount pass, punch passes, or unlimited passes, but guests will have to pay $39 for 2.5 hours of soaking. The Hot Springs underwent a renovation in 2019 or 2020 which added multiple adult-only pools, which I adore. You can also book massages, swim laps, take a plunge in the cold pool and order food/drink at Durango Hot Springs. This place really has it all (except a large enough women's locker room).


Unfortunately, Durango Hot Springs does not have lodging, so you'll need to drive the 15 minutes it takes to get into Durango, Colorado. I've always wanted to stay at the General Palmer Hotel, a beautiful & historic hotel in downtown Durango. I also recommend eating at El Moro Tavern, it has excellent food and great cocktails.


Pagosa Hot Springs, Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Pagosa Hot Springs Resorts has all sorts of passes, like Durango Hot Springs, but a single-day pass will cost $60 per adult. You can also choose to stay at the Resort, which includes the cost of soaking. While you are in Pagosa, definitely check out the Pagosa Baking Company. This is my go-to spot for breakfast when I'm driving up to Denver. It has great coffee, incredible food, and even more incredible bread!


Valley View Hot Springs, Orient Land Trust, Moffat, Colorado

Valley View Hot Springs is one of my favorite natural hot springs in Colorado. It is somewhat of a resort – in that you can stay there and schedule bodywork & massages – although Valley View is also a clothing-optional facility. Valley View is owned & operated by the Orient Land Trust, a charitable non-profit, so entrance is a little cheaper ($17 for a "quick dip" and $34 for the day & overnight). You can also stay in the lodges or choose from one of their many tent & RV campsites. While at Orient Land Trust (OLT for short) take a hike to the Orient mine & historic town. In the summer, over 250,000 Mexican Free-tail bats roost in the old mine shaft!


From OLT, you are only 1 hour away from the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This is, personally, one of my favorite parks in Colorado. I highly recommend going - hike along the largest sand dunes in North America and enjoy the beauty of Colorado.


After Valley View, it's time to head back to Denver Airport, a 3.5-hour drive.


Total Drive Time: 14 hours, 45 minutes – 788 miles

 

Girl sits in hot spring with calcium build up behind
My most recent birthday trip, in the Vapor Cave at Wiesbaden

If you have any questions about Colorado, New Mexico, or hot springs, or need more ideas for planning your vacation, please reach out! If you want to rant about your favorite hot spring that I missed, let me know! Email corteztours@gmail.com with questions or suggestions



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