I Soaked in the Deepest Hot Spring in the World — Here's How You Can, Too

I traveled all the way to Colorado just to take a bath. And it was worth it.

Golden pond bridge at Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Courtesy of Springs Resort & Spa

Like most pandemic-weary humans, I've been seeking ways to de-stress just about anywhere I can find it. I am lucky enough to have a bathtub at home and love to impulse-buy bubbles and salts. I'm a novelist and not a medical professional, but I can attest to the fact that a lavender bath salt seems to work wonders. So, when I read that The Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, hired Dr. Marcus Coplin, a naturopathic medical doctor, as its first on-site medical director, I was intrigued. Dr. Coplin's goal is to help guests understand the power of mineral-rich water to treat ailments from insomnia to arthritis. And so, I thought, I enjoy books about Victorian-era heroines "taking the waters" in Switzerland or Budapest, could the age-old cure work for people like me?

At more than 1,002 feet deep, the Mother Spring aquifer is the deepest geothermal hot spring in the world. The Ute People discovered the spring hundreds of years ago, and the waters have been used for healing ever since — indirectly. You see, the Mother Spring itself is too dangerous for people as it comes with a surface temperature of around 131 degrees Fahrenheit, making it far too warm for human exposure. But, its waters are pumped into the pools around the spa, which come with varying temperatures to suit everyone's mood. The waters contain 13 minerals, including potassium, magnesium, zinc, lithium, iron, and manganese, which the hotel alleges can promote healthy skin, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones and muscles, increase energy, and much more. 

When I first arrived at The Springs Resort & Spa, a resort featuring 79 rooms and suites and 25 soaking pools, I made a beeline to the Mother Spring. There, I took a deep, chest-expanding breath and inhaled the scent of sulfur mixed with chilly mountain air. This was when I realized why the Ute who came before us called this place "Pah Gosa," which loosely translates to "water with a bad smell." Don't worry. The smell dissipates as quickly as it comes, allowing you to focus on the task at hand: total relaxation. 

Yes, the bubbling, azure aquifer at the resort is a marvel. Though, you don't even have to be a guest to experience it, as the soaking pools fed by its depths can be accessed for free along the San Juan River in downtown Pagosa Springs or by hiking to the Piedra River Hot Springs or the more remote Rainbow Hot Springs. 

Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado during autumn

Courtesy of Springs Resort & Spa

After meeting the mother, I made my way to my spacious suite, where I discovered an array of wellness goodies and several "soaking guides" penned by Dr. Coplin. The guides suggested just how long to soak and how to make the most of the experience — including what to eat before and after and what temperature is optimal — along with explanations of what happens in the body during contrast bathing. 

"It is incredibly beneficial for the person soaking to understand how the different temperature levels can affect their body," Coplin shared, "so they can journey through multiple stages of hydrothermal self-guided wellness to receive long-lasting and exceptional results." Next to the guides sat a "cell phone sleep sack," which felt like just the right mix of suggestion and command to turn off the rest of the world and settle into this restorative experience. 

According to my personalized soaking guide, I was meant to eat a nutritious dinner with protein, heavy greens, and high fiber. That was easy, thanks to The Barefoot Grill, the on-site restaurant located next to the soaking pools. Its menu came with two sides — Comfort Food and Health/Wellness Food. I went for a bit of both, ordering a burger with a delicious kale salad and one of the resort's divine mocktails.

Then, as my guide suggested, I made my way to the spring, which sat just outside my window, to experience its magic for myself. 

Aerial view of Mother Spring at Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Courtesy of Springs Resort & Spa

It was evening as I approached the soaking pools, selecting the warmest one. I eased myself into the water and exhaled as it surrounded me. I lay back and looked at the stars; my muscles seemed to ease one by one. The mineral-rich water pressed against my skin. It felt like the best bath in the world, the crisp air on my face a tonic. I switched between various temperature pools for a while, and when I returned to my room, I felt peaceful.

Sitting in the warm water isn't the only way to unwind here. The resort also offers wellness activities ranging from aqua yoga to sound baths, a "Hang Time" experience (a sound bath while hanging in a hammock underneath Aspen trees), and more. The resort also offers a guided contrast bathing ritual called the Warrior Plunge, which involves alternating soaking in hot water, then dunking into a freezing cold plunge pool to help shock your system. According to the resort, this therapy "increases blood circulation, flushes the body of toxins, and reduces muscle inflammation. It is a natural way to exercise your vascular system by expanding and constricting your blood vessels." There is some science to back up these claims. However, the clinical jury appears to still be out on if it will cure you of all that ails you. But, the most important takeaway is, do you feel better after? If you do, that's what matters. 

Though the resort was the main attraction on my trip, I'd be remiss not to say that the Pagosa Springs area has a lot more going on outside the property, too. From hot air balloon rides over the Pagosa Mountains with Rocky Mountain Balloon Adventures to art galleries like Two Old Crows, it's a destination worthy of exploration. While I didn't want to leave the soaking pools, the town's delicious dining options, like Kip's GrillOld Miner'sAlley House Grill, and Root Coffee, beckoned. 

Golden pond bridge at Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Courtesy of Springs Resort & Spa

I left The Springs Resort & Spa with the feeling I came for: renewal. And yes, I took the soaking guides and some bath salts home with me to try to recreate the magic, though I doubt I'll ever be as successful in my tiny little tub. Dr. Coplin added that he hoped guests would return again and again to The Springs, allowing the mineral-rich soaking pools, nourishing food, enjoyable classes, and spa treatments to help recover from the stresses of daily life and address complex health issues like arthritis and anxiety. You know, just like going home again and getting a warm hug from a mother figure. 

Learn more about The Springs and book a visit here

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