While we were boondocking in Salida, CO I decided to take my first dip in hot springs. I knew there were some hot springs in the area and I was so excited to check them out. I’m a huge fan of hot water – whether it’s a bath or a hot tub. We used to have a hot tub at our house, and it was amazing. Until it broke. A lot. But overall I loved having a hot tub (and a nice bathtub!) and these are things I definitely missed on the road. Since I had never been to hot springs before, I wasn’t sure how the experience would differ…but it was time to find out.
I checked out the different hot springs places online. There were a couple resorts, which have soaking pools that looked beautiful. The downside was the cost. A day pass is super expensive and includes access to the whole resort. I just wanted an hour to soak in the springs, so paying for all of the extras seemed silly. I quickly came across the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center – a public facility that was basically like a public pool, except the pools are filled with spring water rather than chlorine. So maybe not as fancy as the resorts, but the price was right, and hot springs are hot springs, right? They have two different pools there. One is ~85 degrees, and the other is about ~100 degrees. Both are fed only with natural spring water, piped in from 8 miles away in the Rocky Mountains.
On the website, I noticed that the facility offered private soaking pools. What?! At first I thought this seemed kind of strange. Then I thought…I want to do that! My main reason for wanting a private pool is that you can make the water as hot as you want. I know from owning a hot tub that 100 degrees feels good, but is by no means hot. And I love when the water is hot, hot, hot. So I called, booked an hour in a private pool for only $12. Admission into the facility is $11, so for a dollar more it was well worth it.
I was curious how this whole process worked. When I arrived at the center, I got my pass. I then walked back to the hallway that housed the private soaking rooms. I clipped my pass to the sign outside of my room. A lifeguard stopped by and showed me the ropes of how the room worked: take a shower before entering. There are two spouts that you use to fill the soaking pool. One is cold spring water, the other is super hot. Mix them to make whatever temperature is right for you. Use the drain stopper to start to fill the pool. Keep an eye on the time (there was a clock in the room)…and enjoy!
I remember being curious if the private rooms were indeed private. I thought maybe they would have partial walls…but no, these rooms were indeed totally private with walls that went to the ceiling and a door that you could lock. This surprised me. I guess I don’t really trust people! But the water that came out of the pipes was so hot I couldn’t even touch it. To think that people could potentially fill a pool with water that is way too hot and then pass out in there or something…the thought kind of creeped me out. I brought water with me and made sure I didn’t stay in the hot water for too long without taking a break.
I was also curious if the pools would be clean. It’s weird to think about soaking in a pool that someone else was just in, but I guess that’s not really any different than using the same large pool that tons of other people use! Regardless, this was something else that also creeped me out a little bit. Thankfully the pool seemed clean and I didn’t notice any hairs or other particles floating around in the water.
The room was also NOT fancy. It didn’t have any ambiance, and had locker room vibes. Despite this, I loved the experience of soaking in super hot spring water. I brought my Kindle and read and just enjoyed the feeling of relaxation and restoration. I do think there is something to be said for soaking in spring water vs regular old pool water. It makes your skin feel amazing and truly does feel restorative.
I enjoyed the hot springs so much that we came back the next day with Calla, Tim, and Tim’s dad to enjoy the public pools.
My first into to hot springs was a success and we’ve since explored a couple other hot springs, including some particularly lovely ones in Bozeman, Montana that had the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center beat by a mile. I’m thankful that the town of Salida opened this facility to make the springs more accessible to everyone, and if you are ever in the area, treat yourself to a private soaking pool experience!