Colorado, Colorado Destinations

Colorado Destinations: Mount Princeton Hot Springs

Until I moved to Colorado, I wasn’t aware of its plethora of hot springs. But if you spend any amount of time in the state – or do a google search of ‘best things to do in Colorado’ – you will quickly discover the popularity of the state’s many hot springs. While there are a handful that are still wild backcountry adventures, most have been commercialized and visiting them is somewhat expensive. It’s more than we’re willing to pay for a random weekend outing, but for an occasion such as an anniversary, for example, we decided we could justify the splurge. And so, about nine months in advance, I booked us a night at Mount Princeton Hot Springs.

(Yes, it can be necessary to book that far in advance. And yes, we’ve decided to keep celebrating our original anniversary even though we now have a wedding anniversary. We’ve been celebrating it for so many years at this point that we don’t want to give it up. Plus, it’s fun to have both a winter and a summer anniversary.)

So we set off nice and early Saturday morning, and made it four minutes down the road before realizing that I assumed Pat would wear his hiking boots (he did not) and he assumed I had packed his hiking boots (I did not). We had plans to snowshoe to a lake before going to the hot springs, so that would have been a giant bummer. More on that hike next week, I guess, since my brain has decided to write this post first.

Anyway. After our hike and some pizza in nearby Buena Vista, We arrived at the hot spring around 3:00pm and immediately worried that we’d made a huge mistake. The parking lots were overflowing, there were additional cars parked along the side of the road, and the pools were crowded. This was clearly not going to be the relaxing weekend we were anticipating.

But despite this rather poor first impression, we ended up having a lovely time! It just took a little strategizing. Leaving the crowds behind, we headed straight for the overnight guests only section of the resort. This area is home to three circular soaking pools of different temperatures and one large relaxation pool. It’s also ages 16+ and across the creek from the rest of the resort, so it was much quieter. Honestly, it’s worth it to stay overnight for this alone. I personally wouldn’t pay $35 to spend the day hanging out with hundreds of other people in the other pools.

We spent the remainder of our afternoon soaking in these four pools, which range in temperature from 99-107°F (37-42°C). Have you ever immersed your body in 107°F water? It’s extremely hot! We had to start in the cooler ones and work our way up, and even then, we only lasted a couple minutes. But the other pools, when coupled with the relatively cool air temperature (it was February at over 8000 feet of elevation), were the perfect temperature for soaking.

The evening was spent relaxing in our room, foregoing dinner at the on-site steakhouse, as neither of us much care for steak or other steakhouse-style entrees. Besides, we had leftover pizza from lunch and we’d brought a crowler from one of our favorite breweries. Even my phone charger deciding to go for a swim in Pat’s beer couldn’t ruin our enjoyment of this delicious cherry coconut stout! (For the record, it was one of those things that I couldn’t have managed if I’d tried; the plug portion of the charger fell out of my carrying case and plopped right into his pint glass.)

View from our room in Cliffside Lodge

Anyway, to get back on topic, we did go to the on-site restaurant for breakfast the next morning and it was delicious!

Almost all of the pools open daily at 9:00am so, immediately after breakfast, we made our way down to the creekside hot springs. These pools are open to all hot springs visitors; we figured by arriving first thing, we would avoid the crowds. It worked. We had an entire pool to ourselves for the next 45 minutes!

Continuing our crowd-avoidance strategy, we then made our way up to the infinity pool, which is last to open each day at 10:00am. We arrived right as it opened, along with just a few other people. Neither of us had ever been in an infinity pool before, so I don’t have any basis for comparison, but I have to imagine this is one of the more stunning locations for one. It was my favorite pool at the resort, and a wonderful way to end our stay.

Infinity pool, with Mount Princeton in the background (right of center, snow-covered and partially obscured by clouds)
Enjoying the view of Mount Antero

Mount Princeton and Mount Antero, by the way, are two of Colorado’s 14ers. Mount Princeton Hot Springs is located at the mouth of Chalk Creek Canyon – the narrow valley between the two summits. Chalk Creek Canyon earned its name from the light color and soft consistency of the rocks, which are largely made of silicate-based minerals derived from the naturally-occurring hot springs.

Although most of the pools at Mount Princeton are manmade, they are all filled with water straight from the hot springs. As we soaked in the creekside pools, we experienced the temperature fluctuations of a natural hot spring. Every once in a while, we had to move out of the way as a particularly hot spurt of water bubbled up, while the occasional burst of cold would swirl in from the rest of the creek.

Chalk Creek Canyon is the obvious low spot between Mount Antero (center) and Mount Princeton (right)

All in all, we had a lovely stay and would absolutely consider returning to Mount Princeton Hot Springs for a future anniversary weekend. The winter weather was ideal for soaking and it was overall a peaceful and relaxing experience!

39 thoughts on “Colorado Destinations: Mount Princeton Hot Springs”

  1. It really sounds like an amazing experience! I didn’t know Colorado had so many hot springs! It’s too bad that the pools were initially very crowded, but at least your crowd-avoiding strategy worked! I love the creeekside pools and the infinity pool is indeed in the perfect location. What a nice way to celebrate your anniversary!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved the hot springs too when I lived in Colorado! I think I only went to Steamboat Springs though. That’s sad you have to book months in advance now. It wasn’t like that in the 90s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never been to Steamboat Springs, maybe that will be a future destination. I don’t think you always have to book months in advance, but for certain weekends it seems to book quickly. We observed quite a few people who had come from a day of skiing so I think maybe winter is the more popular season

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Belated congratulations on your anniversary Diana. What a way to celebrate, the Cliffside Lodge looks like an amazing place to stay and experience. I’m glad that with a little strategising you were able to turn it into the stay you wanted. This is something I’d love to do one day, to have your own creekside pool must have been brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lying back in the infinity pool and soaking in the surroundings would have been my favorite activity, Diana. And I laughed out loud about your charger diving into the beer. Seems it wanted to get into the action as well, and I might add, seems to have good taste. –Curt

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  5. It’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while, especially when celebrating an anniversary. Despite it being busy, glad to hear that you managed to avoid the crowds and had a pleasant time at the hot spring. It certainly helps that there’s a separate section for the guests with some age restrictions in place. The infinity pool looks amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hot springs when it’s cold is the best! (Except when you get out and then you’re instantly freezing. Fortunately the air was warm enough for us that that didn’t happen)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a gorgeous place! It looks so inviting. I’m glad you got to experience some time to yourselves; that must have been such an amazing experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A good splurge to celebrate any anniversary, Diana. Yes, crowds or lack thereof can make a difference. Glad you managed to find some solitude. We have spent time in hot spring pools in Banff and Jasper and time spent in these pools looking at mountain scenery is definitely worth it. Have a great Wednesday. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s such a beautiful place – and great that you were able to work around the crowds of people! I especially like the Infinity pool – what a picturesque view. And I had a good giggle about your charger ending up in Pat’s beer 😄. Happy anniversary … a great place for a celebration indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. After a day of skiing, hiking, biking, running, walking or some other form of exhilarating outdoor fun, there’s nothing like a long soak in a natural hot spring. What a fantastic experience it would be to sit in the warm water in the winter as the cold air swirls around your head, perhaps even a few snowflakes falling around you. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s good to have visited these iconic springs at least once. We have done so twice, but that was years ago, and even though they were busy and we weren’t staying at the resort and therefore had to share the springs with other day users, they weren’t nearly as overrun as what you describe.
    If you don’t already know them, consider checking out the springs along Cottonwood Pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard of Cottonwood Hot Springs but never stayed there. I’ll definitely check them out. We had a great time, so I foresee more hot springs visits in our future. Thanks for the recommendation!

      Liked by 1 person

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