Alana Dylan The Paw Print
Joyful Journey Hot Springs:
At the confluence of Highways 285 and 17 sits Joyful Journey Hot Springs. A mere hour north of Alamosa, this is the closest hot springs that is worth the visit. Camping, lodge rooms, yurts and tipis are available if you need to decompress for the weekend. A day pass to the hot springs is $15. The property was recently remodeled and is well maintained. However, in my opinion, the investment could have been better spent updating the pools and locker rooms. They are in fair condition and a bit worn out but the views from the pools are justification enough for a visit. The locker rooms are just shy of dreadful so don’t forget your flip-flops. Each pool is tiled in and surrounded by wood decking, which diminishes the natural experience. The hottest pools are plenty hot and when you need a break from the heat the pools are close enough together to move from one to the other without much interruption. Although the poolside views are magnificent, it’s worth noting that the predominant view is eastward (San Juans) so plan your sunset viewing accordingly. Please check their website for details and pricing.
Valley View Hot Springs (at Orient Land Trust) and Camp Ground:
A little over an hour away is Valley View Hot Springs. It is about 7 miles east of the intersection on Highways 285 and 17. The dirt road to the hot springs is unmarked and bumpy, yet manageable. Don’t expect signage, just continue east once you turn off on Colorado Road GG. You must park and walk into the Welcome Center to pay before driving onto the property and parking. The Welcome Center offers free coffee, tea, water and oatmeal to all guests. Camping and cabins are available. There are many short hikes on this property if you plan to spend a weekend here, as well as a Bat Cave and a tour of the Orient Mine. A day pass to soak is just $15. The common areas were outdated and worn. I came dressed for this outing and did not visit the bathhouse. Though Valley View is relatively close and in a presumably beautiful area, this is my least favorite hot spring. The main reason Valley View doesn’t top my list is because the springs just aren’t very hot. During my visit I sat in the top pond (1/4 mile steep, rocky hike up the mountainside) which is supposedly the warmest spring on the property and it was only 98 degrees! This varies slightly depending on the season. The ponds were less than a foot deep and all the pools I visited were completely exposed to the elements. Though this is a wonderful way to enjoy the views of the valley, I prefer to soak in the shade and avoid the harsh rays of Colorado’s sun. I was forced to float an umbrella beside me to glean any shade. This could be problematic as we move in fall and winter as well. Lukewarm springs will not suffice during the colder temps of fall and winter. I also must point out that this a clothing optional resort. While everyone under 40 was wearing clothing, the older people were not, which could be disconcerting—I’d rather stick with the expansive valley and nature views. Please check their website before visiting.