Colorado’s natural hot springs are an adventurer’s dream. They’re fabulous places to soak sore muscles after spending time hiking, biking, climbing, or kayaking in the state’s mountains, valleys, and rivers. While some geothermal pools are accessible only via rugged hikes, several developed hot springs resorts throughout the western part of the state make it easy to take a dip and benefit from the springs’ mineral content, purported to enhance wellness by relieving inflammation, reducing stress, improving sleep, and boosting immunity.
While hot springs are typically open to visitors year-round, the best seasons to soak—and camp—are in the late spring and early fall, when there’s a slight nip in the air, and you can best appreciate the warm waters. The pools’ temperatures can range from 83 degrees Fahrenheit for family-friendly activity pools to 115 degrees for the ultimate “lobster soak.”
If you’re planning a road trip to Colorado and want to “take to the waters,” there are RV campgrounds located in close proximity—some within walking distance—to hot springs. Here are a few of the best spots to park your rig and enjoy some of Colorado’s amazing water-wellness assets.
Westerly RV Park, Durango
There’s a lot to like about this small, laid-back RV campground, but chief among them is that the Westerly RV Park is located directly across the street from the Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa. Formerly known as the Trimble Hot Springs, this property has been beautifully renovated and is under new ownership. It’s important to note Westerly RV Park doesn’t have any bathhouse or toilet facilities, so your camper must be fully self-contained. Sites here are spacious and level, and some are shaded among the trees.
The campground is located about 9 miles north of downtown Durango, and is also near train tracks on which the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad historic steam engine train passes by daily. (On a 2-night stay here in mid-August, I didn’t hear any trains overnight.)
4J + 1 + 1 RV Park, Ouray
What you give up in roominess at Ouray’s 4J + 1 + 1 RV Park, you gain in proximity not only to the family-friendly, municipal Ouray Hot Springs Pool—with water slides, lap lanes, and an adults-only area—but also the shops and restaurants of downtown Ouray.
Spaces are quite tight, but for big rigs, there’s a row of pull-through campsites. Or you can opt for a back-in site next to the Uncompahgre River. Mature trees are found throughout the property, and large pots of planted lavender add a homey feel. Ouray, known as the “Switzerland of America,” is in a box canyon, so scenic views of surrounding canyon walls are ever-present at this well-kept, family-owned campground. Amenities include a laundry room, recreation room, restrooms with showers, and a playground.
Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park, Nathrop
Nathrop’s Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park makes a great home base for recreating on Colorado’s Arkansas River, and for soaking and playing at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. These historic hot springs are located 5 miles from the campground and feature an original bathhouse building, an adjacent soaking pool, and access to natural hot spots in Chalk Creek, as well as an upper infinity pool and water slide pool.
Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park also has two levels: an upper RV park with level gravel sites and full hookups, and a lower campground with RV campsites that are electric only. Perhaps the most coveted sites on the lower level are those that back right up to Chalk Creek. (The best location is corner space #30.) But no matter where you’re parked, you have access to the water for fishing or wading—a nice way to cool off in hot weather.
Pagosa Pines RV Park, Pagosa Springs
Set right on the San Juan River in the middle of downtown Pagosa Springs, The Springs Resort features the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring that feeds 25 individual hot springs pools. Two miles down the highway is the aptly named Pagosa Pines RV Park, with full-hookup RV sites set amid towering ponderosa pines.
Colorful flower baskets, hummingbird feeders, and blooming annuals set a picturesque scene at this 7-acre campground with gravel sites. Some campsites at Pagosa Pines RV Park can be a tight squeeze for big rigs, but the shady spots, plus fire rings, picnic tables, and daily trash pick-up, are appreciated. There’s also a short, maintained walking trail in the woods, as well as a fenced dog run. Note that this is a smoke-free RV park.
Carbondale-Crystal River KOA, Carbondale
Set on the banks of the clear Crystal River, the intimate Carbondale-Crystal River KOA is a charmer, with prime RV riverside sites that book up quickly each season. From here, drive 9 miles up Highway 133 toward Redstone for a free dip in the natural Penny Hot Springs. Otherwise, 5.5 miles away is Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs, whose three-tiered mineral pools are open to day visitors.
From the KOA campground, anglers can wade into the Crystal River to cast lines for plentiful rainbow and brown trout. Also adjacent to the KOA is a paved recreation path for jogging and biking; ride it 6 miles to the town of Carbondale, with its historic downtown Main Street lined with shops and restaurants.
In addition to RV sites, the campground has tent sites, cabins, an Airstream, and a tipi for rent. Gravel pull-through and back-in RV sites with concrete patios are water and electric only, but there’s a dump station, and honey-wagon service is available for a fee. Amenities at this wooded campground with views of Mount Sopris include a bathhouse, seasonal pool, playground, and camp store.
Glenwood Canyon Resort, Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs is home to two developed hot springs properties: Iron Mountain Hot Springs, with multiple soaking pools on the banks of the Colorado River, and Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, boasting the world’s largest hot springs pool. Just down the highway from each of these tourist attractions is Glenwood Canyon Resort, which has riverfront and off-river RV sites, as well as cabins, glamping tents, and tent sites.
While some campers note that the most appealing sites on the river for RVs less than 30 feet can be a little tight and pricey—upwards of $100, plus a resort fee—you’re paying for the striking canyon and river views. (Note that Amtrak trains do pass by regularly on tracks across the river, which can be noisy.) Riverfront campsites have water and electricity, while the big rig RV sites in the center of the resort have full hookups.
The scenic Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path runs past the campground; there’s also an on-site rafting company that offers whitewater rafting trips and inflatable kayak or stand-up paddleboard rentals.