A tribe prayed to the gods to end a mysterious, devastating plague. The native people gathered on the banks of the San Juan River running through what is now Pagosa Springs. They prayed, and the next day they were cured, supposedly from the bubbling phenomenon at their feet. They called this "Pah Gosa," meaning water with a bad smell.
That's the legend told around the well at the Springs Resort and Spa, the most elegant sight from the downtown where the sulfurous stench lingers. "The Mother Spring" was listed as Guinness World Records' deepest geothermal pool after a measuring line couldn't stretch longer than 1,002 feet.
Having that makes the Springs Resort and Spa perhaps the most celebrated place of mineral water healing. Also boosting the resort's profile was a visit from Oprah.
Today, the well feeds the hotel's 23 outdoor pools with varying sizes, temperatures and names such as Tranquility, Paradise and Serendipity. Guests spread out on the deck, illuminated at night by the hotel's neon lights.
This is the luxurious choice of vacationers after a day at Wolf Creek Ski Area. Others spare their change by soaking in the "hippie dips" along the river.
Rules: Suits required. Food from hotel snack shop allowed by pools. No outside alcohol, glass or pets by pools.
Address: 165 Hot Springs Blvd., Pagosa Springs, 81147
Hours: 7 a.m.-11 p.m., 24-hour access to pools for hotel guests
Getting there: Off Interstate 25 south, exit for U.S. 160 and follow all the way to Wolf Creek Pass, which leads to Pagosa Springs.