Emerging near farm land on the outskirts of Alamosa is an unexpected destination: an aquatic zone with a retro flair. Splashland keeps the 1950s charm it was founded upon, appearing not unlike the drive-in movie theater that also thrives in the San Luis Valley. Front Range residents and visitors from out of state visit these parts most notably for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. But this oddity has been known to catch some passing through, unable to resist a refreshing dip.
First and foremost, Splashland is here to serve the locals. According to an account by Debbie Frazier, author of the quintessential guidebook to Colorado’s hot springs, rancher Lloyd Jones had heard too many stories about kids drowning in irrigation ditches and the Rio Grande. In 1955, he decided to take advantage of the artesian spring on his property, developing the pool with temperatures today ranging from 88 to 96 degrees.
After more than three decades under Jones, Splashland swapped hands. Owners struggled with operation costs, and managers were caught embezzling. The pool closed for two seasons before reopening in 2010, much to the delight of children who make sweet summer memories on three slides and a diving board.
The pool, the largest geothermal pool across the valley, is 150 by 60 feet, as deep as 10 feet beneath the diving board. Half of its length is shallow, as after all, it was built for frolicking kids. Adults opt for the lap lanes.
Rules: Suits required. Outside food and beverages allowed, but no alcohol. No glass.
Address: 5895 Colorado 17, Alamosa, 81101
Hours: Summer only. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed after 5 p.m. Sunday and closed Monday for cleaning.
Contact: 719-589-6258, splashlandllc.com
Getting there: Off Interstate 25 south, exit for U.S. 160 west and follow through Walsenburg. After about 71 miles on 160, turn right onto Colorado 17 and go a mile to Splashland.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE