Colorado Hot Springs: Rustic luxury at Mount Princeton

Soakers enjoy the day on Chalk Creek, below the pools at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort near Buena Vista. Photo courtesy: Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort

Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort

Between Buena Vista and Salida, County Road 162 carves straight through the fields toward the Chalk Cliffs. The sheer white rock faces are yet one more one-of-a-kind feature of the Arkansas River Valley, where sparkling waters meet the 14,000-foot Collegiate Peaks. Continue on 162 through the woods to another valley jewel: Mount Princeton Hot Springs.

The resort is shared by vacationers and day trippers alike who find a blend of luxury and rustic. If you're just soaking for the afternoon, you'll have your choice of two pools. Outside a bathhouse built soon after the Civil War, one reaches up to 105 degrees while the other is typically heated in the 90s. For a natural experience, step down the rocks to Chalk Creek. Shallow pools vary in temperature and size, but they typically close in the summer during runoff.

Guests 16 and older who buy a pass to the spa and club enjoy exclusive pools and have access to the juice bar with smoothies and booze. The cliffside hotel has a bar and restaurant. Others book cabins and creekside suites.

Rules: Suits required. No dogs by the water. No outside alcohol.

Address: 15870 County Road 162, Nathrop, 81236

Hours: Pools and spa close at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Contact: 719-395-2447,

Getting there: Go west on U.S. 24 to the stoplight in Buena Vista and turn left onto U.S. 285 south. Drive 19 miles, then turn right onto County Road 162 and continue to resort.

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