The Perfect Blend: Colorado Hot Springs & Craft Beer
Colorado is an epicenter for geothermal soaking and ground-zero for craft brewing; for an exquisite blend of both, take a drive along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, a spectacularly scenic drive that connects Colorado hot springs and breweries.
Colorado hot springs and craft breweries have more in common than you may think—for starters, Rocky Mountain water is the foundational ingredient in both. Mineral-rich water from deep within the earth feeds geothermal springs, which are prolific throughout the state. Like beer, each hot spring has its own unique characteristics, exploring the differences and finding your favorite is part of the fun. What’s more, Coloradoans live closer than most to their water source. For brewers that’s critical for great taste, since roughly 90 percent of beer is water!
For the best hot springs soaking and small-batch brew sampling, take a drive on the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop (CHHSL), a 720-mile circuit that connects five western Colorado towns with 19 hot springs and 12 Colorado craft breweries, all members of the Colorado Brewer’s Guild. If this sounds like a vacation dream come true, you’ll want to start planning your itinerary now.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Pagosa Springs is a small town that’s big on fun—skiing at Wolf Creek, mountain biking on trails near downtown, tubing on the San Juan River, hot air balloon rides at dawn. The town holds the record for the deepest hot spring ever recorded. Its geothermal attractions and two breweries also make it a hot spot to grab a cold one.
The Springs Resort & Spa is open to lodge guests 24 hours a day and features 23 therapeutic mineral hot spring pools overlooking the San Juan River.
Overlook Hot Springs has rooftop soaking tubs with unimpeded views of the San Juan Mountains, the river and downtown Pagosa Springs!
Healing Waters Resort & Spa welcomes visitors to relax and soak in its therapeutic warm springs that are 100 percent natural mineral water with nothing else added.
Riff Raff Brewing is an earth-powered brewery, harnessing the geothermal energy from the Pagosa Hot Springs source to run its brewing operations! Try: Hobgoblin American IPA, Man’s Best Friend American-style Honey Kölsch, Plebeian Porter, Skallywag English Pale Ale and Stepchild American Red. Check out their seasonal selections as well.
Pagosa Brewing and Grill is a full-service restaurant with fun events like open-mic night and is known for their selection of tasty stouts. Try: Kayaker Cream, Powder Day IPA, Peachy Peach, Salty Caramel Stout and Pagosa Pale Ale.
Plan Ahead: The Pints & Pools Craft Beer Festival takes place at The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs on April 27.
Ouray & Ridgway, Colorado
Dramatic landscapes are the calling card of this part of Colorado. Stunning mountain backdrops, crystalline lakes and wide-open spaces are a magnate for outdoor enthusiasts. Thanks to the generous geology of the region, you can soak in five different hot springs. A family-owned brewery in Ouray serves up brews with views.
Ouray Hot Springs is ideally suited to both family fun and relaxing soaking. It features a slide, rock climbing wall and lap lanes; a hotter pool set away from the splash zone is the perfect spot for a quiet soak.
Historic Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa is a full-service spa and home to hot springs and a rare vapor cave amenity tucked deep inside the mountain. Private soaking is also an option.
Orvis Hot Springs in nearby Ridgway is beautifully landscaped and open 24-hours a day. It retains an ultra-relaxed vibe with its au naturel clothing-optional policy.
Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs. Situated on a terraced hillside, the soaking pools are built into the stair-stepped wooden deck that overlooks the town.
Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs is one of the few places that also offers hot springs soaking in both outdoor and indoor settings.
Ouray Brewery has rooftop dining with eye-popping views; add to that an outstanding beer menu and you’ll find your way back to this little slice of Colorado heaven again and again. Try: Camp Bird Blonde, Box Canyon Brown, Desperado Imperial Red, Bluegrass Pale Ale or the Honey Rye.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Best known for its geothermal amenities, Glenwood Springs is also a favorite destination for hiking, biking, rafting and fishing. Its mountaintop theme park and proximity to Hanging Lake are big draws for this little mountain town that was once the home of gambler-gunslinger Doc Holliday.
Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is an historic resort and famous as the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. The resort is also home to the Sopris Splash Zone, a family-friendly aquatic park at the west-end of the property.
Iron Mountain Hot Springs boasts 16 soaking pools and a freshwater family pool terraced on the bank of the Colorado River.
Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves is a rare place where you can go underground for a natural, geothermal steam bath. The mineral-dense vapors have a detoxifying effect.
Casey Brewing and Blending. Brewmaster Troy Casey specializes in creating world-class sour and wild beers. Though not open to the public, you can sign up for a private tour and tasting. Try: Advanced Oak Theory, the Fruit Stand Series, Kentucky Bourbon Sour Ale, Casey Family Preserves Series and the Funky Blender Series.
Glenwood Canyon Brewpub This hoppin’ place in downtown Glenwood Springs is an award-winning brewery with several first-place finishes at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. Try: Grizzly Creek Raspberry Wheat, Hanging Lake Honey Ale, St. James Irish Red and Vapor Cave IPA.
Plan Ahead: Forks, Corks & Kegs, a tasting fundraiser event, takes place at The Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs on May 17.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Steamboat is famous for its authentic Western roots and genuine hospitality. It is home to vast ranch lands and dude ranches with rodeos held every weekend in the summer months. Surrounded by wilderness and a river that runs through it, Steamboat is an outdoor recreation paradise.
Old Town Hot Springs is operated by the City of Steamboat as a recreational facility and welcomes one and all for a soak in its beautiful, newly remodeled multi-use complex.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs is located outside of town. Small, rustic and a little bit quirky, it’s built along the banks of Strawberry Creek. After dark it becomes clothing optional.
Butcherknife Brewing boasts of its location near the headwaters of the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs; this brewery is dedicated to craft, community and the great outdoors. Try: Bavarian Style Hefeweizen, Amputator IPA, Buzzcock Brown Ale, Bavarian Style Pilsner and Sunshine Express Pale Ale—a gold-medal award-winner.
Mountain Tap Brewery is as well-known for their wood-fired pizza as for their beer. Try: Local’s Lager, Passionate Pedal Wheat, Chasing Sunset Golden Ale, Current IPA and Paddler’s Porter.
Storm Peak Brewing is a group of self-proclaimed beer freaks, music lovers and outdoor enthusiasts who brew a range of styles. The tap room has an ever-changing rotation. Try: 4-wire Pale Ale, Flare Orange Wheat, Mad Creek Kölsch, Coffee Moos Milk Stout and Funky Lawnmower Sour.
Plan Ahead: Reds, Whites and Brews in the Boat takes place in Steamboat Springs in June.
Chaffee County, Colorado
This is Colorado 14er country where the majestic Collegiate Range—home to Mounts Princeton, Yale and Harvard—top out at over 14,000 feet and delineate the landscape. Tucked in amid the mountains are the towns of Salida, Nathrop and Buena Vista, places where experiencing the quintessential Colorado lifestyle is at its peak.
Mount Princeton Hot Springs, at the base of the Chalk Cliffs, offers a variety of soaking experiences including creek-side hot springs. There’s also a spa, 400-foot (122-meter) waterslide and a lazy river in summer.
Historic Cottonwood Hot Springs is situated off the beaten path in the serenity of the San Isabel National Forest. The soaking experience focuses on peace, tranquility and healing.
Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center is a community pool and the largest indoor hot springs facility in North America. It features lap lanes, a smaller communal soaking pool and private soaking pools.
Eddyline Brewing serves exceptionally drinkable beers suited to any outdoor adventure, whether just a quick play session in the river or celebrating summiting a tough 14er. Check out their restaurant and tap room in Buena Vista. Try: CrankYanker IPA, Epic Day Double IPA, Kick’n Back Amber, River Runner’s Pale Ale and Boater Beer Pilsner.
Elevation Beer Co brews in the nearby rural town of Poncha Springs. In addition to great-tasting beer, food trucks and a pet-friendly patio make this a fun and social spot for a thirst-quenching drink. The tasting room features up to 16 beers on tap. Try: 8 Second Kölsch, Wave Wheel Wit, Elevation Pilsner, First Cast IPA or Little Mo’ Porter.
Moonlight Brewing and Pizza in Salida serves outstanding pies and pints. They typically have nine beers on tap, ranging anywhere from classic English styles and German lagers to hop-bomb American pales. Try: Moonlight Cream Ale, Salida Wheat, Matadora Dark Mexican Lager, Cherry Barrel Porter and Wee Heavy Scottish Ale.
Soul Craft Brewing is another Salida staple. Founded by long time professional brewers, it specializes in high-quality ales and lagers. Try: Bon Ton Brown, Work Release Pale Bock, Coconut Milk Stout, All Mountain Amber or Moon Itcher Helles.
Plan Ahead: The annual Colorado Brewer’s Rendezvous in Salida always takes place the second Saturday in July, this year on July 13.
With an abundance of hot springs and breweries on the route, the Colorado Hot Springs Loop is more than just a pretty drive, it actually is the road to relaxation!