Iron Mountain Hot Springs is oo-la-la

Quartz (upper) and Garnet (lower) have spectacular views upriver.Last Friday evening and Sunday afternoon I spent getting acquainted with the new Iron Mountain Hot Springs, located just below the entrance to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs.

Guests are treated to a choice of 16 mineral hot springs pools. Each pool has its own a unique shape, depth, and name. Pool temperatures vary from 100 degrees up to the Motherlode at 108 degrees. Fifteen of the 16 pools are named after precious and semi-precious stones – Amber, Opal, Pearl, Moonstone, Emerald, Jasper – you get the idea. Lapis and Topaz are situated like two rafts along the Colorado River, but they had not yet opened.

The natural thermal waters are always in motion, constantly flowing in and out of each pool so the water is completely changed every 2 hours. The thermal waters contain more than 14 different minerals, the most abundant being iron, sulfate, chloride, sodium, and calcium. Iron and sulfate are known for enhancing relaxation.

Winding walkways and broad stairways, heated by hot water piped underground, connect the pools nested up and down the gently sloping incline. I was immediately struck by the distinctive vantage point that supplies endless vistas of the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys, and splendid views of Iron Mountain, Red Mountain, the Flat Tops, and Mt. Sopris to the south. Silky melodies wafted from the sound system as I sampled the varieties of hot pools and temps. So many hot pots, so little time …

In the quiet zone of the mineral pools, steeped in little Amber – so far my favorite at 104 degrees – surrounded by fabulous scenery, I felt embraced by nature as I soaked up a dazzling western Colorado sunset.

The large family pool is a good distance away from the quiet zone, located conveniently next to the Sopris Café. The freshwater pool is heated by geothermal exchange to about 90 degrees. There is an elevated “jetting pool,” or whirlpool spa, which is warmer and a few steps up from the family pool. Though the two pools are separated, a warm, soothing waterfall spills from the jetting pool into the family pool.

The Sopris Café has outdoor, covered seating plus pool side service. Nice. Plenty of lounge chairs and umbrella tables and chairs also line the pool decks. The café offers snacks, sandwiches, pizza, desserts, soft-serve ice cream, frozen yogurt, soft drinks, bottled water, smoothies (with and without alcohol), beer, wine and mixed drinks. Unless you’re a big fan of pizza, prepared salads and sandwiches, the food menu is somewhat limited.

The overall ambiance of the place is that of lounging at the pool of a luxurious 5-star hotel, leaving me feeling tranquil and pampered. And I didn’t even have a drink. Be sure to capture a sunset if you can – absolutely gorgeous!

What you need to know before you go

The Iron Mountain Hot Springs is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Entrance fees are $25 for adults, $15 for kids 12 and under. Toddlers 2 years and under get in free. A 2-hour soak is offered at reduced rates of $15 and $9, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. All guests must sign a waiver on their first visit. No re-entry is allowed so you will not be able to leave the premises and return without paying.

The use of a locker is with the price of admission. The locker rooms are lavishly appointed — with hair dryers — though small and easily crowded. The showers are huge, private, and plenty of them, including handicapped accessible. I love the waterfall showerheads, plus free shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

Consider wearing water shoes, flip-flops, or sandals to protect your feet because you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking. The landscaping is not yet finished and there’s plenty of exposed soil, so the walkways do get dirty. Bring your own towel or rent one for $3. A hat will come in handy as well.

No outside food or drinks are permitted. You can bring your own plastic or metal water bottle. There are free water fountains and bottle-filling stations located just outside the family changing rooms.

No pool toys, flotation devices, or paddleboards allowed. Besides, the family pool isn’t big enough for all that junk. The theme of this hot springs is opposite the chaos of the circus-like atmosphere that engulfs a tourist town like Glenwood Springs. It’s all about tranquility and relaxation.

For more tips, go to Iron Mountain Hot Springs Bathing Etiquette

Random suggestions and observations

I’m not sure why they implemented the no re-entry policy. Perhaps it’s a method of crowd control, so that people don’t set up camp for the day. In our case it posed a small problem for my husband, Tod. The Glenwood Springs trail system connects to the Iron Mountain Hot Springs parking lot. Tod brought his bike on Sunday and rode out on the Rio Grande trail. Because of the no re-entry he had to change into his bike clothes in the pickup, then pay to enter and shower after his bike ride.

I did talk to a woman with her son who was in an electric wheelchair. They said they felt less than half the hot pools were handicap accessible, and they said the wheelchair ramp in the family pool was a problem for the electric wheelchair. The son said he preferred a lift but there are no lifts. He was able to get in and out of the pools with assistance from a couple family members.

coolaroo shadeThe mid-day sun is rather intense in those hot pots on the riverbank. Eventually in a few years the lovely birch trees they’ve planted will mature and provided much-needed shade. In the meantime they ought to consider putting up Coolaroo triangle shade sails over a few of the pools for their sun-sensitive guests.

Oo-la-la = 5 stars

All things considered, and in spite of a few minor growing pains, I give Iron Mountain Hot Springs an oo-la-la — I think that’s Hawaiian for 5 stars. The natural beauty and unique design combined with the warm and friendly atmosphere won me over. I advise you to get there soon and enjoy the uncrowded hot pots before the masses of humanity stumble upon them.

For more information, including an historical timeline, go to Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

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One Comment on “Iron Mountain Hot Springs is oo-la-la”

  1. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Well I didn’t get everything right. Mandy Gauldin of Peak Communications handles the PR for Iron Mountain Hot Springs. She sent me an email with a few corrections and comments.

    MG: “A couple of things I noticed: the water in the small soaking pools completes a total changeover every two hours, not one.”

    Ok, I edited that line in my review above.

    MG: “Towels are available for rent for $3 and can be exchanged for a clean one to use after a shower.”

    Silly me, I didn’t realize I paid $3 for the towel. I thought it was included in the admission price. I also made that correction above.

    MG: “There is an aquatic wheelchair available at the Sopris Café. (It might have come in after your visit.) The no re-entry is indeed for crowd control; not so much to keep people from setting up camp, though, but because of capacity. It would be very difficult to ensure guests that there would be room for them to return once they leave.”

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