As soon as we escaped from the freezing air into the steamy hot spring, we began scheming on how we could stay here forever. We began listing people who needed to drop everything and come here right now. Imagine this: a thermal paradise at 9,000 feet elevation, perched against the piercing Sangre De Cristo Mountains lording over valley below and the distant San Juans. Yup, such is life in the Valley View Hot Springs at the Orient Land Trust in south central Colorado!
Wait, back up! First, our mad dash from Denver, tired from nights bent over arcade games and schmoozing at speakeasies, in the sudden onset snow storm, of course. The challenges of a winter road trip keep unfolding like an onion - and so do the perks!
Like a blizzard through Bighorn Canyon flecked with its namesake sheep spewing us into the San Luis Valley as the sun breaks through the clouds to greet us. We maneuver the car to a hasty stop to soak it all in. Somewhere, 60 miles along the chasm awaits our destination - and a private cabin booked for two nights! - but as we stand between the veils of two monstrous ranges being impaled with frozen wind, we don't quite know what to expect at this proclaimed "naturist community".
So headfirst into the snow we went, the setting sun throwing us into the shade of the squall before we took a left turn up into the mountains, dreaming of raising our core temps above freezing. Before long we had climbed up above the weather and were stopped at a boom gate next to the check in building. We find our cabin with just enough time to take in the beautiful sunset. This place already feels close enough to heaven and we haven't even seen any of the pools yet!
Okay, okay, no need to hold you in suspense. We quickly stripped (naturism here means "clothing optional", if you catch my drift), bundled our nakedness up in something that passed for pool cover and skipped into the steaming night with excitement. Although the short walk through the 0 degree temperatures was a bit rough, we eagerly entered the sauna (which had a spring inside!) before racing off to the pools.
For the next 36 hours, we soaked in the myriad pools throughout the area like happy, plump chia seeds. From the cascading "top ponds", to the breathtaking views at the "meadow pond", and of course the very impressive heated swimming pool, we basked in the steamy glow of 96 degree water in ten degree days! Pure bliss.
Have you soaked it all in?!