Aspen Times Weekly: Trip to dip at new Iron Mountain Hot Springs
IF YOU GO ...
Hours: Friday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Price: An all-day soak costs $25 for adults, $15 for kids 3 to 12, and free for kids 2 and younger (no re-entry). A two-hour evening soak is available for $15 for adults and $9 for kids.
Info: 970-945-4766 or online at www.ironmountainhotsprings.com
I’ve seen a few hot springs in my time. I’ve stopped on roadsides, scrambling down hillsides in the dark toward the smell of sulfur along the riverbank. I’ve lowered myself into craters by ladder where mineral rich waters bubbled from the earth’s core, feeling the iron and lithium relax my nerves. I’m a believer in hot springs’ therapeutic ways. So when I heard about a new set of hot springs that just opened on the banks of the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, I beelined my way downvalley.
Opened just last month, Iron Mountain Hot Springs is a collection of 16 individual mineral hot springs pools at varying degrees from 98 to 108, as well as a larger, warm freshwater family pool with a jetted spa.
Standing from the bathhouse, which holds lockers, showers and a small shopping area — the hot springs below looks like a collection of hot tub-and larger-sized pools, dotted along the landscape, big enough for a dozen or more people in almost every one.
From the pools you have views of Iron Mountain, Red Mountain, the peaks of Mount Sopris, or watch as rafters float by along the Colorado River; or see if your neighbor is finally making that trip downvalley to Lowe’s. But the views are not why people are day-tripping it to the Iron Mountain Hot Springs. It’s the waters.
There are more than 14 natural minerals found in the waters here, including iron, magnesium, potassium, silica, and zinc. The five most abundant minerals in the soaking pools are iron, sulfate, chloride, sodium and calcium. Iron and sulfate are known for their relaxing qualities, but all revitalize the skin, calm the nerves, detoxify the body and refresh the oxygen levels. Some find that thermal mineral waters helps with issues such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, skin conditions, depression, respiratory illnesses (including asthma), and locomotor and circulatory diseases.
I had no idea there were hot springs in this area, but according to the company, the history of property dates back to 1896 when Sheriff Bob Ware purchased the land and opened the West Glenwood Health Spa. Guests staying in the upper floors of the brick mansion could stroll along the river bank, go fishing, enjoy views of Mount Sopris and Red Mountain and take a mineral bath, all with a glass of ice-cold buttermilk, for 25 cents.
Ware sold the spa to George “Wash” Allen and his wife Gertie in 1908, and they ran the Wash Allen Bathhouse until 1938. It reportedly thrived, even during the Great Depression. In 1938, the Allens sold the place to Louis Nicholson, a machinist from Leadville who’d been coming to Glenwood Springs for several years to bathe in the mineral waters to improve his health.
As the economy improved, Nicholson added five cabins to house guests on the grounds. He sold the resort in 1943 to the Gamba family from Kansas, who was visiting the area for its therapeutic hot springs mineral waters. The Gamba Mineral Springs operated for about 30 years.
Dr. Charles A. Graves announced in 1963 that a chiropractic center would operate in conjunction with the Gamba Mineral Springs in West Glenwood. Four years later, Dr. Graves purchased the resort from the Gambas. A bathhouse divided into six units for private bathing in natural hot water, five cottages with complete housekeeping facilities, a family residence and several acres of wide, well-shaded land were included in the deal.
The following year, he changed the name to the Glenwood Health Spa. In 1992, the bathhouse was remodeled and refurbished as the Fort Defiance Bathhouse by Roy Marker and Mike Retelsdorf. Then, 100 years after it first opened, the spa closed and the remaining structures were torn down to make way for a water park project that did not come to fruition. It sat vacant until construction of the Iron Mountain Hot Springs started in late 2014.
Now, the new Iron Mountain Hot Springs is open adding to the legacy of Glenwood Springs as a hot springs destination.
In addition to the mineral baths, there is the small Sopris Café on site that sells beer, wine and mixed drinks, in addition to pizza, ice cream and salads. And coming soon is the The Sand Bar, located near the soaking pools, that will serve beverages and smoothies, as well as a viewing tower, reminiscent of one located on the site in the early 1900s, that will offer guests another way to enjoy the views of the Colorado River, the Roaring Fork Valley and Glenwood Springs while reflecting on the site’s rich history.
Amiee White Beazley writes about travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @awbeazley1.
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