Preconceptions can be tricky.
I have passed by this unusual spring many times, but it took me four years to realize that I could soak there.
Deposits along the Highway
If you're traveling in western Colorado, you're probably on Route 550, a.k.a. the Million Dollar Highway.
Twenty minutes north of Durango, a tourist town in the southwestern part of the state, the slimy deposits of Pinkerton Hot Springs comes into view.
The shoulder of the road is wide; it is easy to find a parking space.
It is a kind of landmark for many tourists to rest for a while.
It was in 1875 that this area, once inhabited by the Utes, began its history as a hot spring.
It was settled by James Pinkerton and prospered as a hot spring resort, where Marilyn Monroe was said to be stayed.
The resort facility was apparently located on what is now the Colorado Timberline Academy property, but it burned down.
The source of springs were originally located on the west side of the highway, but in 2001 it was moved to the east side where there was more room to park, because of the traffic congestion caused by tourists.
At that time, cement blocks were used to form steps around the vertical pipe; and the design was such that the spring water flowed over the steps.
Over the years, the entire area has been coated with a thick layer of deposits.
Although it now looks like a natural product, it was originally man-made.
The overflowed water turns the gentle slope brown as it flows downward over a wide area.
On the ground, the hot spring deposits form large crystals.
Even though I was far from the sea, the area somehow smelled like the ocean.
The water flow seeped into the ground, gradually slowing down and eventually disappearing into the privately owned land.
It Doesn't Say You Can't Take a Dip
I had a preconceived notion that this was a hot spring to be viewed only, because it is located along a busy road and is visited by many tourists on holidays.
When I visited on a weekday in a light rain, I found the first soaker.
It took me over four years to realize that it did not say anything about not soaking.
The warm water gushing out from the tip of the deposits flows mainly to the lower pools, creating carbonic acid bubbles as it slides down the steps.
The water temp was 91 degrees F.
I felt the strong carbonation that made me swoon.
There was a ready-made tub near the pool.
The water flowing into it was insufficient, so it might not be hygienically desirable.
Still, the tab integrated with the piles of deposits was worth a look.
The pools was kept at an appropriate depth and relatively clean due to the large amount of water input.
Clothing will be a must for the location.
If there's anything else you need, it's peace of mind.
The challenge is to be able to hold your ground even when the kids are pointing at you and the visitors are pointing their cameras at you.
As long as you are in the great sizzling water, which is nice in the middle of summer, you will be able to do that.
Pinkerton Hot Springs, Durango, Colorado, U.S.
- RuleClothing required
- Water TempUp to 90 degrees F