Durango Hot Springs
Tucked beneath the sandstone cliffs and ponderosa pines that flank of the Animas River Valley lies a 65-acre oasis, one that will simultaneously restore those tired muscles and potentially even help finally heal that nagging injury you neglected to see the physical therapist about last year. More than a hundred years ago, Trimble Hot Springs was created as a place for people to enjoy the wonders of a natural resource that comes from deep beneath the Animas River Valley, water that leaches minerals from the rock on its journey back to the surface at nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Durango Hot Springs now resides in the same location, which will eventually house 27 mineral pools, a 25-meter lap pool, a full-service spa, food trucks, and more, for visitors to enjoy. Though many things have changed with the new ownership, there is an obvious nod to history that can’t be ignored: “People have memories here and we want to respect that,” says owner Bryan Yearout.
The Water: The first thing a visitor to Durango Hot Springs will notice is the absence of the sulfur smell that characterizes many other hot springs throughout the country. Lucky for us, the mountains that encompass the Animas River Valley have only minor traces of sulfur, so you can leave your old sulfur swimsuit at home. And the only reason to take a shower after soaking is to enjoy the resort’s plush amenities.
But it’s still the water itself that makes Durango Hot Springs, like Trimble, so special. By the time rainwater falls and makes its roughly 10,000-year journey through the Earth and bubbles back to the surface, it is packed full of nearly 30 different minerals. Minerals such as magnesium, sodium, and silica can help with anything from building muscle and nerve strength to neutralizing blood pressure and heart rhythms—and even promote such antiaging properties as the growth of healthy hair and skin. Some say all you have to do to find the fountain of youth is to jump out of the boat—or take a dip in the Durango Hot Springs.
And speaking of fountains of youth, Durango Hot Springs’ facility is brand spankin’ new. This allows for almost complete control over discharge, temperature, and transition of water in and out of the pools.
On a tour through the facility with owner Bryan Yearout, I’m given clues into another aspect that makes Durango Hot Springs a must-visit for any hot-springs enthusiast. After establishing a relationship with the Phoenix-based company Exceptional Water, it became obvious that their Aquagen system was a must for the springs. By taking in concentrated oxygen, the Aquagen system creates tiny bubbles, referred to as nanobubbles.
These bubbles are no ordinary droplets of oxygen. In fact they are so tiny, they can permeate one’s skin, get into your blood stream, and create a higher blood oxygen count in your body. This allows for better circulation, and can even help bones, muscles, and ligaments recover more quickly, something that would make any outdoor enthusiast jump for joy after experiencing a rigorous day of mountain sports. It’s no doubt the most relaxing physical therapy a person could ask for. And if a massage is more your style, Durango Hot Springs also houses a brand-new, full-service spa that will cover any and all relaxation and recovery needs.
A custom experience: One of the best parts about the new pools is that eight of them are “fill and drain” cedar tubs. Constructed from beautiful cedarwood, the scent of which permeates the air when soaked with hot water, the tubs offer users full control over the temperature and amount of water that fills their tub. And the best part is, when you’re finished soaking, the tub is drained and filled with fresh, clean water by the next user, a gesture that goes a long way in the days of coronavirus and a testament to owner Bryan Yearout’s caring attention.
Durango Hot Springs will be in full operation by the end of the year. At that time you’ll find me in my own personal cedar tub, water temperature right around 100 degrees—not too hot, not too cold—relaxing my body for another big day in the mountains.