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Valley View Hot Springs, Colorado, Report.

January 2003

During a trip which took us to Colorado, we decided to check out Valley View Hot Springs. I called ahead to see if we could get accommodations. It is members & their guests only on weekends, but this was a weeknight. The answer was yes. The directions from Marjorie Gersh-Youngs 'Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Southwest' were flawless. Valley View is located on the side of a mountain in the Sangre de Christo Mountains, at 8,700 feet above sea level, at the end of a well-established and much traveled yet unpaved road. Upon arrival, I went into the Welcome Center, which was staffed at the time by Valley View's co-owner, Teri, a very pleasant person. The Welcome Center also contains a lending library, a telescope aimed out big windows for the night sky, free coffee, and other treats and necessities to be paid on an honor basis. I paid for our admittance, was given a token for the gate, and we were off.

We had a large choice of accommodations. Tent or vehicle camping is included in the price of admission, as is the Oak House, which has some private rooms and a shared co-ed dormatory, as well as a kitchen. Space there is on a first-come basis. One must provide one's own bedding for a stay in the Oak House. There is also the Sunset Rooms, a building with four private bedrooms, bed linens included, and a communal half-bath and kitchen. We took one of the Sunset Rooms. Valley View also has several cabins of different sizes. They are all approximately 100 years old. The entire grounds are clothing-optional. All accommodations are supported by two co-ed restroom/shower facilities. One is in the midst of the cabins, and the other is adjacent to the large swimming pool, which brings me to the subject of water.

Valley View is built over hot springs, and has several communal pools. There are no private pools. The largest is the swimming pool. Since it was dusk at the time of our arrival, we unloaded the stuff we needed from our van and got settled into the Sunset Room, and then headed for the swimming pool. The air was quite cool by then, which made the warm water of the swimming pool all the more delightful. The swimming pool is 20 x 80 feet, which made it ideal for doing laps. It is kept at a constant 88F, and due to the constant flow, it does not have to be chlorinated. It has a low diving board at one end, and a small shallow section at the other. It is surrounded by decking loaded with chaises, and is the main sun-soaking and socializing venue. It also has a small in-ground hot tub, which is kept at +/- 106F. Upon our arrival, the pool was empty, but there were 6 or so folks in the hot tub. When we and our children joined them, they quickly engaged us in conversation. After awhile well spent in the hot tub, it was back in the pool, then back to the Sunset Rooms to cook dinner. After dinner, my wife and kids went to bed. I started to head out to check out the sauna, but it felt cold outside, and I changed my mind. Off to sleep.

The next morning, I headed straight to the swimming pool to do laps. I regularly swim at my health club in the mornings, so this is part of my regular ritual. Though the 88F temp was a bit warm for workout swimming, it was not bad at all. Of course, the main plus was getting to do my laps nude instead of in the racing brief I wear at my health club. The swim was followed by a quick soak in the hot tub, and then I headed back for breakfast. Since my wife cooked, I sent her and the kids on while I cleaned up after breakfast. They went to the swimming pool. I joined them there, and then it was time to check out the other pools of Valley View.

Photo of top pool.

Our favorite was the largest of the natural pools, which was just slightly uphill from the swimming pool. I should mention here that all the pools have natural flow so no chemicals are added. They are also delightfully odorless! While we were soaking in this nice, large, gravel-bottomed pool, a family of mule deer came through, stopped, looked at us, posed for my wife to take a photo, and then went on. After a while, we decided to check out the other pools. Over from this pool was a smaller one of similar temperature (I'm guessing high 90s), but a spectacular view of the San Luis Valley (hence the name of the property!). Much higher up the mountain side, at 9,000 feet, is the Top Pool, actually three pools with the top one spilling down. The view of the valley from here was breathtaking! As in beautiful, but also literally so since it is quite a hike up there on a relatively steep path. The first natural pool is about 4 feet deep. The other natural pools are no deeper than 2 feet each.

After making our way back down, the kids & I decided to go to the sauna, while my wife relaxed with some folks poolside. The sauna is wood-fired (self-service B a stack of wood is located close by) in a small, low ceilinged old building with a built-in cool plunge pool. Valley View is in the process of building a more modern style electric sauna adjacent to the swimming pool. I sure hope it will be an addition to and not a replacement of the old one.

The people were of a variety of ages. There were others with a baby or very young children. (Ours are pre-teens.) The vast majority were nude in and around the pools. I'd say about half wore robes or wraps between the pools and other buildings, but that may have been based more on the air temp (high 60s - low 70s at mid-day) than anything else. If not comfortable with their own nudity, everyone we saw seemed comfortable with ours.

In summary, this was a wonderful, low key, relaxing place to which me and my family greatly look forward to returning.

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