There’s no path. It’s something I notice right away — and the metaphor resonates. Forging through a pine tree-mottled, wildflower-profuse, high-altitude meadow in southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, I cross the landscape instinctively. I am accompanied by a wellness guide from The Springs Resort one of the world’s most remarkable, water-powered getaways for well being and repose, a haven in the mountain hamlet of Pagosa Springs.
In these woods near the resort, it seems we don’t need direction to reach our destination, only a willingness to go there. Trust. That’s the first lesson I learn during this complimentary wellness activity that The Springs offers all of its overnight guests. Called Hang Time, it takes guests off property, leaving behind the 25 inviting hot springs pools that unfurl down a hill to the rushing coolness of the San Juan River. Not about the resort’s water cures, the object here, in the wilderness, is to go deeper into the wild. Walking in unison, we don’t talk as we hike. Instead, we listen to the birds and note the light, rhythmic, crunching sounds of our hiking boots as we traverse. With each step, I relax into the moment. Some deer appear, watching us as we slog on.
At last, we reach a circle of majestic trees, strung with hammocks, which lightly sway in the wind. I climb into one with gusto. Even before the guide pulls a singing crystal bowl from her backpack, I have begun to meld into the soothing solace of nature. Above me, tree branches criss-cross the backdrop of the sky. As the singing bowl’s sound subsides, there’s a buzzing quietude that sounds a lot like the vibration tone of “om.” There’s nothing to do but hang here — and that’s the point.
More About The Water
In the language of the Ute, the region’s indigenous people, Pagosa means “healing or boiling waters.” Following their lead, a hoard of modern health seekers visit Pagosa Springs year round to partake of water from the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring. It is said that warring communities held truces in the perimeters of the hot springs, so all the ill and wounded could be cured. This adds a mystical and sacred grace to the waters, which have been proved by science to be beneficial to the body — and by experience to heal spirit and mind. Bubbling up from 1,002-feet, the mineral-rich Mother Spring not only feeds the various tubs at its seminal resort, known as The Springs Resort & Spa, but helps to heat much of the town, as well. Truly, this constitutes an eco-wonderland. Brimming with 13 salubrious ingredients — such as magnesium, potassium sulphur, lithium to name a few — the water soothes muscles, softens skin, boosts health and brings joy — among other virtues.
About the Hotel
Like a living room for the characteristic mountain town of Pagosa Springs, the resort buzzes with guests of all ages. With hotel rooms, the spa and wellness facilities crowning the hill, the pools, hewed out in various shapes and sizes, each with a unique name (Lobster Pot, Serendipity, Clouds in My Coffee, etc) and personality, lie on myriad levels and in nooks descending the slope. Temperatures, at the whim of the Mother Spring, range from 83 to 114 F. An adults-only section sits in one corner, while four bars and restaurants tempt across the expanse.
Though many soakers visit on a day pass, I highly recommend booking one of the wellness mecca’s lovely 79 rooms, located just steps from the water. As a hotel guest, you get 24/7 access to the pools, a boon for early risers and late night bathers. (Note: there’s nothing more romantic than having the whole retreat to yourself beneath the full moon. I know this from experience.) Also, as an overnight guest, you have complimentary access to an impressive array of wellness classes and programs, including Hang Time, Wild Yoga (outdoor yoga in nature), Sound Baths, Forest Bathing Hikes, Meditation, Aqua Yoga, Gratitude Ceremonies, and more.
During the day, a mud “butler” offers mini-vats of detoxifying mud to spread over your body, then wash off in the chill of the river. The spa has a full menu of treatment options, from massage to facials. Within the bathing complex, the restaurants serve libations (including alcoholic ones — nobody’s judging here!), healthy options, more hedonistic choices, too. Roving waitstaff also deliver sustenance to submerged souls who can’t bear to rise from the water.