Kathleen Y'Barbo's March 1st post "Taking the Waters at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas" brought back delightful childhood memories. Not far from my hometown of Piggott, AR, Eureka Springs, was a favorite family day-trip on special occasions. Kathleen's article made me think about what's in my own Colorado backyard.
Once called "Pah gosah" by the Ute Indians, the Great Pagosa Hot Springs' boiling, healing waters reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It's considered the deepest hot springs in the world. Although too warm for safe human use, "water that has a strong smell" is still a popular visitor attraction in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The strong smell emanates from a very high mineral content and is reminiscent of a million rotten eggs. That number of eggs might be inaccurate. It may be closer to two million.
No, this isn't the therapeutic natural mineral hot springs, just one of the geothermal fountains along the river walk. Turn around and you'll see the San Juan River and the spas benefiting from the healing waters.
Bathing in or drinking the mineral is said to cure everything from rheumatism to obesity. The three spas in use today draw water from the same heated underground aquifer that feeds the Great Pagosa Hot Springs. Twenty-three naturally heated, family-sized outdoor pools of various temperatures are available at The Springs Resort & Spa. Men's and Women's indoor hot baths and a year-round heated outdoor swimming pool can be enjoyed at the Healing Waters Resort and Spa. Rest assured, the rooftop pools and indoor tubs of the Overlook Mineral Springs Spa, with its Victorian ambience, are as therapeutic as they are charming.
We have our own castle—of sorts—at the springs.
The San Juan River courses through the heart of down town.
Now, before I start sounding like a member of the Chamber of Commerce, you should know that Pagosa Springs is surrounded by Southern Ute Indian lands and the San Juan National Forest. Approximately 65% of county land is either forest or Indian land. For centuries, Pagosa Springs was the center of dispute between the Navajos and the Utes. Both tribes used the springs ("pah"-water, "gosah"-boiling) and small battles often erupted. In 1866, the Utes chose Albert H. Pfieffer, a New Mexico Indian agent, to be their tribe representative in a one-on-one battle with a Navajo warrior. Pfieffer killed the Navajo and the Utes took control of the springs. In 1880, the U.S. government claimed ownership of the Springs and a few years later the town of Pagosa Spring was founded.
But wait, there's more — The Utes were not the first native inhabitants around Pagosa Springs. According to the Chimney Rock Interpretative Association and the archaeological evidence, the first inhabitants were the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians. Other tribes, including the Navajo and Apache, frequented the hot springs. Early Anglo explorers found well worn trails converging at the Springs. Sweat lodges were located around the seeps and cavities nearby.
Legends abound in the mountains around "Pah gosah" and $5 million in gold is said to be still waiting to be found. Only two Frenchmen had maps to the hidden gold. They never claimed it. Maybe it's in my own backyard!
A soak in hot springs sounds wonderful - minus the rotten egg smell! ;) Once, when I camped in the mountains of WY, I had an opportunity to use a hot spring, but unfortunately there were people using it in an (ahem) indecent condition. So, I never was able to try it. Now, with older bones, it sounds even more appealing!ReplyDelete
So, do you ever use the hot springs by you?
Hi Bethany, yes, we've made the plunge and it's very invigorating and relaxing at the same time. It doesn't take long for the smell to "go away" so it doesn't really taint the experience. Las Vegas, New Mexico also has some hot springs that are open to the public and free. I wasn't dressed for that occasion, but I did take off my shoes, rolled up my jeans, and dangled my feet. It was so tempting to sit down and enjoy the warmth.Delete
I can see the smell maybe being a hindrance. :) I don't think I have ever seen a hot springs. I need to get out more! That is interesting regarding the Indians fighting over them. Thanks for an interesting post!ReplyDelete
Hi Susan, it doesn't take long for you to not notice the smell. It didn't linger on the towels or swimsuits, which surprised me. If you get a chance, don't pass up the opportunity. I have Chickasaw-Choctaw in my heritage. I'm fascinated by the various Indian cultures. You probably noticed how quickly the government moved in and took over. Sad!Delete
If the smell is so bad, how can it be a tourist attraction? I would find it difficult to live or visit there since I'm fairly sensitive to smells. It sounds like a great place if the smell was eliminated.ReplyDelete
Hi Pam, I'm sensitive to smells also, and when we first visited the springs, I expected to have to put on a mask or stay in the car. After a few minutes, I was no longer bothered by the smell, and it didn't linger on hands and clothes. It must have to do with natural odors. They tend to dissapate quickly. Man-made odors saturate and linger. When a heavily perfumed lady at church gives me a hug, smell it for hours.ReplyDelete
Wow, not sure if I'd want to join in there or not! =) thanks for the interesting post. =)ReplyDelete
Hi Eliza, thanks for stopping by. After a long week of watering hay fields, working horses, and feeding cattle, the results and benefits far out weight "becoming one with the smell."Delete
I used to live just south of Glenwood Springs in Basalt and an afternoon with my girlfriends soaking in the hot springs on a weekend afternoon was a monthly treat. Yes, the smell of eggs was prevalent but my skin has never been softer! However, since then I've been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and heat is not a friend of one with MS--I take cold showers 80% of the year because heat will literally bring me to my knees as it only exacerbates our symptoms. I miss those little jaunts and you post on Pagosa Springs has really got me itching for the hot springs. I now live in Oklahoma, a bit closer to Arkansas's hot springs but knowing it could send me on vacation to the local hospital I'll just have to miss those hot springs but you enjoy a dip in them for me!ReplyDelete
I really enjoyed you post today, at any rate! :-)
kam110476 (@)gmail(dot) com
Well, it sounds like a dip in one of our chillier Colorado springs is in order! I'll definitely dedicate my next hot soak to you. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Were you affected by the weather that spawned the tornado in Moore? My sister lives in Ponca City and she said they weren't aware of what happened until later in the day. By the way, did you finish the Christian fiction scavenger hunt? Life intervened for me - again!- so I didn't make it to all 31 stops.Delete
I live in Norman just 10 miles south of Moore and the only effect(s) the tornado had on me were that I lost cable - no big deal b/c I was reading anyway - and no phones, Internet or cell tower signal. I di finish the scavenger hunt but at 11:50pm Sunday night, I think, right at deadline time!Delete
Hey Lin, I love this post! You and I will have to go to a hot springs close by so I can enjoy the experience with you. Doesn't that sound fun?ReplyDelete
Thanks Rhonda. Yes, we'll definitely have to make a soak date. It will be a blast!Delete
Love hot springs - just wish I lived close to one!ReplyDelete
Hi Bonnie, I've been surprised at the number of springs around here. We found a small natural spring in our back pasture, just bubbling up out of the ground. I think it's too warm for the cattle and deer to drink from, but Jerry said they won't have any trouble. It doesn't smell like ones in Pagosa, but that may be because of the wide open space out here. I can't to explore on our other mountain to see if it has a spring also.Delete