Travel Log: Hot Sulphur Springs

I packed my bag to hit the Hot Sulphur Springs in late October and found myself wondering if the whole place would smell like eggs.


While I was ecstatic at the prospect of soaking in mineral mountain water a mile and a half above sea level, I was also a bit trepidatious.

I was having flashbacks to sulphur-infused childhood memories: gagging on the air while visiting Yellowstone’s geysers or holding my breath while brushing my teeth with the sulphur-rich tap water at my aunt’s rural New York home.

My friend Marit and I arrived there around 11:00am, along with a handful of other soon-to-be soakers. We deliberated on eating breakfast before heading over, and this is probably an oft-pondered question.

Apparently, there’s wildly differing opinions on whether or not you need to wait after eating to go in water, hot or cold. Personally, I don’t enjoy feeling like a human hot pot, so I chose to wait. And, besides, my system was still reveling in my Halloween adventures from the night before involving Ullrs Tavern and an amazing live American Stringband (complete with their very own tap-dancer. WHAT.).

Okay, back to Hot Sulphur Springs being just the medicine I needed.

For a $20 entry fee, we got unlimited access to the various indoor and outdoor soaking spaces. I would say “tubs” but, much to my delight, some of the pools were so seamless with the surrounding landscape that they didn’t feel like a utilitarian tub.

We began in the low-key locker rooms, placing our belongings in an unsecured locker (our choice – we weren’t concerned about theft) and showering off briefly before making our way into one of the the magnesium-rich rectangular indoor tubs. The temperature was on the hot side of warm, a nice introduction for my system, and we were alone in a pool that could easily fit eight.

Next, we ventured outside to the “quiet area.” There’s a sign that explicitly states kids aren’t allowed, which means there are other spaces that are family-friendlya huge perk of many hot springs locations.

We settled into a 104-degree hot tub overlooking a marshy landscape rich with the colors of late autumn and a sprinkling of snow from the night before.

It took me a moment to realize that I didn’t really smell eggs at all. Hooray!

Marit then turned to me and said “Let’s go to the waterfall one!” She grew up near these springs so knows them well. And I always follow the advice of a local.

On the other side of the locker rooms, we traipsed upslope via stairs and came upon a series of options. The first was a small soaking pool clearly designed for two. The second was a larger soaking pool that I completely ignored because my ears and eyes noticed the waterfall and I was in love.

*cue angelic chorus*

We climbed in, going straight to the source: water pummeling down from a ledge maybe five feet above, an earthy overhang that seemed to embrace me.

O.M.G. the feeling of that water on my neck, shoulders, back, head….This spring was on the hot side of hot. THIS is what I came for.

The granular and (I believe) natural rock wall that formed the better part of the pool perimeter was vibrant with too many varieties of moss and other moisture-loving organisms to count. Nestled over in the corner, I could rest my forearm into the second uber-hot source point for this particular pool.

The sun shone brightly and a cool breeze encouraged me to stay submerged most of the time. While there were people’s voices murmuring nearby, the only song I could hear was the waterfall. It was mesmerizing.

A sense of calm and surrender came over me. I have no idea how long I rested here.

About two hours after our arrival, we quietly reconvened in the locker room having somehow psychically agreed it was time to go. My entire system felt refreshed and rejuvenated, even as my breathing was more easeful and my pace a little slower.

I quietly thanked this place and the nourishing hot water. I also thanked myself for investing in my own deep self-care.

I felt deeply reconnected to all that matters most.

We loaded our belongings into the car and turned out of the gravel parking lot, where I noticed there’s onsite lodging I might need to check out next time.

As we hit the main road, I turned to Marit and said, “I’m really hungry. Let’s go get some eggs.”


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