Two weekends ago, my boyfriend and I made the two and a half hour drive from Denver to Nathrop, Colorado, to spend a night at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. We had such a relaxing time, so I wanted to share a little review of the hot springs on the blog in case any other Coloradans or visitors are interested. The Centennial State has a ton of hot springs to choose from, so I put a lot of research into deciding which one to visit (not too far of a drive, somewhat of a natural setting). I was really happy with our decision to go to Mt. Princeton, and I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t smell like sulfur at all!
In the winter, Mt. Princeton has six pool areas open (there’s an additional pool and water slide open in the summer months only). Four of these areas are traditional swimming pools. There is also a set of three cascading “pools”, which have some of the hottest temperatures and are more like hot tubs in size. And there is the Creekside Hot Springs, which is a handful of natural pools along Chalk Creek, pictured above. Swimsuits are required in all of the pools (seems like an odd thing for me to add but there are several nude spots in Colorado).
While overnight guests get access to all these pool areas, day visitors only get access to four of them—not including the Cascading Hot Springs, which were my favorite. The two pool areas only available to overnight guests are also restricted to those ages 16 and up. For my boyfriend and me, and several other couples at the resort, this made for a much quieter and more relaxing experience. Some of the other pools had lots of children playing and splashing, so it was nice to have the adult-only options. These two pools also tended to be less crowded since only overnight guests could use them.
You can’t bring your own alcohol to the pools, but you can bring your own food, and there is alcohol available for purchase. You can also buy snacks at various locations but I would recommend bringing your own—we ordered a “meat and cheese plate” which turned out to be a very overpriced adult Lunchable from the grocery store… really the only disappointing aspect of our stay.
Because of the length of the drive and since some pools are reserved only for overnight guests, it was the obvious choice for us to book a night at the resort. We arrived around 12:30 on the Sunday of Presidents Day weekend, checked-in, and headed straight to one of the pools since our room wasn’t ready yet. As an overnight guest, you get access to the pools the entire day of check-in and the entire day of check-out, which was perfect for our one-night getaway.
We spent the first couple of hours at the Infinity Pool, which is open to all visitors, although only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. While the infinity aspect was underwhelming (not much of the waterfall effect typical of infinity pools), the view of the mountains was absolutely incredible—definitely the best views of the whole resort.
After a few hours at the Infinity Pool, we decided to check out the other pools near the bathhouse. We quickly realized that the Soaking Pool and Exercise Pool, both of which are open to day visitors, were packed with little kids swimming and playing. We didn’t end up soaking in either of those pools the whole weekend. Instead, we spent the afternoon rotating between the two pools available to overnight guests only. The three Cascading Hot Springs were my favorite, although they reminded me a bit of Goldie Locks—the first one was SO hot, the last one was a little tepid, and the middle one was just the right temperature… and therefore always packed. Granted, we visited during a holiday weekend, so I would be curious to know how busy the resort is on a typical Saturday or Sunday in the winter.
Mt. Princeton also has a spa with massages and other treatments available at a discount for overnight guests. We didn’t do any spa treatments, but we did take advantage of the sauna and steam room a few times. There is also a small polar plunge pool for the brave!
Our room was finally ready by the late afternoon, so we checked in and dropped off our luggage, which we had just left in the car. We stayed in one of the Cliffside suites, simply because it was cheapest when we booked. What we didn’t realize is that the Cliffside rooms have the best views of the mountains! I overheard in one of the pools that all the rooms were recently refurbished and are now much nicer than they used to be. Our suite was clean and very spacious, with a cute shared deck, but otherwise a very standard hotel room. The best part was definitely the view.
I was surprised when we arrived at the resort to discover how spread out all of the buildings and pools are. Lodging options span both sides of the small mountain road that takes you to the resort, and it would have taken around 10-15 minutes for us to walk from our room to the lodge. Since it was very cold and icy, we ended up driving from our room down to the lodge parking lot both days to access the pools. There is plenty of parking—some spots are just a little further away. We initially had hoped for a little snow for that picturesque, snowing hot springs experience, but after discovering that you have to walk a ways in between pools, we were grateful for the 35 degree weather! Which reminds me… Our room did not have robes, which was a little disappointing. I would recommend bringing your own robe to stay warm on the walk in between pools. I also suggest bringing flip flops and sunscreen—we forgot the latter and both got a little burned.
After the quick trip to our room, we made our way back to the Cascading Hot Springs and soaked there as we watched the sun set behind the mountains. It was so romantic as the light changed and we watched the stars brighten in the sky. I even saw a few shooting stars! We stayed in the hot springs until about 7:30 and then changed in the lodge bathroom for our dinner reservations at the resort’s only restaurant, Mary Murphy Steak House. The food was delicious and our waitress the absolute sweetest. Overall, we were very impressed with the restaurant and happy with our choice to eat there instead of somewhere in the nearby town.
After dinner, we sat in the red Adirondack chairs outside our room to watch the stars for about half an hour before we couldn’t take the cold anymore. Such a relaxing day!
In the morning, we slept in a bit, checked out, and then grabbed breakfast at Mary Murphy, another delicious meal. We finally were able to snag a space in the Creekside Hot Springs, which were packed on Sunday. I thought this natural pool would be my favorite, being nestled in among the rocks, but it was unsurprisingly not the most comfortable spot, with little pebbles and sand digging into my behind. It also wasn’t the easiest to get into—you either had to walk across several slippery boulders to get to your desired pool or climb down a wall. Turns out, climbing down the wall was the easier option! The cool part about these pools, though, is that if the water is too hot, you can just move a few stones to let more cold creek water in.
We spent our last few hours at the resort back in the Cascading Hot Springs, sipping on White Russians from the Juice Bar and attempting to read our books—although it was very windy. We watched as a snow storm crept up and over the mountains and then seemed to stop in its place. Aside from the wind, we didn’t end up getting any snow! It was quite the show to watch the changing weather, though.
We left the resort around 2:30 to head back to Denver. Overall, it was an unbelievably relaxing weekend. In addition to all the pools, the resort offers fitness classes to overnight guests, as well as bike and snowshoe rentals, which I had fully intended on taking advantage of when booking our room. But once we arrived and hit those hot springs… it was so hard to bring ourselves to do anything else! I was very excited for the snowshoeing, thinking there would be a trail right off the resort to explore, but I think we would have had to drive somewhere else for that activity. If I ever visit again, I would love to try some of the classes and give the whole snowshoeing thing a go.
I think my boyfriend and I planned it exactly right—one night at the resort is the perfect amount. I don’t think a day pass is worth it because you don’t get access to the best pools, but we agreed staying longer than one night would be too much. You can only sit and do nothing in a hot springs for so long…
I hope you enjoyed this review post, and let me know if you have any questions or have every visited Mt. Princeton yourself!
Miles of smiles,