Swimming for Health?

The Glenwood Springs Hot Spa Resort proudly announces it’s the world’s largest hot springs pool, with 1,087,000 gallons. There are at least that many black flies doing the back stroke in the water. If you’re wiggy about having to sweep flies away from you in the water (doing the breast stroke is good) this is NOT the pool for you.

The million gallon pool

It’s 92 degrees, so I was kinda bummed it was just “comfortable”. I would’ve liked a few degrees warmer. The spring blasts out of the ground between 123F and 255F (51C – 124C) so they have to cool it off before its swimmable. I’m not sure how they accomplish that, given the spring vomits forth more than three million gallons of water a day, but I’m thinking they mix in regular tap water.

In my experience (Yellowstone), hot springs have an abundance of sulphur. This pool barely carries a whiff of rotten egg, but I guess for 26 smackers, you don’t want to climb in something so offensively stinky. (Guests get free admission, because let me tell you, no WAY is that worth $26, especially with the construction. Ten bucks, max.)

We bobbed around in the water for a half hour or so, quite nice, but just not warm enough for comfort in the cold mountain air. The pool is also surprisingly shallow – 4 feet deep except for the very far end, which has a diving board. The kids leaping off it… all I could think was Greg Louganis whacking his head.

Me in the pool.
In the big pool

At present (mid-April 2022) they’re also doing major construction, so the hot pool is out of commission; they set up a “temporary” jacuzzi for the time being. However it’s not been terribly popular as for whatever reason, they cannot use the abundance of naturally heated spring water and instead have it as a “fresh water” pool.

I mean, if you’re coming to a hot spring spa, you kinda want to get into a… hot… spring… spa.

The other thing: you have to walk all the way around the construction to get to the pool. Instead of an easy shot across the street, it’s a healthy hike… and if you’re getting out of a nice warm pool to brave the evening spring air back to your room, damn, that is COLD. We drove the car, I was not freezing my tushie off.

I did the walk in the morning (hence the pictures) to get breakfast from their grill – they have a pond of hot springs water you must walk past and whoo, rotten eggs galore!

Large pond of hot spring water
The source of the spring water with part of the construction.

However, since it’s set off to the side, most guests have no idea it’s there when there’s no construction. I inquired about the dilution ratio from the original spring water but the front desk didn’t know… nor did the 16 year old lifeguard. She did admit they add enough chlorine to keep it sanitary. I’d be okay with that if… sulphur wasn’t… already a disinfectant…

I was also sad because I got the impression from the website that they provided not only pool towels but also robes we could wear down there. Got to the room, threw wide the gates of the closet (okay, it’s a single door) and nothing. No robes for me.

I can’t beef too much, as we got a hella deal on the room ($156 for two queen beds, whatever, we use the other for luggage etc… I find a king bed too big for us).

Note to management… if you want guests to have a spa-like experience in their rooms, a 40” towel should be considered a hand towel. It is NOT a bath towel.

I know more people are inclined to steal 72” bath sheets, but towels that do not wrap around you nicely unless you’re an anorexic 14 year old are just a bummer.

UNNNNGH and the towels at the pool. Daaaaaamn those were bad, I’ve used better swimming pool towels on board cruise ships, and that’s saying a LOT. The woman at the front desk kindly gave us each two of the threadbare, blue striped towels for which they charge THREE BUCKS if you’re a paying customer, on toppa the $26 admission. AND that’s low season price. In summer it’s $42.

For that price, I would hope you could keep that sad little towel. It might work to dry off a chihuahua, but much more than that, the towel is more like toilet paper.

The good parts: it’s a nice sized room and I have yet to hear any neighbors. The lady at the front desk was friendly and accommodating. The free breakfast was really quite good.

The hotel has quite a history: Doc Holliday (OK Corral fame… a dentist who proved to be a better gambler and, well, killer, than tooth fairy) came here to try to cure his TB. The mineral waters are good, but not that good. He dunked in a slightly different concoction than we did. I’m thinking he probably stank to high heaven when he emerged from his soak.

So much for the cure – he was too far gone by the time he arrived, according to the hotel, to survive. He knocked back a whiskey, looked at his bare feet, commented on how he thought he’d die with his boots on, and croaked.

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