You don’t have to drive hours into the mountains to relax in a natural hot springs pool. Desert Reef is proof of that. Located near Florence – an area more known for its federal prisons than swimming – the hot spring that bubbles up from more than 1,000 feet below the surface was discovered during oil exploration in the 1940s. The facility is more like a community pool than a pristine hot springs, except swimsuits are optional. There are more natural-feeling hot springs out there, but not within a 45-minute drive of Colorado Springs.
- Plan to soak a lot? Buy an annual membership.
- Not into public nudity? Visit on a Friday, when bathing suits are required.
Recommended season(s): Year-round. The spring water is blended to be cool in the summer and hot in the winter.
—R. Scott Rappold