In history maintained by the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs, a woman who visited the mineral springs had rheumatism that rendered her basically paralyzed from the waist up. According to the motel’s account, she took six baths and walked away pain-free, moving her neck, shoulders and arms as she pleased.

“Ponce de Leon searched in the wrong section of the country for the fountain of eternal youth,” she supposedly remarked. “He should have come here, and his dream would have been realized.”

In Ouray, one doesn’t have to look far to find the hot springs widely sought in every corner of Colorado. They are especially famous in this southwest corner, boasting some of the West’s most wondrous natural wonder. It’s on full display right in town, the jagged peaks poking above the canyon walls seen from the 250-by-150-foot hot pool enjoyed by visiting families.

A more intimate experience can be had at Wiesbaden Hot Springs or north of town at the clothing-optional Orvis Hot Springs, based on the valley floor. But of all, Box Canyon Lodge claims to have the best view with your soak. Four tubs are on a redwood terrace built along the mountainside. Don’t drink the water, but drink in the panorama of the San Juan Mountains. Catch the sun rising in the morning, and at night watch the steam rise to the twinkling sky.

To enjoy, you’ll need to be overnight guests. Standard rooms are available, as are apartment suites to make you feel at home, along with more upscale suites to make you feel like royalty. The motel wants to be your base camp to adventure, no matter the season. Soak your weary muscles after taking on some of the ski resort industry’s meanest steeps in Telluride. Let the odor-free, mineral-rich waters ease you after a bone-rattling drive. The state’s most scenic and gnarly fourwheeling drives are had in these mountains.

The Box Canyon Lodge has a history not unlike many commercial hot springs: a sanitarium took advantage of the waters after native settlers. Richard and Bessie Cogar tapped the springs in 1925 before turning the business over to another owner, who named the place Sweet Skin Sanitarium. By the end of World War II, a motel was operating and offering much-needed rejuvenation to guests from near and far.

The source can be seen from the terrace. Look for the reddish spot on the hillside, a washout effect of the minerals over the years, and the steam from 140-degree water. Tub temperatures are kept at 103 to 108 degrees. Clothing required.

Address: 45 Third Ave., Ouray, 81427

Hours: Soaking allowed between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day.

Contact: 970-325-4981,

Getting there: Go west on U.S. 24 to the stoplight in Buena Vista and turn left for U.S. 285 south. After about 35 miles, turn right for U.S. 50 west and follow through Montrose. Turn left onto U.S. 550 south and follow to Ouray. From Main Street, turn right onto Third Avenue and go two blocks to the lodge.

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We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More