5 Hot Springs Spas: Vacation with Healing Waters

This photo shows an overlook of the French Broad River and Hot Springs, NC


Hot springs spas make the ultimate R&R vacation. 

I stood in the middle of a field in Iceland alongside a babbling brook, eyeing my travel companions. Strangers just an hour earlier, we now began to disrobe as though we were old friends or family. When we were down to just our bathing suits (or skimpier undergarments), we plunged into the river, fed by natural hot springs, and immediately settled in. The waters instantly went to work on our muscles—a natural hot springs spa masseuse, as it were—and we leaned back, some reclining completely into the riverbed.

And while Iceland is known for its hot springs and healing waters, there are plenty of stateside hot springs spas that provide similar experiences, without requiring a passport. I’ve rounded up five hot springs spas in the U.S. that will provide rest, rejuvenation, and natural relaxation for your next trip. The only downside? Once you’ve visited and soaked all your cares away, you may not want to leave.

1. Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

The Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center is set on more than 150 secluded acres of the Willamette National Forest in the Oregon Cascades. Visitors have three ways to take advantage of the natural hot springs: pools, tiled tubs, and a steam sauna. Go for a soak, then take a yoga class, meditate, or get a massage. For additional contemplation, there are forest trails to explore and a stone labyrinth to wander. Overnight guests can camp in the summer or book a cabin with geothermal heat in the cooler months; all guests receive three organic, vegetarian meals each day included with accommodations.

2. Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort, Calistoga, California

So many natural wonders, so little time… The Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort in Calistoga has an embarrassment of natural riches. Set in California’s Napa Valley wine country, Golden Haven offers mud baths, herbal facials and mineral baths, massages, and other services, all featuring the resort’s on-site hot springs waters. There are also hot springs Jacuzzi rooms and a hot springs pool. Guests also can take advantage of complimentary bike rentals to explore the area in between spa treatments.

3. Dunton Hot Springs, Dolores, Colorado

For those who like things a little more rustic (yet still pampering), look no further than Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, “across the mountain” from Telluride. Historic hand-built cabins with meadow and mountain views, natural hot springs tucked into mountain valleys, and an on-site spa featuring holistic and therapeutic healing treatments, as well as yoga and Pilates, are the main draws. Active and adventure travelers will also find plenty to fill a getaway here, with horseback riding, hiking, and biking the mountain trails luring those wanting to spend the day in the great outdoors. And after all, there’s nothing better than a hot springs soak to cap off a day breaking a sweat.

4. Hot Springs Resort and Spa, North Carolina

The locals in Hot Springs, North Carolina, knew they had something rare and special – so much so that they named their town after their magnificent healing waters. Tucked into the Appalachian Mountains, the Hot Springs Resort and Spa has 12 outdoor whirlpool-style mineral baths, each enclosed in an outdoor patio/deck overlooking the adjacent Spring Creek and French Broad River. Additionally, there’s an on-site spa with massage, facials, and wrap/scrub services. Accommodations range from campsite rentals to rustic outdoor cabins, luxury suites to vacation rentals, so you can travel simply or indulgently, depending on your preferences.

5. Sierra Grande Lodge, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Historic Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, sits over one of North America’s largest natural aquifers, which produces more than 2 million gallons of hot mineral water each day. Book a stay or just a soak at the Sierra Grande Lodge, which features mineral baths that draw waters from the property’s natural mineral spring. If you want more than just hot springs spas, museums and galleries on Native American and Southwestern cultural traditions, a thriving art scene, and hiking, horseback riding, stargazing round out a getaway here.

Which hot springs spas do you recommend? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Photo courtesy David McSpadden via Flickr Creative Commons