Valley View Hot Springs
Location: Villa Grove, Southern Colorado
Office Hours: 9am to 10pm
Cost: Ranges from $45 to $105 for a basic overnight stay depending on season and accommodations. Click here for rate schedule.
Season: Open year round
Dates Visited: January 4-6, 2019
Description: One of the classics among American hot springs, and a beloved spot in Colorado, this heavily progressive, clothing optional hot spring is one of the best.
As far as American hot springs go, I’d rank Valley View as one of the classics. It sits high up in the Sange De Christo Mountains in Colorado, with expansive views over the San Luis Valley. It has a long, alluring history, with ancient uses by Native Americans, and hippy homesteading in the 1970s. They have a progressive philosophy, with low impact development, an open-space preserve, non-profit structure, and off-grid, micro-hydroelectric power. I had heard about Valley View when I lived in California, and was excited to check in to this place for a night. I ended up extending my stay for a second night because it was so lovely.
The Hot Springs
After hearing about Valley View for many years, I was excited to finally check this place out. I checked in here late on a Friday afternoon, and spent my first night soaking in the Top Pools, watching a meteor shower under a brilliant, moonless night sky. What a place!
Valley View had a few different pools to use, all with different degrees of privacy and temperatures. Many people were using the Top Pools, the Apple Tree Pools and the Party Pool, where the water is hot and the atmosphere was more colorful. Temperatures ranged from 101 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit, which was a little cool for my tastes, but I still felt nice and warm in the hot pools.
Valley view also has a notable sauna, with a cold plunge inside. It was a great setup, that let you cool off without leaving the sauna. If I ever install a sauna in my van, I’m totally stealing that idea.
Valley View also has nice campus, with cabins, a campground, and a number of communal areas close to the springs. They have done a good job at blending nice amenities with the natural aesthetics of the springs, with simple, yet comfortable facilities. I spent a lot of time in the Oak House, a communal cabin, with a shared kitchen and dining area. They even had an old piano there, which various patrons took turns playing on. I also used the Visitor Center a lot, which had a lounge area with coffee and wifi. I camped in the campground, which was simple, but had nice views over the valley. Overall, it felt like staying in an old ranch in the mountains.
Valley View has long history in progressive thought. First off, the property is managed by the Orient Land Trust, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of the surrounding lands. This property is beautiful, with vast views across the San Luis Valley, and provides habitat for lots of wildlife, including an impressive bat colony. In fact, there were many moments, when deer and other animals would be grazing by the pools. It was pretty magical!
For that matter, the overall mindset in general at Valley View is very forward thinking. Many of the facilities are heavily communal, with shared kitchens, eating, and changing areas. They have a very liberal clothing optional policy as well, with many people enjoying the common areas in various levels of nudity. It is very much a place where social norms and stereotypes break down.
Valley View also has a super amazing micro-hydroelectric system. Their entire campus, including all their buildings, heated pools, sauna, hot showers, and communal areas, are powered by an on-site penstock and powerhouse. In fact, the system is so robust, they operate completely off the grid. No powerlines are connected to Valley View. I was lucky enough to tour the powerhouse and it was really impressive.
I’ll admit, I had a little bias on this place coming in, having already heard many wonderful things about Valley View. Still, it was undeniable to me that there are a lot of magical things about this place. It has an amazing setting, tucked high up in the Colorado Rockies, with gorgeous views across the valley and deer grazing among the pools. It has a well-honed blend of natural aesthetics and comfortable, low impact amenities. And it has a long history of progressive though and left-leaning philosophy.
I’ll also concede that that last point can be a turn-off for some. While Valley View is welcoming to everybody, it does attract very left-leaning crowd. Valley View has a very open clothing-optional policy, and nudity was common in many parts the campus. Cannabis and alcohol were also present at many points during my stay. I personally prefer this kind of atmosphere in a hot spring, but realize it may not be for everyone, particularly for families. Still Valley View Hot Springs is a very welcoming place, and I loved it. In my opinion, Valley View really is one of the best, and should be on every hot spring enthusiast wish-list.
More information about Valley View Hot Springs can be found the Orient Land Trust website: