Penny Hot Springs is a glorious set of man-made rock pools right on the Crystal River, surrounded by beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and with hot minerals flowing straight from the earth at some 133°F. Even better – it’s totally free to use and right next to the highway, making it the perfect rejuvenating experience to enjoy after a day of local recreation in nature.
What To Expect
About forty-five minutes from Aspen, just past Carbondale, Penny Hot Springs, named after Dan Penny (see Interesting History below), is a popular and naturally fed group of rock-lined pools boasting a refreshing hot mineral soak between the highway and the cool, fast-flowing 50°F Crystal River.
|Address||HWY-133 (North of mile marker 55) Redstone, Colorado|
|Location||Between Carbondale and Redstone, Colorado|
|Clothing||Optional (officially required during daylight)|
|Road Access||Easy. All vehicles|
|Water Temperature||97 – 131°F|
The slight smell of sulfur in the air and the sight of iron deposits on the rocks is all you need to be assured of the mineral goodness you’ll be getting in these 95 – 131°F, two-foot deep pools.
Feel free to move around to find your perfect temperature – the pools are formed with rocks that others before you have placed there, and moving these allows more or less river water to flow in. The closer to the hot springs source you go (essentially a natural trickle coming out of the river bank), the hotter it will be, but you can always cool off in the Crystal River if you feel yourself overheating (just be careful in the fast flow!). Also take care when walking around, as hot pockets of water can burn – always check the water before stepping in!
Able to accommodate 10-12 people total, these roadside hot springs are officially clothing required, but generally accepted as being clothing optional – naturists can get away with disrobing because the river is a steep walk down from the roadside parking, and so out of sight of passersby. Even so, we’d suggest you stick to some material coverage until after dark, and be prepared for some nudity regardless of your preferences, especially from the locals.
Across the river, on the east bank of the Crystal River, you’ll see the stunning Filoha Meadows Nature Preserve. You’ll also have a great view of Elephant Mountain and the “Hells Gate” granite cliffs.
Good To Know
Due largely to their accessibility, with a pull off on Highway 133, the Penny Hot Springs are popular, and can get crowded – try to get there early or on a weekday if you’re not a fan of lots of fellow bathers.
The slope between the parking area and the river bank, while short, is steep and rocky, and in wet weather it can get muddy – wear shoes that grip and take your time going down.
Penny Hot Springs is pet friendly, and you’ll see a lot of dog owners letting their fur babies run around, splashing and sniffing, despite the known etiquette being to keep dogs leashed and to keep them out of the hot springs.
Penny Hot Springs can get flooded during spring snow melt, and so the best time to head there is late July through winter. Highway 133 is well maintained throughout the year, so snow won’t hold you back from a winter soak!
Take some water sandals for climbing on the rocks, and sun protection in summer as there is no shade.
There is a port-a-potty there, but no trash cans, so pack out what you pack in, leave the glass containers at home, and Leave No Trace to preserve the beauty and serenity of the location for future hot-springers.
If you get there and the parking area is full, why not visit another local hot springs near Glenwood Springs?
The Penny Hot Springs are named after Dan Penny who ran a small hotel and bathhouse on the railroad line upstream. Guests staying at his hotel were able to take the waters at the hot springs bathhouse. While the standard had always been to dress in bathing suits when soaking, and to bathe in gender-separated bathhouses, in the 1960s, hippie culture, naturism and taking mixed baths became a fashion there, and, in protest, local residents bulldozed the bathhouse, wanting to destroy the springs. In 1991, Pitkin County bought the property, restored the springs, and opened them to the public for free use.
How To Get There
From Glenwood Springs it’s 33 minutes by car. Take the CO-82 E towards Aspen and just before Carbondale turn right onto the CO-133 S. After 14.1 miles, you’ll see Penny Hot Springs on the east side of Highway 133, a few hundred feet north of mile marker 55. It’s easy to spot as there is a large parking lot opposite a stone wall.
Frome Redstone, Penny Hot Springs is 3.2 miles north of the main (south) entrance to Redstone on HWY 133.
Can I Stay There?
Officially, no, you cannot stay there. You cannot camp in the parking area or beside the springs, but there are trails in the woods, such as the Avalanche Creek Trail, where you can enjoy some back-to-basics remote camping. Alternatively, head to a campground.
Redstone Campground is just four minutes away and has water hookups, a flush toilet (as well as vault), hot and cold running water, and showers. Some sites have electrical hookups for an extra charge. Upper Prince Creek Campground is a free Bureau of Land Management site some 20 minutes north of Penny Hot Springs. It has a vault toilet, a mountain biking trail running through and great views, but there are a lot of cows around, so be warned!
If a hotel is more your thing, check out these comfortable choices in Glenwood Springs just 25 miles away, among them a Courtyard by Marriott and La Quinta by Wyndham.
What Else Can I Do In The Area?
Go see Hayes Creek Falls, 5 miles south on the 133 from Penny Hot Springs (see the brown sign on the right opposite the red rock). If you can stand the cold, take a plunge in the 6-foot deep swimming hole at the bottom of the falls. Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort is less than an hour from the hot springs, one of the best ski resorts in Colorado.
We also recommend a visit to Hanging Lake in the White River National Forest, and some fun at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Go rafting and kayaking on the Colorado River or hike, bike and climb in the stunning surrounding wilderness.
If you are interested in discovering more of Colorado’s hot spring gems, we recommend these free offerings, just as beautiful as Penny Hot Springs, and here a generous listing of the best commercial hot springs to head to in Colorado to treat yourself to a bit of luxury with your mineral soak! Enjoy!
Penny Hot Springs is an easy-to-access, clothing optional roadside hot springs with stunning surrounding scenery that is best visited early morning on a weekday if you want to avoid the crowds. Tread carefully, especially near the 130°F source, and feel free to adjust the rocks and make use of the cold river water to keep your soaking temperature perfect.
While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about these hot springs sites, life happens, weather happens, and property owners happen. We always recommend you go to the official hot springs’ web page and/or the relevant state authority page to check conditions, times, and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your soak!