We like to think of hot springs as nature’s take on hot tubs, with their warm waters heated geothermally. But these au natural Jacuzzis earn extra credit for hosting your relaxation sessions in some epic locations—bubbling in the belly of an ancient Utah crater, for instance, or planted in a valley between Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Plus, hot springs have therapeutic value, thanks to their complex mineral makeup. Research surrounding balneotherapy (which is the study of bathing in mineral springs) suggests hot springs can actually aid in pain reduction. And we don’t need any studies to tell us that soaking in a hot spring can take us from to zero to zen, stat.
And you don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to reap the benefits of these healing waters. We found five remarkable hot springs right here in the United States that are worthy of a trip (and a dip).
1. Hot Springs, Arkansas
Topping our list is a city and national park in the Arkansas’ Ouachita Mountains that celebrates hot springs and comes with a storied history. Hot Springs National Park is nicknamed “The American Spa.” The hot springs became such an attraction that in 1832 President Andrew Jackson designated Hot Springs as the first federal reservation. They’ve lured people from all over, looking to soothe everything from achy bones to arthritis. Hot Springs also became a popular hangout for mobsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano in the 1930s.
You can’t actually soak in the park itself, but you can explore historic Bathhouse Row, where the hot springs are pumped into several hotels and spas. For a truly local experience, visit Deluca’s for a slice of pizza that mixes spring water with the dough. Then, wash it down with a pint of beer at Superior Bathhouse Brewery, which also sources water from the springs for its brews.
2. Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Colorado is a hot springs hot spot. In fact, there’s now a historic 720-mile loop that connects 19 hot springs, from the humble, creekside hot pots to the grandiose spring-fed pools. It’s hard to choose just one along this loop. But Pagosa Springs is certainly worth a visit because it holds the record for the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring, measured at 1,002 feet deep. Check into The Springs Resort & Spa, which has prime property alongside the San Juan River, and has 23 soaking pools for hot springs hoppers.
3. Conundrum Hot Springs Near Aspen, Colorado
We mentioned the hot springs loop in Colorado. This is one, though, that you have to discover on your own. Sure, you’ve got to put some work in to get to these hot springs. But your grand prize is awaiting you after an 8.5-mile hike in. (Here’s the U.S. Forest Service’s trail guide that will get you to your pastoral retreat). While lengthy, the trail is considered moderate, taking you on a fairly steady incline through a forested area that gets steeper during the final stretch. You can also set up camp for the night here. Once you’ve arrived, the pools—large and small—are shimmering smack-dab in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. It’s like you’re soaking in a bowl surrounded by mountainous peaks that stretch 14,000 feet high, dubbed by locals as 14ers.
4. Homestead Crater In Midway, Utah
Prepare to be wowed. This awe-inspiring hot spring is surrounded by a 10,000-year-old beehive-shaped crater, with a natural opening at the top beaming down light into your swimming oasis. What’s remarkable is you can scuba, snorkel and even stand-up paddleboard in it. Or, you know, just relax. The water hovers around 95 degrees. “Bachelor” fans, you may have spotted this geothermal wonder in season 16 when bachelor Ben Flajnik and his date rappelled down the 55-foot-tall dome and into the hot pot. You don’t have to be a reality TV star to experience the hot spring, but you do need to make a reservation.
5. Omni Homestead Resort In Hot Springs, Virginia
Need a relaxing vacation? The crown jewel of Omni Homestead Resort is a year-round, adults-only natural hot springs spa garden. You can book spa services inspired by the region’s hot springs, like a mineral springs mud wrap. The geothermal Octagon Pool is fed by two hot springs, and the temperature ranges between 96 and 97 degrees. The hot springs also feed the “River Reflexology Walk” with stones arranged to massage your feet.