Lost Bearings in Buena Vista, Colorado: Cottonwood Hot Springs

Buena Vista





We had a plan for the night when we left the Wolf Center, but just like many good plans do, this one came unraveled fast.  It was all the fault of that nasty cold virus the little one shared.

We were having a great time cruising down Highway 24 west from Lake George, enjoying the scenery.  It got late, though.  Suddenly, the thought of setting up camp was too much for Jason, who was the most sick and usually has the most work to do setting up camp.

We decided to find a hotel instead.  Only, there was a monkeywrench thrown into this whole mix.  First of all, we had no reception, so there was no way to map hotels or call around to get a room.  Secondly, there was a whole issue of a travel book for Colorado that would have helped out, but we weren’t sure where it was – packed away in the back, or left behind.  Thirdly, there was a whole other set of fate working against us, a reality in which every hotel in the entire town (of which there were several), AND in the closest town 50 miles away, were all booked up for the night.

I was having trouble grasping this because the feel of the town had completely changed since last time I had been there, sixteen years ago.  I remembered a Subway in the middle of the prairie, mountains in the distance, a drive in theater, and a few inns.  Now Buena Vista seemed to be full of hip new places and hot festivals, restaurants, houses, and hotels; every one of which had a “no vacancy” sign in the window.

So we sat at K’s Burger right off the main street, borrowed their phone book, and made frantic phone calls in the dark while scarfing down our dinner.  What it came down to, this late, was that we found one room available in town…and it happened to be like a rent-a-room in the house of the out-of-town owner of Cottonwood Hot Springs.  We shared the house with two or three other couples and paid way too much for this luxury.  However, the bed was very comfortable, and we were able to get passes to enjoy the Hot Springs the next morning, which turned out to be a highlight of our entire trip.

Perhaps it was meant to be.  I DID want to bring my children to this Springs.  I had been there when I came here so long ago, and had fond memories of the place.  The place seems to be run by a bunch of hippies, but the atmosphere is one of total relaxation.

Here is a poem I wrote representing the five public pools in the Hot Springs area, all of which were connected by a stone walkway.


Slow, cool, calming Cold Pool

Invigorating, rising the spirit

Clean, esoteric female fertility statue

Pouring life force into our souls


Move over to Watsu

Deep. pure moderation

Float up to meditate

Let go, feel troubles float away


Walk into Belly Pool

Multi-colored stone floor

Slightly dank, sulfur smell

Visceral reflection of reality


Slide into Elbow Pool

Warm, inviting social pool

Sit on stone benches, smile

Smell the mint and awaken


Relax in warmth of Head Pool

Hot mist rising around faces

Feel tension slip further away

Loosen stiff muscles, limber up


Rinse, repeat as necessary

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