Tucked away in the Rocky Mountains about 2 and a half hours west of Denver and 20-miles south of Kremmling, sits one of my favorite hidden spots in Colorado. Radium Hot Spring is nothing more than an array of rocks holding mildly warm water in a pool alongside the frigid, rushing Colorado River. It is a beautiful place to sit and soak on any day.
I have been to Radium Hot Springs on three happy occasions. The first was a blustery, snowy day with a visiting friend, the second was a piping hot summer afternoon with a couple after a concert weekend, and the third was for a fly fishing and camping weekend!
If you are looking for the most recent report please scroll to the bottom!
Memorial Day 2019:
My first trip was over Memorial Day weekend with a friend who was visiting from Nashville. We spent several days road tripping around the state and decided we needed a good soak after skiing in Breckenridge.
We followed AllTrails app directions to the trailhead which was actually the Mugrage campground. We didn’t think we were in the right place at first, but after a few minutes of driving around and poking through snow patches, we found the trail marker near a resting herd of big horned sheep.
We cautiously maneuvered our way up the hill trying to not stir the sheep. Thankfully, we reached the top of the hill with no conflicts.
From the top of the hill, the trail cuts through an open field full of cacti and hearty vegetation and leads toward the river.
The trail ends at a cliffside and features a makeshift campsite and fire ring. If it hadn’t been for the “diving allowed” sign, we wouldn’t have known that we had arrived.
We stood by the sign and looked over the edge to find an empty hot spring waiting below. The cliffside had an opening with ledges short enough to climb down. We took careful steps on the icy rock faces and made it to the pool.
It was freezing cold out, and snow was just starting to flurry. Taking our layers off seemed like a crazy idea, so we did it quickly. We slipped into the warm water and tried to warm up as quickly as we could.
The water in the spring wasn’t terribly hot. It was more like bath water, but the rising steam felt great while the snow flurries whipped around our hats.
We had the spring to ourselves for almost an hour until a rowboat of fishers came by and decided to stop. As quickly as we took off our wet bathing suits, we toweled off and put on our warm, dry layers to give the group their privacy.
Our soak was wonderful and relaxing on the chilly, gray day. It was so enjoyable that I came back for a second time and brought even more friends with me!
Labor Day 2019:
On our way back from a concert series in Steamboat Springs, John, another couple, and I passed through the town of Kremmling, and I insisted we stop. This time, we followed Google Maps which lead us to a different trailhead parking lot than I had used on my previous visit.
After navigating the rutted, difficult, and unnamed road off of Old Trough Road, we were, again, lead to a campsite at the trailhead. It brought us to the opposite side of Radium hot springs this time, and there were three different routes to choose from with no idea if any lead to the spring we wanted.
Initially, John and I stayed on the gated road, but after about a mile of walking, we checked our location and realized we had passed the spring. We retraced our steps and arrived back at the car and campsite and soon found that we had missed a sign marking the correct route down to the hot spring.
This route is much steeper until it reaches the same cliffside and makeshift campsite as the trail from last time. It was roughly a mile to the cliffside stairs, and we couldn’t wait to hop in the water and out of the sweltering summer sun.
There were two other people in the pool when we arrived, but that didn’t stop our friends from joining them in the water. It wasn’t as hot as it had been the first time, but in the midsummer heat, it was nice enough to stay until our fingers were pruney.
A few people who’d been at the Billy Strings concert in Steamboat showed up for a soak bringing the count to eight people and two dogs. As our group decided to get on the road and wrap up our weekends, a boat full of fishers anchored off to keep the pool full and lively.
The pool was about to get crowded but nowhere near as crowded as it would be, over the entire weekend, the next time I visited the area.
May 1st - 3rd, 2020
This trip was very different than all of my others to Radium, not only because we spent the entire weekend here, but because we did things other than just soak in the hot spring! This time, one of John's roommates joined us for the weekend of fishing and camping.
It was also different, because when we arrived, the road and trail were PACKED. It appeared that the spring had recently been added to the Warm Spring Trail as part of a larger trail system. It would only make sense for this to increase traffic at the site. New trailhead signs and maps were a nice addition, because they helped us find the trail much faster than last time.
We quickly made our way down the short trail and scouted out a campsite right on top of the hot spring. We arrived at sunset, so we quickly dropped off our first load of gear and headed back up the trail for a few convenient items. When we got back, we set up camp in the dark and built a nice fire.
It wasn't long before the sounds of the river below lulled us into a good night's rest. That rest was cut short when several trains rolled by early in the morning hauling freight through the nearby mountain towns. It was kind of nice to be up so early to try our hands at fly fishing.
John decided to fish near camp while I ventured up and down the river in search of the perfect spot. The Colorado River was very wide and rapid, so finding a place was a little difficult. I was very jealous of how the folks on rafts and boats could fish the entire watershed.
When mid-afternoon started to creep up, so did the clouds. We had to cut our day quite short when a wind and rain storm overcame the area, but fortunately, we made it to camp before it all started. We spent the rest of the day in our tents drinking and playing games until the sun peered out just in time for sunset.
We built a nice fire with some wood we had kept dry and enjoyed hot dogs and s'mores over the campfire before crawling back into our cocoons of tents. The rain was on and off throughout the night and it created a great sleep soundtrack for us.
When we were woken up by the trains the next morning, we woke up and started a fire for breakfast. We cooked up some bacon, egg, black bean, and green chili breakfast burritos and enjoyed the view from around the fire.
After the hearty meal, we decided to pack up and make our first trip to the car to drop off our heaviest gear. The hike back up is nowhere near as easy as the hike down, but we were glad to get our first load up the cliffside before soaking in the hot spring. We were hot and sweaty by the time we made it back down.
We got back down to the hot spring to find a plethora of boats parked at the spring, but no one was actually in the water. It turns out that the rain from the night before had flooded the hot spring and cooled the pool.
Unfortunately, we didn't hang out in the spring very long, but we did enjoy all of the people who were hanging out around the rocks. We soaked in the sunshine and soaked our feet until it was time to hike back out.
The nice break made the hike back up quite enjoyable, and before we knew it, we were back in the car heading home and already missing the sounds of the river and smells of the campfire.
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read!