An oasis in Southern Colorado: Discovering hidden travel gems

I know Colorado really, really well, but occasionally,  I learn about a new destination, and when I do, I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl.

While visiting the Southern Colorado town of Alamosa for the Rio Frio Ice Fest, Ryan and I were browsing downtown shops when the gal working at Firedworks Gallery, an amazing store, asked if we were going to visit Hooper while we were in town.

“What’s Hooper?” I asked.

“It’s a town nearby with a hot springs pool that has an adult area where you can soak and have a drink,” she said. “It’s really great. The locals love it.”

“Sold,” I said.

She was referring to Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs, a destination that now rates as one of my favorite random HeidiTown discoveries.

An oasis in Southern Colorado. Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs, pool shot. HeidiTown.com

The heated outdoor pool. A pool with a view.

After running the Rio Frio 5K, we had lunch and then headed to Hooper. Thankfully, we’ve gotten savvy over the years and always pack our swimsuits because in Colorado you just never know when you’ll run across a hot spring.

It only took about 25 minutes of driving to get to the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs. A nondescript sign with a wave painted on it is the only indication of where to turn.

An oasis in Southern Colorado. Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs sign. HeidiTown.com

I’ve never experienced such a unique destination in all my travels around Colorado. Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs is  truly an oasis in the desert.

The compound includes camping, cabins, RV hook ups, a hot springs fed pool and a relatively new adult hot springs pool area under a huge greenhouse where the owners used to grow vegetables. There’s also a small store and even a grill onsite where you can order anything from steamed edamame to a cranberry chicken salad.

The 10,000 square foot indoor adult area, appropriately called The Greenhouse, is a little bit like the Garden of Eden, but please keep your clothes on, this is not a clothing optional hot springs.

An Oasis in Southern Colorado. Adults area at Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs. HeidiTown.com

An Oasis in Southern Colorado. The Greenhouse adults only hot springs area. HeidiTown.com

Beautifully landscaped, The Greenhouse features three hot springs pools and one 10 foot by 75 foot zero entry pool that has a waterfall feature at the far end. There’s also a 10 person sauna and lots of sitting areas surrounded by flowers you wouldn’t expect to see growing in Colorado’s high desert. There are even orchids. I can’t wait to see this place after the landscaping matures.

An oasis in Southern Colorado. An orchid at Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs. HeidiTown.com

We ordered a couple beers at the Steel Box Bar, a container style bar inside The Greenhouse, and then indulged in some peaceful soaking. Please Note: An additional fee is required to utilize The Greenhouse area.

An oasis in Southern Colorado. The Greenhouse at Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs. HeidiTown.com

We had to be back in Alamosa for the Rio Frio Ice Fest’s Grub & Pub event at 4 p.m., so we didn’t have much time to spend at Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs, but we will be back. We’d love to rent one of their cabins and stay at this little oasis in the San Luis Valley for a few days.

An oasis in Southern Colorado. Relaxing in the greenhouse at Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs. HeidiTown.com

After all, the entrance to the Great Sand Dunes National Park is just 30 minutes away and there’s also incredible birding in the area. The Colorado Gators Reptile Park is also nearby. I feel as though we have many more gems yet to discover in Southern Colorado and I can’t wait go go back.

Know of a Colorado gem like this hot springs destination in Hooper? Leave a comment below and tell me about it.

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