Rainbow Hot Springs – Pagosa Springs, CO

Looking for an adventure that’s off the beaten path? Rainbow Hot Springs should be at the top of your list. A relatively unknown hot spring, located in the Colorado mountains, Rainbows provides a getaway from the mundane and easily accessible options.

Thrill seekers take on a 4.5-mile one-way hike to soak in the serene and therapeutic experience found at Rainbow Hot Springs. The trek is not without its challenge, as you will maneuver through the Weminuche Wilderness Area, navigating mountain sides and riverside terrain.

What you’re rewarded with is more than worth your effort — breathtaking views, a calm atmosphere, and relaxation beyond compare! Don’t miss this hidden gem in nature’s playground; when it comes to escaping reality and resetting peace of mind — Rainbow Hot Springs beckons you.

The Hot Springs

Rainbow Hot Springs, Colorado
Rainbow Hot Springs, Colorado

Captivated by the beauty of Mother Nature, Rainbow Hot Springs stands out as one of Colorado’s hidden gems. This stunning spot is tucked away in the West Fork Canyon and serves as a hotspot for campers, horseback riders and hunters in warmer months. During winter, it’s the ideal destination for snowshoers and cross-country skiers alike.

Visitors to Rainbow Springs are gifted with an opportunity to soak in the luxuriating possibility of hot mineral waters along the San Juan River. This idyllic spot features two different pools at either side of this fast-flowing river—the larger, upper pool being of 20 feet in length and 8 feet in width, and then its smaller counterpart which sits closer to the source of these hot springs with a temperature that reaches up to 105°F and accommodates a maximum of three people.

Both pools are surrounded by smooth rocks to make sitting more comfortable. The smaller pool is located higher up on the rock face presenting views of the West Fork Canyon, while the lower pool is bigger, fitting up to ten people. If it gets too hot outside, simply step into the adjacent San Juan River to cool down once again.

For those wanting to experience this natural wonder for themselves, summertime through early fall is an ideal period for making their trip plans due to the warm weather, room for hikers/campers in the area, along with many opting to spend their night there under starry skies. And as visitors adjust the rocks surrounding both pools accordingly, they’ll be able to customize their journey towards sublime unobstructed relaxation.

Things to Do Near Rainbow Hot Springs

Mesa Verde National Park Half Day Tours
Mesa Verde National Park Half Day Tours

A visit to the stunning Rainbow Hot Springs is sure to leave a lasting impression for all who dare venture near. From Mesa Verde National Park Half Day Tours, La Plata Canyon Jeep Tours, and 1/4 Day Family Rafting In Durango, there’s plenty of outdoor activities that promise to exhilarate and entertain. For more daredevil-style thrills, try Telluride Morning Half-Day Rafting Tour on the San Miguel River or 2.5 Hour Family Rafting in Durango with Guide!

The hot mineral water conditions at Pagosa Springs will warm any visitor with its incredible Colorado hot springs pools surrounded by beautiful scenery and views. Enjoy the luxury of drinking natural mineral waters while exploring the many trails around these beautiful hot springs pools. Come out of your comfort zone and discover the mysteries hidden away in this magical place!

Take a hike down one of the many amazing paths along High Country Trails leading conveniently to Hot Spring rushing rivers or enjoy a tranquil soak in crystal clear Rocky Mountain natural pools boasting plenty of heated waters that make the experience even more enjoyable. Incredible Colorado Hot Springs are located all throughout the area boasting astonishing structures amongst tremendous views making each journey unique and refreshing – one full of adventure no matter where you go!

How to Get to Rainbow Hot Springs

Hike trail to Rainbow Hot Springs
Hike trail to Rainbow Hot Springs

For an unforgettable outdoor adventure, take US 160 northeast from Pagosa Springs for 16 miles and take the exit for West Fork Campground (CR 648). From there, it’s a 7-mile haul to the West Fork Trailhead—look for Trail #561. This path gains 1,000 feet in elevation over 10-miles of terrain, so be prepared to hike 5 or 6 hours round trip.

As you hit the first mile of trail and law cabins of Borns Lake, remember to heed “private property” signs: nobody wants this access closed down! After 4 more miles, you’ll cross Rainbow Trail with some hard uphill ahead of you. The area was affected by the 2013 West Fork Fire, but it won’t put a damper on your spirits as plants and shrubs reach waist height with no sign of slowing down.

Before long you’ll hear trickles before emerging upon incredible views of West Fork Canyon and San Juan river below. Bridges help traverse many streams en route (built by an unfortunate backpacker who drowned trying to get here makes centuries ago!), but there’ll come a point where no bridge stands between you and Rainbow Hot Springs: just sling that bag across the icy water and brave a wade-through—it will only last seconds—before scaling one final crest up top!


The Rainbow Hot Springs located in Colorado Springs is an incredible destination for nature lovers and hikers alike. The trail to reach the hot springs winds through around 4.5 – 5 miles of forest, showcasing beautiful views along the way. The thermal waters are heated naturally by mineral water and are just feet away from the rushing river. It’s important to bring a water filter as the nearby river water is not suitable for drinking. The area is well maintained by the Forest Service too, so visitors can be sure of its beauty and integrity for years to come.

A hike to Rainbow Hot Springs promises beautiful scenery and a relaxing experience; gushing rivers, dead trees, and lush greenery stretching out into the horizon line all make up a stunning panorama that provides plenty of peaceful moments to savour. Once at the hot springs, visitors can soak in mineral-rich waters with temperatures perfect for bathing in while watching over the nearby evergreen forest.

For those who take the journey out to appreciate the wonders of nature, Rainbow Hot Springs is certainly a place worth visiting. With majestic views, heated thermal waters right next to a babbling brook, and preservation efforts by the Forest Service – this quaint corner of Colorado truly makes for an unforgettable experience!


Local Information

Address: Weminuche Wilderness Area, near Pagosa Springs, CO
GPS: 37.508483,-106.947490​
Season: Summer to fall
Type: Primitive; Hike Access
Price tag: Free
Clothing: Optional
Temp: 95°-105° F
Distance: 9.4 miles (round trip) 5-8 hours




Anne loves to explore the world and share her experiences through her blog. She loves to travel to places that are off the beaten path and find unique experiences to share with her readers. She also loves to share tips on how to make the most of a trip, from budgeting to activities. She hopes that her blog will inspire others to explore the world and enjoy the beauty of nature.