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Woman soaking at Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Balneology: The Art and Science of Hot Springs for Health

Go full immersion with balneology in Glenwood Springs. The Colorado town’s three hot springs attractions offer an unparalleled opportunity to absorb the art and science of geothermal soaking.

Balneology is a fancy word that describes the study of natural mineral waters for drinking, soaking and steaming, along with accompanying health, wellness and therapeutic benefits. What human beings have known for centuries—that naturally heated water from the earth not only feels good but is also therapeutic—is a bona fide area of study. For visitors to Glenwood Springs, it is one best studied through personal participation.

Historic hot springs photosSoaking is Steeped in History

According to Balneology Association of North America (BANA), natural mineral waters have always provided benefits to living creatures on Earth. Early Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and other cultures revered the restorative qualities inherent in thermally heated water and considered soaking as a full-body medicinal for a plethora of aches and pains. Native Americans, including the Utes who dwelled in what is now Glenwood Springs, believed the springs to be not only healing but sacred, immersing even their horses before setting out on major hunting expeditions or engaging in conflicts with neighboring tribes.

Minerals Make the Difference

The composition of mineral water is what differentiates it from other types of agua. Deep beneath the surface, it travels through subterranean cracks and fissures and transports within it liquid minerals that rise to the surface via hot springs. The particular dissolved minerals vary depending on the geology of the area.

In Glenwood’s hot springs, there are around 14 or 15 different health-boosting minerals in the geothermal waters including silica, sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and many more. Research has shown that bathing in the water, whether by soaking at Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Iron Mountain Hot Springs or steaming at Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves, has a positive and powerful effect on the body.

According to BANA, the waters refresh oxygen levels, revitalize skin, calm nerves and are beneficial to the body overall, especially the circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems. Additionally, human skin, the body’s largest organ, absorbs only the amount of minerals it needs from the water and is more effective than taking supplements through the digestive system.

Balneology research has shown that a water kur, a doctor prescribed respite at a hot spring, can restore full health to individuals. Physicians in Europe commonly prescribe multi-week kurs to patients. If mineral water kurs are not covered by your health insurance, no need to worry, even a one-day dip in the hot springs has the almost instant benefit of reducing anxiety and invoking a sense of serenity.

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Yampah Vapor CavesWhere to Practice Balneology in Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

The historic hot springs has been world-renowned place of therapeutic healing since the Victorian Age. The bathhouse even once offered medical appointments for guests. Though few partake these days because of the taste, a drinking spring on the east end of the property is reputed to alleviate internal maladies of all sorts. The two enormous pools, however, one at 90 to 93˚F and the other at 104˚F, are the main attractions.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Overlooking the Colorado River, the soaking pools at Iron Mountain Hot Springs vary in temperature from 98˚ to 108˚F. A quiet zone and spa music help set the mood for a relaxing soak. To ensure a restful experience, the hot spring monitors the number of guests able to soak at one time and reservations are required. The facility is in the process of adding more pools and an adults-only soaking area.

Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves

Steam from the source spring gets trapped in the underground caverns, creating a natural steam room. The heat and minerals have a detoxifying effect. The Ute Native Americans were known to use the caves for ritual cleansing and ceremonies. In addition to a natural steam bath, visitors also can enjoy mud baths and other mineral-based treatments at the Vapor Caves.

Balneology is a fascinating area of study, but it’s benefits are best realized when you’re an active participant. Learn more and make plans to soak it all in. Visit Glenwood Springs today!

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Reservations to hike Hanging Lake are released on a weekly basis every Tuesday at 8:00 am MDT. 

PLEASE NOTE: Hanging Lake reservations for  July 3rd through 7th will be released Tuesday, July 2nd, 8:00 am MDT. 

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