Valley View Campground and hot springs, Orient Land Trust, Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Views of the Sangre's and San Luis Valley
For our 6 year wedding anniversary Josh and I bought this little Chalet camper and took a trip through southwest Colorado, an area we had never been to before. On our way there, we stopped in the Sangre's to camp for the first night instead of making the 6 hour drive all in one day. We decided to camp at Valley View Hot Springs in the Orient Land Trust just south of Salida on the west side of the Sangre's. I was pleasantly surprised at the campground, many of the sites were well spaced apart, some had good privacy and nearly all had great views of the Sangre's or San Luis Valley. Those that did not have views were very near to the hot springs. The hot springs are located throughout the grounds and are all in a natural setting, many of the pools are fairly shallow; but pool #3 and the main pool and hot tub (which are the only pools created by cement) are deeper for actual swimming. One more thing to note, this is a clothing optional campground and hot springs and many of the guests swam nude. It was a new experience for us, but fun and different nonetheless.
Getting there: Here is the website for the campground and Land trust area. They have good directions and information on their site. From the west Denver metro area take 285 to just south of Villa Grove, a teeny town on the San Luis Valley. Follow the signs and turn left or east toward the mountains on County Road GG for 7 miles and then make a left turn at the fork in the road toward the campground. We were able to find it in the dark pretty easily, just keep left at the fork after the 7 miles. The campground is open year round, and costs $30 per night per person in the summer season and $24 in the offseason. There are also additional fees for pets.
Entrance to main pool and hot tub.
Click here for rate information. While it was a little costly, the campground did offer hot springs, bathrooms, showers, hiking trails, great views and decent privacy. The tent sites are dispersed in the woods and the camper sites are situated along the mountainside. All of the sites are listed on the website with photos so that you can choose a site that suits your needs. It is recommended you reserve a campsite year round, especially during the busy summer season. We will definitely be back this winter for more camping and soaking!
The Journey: Josh took a 4 day weekend for our anniversary and we left after he got out of work on Thursday night to get to the Valley View Campground and enjoy the hot springs. We were able to leave by 4pm and arrived at the campground a little after 7:30, set up our Chalet, ate some dinner and immediately went to the hot springs. The pool nearest to us was soaking pool number 3, which is about 3-4 feet deep and the biggest natural pool. Josh and I enjoyed watching for falling stars and talked to one of the other campers until he left the pool and we had the water to ourselves. We both couldn't stop saying how awesome the water was, and how pretty and bright the stars were, and how much we wanted to live in the mountains permanently. After a little while, we braved the cold night and got out of the water to run back to our camper; fortunately it's heated and we were cozy and warm soon enough. While I love tent camping, I didn't miss it this trip with the cold nights and being wet after the hot springs.
Views from pool 6, high up on the mountainside
The next morning we got up, had some coffee and then immediately went back to the hot springs. One of the pools is located 1/4 mile up the mountainside on a steep trail and it has great views, we wanted to check out that pool first, so we hiked up the steep mountainside to the pools; there are three on the side of the mountain with waterfalls connecting each one. We finally made it to the pools and there were only two other people in the top, largest pool. We got into the second pool with the larger waterfall and checked out the views. Once the people above us vacated the top pool we moved up there, that pool was hotter and deeper and we spent an hour just swimming around and enjoying the views. We decided to leave and check out the other pools, one was closed and one of the others really full, so we decided to go back to the Chalet and pack up to get to the San Juans, our final destination for the trip. The Chalet packs up pretty easily and we were on our way by 1:00pm to travel somewhere north of Durango to camp. We will definitely be back to the Valley View Hot Springs campground. I'd really like to find some/any hot springs that are hike in, not a resort type, if anyone knows of any in the area, I'd love to hear about it!
The three top pools (#6) from the top looking down