Wild West Week: History of Glenwood Hot Springs
KREX News Room
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo.- Glenwood Springs is home to the largest hot springs in world and this year, they mark their 125th anniversary. However, the hot springs themselves date back for centuries.
These all-natural springs have been drawing in tourists from all over for decades, but before the water slide was installed, and Interstate 70 was built, there was a different set of travelers soaking in the water.
“The first known people to come to the hot springs were the Ute Indians,” said Jeremy Gilley, director of sales for the Glenwood Hot Springs. “They were a nomadic tribe. They came to the Roaring Fork Valley in the summer months. They believed the hot springs was a source of healing and strength, and they thought of it as a sacred gift from the Native American god, Manitou.”
Gilley says these Native Americans voyaged to Glenwood Springs, where they built huts over cracks in the rocks, which would steam up from the spring’s water and create a natural sweat lodge.
“So the heat is great for the body,” said Gilley. “It increases circulation and it helps the body naturally fight off germs and viruses. The minerals are actually absorbed through the skin which gives the body a natural boost.”
Centuries later these healing qualities continue to have people making their way to this valley city, like Joe Doolittle and his family from Illinois, who have been coming to the springs for over 70 years.
“The minerals help,” said Doolittle. “It’s great for my back and my Spinal Stenosis.”
But whether these medicinal resources work or not, this water is what brought both the Ute Indians and later, other settlers to the area, causing historic officials to believe it's what helped form the city.
“We have such a rich history because we have always been a tourist spot,” said Cindy Hines, executive director of Frontier Historical Society and Museum in Glenwood Springs. “We have drawn big name people here.”
If history is any indication of what's to come, this water and its admirers aren't going away, for 3.5 million gallons of water still flows from the natural source every day.
“I think that's what really amazes people about our hot springs is that it constantly comes out of the ground at the same temperature, for hundreds and hundreds of years,” said Gilley.