Penny Hot Springs

Activities: Hot Springs
Skill level:
Season: Fall

The Penny Hot Springs sit on the banks of the Crystal River, a short drive south from Carbondale. Sitting at the mouth of the Narrows, a granite section of the canyon cut by the Crystal River, they are easily found at a large parking lot on the east side of Highway 133, a few hundred feet north of mile marker 55. The springs are named for Dan Penny who kept a small hotel on the railroad line upstream of Avalanche Creek.

Penny's guests would stay at his hotel and use the hot springs bathhouse - one side for men, the other side for women. The tubs were marble, but the divider in the bathhouse only extended to the water surface, so bathing attire was prudent for all enjoying the hot water. The spring remained popular, but obscure until the 1960's when young people began to bathe there au natural.

Nearby residents, offended by nudity and other unseemly acts, bulldozed the bathhouse and attempted to destroy the springs - once pouring tar into the pools, another time dumping large boulders into them. But there was no stopping the geothermal activity or the local hot springs enthusiasts who rebuilt the pools and fought to make them public. In the early 1990's, Pitkin County acquired the property and made the springs officially public.

Many visitors to the area find the springs a relaxing way to unwind after a day of fishing, climbing or hiking in the surrounding area.