I had the opportunity to visit Ouray, Colorado last week, and Ryan tagged along. We’ve both been very busy, which is a good thing, so this little getaway, that was to include a lot of hot springs soaking time, was the perfect opportunity to recharge our batteries.
In the past, I’ve blogged here about the fact that as small business owners we never really get away, and since I write about travel, I’m working even when I am “away.” However, this trip felt like a true escape for both of us, and I’m crediting the renewing waters of the hot springs and the vapor cave under our hotel.
That’s right, vapor cave. We stayed at the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings. We had never heard of this place, but apparently it’s quite well-known, and many of our Colorado friends remembered staying there as children.
The hotel is retro, which we love. Tucked into the side of the hill slightly above downtown Ouray, it’s like stepping back in time. No cards keys here and if you should require air conditioning open your bedroom window. Our room was small apartment that included a full kitchen and bathroom, sitting area and small bedroom.
The hotel has a hot springs pool, which we soaked in every day. The first morning we had it entirely to ourselves. The smell of the hotel’s fireplace wafted through the air and mingled with the fresh scent of the mineral water. No sulfur smell here. The crows and other birds were the only sound that morning.
I’ve never been a fan of caves, I feel blinded and slightly claustrophobic, but Ryan loved the experienced and went several times during our stay.
Here’s how Ryan described the vapor cave at the Wiesbaden in a very, very, very long post on Facebook:
"The vapor cave at the Wiesbaden in Ouray.
Entered through the spa below the main building into an irregular shaped room about 15 x 12 and hewn from the solid rock.
Water falls over a smooth rock walls creating shapes that would be proper in a wet cave environment. The air and the water temperatures seem to be only mildly warm.
Walk through the water running across the floor to the back of the small cave / room.
A very Tom Sawyer and Black Bart wood door is semi wedged shut against the rock wall. Entering into the second chamber the humidity and temperature increase to about 102 I suspect. This room is also irregular and is about 15 x 20 with about 2 inches of warm water covering most of the rock floor. A single bulb provides light but gives a very soft light through the steam and vapor.
A rough arched passage gives entry to a third chamber. Entering this last chamber; about 20 x 25, the eyes take a bit of time to adjust to the low light despite another single bulb on the side wall. A somewhat smooth rock shelf serves as bench around 3 sides of this room.
I entered this 108 degree room looking forward to a short bit of semi - meditation ( I don't meditate , but work really hard at relaxing). I step into the center pool. The very warm water is about 10" deep.
Find a seat on the side and lean back against the water smoothed rocks and close my eyes. Much like a sauna, the perspiration builds until I am sweating continual beads are running down my face and back. This world is quite from typical noises, just my occasional rustle of the pool by my feet and the continual sound of the small fountain emptying into the pool.
I think you have to wait until you really start to sweat to get the best benefits from them and this I certainly did. I love the very unique setting of these and look forward to coming back. Not sure what temperature of water Gollum would most prefer as I don't remember Bilbo commenting on it, but I believe Gollum would be just as much of a fan as I am."
Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is co-owner of Ryan Schlaefer Fine Furniture, Inc. She is also a full-time freelance writer and founder of HeidiTown.com, the place for information Colorado festivals and travel.