Penny Hot Springs, Carbondale CO

Searching for a free hot spring south of Carbondale CO just 100 feet off of highway 133. Can this be for real? The hunt for Penny Hot Springs in Carbondale is on!

Penny Hot Springs ~ Found

We love soaking in hot springs and prefer the free natural ones but will pay for the others. Last night we soaked in Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs and it was amazing. While there, we were told about a free hot spring south of Glenwood called Penny Hot Springs. It was on our route so added it to our list.


These are the exact directions we were given.

  • From Glenwood Springs take CO-82 East toward Aspen for 10.2 miles
  • Turn right onto CO-133 South (Carbondale) for 14.1 miles
  • Pass Avalanche Ranch (wanted to stay here due to recommendation)
  • Penny Hot Springs will be located on the east side of Highway 133 a few hundred feet north of mile marker 55
  • Told that a large parking lot will be seen on left side of 133
  • Both sides of river are granite cliffs – hike down to the river to find the Penny Hot Spring

Map from Iron Mountain Hot Spring to Penny Hot Spring.

A Few Interesting Facts

Penny Hot Springs is right on the Crystal River in an area named “Hell’s Gates” due to the granite sections of the canyon. It’s not a long drive from Carbondale and actually wasn’t that hard to find. Once you pass Avalanche Ranch you are close and need to start looking for the mile marker 55 post. Shortly after this you will see a pull off for parking and may even see a few cars.

Park your car, get out and look down to the river. You will see the soaking pools. Walk down a somewhat steep yet not difficult area to get from the parking area to the river. You may also see some nudity as clothing is optional.

Not Bad Scenery for a Free Hot Spring

The springs are named for Dan Penny, who kept a small hotel on the railroad line upstream of Avalanche Creek. During the 1960s, nude bathers would frequent the springs. This offended area residents, who destroyed the bathhouse by dumping boulders, dirt, and tar into the pools. In the early 1990s, Pitkin County acquired the land and reclaimed the springs for all to enjoy today.

The pools can flood during spring snowmelt which makes sense. Summer, fall or winter are the best times to visit safely.

The water coming directly out of the hillside is EXTREMELY hot. I stepped in the water trickling out of the hillside and jumped out quickly. Just be careful and test the water before getting in and you’ll be fine.

The pools that contain clearer water are colder as they contain more river water. The pools that contain cloudier water are hotter as they contain more hot spring water.

Penny Hot Springs ~ Found

The hot springs were very clean considering it’s a free likely unmaintained area.

Redstone Coke Ovens

Just a short drive from Penny Hot Springs was the Redstone Coke Ovens. So many ovens we had to stop and turn around to look around. Very unique sight set against the mountain background.

Coke Oven Facts

The Redstone Coke Oven Historic District is located at the intersection of State Highway 133 and Chair Mountain Stables Road outside Redstone, CO. It consists of the remaining coke ovens built at the end of the 19th century by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. In 1990, it was recognized as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Two hundred were built, because the coal in the surrounding mountains was ideal for refining into coke. At their peak, they were producing almost 6 million tons a year. The development was the beginning of the modern settlement of Redstone. There are very few coke ovens of their type remaining in the West; the ovens are themselves the only remnant of the sizable coking operation in the area, the largest at the time in Colorado.

Within ten years of their construction the ovens fell into disuse when the mines closed.

Final Thoughts

We loved it! All hot springs are high on our list especially with views like this. It’s in a great location surrounded by so many scenic areas and hikes. Penny Hot Springs in Carbondale is worth a visit.

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