About a 15-minute drive south of Carbondale, Penny Hot Springs is located at the base of a granite cliff about 100 yards north of mile marker 55 along Highway 133. An large, unpaved turnoff provides parking for several vehicles, then it’s just feet down to the banks of the river and into the rejuvenating pools.
When local hotelier Dan Penny built a lodge and bathhouse over naturally occurring hot springs along the Crystal River in the 1960s, free-spirit bathers would flock to the springs to soak in the nude. This offended nearby residents, so they destroyed the bathhouse and dumped boulders and tar into the pools. In the early 1990s, Pitkin County acquired the land, rebuilt the springs and to this day, nature continues to spill mineral-rich, hot water into the pools for bathers to enjoy.
A primitive hot springs, the half-dozen pools are separated from the cold river water by large rocks, and the bottom of the pools are covered in sand and silt. The largest pool is 20 feet across and 2 feet deep, and temperatures can vary from 130 degrees near the source of the springs to significantly cooler toward the river.
Penny Hot Springs are easy to get to, free, scenic, and relaxing. Just don’t forget a bathing suit!