Natural Hot Springs

Colorado USA: (RTCO03)

Colorado USA
Crossing the backbone of the continent on seldom traveled trails through the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, we descend into the broad San Luis Valley to camp two relaxing nights at the historic Valley View Hot Springs. The trails are steep and challenging; the camps are remote and scenic. We may see any variety of wildlife, including hawks, eagles, elk, deer, and bear. Participants must have some familiarity with horses, and be in good health and physical condition. This is mainly a journey for experienced riders, though a confident beginner with some experience can enjoy the trip just fine.

The horses are sure-footed, no- nonsense and willing. We'll assign you your own horse and teach you how to saddle, picket and care for it. Mountain riding techniques are taught as we travel. We'll share our extensive knowledge of geology, plants, wildlife, and history of the area, as well as teach you minimal impact camping skills. Tasty camp meals are served around the campfire beneath a weatherproof kitchen canopy.

At the hot springs, we'll have camp tables, chairs, a wood-fired sauna, and a heated bathhouse. There are numerous hot soaking pools in a natural setting of wildflowers, birds and wandering deer. These are not well-visited pools and have been only minimally 'improved' from their natural state. Be prepared: like most western hot springs, many soak without clothes. Bathing suits are optional, to wear or not is your choice!


This is a progressive ride where nights are spent at different locations.

The first night is spent at a hotel and the remaining 4 nights are spent camping.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1: Radisson Inn Colorado Springs Airport
Night 2-5: Camping

Radisson Inn Colorado Springs Airport
This hotel provides a free transfer service to the airport as well as free Wi-Fi and a hot breakfast buffet.
The rooms are modern and include a flat-screen TV, microwave, min-fridge and a private bathroom. You can also relax in the hot tub, sun terrace or indoor pool.
If you need an extra night in Colorado Springs on Day 6- please let Hidden Trails know and we will be happy to book this for you.

Guests stay in two- to four-person wall tents with comfortable foam beds (2 persons per tent normally).  There are camp tables, chairs, a wood-fired sauna, and a heated bathhouse.
The group will work as a team. Everyone participates in the care and saddling of their horses and the setting up and breaking down of personal tents. The staff cooks, cleans and pack the horses.

We can supply: saddlebags, sleeping bags, ground mats, and duffel on request for additional fee. Please inquire at time of booking.

Room Occupancy
Single tents can be requested at no extra fee but a single supplement applies for the first night at a Colorado Springs hotel.

All meals are included (from breakfast on day 2 to lunch on last day) except in Colorado Springs. Meals on the first day are not included but we offer 20% off for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant in Colorado Springs.

Dietary Restrictions
We have experience with and are happy to accommodate special dietary needs such as Kosher, vegetarian, and lactose-free. Just let us know when you make your reservations of your special needs.

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.


The ranch owns 60 head of Appaloosa and Paint horses. The horses are sure-footed, no nonsense and willing. We will assign you your own horse and teach you how to saddle, picket and care for it.

Riding Experience
Our trip begin with hands-on instruction on saddling and care of your mount. At the same time, our program allows for diversity to accommodate and challenge the advanced rider as well. Our philosophy is simple; the more you know about your horse and equipment, the more you will enjoy your vacation.


Sample Itinerary - subject to change

Please, note that due to factors beyond our control, we occasionally find it necessary to change the order or the route of these activities

Day 1 (Sunday): Arrival
Arrival in Colorado Springs and transfer (by shuttle) to your Hotel near the airport. Dinner is not included, but the hotel offers a 20% discount for our guests.
Overnight at Hotel in Colorado Springs

Day 2 (Monday): First ride
Early morning full hot breakfast at the hotel (starting at 6 AM). At 7:30 AM, our transfer will pick you up from the hotel lobby. We drive 2 hours to a trailhead on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As the pack string is carefully loaded with duffels and supplies, one of two colorful wrangler/guides picked for the adventure (our staff fight to go on this one) gives detailed instructions on riding, saddling and caring for your mount. Setting out around midday, we wind up through aspen groves, Gambel oak and lodge pole pine, up and into a long glaciated valley. The trail is almost lost as we work around downfall Engelmann spruce, fording the tumbling stream that gurgles down toward the Arkansas river and eventually the Mississippi. We stop to rebuild a section of trail that has slid away from a section of muddy down-sloping rock. A dark tassel-eared squirrel chatters indignantly as we pass. Higher up, a cow elk with ungainly calf in tow ambles across a meadow lush with purple larkspur and yellow composites. We set camp below a gigantic rock glacier just at timberline. The horses are picketed out. The tents are up in carefully selected flat areas well away from each other, and the small campfire is glowing cheerfully as we sip happy hour spirits while awaiting dinner.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight camping

Day 3 (Tuesday): Ride to Hot Spring
The aroma of brewing coffee and the fluttering of Steller's jays signals the start of the day. After a leisurely breakfast, the packhorses are carefully packed with balanced loads. Staff competes to tie the best load. If perfectly packed, the load should not have to be touched until we unpack at the end of the day. Not much is worse than a load sliding off on the steep pass, creating a scene from a Charlie Russell painting! Leaving the last twisted spruce and bristlecone pine behind, our train winds up and over a wind sweep 12,500’’' pass. Awestruck, we silently stare at the immense vast grandeur of the San Luis Valley stretching beyond vision to the hills of Taos far to the south. Then, down, down winding switchbacks to lunch in an alpine meadow. A small herd of elk scramble indignantly down into the dense timber below. Leaving the forest behind, we ride out on a vast open prairie framed by towering peaks. We wait for the burst of orchestral music that Hollywood would surely furnish, but only the quiet whisper of the afternoon wind disturbs the solitude. Evening finds us soaking peacefully in a warm pool, favorite beverage in hand, as the orange-red globe of the Sun settles behind the western mountains. We camp among the aspen along a warm water stream, minutes from the pools.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight camping at Valley View

Day 4 (Wednesday): Rest day (no riding)
Valley View is a private, minimally developed resort with limited public access. The Springs were considered sacred by the Mountain Ute who came to revitalize and give thanks after a successful buffalo hunt. Although quiet during the week, we share the resort with other members coming to soak in this magical spot. The day is set aside to soak, take saunas, to relax. Numerous natural pools offer a choice of soaking with others or finding a private small pool. You may decide to hike or explore the old Orient Iron mine nearby, returning in time for another sunset soak.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight camping at Valley View

Day 5 (Thursday): Ride to Horse Thief Basin
Breakfast, a last early morning dip, then back in the saddle again. Relaxed and stress-free we ride quietly up into the silent pine forest to make a late afternoon camp at the base of the great pass. Around the evening campfire, our wranglers share tales of the days when The Ute hunted these high valleys or when John Fremont's ill-fated expedition wintered here. A horse whinnies in the darkness, an owl hoots out a reply, the camp Winchester rests nearby as we drift off in restful sleep.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight camping
at Horse Thief Basin

Day 6 (Friday): Ride back to Trailhead
Up early, we help break camp, catch the horses, pack loads. Now a seasoned, trained outfit, we are soon moving across the meadow and up the pass. Thunderclouds threaten, so we hasten along, stopping only to check chinches and loads. Dropping easterly over the crest, we stay well above timberline to find the beginning of an old cow trail leading down past a series of blue green glacial lakes. Finding a better trail below, we hurry into the valley as the high ridges erupt in claps of rolling thunder and electric display. We are, too soon, back at the road and waiting transport to urban reality.
At the end of your trip you will be brought back to Colorado Springs sometime between 5:00 and 8:00 pm. We recommend making prior lodging reservations if you plan to spend the night. If you must fly out that evening, please do not schedule a flight before 8:30 pm, to make certain you can make your flight.
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Rates and Dates for Natural Hot Springs

Rates include:

Accommodations, Meals from breakfast on day 2 to lunch on last day, 4 riding days & Transfers
Saddle bags provided
Sleeping bags, ground mats, and duffel can be provided on request for additional fee ($35US per item)

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    20216 day trip, AP$1995

Tax 1: 3 % * prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy
Tax: 3 %  

Transfer and Other Charges:

2021 Transfer to/from Colorado Springs Airport is included by hotel $0
2021 Single supplement for the first night at hotel $100
2021 Extra night at hotel, per room incl. tax
This is a "Group Rate"
2021 Sleeping bag and mat rental -- please inquire
- to be paid locally
2021 Small group supplement (3 pax only) PP $335

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Meals on first day (20% off for dinner at the hotel restaurant), Gratuities & Taxes

Other Info
Meeting: Colorado Springs
Airport: Colorado Springs
Transfer: Colorado Springs hotel 7:30 am on Day 2.

                                            Westcliffe area














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Source: NOAA

The weather is quite unpredictable; it can snow even in August, so be prepared for anything! Use the layer system of clothing, where items can be added or taken off with changes in temperature. On May, June or September trips snow and hail are common. The most important thing to bring is your cheerful acceptance of whatever surprises the wilderness may hold in store!

Colorado has 4 distinct seasons. Autumn brings unpredictable snowstorms, generally beginning in September, before relatively mild winters create a heaven for outdoor enthusiast. March is often the snowiest month, though the weather is notoriously undependable.

Summertime sees the temperature increasing, but it never gets too hot. It is usually dry at that time of the year; however, thunderstorms can happen anytime.

What To Bring:
Riding helmets are mandatory for riders 16 year and under. Riders over 16 yrs can sign a Waiver locally if they prefer not wear a helmet (always recommended). The ranch does have helmets available, but we recommend to bring your own for best fit. Saddle bags are available to borrow for the trip.

2 pr. long
2 pr. shorts

1 heavy long sleeve (cotton is cold when wet)
1 lightweight long sleeve
1 short sleeve
2 T-shirts or tank tops
Long underwear bottoms or biker shorts (to combat saddle sores)


Tennis shoes or something similar for around camp
Socks -- 4 or 5 pairs of heavy cotton or wool

Sweater (wool or synthetic)
Warm parka or jacket
Windproof outer jacket (optional)
Two piece rain suit (slicker with rain pants) NO PONCHOS PLEASE (essential!)
Gloves (for warmth)
Hat with brim (for sun, hail, and snow protection (must have some form of stampede string if worm while riding)
Wool hat (for warmth)

Other Items

Duffel bag or sea bag (to pack items onto packhorses -- (must be soft-sided))
Day pack or saddle bags (to carry things during the day- we have some to borrow, but please ask ahead of time)
Warm sleeping bag (good at least to 30° F.) (We can rent bags for you if told in advance.)
Foam pad or air mattress (such as a CampRest or ThermoRest)
Sunglasses (all glasses must have string/elastic strap)
Pocket knife
Canteen or plastic water bottle


Towel & washcloth
Biodegradable soap
Tooth brush and paste
Sun screen
Lip balm
Hand lotion
Shaving kit
Personal medication
Insect repellent


Candy, gum or tobacco items
Camera and extra film (you may wish to include a disposable waterproof camera for rainy days)
Note pad, guides & field glasses
Liquor / Alcohol (placed in unbreakable containers)
Cash for incidentals, tips, etc.
Fishing gear (collapsible rod is best)

Pack your gear into your duffel bag and day pack. The maximum weight allowable for your duffel bag is 40 pounds (for the sake of the pack horses.
Your duffel bag will not be available during the day. Your day pack or saddlebags should hold rain gear, water bottle, gloves and other items you will want during the day.
Your guide will show you how to best strap it to your saddle. Line the duffel and day bag with a garbage bag or zip lock.
The weather is unpredictable; it can snow even in August, so be prepared for anything. Use the layer system of clothing, where items can be added or taken off with changes in temperature.
On May, June or September trips snow and hail are common. The most important thing to bring is your cheerful acceptance of whatever surprises the wilderness may hold in store! 

We are able to sleeping bags, ground mats, and duffel on request for additional fee ($35US per item). Please inquire.