Nestled amidst the San Juan Mountains in the heart of Colorado’s wilderness, Dunton Hot Springs, often called Dunton, beckons adventurers and seekers of serenity. This historic hamlet, perched at 8,600 feet above sea level, graces the West Fork of the Dolores River. Just a stone’s throw away from the allure of Telluride, Dunton Hot Springs stands as a testament to timeless contradictions—where 1800s log cabins, luxuriously appointed, coexist with a saloon serving culinary delights, where challenging mountain trails give way to indulgent massages, and where the hot springs embrace the snowy landscape into the colder months.
Dunton’s origins trace back further than the first miners who sought solace in its rejuvenating waters; it harks back to the days when Ute Indians, during their summer vacations, reveled in nature’s warm embrace. The source of these mineral-rich springs, still evident at the town’s highest point, has witnessed generations come and go. The miners, recognizing the springs’ value, rechanneled their flow towards a bathhouse, a transformation captured in vintage photographs. Colorado is filled with beautiful winter destinations like Aspen to Telluride to Dunton Hot Springs: it’s a gorgeous state.
Things To Do
For those coming to Dunton and the surrounding area, there will be plenty to see, do, and experience. This is a naturally wonderful destination, close to the town of Dolores, Colorado, so either area will be worth checking out.
Dunton Hot Springs
Dunton sign, Colorado
- Address: 8532 Road 38, Dolores, CO 81323
- Hours: Open 24 hours
One of the first things to experience in Dunton is the famous hot spring. Here lies the healing waters, dating back to many moons ago. Dunton Hot Springs is a small and exclusive resort nestled deep in the San Juan Mountains, bringing people in need of R&R from across the globe each year.
It can get rather busy during the holiday season, so make sure and book in advance.
Dolores River Brewery
Downtown Estes Park, Colorado, the American Rockies, USA
- Address: 100 4th St, Dolores, CO 81323
The next idea for those in the Dunton area is to head to the nearby town of Delores to see the River Brewpub. Here, tourists can enjoy craft beer, wood-fired pizza, a brewpub, live music, comedy, and a beer garden, all from the stunning Colorado mountains.
Canyons Of The Ancients Visitor Center & Museum
Canyons of the Ancients during the day in Colorado, USA
- Address: 27501 CO-184, Dolores, CO 81323
- Hours: Wednesday – Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM
Another idea for those in the Dunton Hot Springs area is to check out the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center & Museum. Here, people can learn about the Native American pueblo and hunter-gatherer cultures.
Two 12th-century archaeological sites, the Escalante and Dominguez Pueblos, at the center were once home to Ancient Pueblo peoples. It’s certainly a nice spot to step back in time.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park, Montezuma County, Colorado
The next thing to do in Dunton is drive off to the Mesa Verde National Park, a National park in Montezuma County, Colorado. This is where people can explore the Ancestral Pueblo people built thriving communities on the mesas and in the cliffs of Mesa Verde, created and inhabited for over 700 years.
- This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
- Location: Montezuma County, Colorado
For anyone wanting to continue their outdoor adventures, checking out McPhee Reservoir is a good idea. Here, you can explore the water body located in Montezuma County. It was constructed and operated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Dolores Project.
Galloping Goose Historical Society
Mountain view along the “Million Dollar Highway”
- Address: 421 Railroad Ave, Dolores, CO 81323
- Monday – Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM
The next thing to do in Dunton/the surrounding area is to check out the Galloping Goose Historical Society, a place for visitors to learn about the area’s history and meet with local historians.
This historical society operates out of Dolores and is open throughout the week. There is even a small museum featuring historical artifacts/memorabilia.
San Juan Mountains
A view of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado
- Address: 710 Main St, Ouray, CO 81427
For those needing a bit of fresh air, the San Juan Mountains surround Dunton Hot Springs, as well as the charming cities and towns nearby. Hiking these will require some skills and experience, as many trails are at high elevations and can be rocky.
There are companies that take people up and down the mountain, like San Juan Mountain Guides LLC. Staying at the Grand Imperial Hotel in the San Juan Mountains may be a good choice.
San Juan Mountains in the fall
- Located in the San Juan National Forest
The next idea for people in the Dunton area is to check out another spring, Geyser Spring. Here, you can explore the state’s only true geyser, located more than a mile off a dirt road near Dolores in southwestern Colorado. It has long been a place of folklore, as many wonder how it originated and why it’s located in this region. Call it nature’s hot tub, if you will.
San Isabel Lodging lies within the majestic San Juan Mountains
- Address: 23999-23001, CO-145, Dolores, CO 81323
- Hours: Open 24 hours
Memorial Rock is yet another place close to Dunton that boasts outdoor adventure and peaceful surroundings for guests. The 8,500,000-pound boulder on State Highway 145 near Dolores fell from a cliff years ago and has since become a staple for tourism in the area.
Circle K Ranch
Square Tower House, the tallest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA, illuminated during the Luminaria Festival
- Address: 27758 CO-145, Dolores, CO 81323
Finally, a hotel and attraction to consider in the Dunton Hot Springs area is Circle K Ranch. Here, people can experience the family-oriented western ranch vacation, high country horseback riding, and southwest-style living and history.
As more of a destination property, Circle K Ranch is close enough to Dunton but also nearer to the action.
Best Time To Visit Dunton, Colorado
Mount Sneffels covered with snow
- Best Time To Visit: Fall or winter
The best time to visit Dunton in Colorado is during the fall or winter. As this property boasts plenty of winter activities, like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and horse-drawn sleigh rides, it is perfect for a private and quiet family vacation.
However, it could also be worth booking a trip during the warmer months, which allows guests to explore other towns and hike the San Juan Mountains. Winter here can be severe, and going out alone is not recommended. It’s just not safe.
Fall, however, offers incredible hiking throughout the state, so that’s a time worth coming.
Dunton Hot Springs is remote, often being good for about 3-4 days max. During inclement weather, you could be trapped inside the property, so it’s not for everybody.
Best Ways To Get Around Dunton Hot Springs
Lake San Cristobal in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado
- Best Ways Around Dunton: By shuttle or rental car
Regarding the best ways around Dunton Hot Springs, if someone is staying at the property and does not plan to leave, we’d recommend having the hotel figure out a shuttle service from the airport to Dunton. Besides that, guests will have everything they need at the property.
That said, if people want to head to Dolores or the San Juan Mountains, they will need a vehicle. If that’s the plan, it’s best to book a rental car before arriving in town, as they tend to clear out quickly.
Winter can make traveling from and around Dunton Hot Springs challenging.
Where To Eat In Dunton, Colorado
Prehistoric site of Cliff Dwelling
When it comes to food in Dunton Hot Springs, there will be slimmer pickings. Here are some nearby choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks:
Breakfast: Loop’s Coffee House & Bistro
- Address: 795 Railroad Ave, Dolores, CO 81323
- Serving: Relaxed café serving coffee, pastries, and quick bites.
Lunch: Kelley’s Kitchen LLC
- Address: 315 Central Ave Unit B, Dolores, CO 81323
- Serving: Quaint restaurant serving brunch and lunch until the early afternoon.
Dinner: Montezuma Mexican Restaurant
- Address: 1319 Railroad Ave, Dolores, CO 81323
- Serving: Authentic Mexican food served in a friendly, laid-back eatery.
Drinks: Dolores River Brewery
- Address: 100 4th St, Dolores, CO 81323
- Serving: Lively brewpub serving beer, cocktails, wine, and snacks.
Where To Stay In Dunton Hot Springs
Molas Lake, San Juan Mountains, Colorado
For hotels and rentals in Dunton and the surrounding area, there should be a few good options. Here are some options for budget trips, mid-tier stays, and luxury vacations:
Budget: The Bivvi Hostel Telluride
- Address: 22332 145 Highway, Telluride, CO 81340
- Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, Free parking, Wi-Fi is available in all areas, Flat-screen TV, Cable or satellite TV, Internet
Budget: Mountainside Inn Telluride
- Address: 333 S. Davis St., Telluride, CO 81435
- Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, Tea/coffee maker, Coffee machine, Free parking, Wi-Fi available in all areas, TV
Mid-Tier: RedCliff Mountain Lodge
- Location: Secluded Mountain retreat surrounded by the San Juan National Forest
- Amenities: Kitchen, Wi-Fi, Terrace/Patio, Balcony, Coffee machine, Washing machine, Clothes dryer
Mid-Tier: Brown Bear Lodge
- Address: Given upon booking
- Amenities: Indoor pool, Fitness center, Free Wi-Fi, Tea/coffee maker, Coffee machine, Wi-Fi available in all areas
Luxury: Mountain Lodge
- Address: Provided upon booking
- Amenities: Mountain View, Outdoor pool, Hot tub, Kitchen, Terrace/Patio, Balcony, Coffee machine
- Address: Given upon booking
- Amenities: Kitchen, Game room, Wi-Fi, Balcony, Coffee machine, Washing machine, Clothes dryer
Tips For Visiting Dunton Hot Springs In Colorado
The San Juan Mountains, near Lake San Cristobal, Colorado
When visiting the Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado, it’s worth it to remember these things. First, the area is incredibly remote. You won’t be close to anything until Dolores, Colorado, so that can turn some travelers off.
Wi-Fi and cell service may also be spotty here. Again, when someone is in the mountains, it’s not always easy to access reliable service or data 24/7. When hiking, we also recommend packing food, water, a charged phone, and bringing a partner.
Even booking a tour might suffice to keep travelers from going solo out into unknown territory.
How To Spend The Perfect Day In Dunton
Scenic Million dollar high way in San Juan Mountains in Colorado
When spending the perfect day in Dunton Hot Springs, it’s always good to grab breakfast. Of course, this may be at the property near the springs, or for adventurers, in Dolores, CO. From there, explore the hot springs for a few hours, healing in the powerful waters.
After that is finished, head back to the hotel, freshen up, and head out into Delores for walking, shopping, and dining. Spend the night watching the stars and hanging out with the locals. The brewery in Dolores might also be a night stop for the group, as long as everyone’s 21+.