Still standing in 1999, the old Juniper Hot Springs complex gradually fell into disuse and disrepair. The buildings were torn down shortly after this photo was taken. Photographer Bill Hill.

Still standing in 1999, the old Juniper Hot Springs complex gradually fell into disuse and disrepair. The buildings were torn down shortly after this photo was taken. Photographer Bill Hill.

Museum of Northwest Colorado: In hot water

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With warmer weather heading our way, many area folks are heading out to the “low country” — generally west of Craig.

One unusual Moffat County destination that used to be a year-round hot spot for many locals was Juniper Hot Springs. The springs, about 20 miles southwest of Craig, were used by the Utes and possibly the Fremont people before the first settlers arrived in the late 1800s.

With the arrival of homesteaders, tents started popping up at the springs next to the cave, which had been used by the Utes. The new arrivals to the area quickly gravitated to the springs as a place to relax and visit while enjoying the health benefits of the warm waters. The waters were a pleasant 105 degrees and carried a combined mineral composition found in only one other place in the world. By the 1880s the springs were frequently used, and by 1905, Juniper Hot Springs boasted a general store, hotel, post office, restaurant, bathhouse and livery stable.

Use of the springs continued into the second half of the 20th century, but by 1974, the springs became a members-only club. Interest in the springs waned during the next two decades, and the complex closed in 1993. In 2007 a corporation bought the land with plans to develop it again, but that hope receded with the struggling economy.

Today, the springs are open again for business. The buildings are gone, but the source for those waters rising from 4,000 feet under the earth still produces the constant 105 degree temperature, which makes the springs so delightful.

Operating during daylight hours and on the honor system, there are no modern conveniences for the bathers but a Colorado blue sky and abundant sunshine. Surrounded by sagebrush hills with the unbroken stillness hanging over the land, bathing in the springs is as close to experiencing them as the Ute people and the settlers did more than 100 years ago.

If you have a story to share about Juniper Hot Springs, the staff at the Museum of Northwest Colorado would love to hear from you. Call the museum at 970-824-6360 or drop by at 590 Yampa Ave. to visit with us.

Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar for the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

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