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    Rainbow Hot Springs Hike

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    16.1 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    499 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    The Rainbow Hot Springs Hike is a scenic adventure in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado that will take you to a series of hot springs in a beautiful riverside setting. While out hiking the trail, you will follow along the banks of the San Juan River as it cuts through the forest and between rugged mountain peaks, before eventually arriving at the relaxing destination of the Rainbow Hot Springs. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit so that you can enjoy the therapeutic waters of the hot springs at the midway point of your hike!

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    Route Description for Rainbow Hot Springs Hike

    The Rainbow Hot Springs Hike isn’t overly long or difficult; however, the going can be a bit tough after a good rainfall when the riverside terrain is wet and soggy. If you are hiking in these conditions, be sure to bring hiking poles for some extra stability. Additionally, you will want to bring bear spray along for your hike and observe all best bear safety practices in order to avoid any potentially dangerous interactions.

    If you are in the mood for a lengthy hike that features an exceptional rest point at the midway point of your adventure, then you will certainly want to check out the Rainbow Hot Springs Hike. In addition to the picturesque woodland and riverside settings, you will have the chance to soak your aching body in a series of thermal pools set along the river, making for an unforgettable adventure in the San Juan Mountains.

    Setting out from the West Fork Trailhead, you will head west along the road and follow it as it bends to the northwest through the dense cover of the forest. Here, you will quickly pass by the shores of Borns Lake and continue on to the northwest on a route parallel to the banks of the San Juan River.

    As you make your way through the forested valley, you will enjoy the sound of rushing water that comes from the winding river nearby and creates a great sense of atmosphere. After 4.7 km of hiking through the forest, you will cross over the river and continue on for a short distance, before making another crossing.

    From here, you will follow along the east bank of the San Juan River as it cuts through the forest over the next 3.0 km, eventually bringing you to the site of the Rainbow Hot Springs. After the long hike through the forest, the restorative waters of the thermal pools will be exactly what your body needs, especially when combined with the peaceful serenity of the woodland riverside setting.

    After you have spent plenty of time relaxing in the soothing water and taking in the sights, you will simply head back along the same trail to relive the beautiful views on the return back to the trailhead where you began the Rainbow Hot Springs Hike.

    Trail Highlights

    Rainbow Hot Springs

    Located North of Pagosa Springs, Colorado in the San Juan National Forest, the Rainbow Hot Springs are a series of primitive thermal pools set along the San Juan River. Freely accessible to the public, the hot springs make for the perfect place to rest your bones after a long hike, with the upper and lower pools averaging around 105℉ and 95℉ respectively.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I drive to the Rainbow Hot Springs?

    In order to reach the Rainbow Hot Springs, you will need to drive to the West Fork Trailhead and hike the 16.1 km roundtrip trail.

    Is there a fee to access the Rainbow Hot Springs?

    Access to the Rainbow Hot Springs is free to the public.

    Insider Hints for Rainbow Hot Springs Hike

    • Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit!
    • Wear proper hiking boots and bring hiking poles for stability.
    • Make sure to bring bear spray.

    Getting to the Rainbow Hot Springs Hike Trailhead

    The trailhead for the Rainbow Hot Springs Hike can be found along West Fork Road at the West Fork Trailhead, just 26.6 km northeast of Pagosa Springs.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground

      Rainbow Hot Springs

    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Rainbow Hot Springs Hike Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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    Rainbow Hot Springs Hike Reviews

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