Friday, March 27, 2015

Sand Dunes Swimming Pool (and RV Park)

We read about a large pool of geothermally heated water near the Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado.  It sounded intriguing.  The pool was very large and had a grill that was said to serve award winning food.  We decided we had to check out the pool, the food and the RV park.

We were not disappointed!  (With the exception of one aspect of the place ... that may be remedied in the near future.)

The big pool is about 100 degrees with silky feeling water.

The grill food was quite tasty.

The RV Park is what you would expect.

We were impressed with the place. The employees were very friendly, the food was really good and the water felt fantastic.  (The water is super soft and silky.)

The one downside for us: It's an exceptionally family friendly place with lots and lots of young and older kids splashing and jumping about. If you're going for a "zen" type experience, you could be seriously disappointed.

The good news: We were told by management that they are nearing completion of converting an existing large greenhouse into an adults-only pools area.  We are intrigued by this and plan to return to check out the new area when it opens in a few months.

Despite all the kids splashing around, we had a great time soaking, swimming and chowing down. There is a very hot jacuzzi tub (that we didn't try) that is for adults that is right next to the cafe (and all the activity there.) It's reported to be 107 degrees - HOT.

The grill previously used the greenhouse area to grow produce for the grill and to distribute to stores, but they decided to convert it.  We were told there would be many small pools in the greenhouse along with a long lap type pool.

I asked if it would be OK  to peak inside the greenhouse, but was denied because the construction crew wasn't there on the weekends. The manager said that they were hoping to open the new area by the end of April, but he was hedging his bets by telling me not to hold him to that time frame.  I figure that by at least June it should be up and running.

My favorite hot springs typically involve being able to soak late into the night while watching the stars, hoping to see a shooting star. It appeared the greenhouses are completely covered, so night sky viewing while soaking could be out in this new section.

The Sand Dunes Swimming Pool has a closing time of 10 PM.  (8 PM from December to February. The pool is closed for cleaning on Thursdays.)

I like the rules at Orvis Hot Springs and Valley View. If you are an overnight guest at these two springs, you can soak all night if you please. It would be great if the Sand Dunes pool could allow that, or at least provide some extended time exclusively for overnight guests.

I am imagining that if all the frenetic family and kids activity were done at ten, it would be a great experience to be in a big quiet pool.  It would also help if they turned down some of the blaring flood lights so you could actually see the night sky from the big pool.

Even with these issues, it was a fun experience and I will go back to enjoy the pool again. If you want to swim and soak without all the splashing and noise, the best time appears to be in the mornings at opening. (weekdays might be quieter.) The first hour or so is devoted to lap swimming and it was pretty mellow when we were there early. By 11 am, things began hopping again.

The RV park is your standard type with water and electric hookups (there is a dump station on-site). There are nine big side-by-side pull-through spots.  It's dirt and there are some scrawny looking trees. There is a heated laundry area with two bathrooms that have nice pay showers that take quarters. (There are showers in the pool area too, that are included with the pool fee.)

The cost for an RV water and electric site is $30.  This includes 50% off the pool entry fee.  (The normal pool fee is $12/adult.)

It was funny to me that even the toilets in the laundry area use the hot spring waters.  My behind was sweating profusely from the heat emanating from the bowl. That was a different experience!  My tush felt steam-cleaned!

In addition to the RV hookups area, there is a $20 dry camping section further out.  Closer to the pools is a tent camping area.  Near to the dry camping area are three really small cabin type buildings with beds that can be rented if you don't have an RV or tent.  In between all these are some shallow ponds with lots of fish in them.  The location use to be a fish farm, but I got the idea that the fish are now for the personal consumption of the owners. (Or maybe for the nearby Alligator experience?)

The wildlife area with the greenhouse in the background (future adult soak area).

Across the street from the pool property is a neat wildlife area.  There is a sign saying that it's state land and to keep out, but the pool manager told us that it's a great place to walk around and we did. Our walk was great. There were ducks in ponds and a dirt road that went around the ponds. Along the way there was a dirt air-strip that we walked down. A sunset walk in this area is fantastic. The view of the snow capped mountains to the east is inspiring!  You can make out the sand dunes from here.

Stunning snow capped mountain view

The place is pet friendly and allows dogs on the big pool grounds.

All-in-all it's a pretty neat place, especially if you have kids. It's well run, tasty, clean and fun.  You can see the mountain views from the pool area.

Up Next: After a really good breakfast (breakfast burritos) at the grill, we packed up and headed over to the Great Sand Dunes National Park for a fantastic climb up a high dune.

Browse the photo sphere below by moving it around with your cursor.  There are pointers you can click through to see photo spheres of the grill area and the RV camping area too. This was taken in the morning when the big pool was not very noisy or crowded.

Update (6/2015):
We have been back and have enjoyed the new adult greenhouse pools twice.  We really like them. There is a full bar, a long warm pool, two hot pools and one exceptionally hot pool.  There is also a small sauna.  The long warm pool is really relaxing and you can find your own depth to sit at. You can enjoy your food at the tables near the bar area. There is an extra fee to enter this area above the regular entry fee.  You get a half price discount if your are staying in the RV park or cabins.

The new Greenhouse Pools...
Click and hold below to move around the 360 degree Google Photosphere image below.

For more information on the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool (and RV/camping there) click HERE.

For a more "zen" like hot spring experience, you can try Joyful Journey Hot Springs, which is another 30 minutes or so north of here. And for a naturalist hot spring experience in an beautiful woody mountain side location you can head north a ways to the Orient Land Trust - Valley View Hot Springs.  Joyful Journey has RV hookups.  Orient Land Trust is more rustic and has three RV spots with 30 amps of standard plugin power. Orient produces their own electricity from a stream fed water wheel generator, but there typically is not a lot of excess electricity so you are asked to conserve as much as possible to prevent brown-outs.


  1. I'm still laughing about the steam-cleaned tush :-) Looks like an interesting place.

  2. The Greenhouse is complete and is quite an impressive space. Large, four different pools, one large enough to swim in, a sauna and adults only. Not open to the night sky though.

  3. Rick & Lenore - thank you for the update. We are heading up that way next weekend and will check it out on our way north.


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