Radium Hot Springs

The upper Colorado River is often overlooked. Every American knows well the earth that has been cut out by the Colorado River farther downstream. Indeed the Colorado River cuts through four National Parks and its drainage basin is used to draw water from in seven states. It is one of the true natural jewels of the American West.

Getting There

Take I-70 west to Silverthorne. Take route 9 north towards Kremmling for about 40 miles. Turn left on to Trough Road. This is the road that accesses all of the Colorado River (see map below).

Radium Hot Springs pool.

The Lay of the Land

Downstream from the town of Kremmling, CO, the Colorado River cuts through a remote area of the state that is mostly public land controlled by the US Forest Service, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the State of Colorado. The river flows through a series of canyons with rapids of varying difficulty. It’s a popular spot for Colorado residents to get out there and enjoy some fun on the river.

Two sections of river downstream from Kremmling is Radium. It’s basically a railroad station. The railroad goes all the way up and down the Colorado River from Grand Junction to Granby. Massive mile-long freight trains pass through here several times daily.

The hot springs itself is on the south bank of the river. Because most of the land is public, you can camp basically anywhere along the river. There are probably over 20 campsites between the Radium railroad crossing and the Hot Springs along the south bank of the river. Most people camping in the area float down river with their camping gear and just pull off to the side of the river to set up camp. The other option is to park closer to the Radium put-in and then hike to the campsites. From the road, the hike to the hot springs is about one mile.

View from cliff above hot springs.


The hot spring is technically a warm spring (it pumps out water that is cooler than 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Because of this, I don’t think that the springs is popular in the winter, the water simply is not hot enough. This being the upper part of the river though, the river water is cold, so by comparison, when you are sitting in the pool with the hot spring, it feels hot.

One section down river from Radium is Rancho Del Rio. Rancho (as it’s called by the locals) is nothing more than a beach on the river. It’s one of the only pieces of private property on the river. There are several cabins that you can rent and you can camp there for a small fee (probably about $15 per night). You can also rent rafts, stand-up paddle boards, tubes, and kayaks at Rancho, so if you don’t have your own gear, it’s generally available here.

Every weekend in the summer Rancho is packed with people doing their river trips. I think the best type of trip is to float down from Rancho to the next take out, which is called State Bridge. That section of the river has no significant rapids so doing it in a tube is not a problem. Float down from Rancho in a large groups with a cooler full of beer, highly recommend this.

There is also great fishing in the upper Colorado River. If that’s your thing, you can land some solid trout. I’m not a great fisherman but I’ve landed some decent fish on a fly rod near Radium.

Rancho is also host to several music festivals during the summer. The two most popular are Beanstalk and Yarmony Grass (Yarmony mountain is visible from Rancho). They set up a stage or two and host straight ragers for three days on the river. There used to be concerts at State Bridge as well but that has ceased in the past few years. Supposedly the guy that owns State Bridge can’t make the logistics work for shows there anymore.

​So for all of you out there that think Colorado is only worth a visit in the winter for skiing/snowboarding, think again. Summer river trips are just as fun as any day on the mountain skiing.

Map of Radium Hot Springs area.