Carbondale is magic. It’s a winter wonderland. In fact, when I first arrived in Colorado, my first stop was in Carbondale to visit my friend Brittany, who is a well known ice climber. If I had known about Avalanche Ranch and Penny Hot Springs, I would have stayed an extra day or two. But I digress…
Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs is best described as a Rocky Mountain picture postcard in the heart of Colorado. Often referred to as the best kept secret, Avalanche Ranch is situated at 7,000 feet, overlooking the Crystal River, with Mt. Sopris towering above at 12,953
feet. The views are dramatic as you can imagine, a sight worth seeing.
Turn Back Time
Since the Ogilby family purchased Hell Roaring Ranch (next door) in 1978, they have known that warm springs exist on the East side of the Crystal River, just about one mile below Penny Hot Springs. In October 2008, after scientific assessment, they drilled and hit hot water. Literally. By 2010, they had developed the pipeline to Avalanche Ranch and the rest, as they say, is geothermal love.
Present Day Carbondale
The 36-acre ranch offers plenty of privacy with 13 cozy log cabins, a one bedroom loft apartment, and a three bedroom ranch house (if you’re bringing the whole family), as well as the therapeutic hot springs pools.
It should be noted, in a state that ranks* its residents according to pet, Avalanche Ranch is a pet-friendly resort open year round, and is ideal for weddings, family reunions, retreats, and romantic getaways. One online review said, “This is glamping at its best! Great ranch style resort with friendly service.” Glamping means “glamour camping”— or, camping for the less outdoorsy. We support that. *We don’t actually rank by pet, but sometimes it feels that way, doesn’t it?
Local Winter Sports
With 24 hour hot spring access in their three pools, a stocked pond, ½ mile of riverfront, volleyball court, horseshoes, miles of trail, snowshoes, an ice rink, and sleds, you’ll never be at a loss for either sport or leisure, as you will. In fact, their winter activities page lists ice skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sledding and tubing, massage, yoga, and the pools, of course, as winter sport diversions for your action loving self.
Penny Hot Springs is also situated on the Crystal River, but this isn’t for everyone. A local treasure, we are told by the tourism
board that, “we do not promote Penny Hot Springs under any circumstances at all.” Should you choose to visit the lovelyiness of Penny Hot Springs, please be conscious of how to be a responsible traveler.
“Penny Hot Springs is a natural resource that is not managed by the National Forest Service or Pitkin County Open Space, so over the years it has been loved to death—so to speak. The community is extremely sensitive to that,” as are our readers.
Some rules for responsible hot springs use (especially at unmanaged spaces), because we’re good humans, include:
*Pack In, Pack Out: These primitive hot springs have no amenities or bathroom facilities, there are no trash containers and no caretaker. Please be mindful and pack out everything you bring in.
*Limit the Crowds: Penny Hot Springs is small in capacity— about 20 feet across and 2 feet deep—enough room for about 10-12 people. If you see more than four cars at the turnout, try another local hot springs instead.
*Be a Good Bather: While there are no rules, please exercise common courtesy around your fellow bathers with regards to communal behavior.
We are all out to have a great time and taking the time to love our earth is important.
Avalanche Ranch Cabin & Hot Springs
12863 • St. Hwy. 133 • Redstone, CO
Boulder: 3h, 34m. 197 miles.
Denver: 3h, 14m. 185 miles.