FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Soak Away Your Worries in a Geothermal Mineral Spring

by Susan B. Barnes

Mar 20, 2024

PHOTO: © CHENA HOT SPRINGS RESORT

March 2024

After a cold, rainy day cruising glacial fjords in British Columbia with Bella Coola Grizzly Tours and Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, I carefully hop from the boat and scramble up the rocks to a remote natural hot spring tucked into a rock crevice, accessible only by boat. As I sink into the warm cocoon, I wonder who first came across the hot spring and quietly thank them for their discovery.

I have been fortunate to soak in the healing properties of geothermal waters around the world. Here are some of my favorites, plus one on the horizon.

The Land of the Rising Sun boasts nearly 30,000 onsen, or natural hot springs, primarily in its volcanic regions. During a hiking trip a few years ago, I stayed in ryokan, or traditional Japanese inns, which house their own onsen. Traditionally and culturally, the springs are communal and all-nude, which, as a Westerner, made me feel uneasy. On the last day of my trip, I built up my courage and submerged alongside the other women in the onsen at Nukumorino-yado Komanoyu, and it was well worth putting my self-consciousness aside.

Icelandic bathing culture dates back to the ninth century, when a small group of Norwegian noblemen landed on the island and discovered its geothermal pools. Fast-forward to present day, and there is no doubting the popularity of geothermal bathing — just look at the Blue Lagoon. During my visit to Iceland, however, I opted to soak at Sky Lagoon, an oceanfront spot less than 15 minutes from Reykjavík. Watching the sunset over the North Atlantic Ocean while sipping a glass of Champagne, I enjoyed modern-day Icelandic bathing at its best.

In the western part of Colorado, the 800-mile Historic Hot Springs Loop links nearly two dozen geothermal sites to slip into, soak and relax. Though I did not visit every one, I did soak in quite a few during a week traversing the loop. My favorites? The world’s largest mineral hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs and Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort where, in addition to its pool, I soaked in the natural hot springs found within the oh-so-cold Chalk Creek that runs nearby.

I have traveled to Alaska a handful of times but have yet to experience its hot springs. That changes this winter, when I hope to soak underneath the aurora borealis at Chena Hot Springs Resort. About an hour from Fairbanks, the natural hot springs have attracted bathers for nearly 120 years.

When it comes to geothermal mineral springs, I am always ready to get into hot water.

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