26 Aug 10 World Famous Hot Springs
Hot mineral springs are found on every continent—even Antarctica—wherever magma comes close enough to water. Many come with breathtaking landscapes, fascinating geological formations, and ancient histories. Some are too hot to handle.
- The Grand Prismatic Hot Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the third largest in the world. You can look, but don’t touch: the water is 160˚F. The sight is worth the visit, though—bacteria color the water in the spectrum of the rainbow except at the center, which reflects the blue sky because it’s too hot for anything to live. It is the most-photographed feature in the park.
(Cotton Palace) in Turkey has 17 hot springs from a 656-foot cliff overlooking the plain, filled with so much calcium that the area’s landscape is mineral forests, petrified waterfalls, and terraced basins. The thermal spa of Hierapolis was established more than 100 years BCE, and ancient ruins stand at the site, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
- The Blue Lagoon in Iceland was created in 1976 using seawater from a lava field in nearby Grindavik. The water, which averages 102˚F, contains minerals such as silica and sulfur and is used to treat psoriasis. Visitors can see the midnight sun in summer or the Northern Lights in winter.
- The Ma’in Hot Springs in Jordan are in a desert oasis 866 feet below sea level. The area includes mineral-rich waterfalls fed by rain and heated up to 145˚F by underground fissures. The water eventually flows into the Zarqa River, the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea.
- The Yangbajing Hot Springs in Tibet are the highest-altitude hot springs in the world, at 14,764 feet above sea level. Geothermal heat produces temperatures of 86˚F to 183˚F, with water in resort pools cooled to comfortable levels. The view includes a green valley and distant snow-covered mountains. The geothermal springs also provide half the power for nearby areas including Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
- Deception Island in Antarctica is dotted with springs heated by an active undersea volcano that formed a caldera. The water is heated to 158˚F or more, but it is mixed with cold ocean water that can make the pools enjoyable. The area is home to a large chinstrap penguin rookery as well as abandoned buildings from its history as a whaling station.
- Terme di Saturnia, an upscale spa resort, and Cascate del Mulino, a free natural area of waterfalls and pools, share the same 99-degree water warmed in a volcanic crater in Tuscany, Italy. The water fills a large thermal pool at the resort, which has four hot-spring pools, waterfalls, Jacuzzis, warm and cold water courses, and a spa boutique. At Mulino, visitors soak in naturally carved rock wells near waterfalls. The springs have been used since Roman times.
- Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs in New Mexico, opened in 1868, is among the oldest natural health resorts in the country. The original bath house still stands. Four different types of mineral water are present – lithia, iron, soda, and arsenic, but not sulfur. The 12 pools feature different types and combinations, and visitors can also use a mud pool. Temperatures range from 80˚F to 106˚F.
- Takaragawa Onsen in Japan has been used for its medicinal waters from ancient times. It now has several baths for men, women, or mixed groups, including the giant Kodakara bath, that has over 3,500 square feet and can hold 200 people, and the Maka hot open spa that opened in 1940 and became a model for other Japanese spas.
- Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado was discovered by a family that charged visiting miners a nickel for a dip in the water. The area is now an exclusive resort with five pools containing iron, magnesium, and lithium, with temperatures up to 106˚F.
Iron Mountain Hot Springs is a sought after destination for travelers visiting Glenwood Springs. The geothermal attraction features 16 river view soaking pools that vary in temperature from 99°F to 108°F, as well as a freshwater family pool with an elevated jetted spa.