The Pungent Scent of Healing at Glenwood Hot Springs

Glenwood Hot Springs is famous as the world’s largest hot springs pool, but the Colorado resort is also distinctive for its unusual aroma.

Visitors to Glenwood Springs, Colorado can smell the healing long before they immerse themselves in the geothermal waters of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. Anyone traveling westbound on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon will undoubtedly catch a whiff even before they arrive in town.

The Yampah Spring, which bubbles to the surface from deep within the earth and supplies the historic hot springs with 3.5 million gallons of geothermal water per day, is located at the east end of the resort. It’s a dazzling emerald pool, often shrouded in steam. Breezes pick up the scent and waft it towards drivers as they close the final distance to town.

If you’re traveling with kids, it’s at this point that the conversation might take a humorous turn as they try to figure out the source of the egg-like aroma. Go ahead and giggle but let them know that smell means you’re close to Glenwood Hot Springs—playing and relaxing in Colorado’s favorite hot springs pool.

Why does Glenwood Hot Springs smell?

The sulfur smell is associated with geothermal activity. Beneath the surface, as the water heats up due to increasing pressure and proximity to the earth’s core, it dissolves minerals including sulfur found in the surrounding soil and rocks. The sulfur binds with oxygen to form the compound sulfate. Sulfur compounds are naturally occurring in hot springs and the source of the characteristic eggy odor.

It’s interesting to note that the deeper the hot springs and the faster it sends water to the surface, the stronger the smell. At 122°F, 10 degrees above boiling, full of odiferous vapors, it’s fair to assume the Yampah Spring is a long way down.

The first whiff is the most pungent. Hard as it may be to believe, you’ll quickly acclimate to the aroma. By the time you check into the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge or show up for your Spa of the Rockies treatment you won’t even notice it!

More than meets the nose.

The scent of the springs is also a reminder that the geothermal water at Glenwood Hot Springs is filled with health-boosting minerals. Soaking in them or “taking the waters” dates back to Roman times and is a form of hydrotherapy known as balneology.

According to BANA, The Balneology Association of North America, “Hydrating with sulfur-rich mineral waters has been used medicinally since ancient times.  It’s also known as “nature’s beauty mineral” because your body needs it to manufacture collagen which helps with skin elasticity and keeps us young looking. Sulfur is contained in every cell in the body. Approximately 0.25 percent of your total body weight is sulfur. It is most concentrated in keratin which gives you strong hair, nails and skin. Sulfur eases irritated skin conditions, relieves pain and helps the body eliminate toxins.” Once you’ve enjoyed a soak in our sulfur-rich waters we think you’ll learn to love the smell as we have, or maybe not, but we’re pretty sure you’ll feel better.

Minerals found in Glenwood Hot Springs water include chloride, sodium, sulfate, boron, lithium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, silica, zinc, fluoride, phosphate and nitrogen.

Now that you know what it is, don’t turn up your nose at that sulfurous smell. Instead, follow it to Glenwood Hot Springs for a relaxing, fun-filled and healing soak.