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Dunton Hot Springs

This Restored 1880s Miners Camp Reinvents Mountain Luxury Getaway With Gourmet Meals, Attention to Detail, and Famed Bathhouse

Article by Jennifer Starbuck

Photography by Jennifer Starbuck

Originally published in Parker Lifestyle

From the outside, this weathered and creaky two-story miner’s cabin doesn’t look like much. But the inside of what is known as The Library is a book lover’s paradise, with its hundreds of diverse titles lining the wrap-around shelves and overstuffed seating, animal skin rugs and wood fireplace — an invitation to vacationing guests to curl up and read a while.

This bounty of pages shouldn’t be here, in the middle-of-nowhere Colorado forest. But just like The Saloon a short walk away offering chef-driven mountain cuisine and crisp G&Ts for happy hour, I’m so glad that it does. 

We’re here for an extended weekend at Dunton Hot Springs, a boutiquel luxury mountain resort about 25 miles southwest of Telluride, which sits along the West Fork of the Dolores River. It’s a collection of about two dozen 1880’s miners cabins, once strewn throughout the valley but moved on-site and refurbished into high-end accommodations. There's an open-air chapel, yoga studio and spa house for massages and other treatments. Some of the cabins feature hot-spring-fed soaking tubs.

As a book lover, I’m giddy to spend some time in The Library (a wedding gift from the owner to his wife many years ago), but that’s not the main attraction here. 

We’ll fill our days horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, and of course, soaking in Dunton’s mineral-springs pools. The accommodating staff can arrange just about any guided outdoor excursion, and routinely work with nearby Sutcliffe Vineyards near Cortez to host wine tasting and dinner events. 

The Bathhouse is the centerpiece here and features a spectacular hot bathing pool, nearby cold-plunge stone tub, and hypnotic mountain views from the sliding barn-door windows. A sauna and natural soaking pool sit right outside.

This was the first place we headed after checking into Christy’s Tent, our home away from home for the weekend. We slipped into the thick green Dunton spa robes and padded down the dirt road to start the irresistible circuit, from bathing pool, to cold plunge, to outdoor pool, and back again.

And then to Christy’s Tent, a misnomer if ever there was one. This walled-tent cabin with adjoining bath suite is furnished with wrought-iron bed, sumptuously thick and downy bedding, and comfortable and clever camp rocking chair and desk. There’s a wood-burning stove that will make winter guests very happy. 

If there’s one thing we’ve learned here so far, it’s that all the soaking can make a guest famished. 

As if by magic, the original Dancehall & Saloon silently beckons guests for inventive and hearty breakfasts, and dinners with menu offerings such as Alaskan Halibut with XO Sauce, Bison Tartare, and Lombatello with Salsa Seca. 

And when you’re waiting for one of those afternoon cocktails, take a moment to check out the scratchings and scrawlings on the Saloon’s original bar, where the name Butch Cassidy is rumored to have been carved there by the man himself.

Here at Dunton, surprises and delights abound.

STAY:

Dunton Hot Springs is a yearround high-end luxury resort that features its 1880s miners cabins that have been refurbished into luxury accommodations. All-inclusive accommodation packages start at about $2,000 per night. The Dunton village features its historic Bathhouse with hot spring mineral pool, spa house, and Dancehall & Saloon with chef-driven cuisine.

Down the road from Dunton Hot Springs is Dunton River Camp, which feaures a summer-only luxury tented camp. DuntonDestinations.com

ADD-ONS:

Dunton offers special add-ons to all accommodation bookings, including elopement and intimate wedding packages, romantic getaways and ski and soak packages.

DO:

Dunton staff can arrange full- or half-day guided excursions that include: fly fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking, off-roading, and water sports. Fall is the perfect time for a guided photography tour in the San Juan Mountains to view the changing colors of the aspens.

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