Once an abandoned mining town, Dunton Hot Springs in Dolores, Colorado, offers a unique experience in the in a remote southwest corner of the state—an understatedly lavish resort getaway. In the 1990s, a group of German investors radically transformed the dusty ghost town into an exclusive resort hailed as one of the top luxury accommodations in the U.S. In 2016, Dunton Hot Springs was the only resort in Colorado to make it on the 2016 Condé Nast Traveler Gold List. Get a taste for the modern “old West” by taking a chartered flight to Telluride Regional Airport (TEX); the resort will arrange ground transportation upon request. Stay for a long weekend with your family or reserve the whole town for you and up to 43 of your favorite people.
Dunton Hot Springs History
Nestled among the San Juan Mountains, near the Dolores River, Dunton Hot Springs is a huddle of 13 cabins, plus a saloon, dance hall, chapel, boathouse and library. In the 1880s, it was part of a 260-acre homestead on the Dolores River’s West Fork. Joe Roscio from Minnesota settled and mined the area in hopes of striking it rich. While he never achieved a Rockefeller fortune, he was successful.
As Roscio and his four sons worked the Smuggler, Emma and American mines, they quickly learned about the trade’s feast-or-famine nature. It didn’t take long for the entrepreneurial Roscio boys to figure out that they could make more money selling goods and services to the other miners and trappers in the homestead than working in the mine. The family built and rented cabins, opened a lodge, ran a bar and charged 5 cents to soak in the hot springs. The family changed the name of the town, Dunton, to Rancho Dolores, and enjoyed its popularity and expansion for half a century. At its peak, the town had about 300 residents.
The Rocio family sold the land they owned to a group of investors in 1974. The family hotspot soon became a magnet for bohemian artists, hippies and bikers, who rented the rundown cabins for a few bucks a night. As the once-thriving homestead turned into a area only inhabited by surfeits of skunks and dude ranchers who entertained tourists, it became a ghost town—a reminder of the West that was. When the latest owners, the Henkel family, purchased the property in the 1990s for $1.2 million, they rebuilt the town from the ground up. (Why purchase a condo in Aspen when you can buy a whole town for the same price?) The process took seven years; well worth the wait.
Luxury Built on Contradictions
From the outside, Dunton Hot Springs looks a group of humble hand-hewn log cabins. Inside them, you’ll find exquisite piece of furniture, opulent amenities and period antiques. One cabin even has its own private hot spring. The weathered saloon with is rowdily carved wooden tables (look for the names Butch Cassidy and Sundance, who were rumored to have stayed in the town after their first heist) serves gourmet meals with organic ingredients that the chef scrupulously sources (think wild chanterelles and tree-ripe fruit) and pairs with the finest wines. After you spend a day on aggressive trails, an indulgent massage awaits. While the resort does not receive cell signals, every cabin has Wi-Fi.
The accommodation rates at Dunton Hot Springs include meals, access to half a dozen hot springs, screening room, bathhouse and more. The property offers fitness classes, an open-air chapel and a plethora of activities, including:
- Horseback riding
- Mountain biking
- Ice climbing
- Fly-fishing in the Dolores River
- Rock climbing
- Ice climbing
- River rafting
- Photography and fine art lessons
- Archaeological tours
- Dog sleddings
- Cross- and back-country skiing
- Ice skating
- Star gazing
- Marshmallow roasting