Tucked in a tree-lined canyon beneath the daunting 14,000-foot Collegiate Peaks, Nathrop is a quiet, natural community. In the late 1800s, the railroad chugged through Nathrop, dropping a regular stream of visitors.
The main draw in Nathrop has always been its natural hot springs, once a sacred spot for American Indians. Turn-of-the-century vacationers stayed at Nathrop's grand hotel and soaked in the restorative waters.
Today, guests can still melt into the geothermal waters at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Bubbling out of the ground at 135 degrees, the water is cooled to 85 and 105 degrees in various creekside and hillside pools. There's also a lap pool, conference center, spa services and private Jacuzzi rooms, plus lodging and dining facilities. There's also the smaller Antero Hot Springs Cabins and Aqua Hot Spring for good mineral soaks.
Creekside B&Bs and friendly guest ranches are hidden among the foliage and under the soft shadows of the Mount Princeton. There are also plenty of adventures waiting in either direction from Nathrop, including whitewater rafting on the famed Arkansas River.
Toward the mountains, several historic buildings are still intact at St. Elmo, coined Colorado's Most Original Ghost Town. At one time there were more than 150 mines in this vibrant railroad thoroughfare. Stop in the old general store for everything from antiques to yard art or rent a four-wheel-drive and head for the hills.
Meander back toward the highway for a whitewater adventure on the roaring Arkansas River, book a horseback-riding excursion with Mt. Princeton Riding Stables & Equestrian Center or spend an afternoon exploring the nearby town of Salida.