The county seat (1874, 7,670 feet) is named for a hot spring that was a campsite for John C. Frémont on his 1853 expedition. Frémont was followed by other Euro-Americans who took a dip in what the Utes called “The Big Medicine”—sulfur-scented water that comes out of the earth as hot as 120 degrees F. Ute legends credit the water's magical properties to an old chief who came here to die. With the Great Spirit's guidance, he built magic fires within the springs, then drank and bathed in what had become a fountain of rejuvenation.
Such magic attracted Rocky Mountain Newsfounding editor William Newton Byers, who built a log lodge and platted a town of twenty-two blocks in 1874. Interesting pioneer buildings often have been replaced by blander structures. The outdoor pool is supplemented by four smaller steam and soaking rooms built into the rock hillside.
Hot Sulphur Springs hosted Colorado's first major winter sports carnival in 1911. Today this sleepy town, in contrast to the county's faster-growing southeast corner around the Winter Park Ski Area, is a bucolic backwater of fewer than 400 residents.
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