Valley View Hot Springs

I know, I know, you’re all like, “Jeez Claire, how many awesome things can you do in one month?” To which I respond, “INFINITELY AWESOME THINGS.” This was all Travis’ doing. The boy can certainly spend a lot of time looking at maps, but sometimes that pays off. One of these instances was finding a hot spring for us to camp at.

Valley View Hot Spring is a part of the Orient Land Trust. The springs have been here forever, and there even used to be a mining town nearby called Orient that dwindled away like all the other tiny mining towns. Back in the 70s, a couple bought the hot springs and turned it into a nice little mountain retreat. When it became clear that their kids weren’t interested in taking on the business, they turned the land over to a trust to ensure that their beloved springs wouldn’t be turned into a bougie, highly developed hell hole. As it is, wooded, secluded hideaway perfect for people to get naked and sit in really hot water.

Yes, Valley View is also clothing optional. However, unlike Orvis, the previous hot springs we visited, it feels a little more ok at Valley View. Orvis is like 50 feet from the highway, small, and enclosed in a privacy fence that makes it feel like a compound. Valley View feels like mountain summer camp for naked people. 

One morning in the communal kitchen, Travis and I discovered Nude & Natural Magazine, the official publication of the Naturist Society. Did you know there’s a Naturist Society?? I should have guessed, but I was not prepared for how comprehensive this lifestyle is. There was a piece on a nude 5K, which aging naturists are hoping will draw in the youthful running crowd to a naturist way of life. There was a personal essay written by a dude who only likes to be naked at home, complete with pictures of himself going about his normal naked life chopping vegetables and lounging in the sunroom. There were profiles for the candidates running for the board of the Naturist Society, which featured “get to know you” photos showing one election hopeful birdwatching nude, another raking leaves in his yard nude, and the last going to a brisk hike— nude except for hiking shoes.

I guess the Naturist thing started in the 70s, and it evolved from simply a clothing opt-out to a lifestyle choice. They claim that it is more healthy, not lascivious, and natural (clearly). They are quick to distance themselves from other raunchier lifestyles that involve lots of naked people in public, like gay cruisers or swingers. These people go to Naturist conferences where everyone is naked; they choose naked vacation destinations in Croatia and New Mexico; they are enticed by non-piercing body jewelry. Well, I’m not sold on the lifestyle. But I did get naked with strangers.

It is super weird having a totally normal conversation with someone you’ve never met while you can see his balls. That’s all I’m saying.

In any case, the hot springs were amazing. There were seven pools to soak in located all over the mountainside. Trees everywhere, clear sky view, LOTS of birds for Travis to ‘noc. It was relaxing. We just let it all hang out. Lololololol. 

On the second night, Travis’ brother Clint drove down from Denver and soaked with us for a bit ( NO ONE was naked for this, we aren’t WEIRDOS). Then we camped for the night outside the springs, ready to wake up for our last National Park visit.