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Dunton Hot Springs, Dunton, CO

Louise Speaks:  Since we are still trying to complete Patricia’s book “1000 Place To See Before You Die”, one last thing in to see in Colorado is the Dunton Hot Springs.  Just across the mountain from Telluride, the Dunton Hot Springs Resort is a romantic ghost town, set in an extraordinary alpine valley.  The resort offers a variety of day and overnight packages, and the entire town or ranch can be rented exclusively for corporate retreats, family reunions and weddings.   However, the cost is out of this world.  Let me add though, that this resort is inclusive including alcoholic beverages.


Before I tell you the cost, let me tell you about the resort.  Dunton Hot Springs is a small and exclusive resort nestled deep in the San Juan Mountains of the Colorado Rockies.  This perfectly restored ghost town thrives on contradictions; hand- hewn log cabins exquisitely furnished, a life-worn saloon serving food of startling quality, lung torturing trails followed by pampering massages, sensuous hot springs beneath shimmering snow banks.  Free of cell phones, this romantic old mining town still provides high speed wireless internet access in every cabin and video conferencing in the dance hall to the comforting sound of a tumbling waterfall.

All meals , the hot springs, screening room, etc. are included.  Transportation to this magical place as well as the local airports can be arranged.  Dunton’s chef serves local organic foods like lamb , tree-ripe fruit and plump vegetables from their own farm and vineyard.  They serve wines to match every meal.  Dunton Hot Springs is open all year.  The entire town can be reserved for private use for up to 44 people…wait till you hear what that costs.


The resort has a cabin that has been converted into a library.  Described as a sanctuary, a haven, or just a place to lose yourself, the Library is both a work of art in itself and a repository of lovely books.  This really is quite the place to relax, and the books were not the norm.



Dining is done family style in the old saloon.  Guest all eat at a long, antique table in the center of the Saloon.  This is a tradition from the big cattle outlaws that they choose to maintain.  If guests prefer however, they do have the option  to dine separately.  The open kitchen is the heart of the old Saloon for everyone to see and enjoy.  People love to watch and even help the Chef, as he makes the days meal.  You have the opportunity to ask the chef to prepare something special, just say the word.

Besides the tranquility of the resort, the most famous activity is the hot springs.  Now, if you read our other posts you will see that while touring the state of Colorado, we have visited many hot springs.  This resort has several options to enjoying the springs.  The original spring is still visible at the highest point in town.  To make more use of the water the miners dynamited the springs and directed its flow towards the bathhouse.  Once in the bathhouse, although beautiful, the water appeared very brown in color.  The reason we were told is because the springs are of the calcium bicarbonate type with a strong concentration of dissolved iron and manganese and a little dash of lithium.  Supposedly, springs with high mineral content are recommended for various therapeutic uses.  In addition to the value of the trace minerals found in most hot springs, and the stimulating benefits of highly mineralized waters, bathing in bicarbonate water assists opening peripheral blood vessels and helps to improve circulation to the body’s extremities and magnesium converts blood sugar to energy and promotes healthy skin.  This could be a reason the cost is so high.  There are six different hot springs on site, including a private hot spring in one of the cabins.  Temperatures range from 85 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are many activities on site such as private spa treatments, fly fishing, yoga and Pilates, a indoor gym and many other activities based on the season of the year.  We are here the end of October.  There is no snow yet, and we have just missed the turning of the leaves, but I can imagine what this place looked like a week ago.  However, in snow or sunshine, or fall color galore, I just can’t justify the cost to stay here.

Like I mentioned earlier, one cabin has it’s own private hot spring in the room.   The Well House Cabin is Dunton’s only cabin built around a small, on demand hot spring, along with beautiful views of the mountains and a fire place to boot!  The cabin includes a King size bed, the private hot spring and a cold plunge, a wood burning stove and a bathroom with shower.  During the summer season which is May 26 to October 31, the NIGHTLY rate for two people is $2,100…plus tax and service charge.  No I did not make a typo.  And they have a minimum night stay.

There is also a cabin that is actually a tent with canvas roof and walls.  It is actually pretty cool, but the cost not so much. Christy’s Tent is Dunton’s newest addition, and the only all-season tent is constructed of cotton canvas and reclaimed materials from the 1830’s.  The tent boasts a spacious floor plan with gas stove, and luxurious ammentities; while the over-sized, en-suite bath features a generous shower with striking views of the Wilson Mountain Range.  The shower really is a site to see.  The NIGHTLY rate during the summer for this tent is a bargain at $1,680 for two.

Now you want to have a family reunion?  A small wedding?  This is the spot.  You can rent the entire resort, or the town as they call it, for your event.  The resort can accommodate up to 44 people and remember it does include all meals and beverages.  Should you decide to do this during the summer you may for the NIGHTLY rate of $29,000.00 a night, with a two night minimum.

As strange as these rates may be, while we were on our tour, the end of October, the resort only had a few cabins available, which means people actually stay here and pay these rates.  Hard to believe, but I saw it with my own eyes.  They didn’t offer to comp us a room even though we told them we were bloggers and would be blogging about their resort.  They did offer us free beverages.

This was a wonderful resort.  Seems very peaceful and the staff was remarkable.  The grounds were beautiful, the scenery was post card perfect, and it was definitely in the middle of nowhere.  However, I don’t feel the rates match the amenities.  I’ll give the resort a B rating for where it is, and the beauty it provides, it’s up to you if you want to stay here.

On a side note, while leaving the resort and driving to the main highway, we spotted the most unusual site.  From the resort you are on a dirt road for a good 10 miles before reaching pavement.  Then probably another 5 miles before you reach the highway.  While on the dirt road, and like I said in the middle of nowhere, we spot this.  Not sure if it was functional as we had no change, but it was still a site to see and is now going into our Quirky Sites to see.

AM…Page 707


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Vernal, Utah

Louise Speaks:  After a great dinner and a good nights sleep, it was time to head home.  However, we couldn’t leave Vernal without sharing some sites from down town.  This has to be known as the Dinosaur Capital of the World.  There are dinosaurs everywhere in every size, shape and color.  If you are ever in the northeast corner of Utah, you have to make a point of stopping and touring the streets.  This post is mostly pictures, as it is a very small town, and it has dinosaurs…lol
















And we can’t forget the Dinosaur Helicopter and the Giant Indian Chief…only in Vernal, Utah.






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Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT

Louise Speaks:  After getting a bite to eat, we once again crossed state lines into Utah to find the Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah side.  This park contains over 800 paleontological sites and has fossils of dinosaurs including a nearly complete skull, lower jaws and first four neck vertebrae of the specimen DINO.  The park was declared a National Monument on October 4, 1915.  Visitors from all over the world travel to Northeastern Utah to see the vast stretches of visible evidence that these monstrous creatures once roamed the earth.


Dinosaur National Monument spans more than 200,000 acres.  Thousands of fossils were discovered here in 1909, and 80 acres were declared a protected national treasure in 1915.  The huge expansion came later, in 1938, to protect the site’s extensive natural history.  In addition to dinosaur fossils and dinosaur footprints, this part of Utah is home to many ancient petroglyphs  and pictographs.   As stated in a previous post,  the Colorado side of Dinosaur National Monument is an excellent destination for accessing deep canyons along the Yampa and Green Rivers. The Colorado side offers some glorious river views, but doesn’t say much about dinosaurs.


We were more interested to see dinosaur fossils and footprints, which can be found on the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument.  This is where the world-renowned dinosaur quarry is located, where dinosaur digs have uncovered a wealth of prehistory.  More than 1,500 fossils are still embedded in the cliff face here.  During the summer you can take a shuttle bus  between the Visitor Center and Exhibit Hall.   However, since it is October we were only able to tour the Exhibit Hall and Visitor Center.

Although almost all visitors come for the  main attraction, which is a steep cliff face, now enclosed within a large building, covered by hundreds of large fossilized dinosaur bones.  Some visitors choose to see a few dinosaur bones  viewed on a nearby trail.  For 50 miles north and east, the land becomes mountainous, and a large area of colorful canyons and ridges is protected within the monument boundary.  We chose to stay at the Exhibit Hall and see the bones from an air conditioned building.  The famous quarry building is located a quarter of a mile from the entrance road at the edge of the Split Mountain foothills.  Not sure if the Quarry was even open as it is October, but the Quarry  protects the source of the largest single collection of bones from the Jurassic period ever found.

As we left the Visitor Center there is a scenic drive, still within the Dinosaur National Monument, that leads to the Josie Morris Cabin.  The Josie Bassett Morris Ranch Complex comprises a small complex of buildings where Josie, a small-time rancher and occasional accused stock thief, lived until 1963.  The ranch,  was established by the Bassett family in the 1870s.  Josie grew up there, and through her family came to know a number of outlaws, including  Butch Cassidy,  who frequented the area.   From her mother’s example and from growing up on a cattle ranch, Josie learned the skills of riding, roping, shooting, cattle raising, and strong-willed independence. She was tried and acquitted for cattle rustling in her 60s and made brandy and wine from local fruit and berries during Prohibition.

A succession of five husbands made Josie notorious.  She divorced four of them, a scandalous process in those days, and was widowed once.  That husband died, most likely of acute alcoholism, although some claimed Josie had poisoned him.  She was never free from rumors.  In 1924 she built a new cabin.  While clearing brush for her new gardens, Josie became very frustrated by her long skirts which got in the way.  So, she switched to wearing pants, almost unheard of in those days.  For work she wore bib overalls; for trips to town she donned western-cut twill trousers.  Skirts were reserved for funerals and weddings.  One day while working her long, curly red hair, which she coiled on her head, became entangled in the thorns. She cut herself free with an axe and then finished the shearing job with scissors.  From then on she wore her hair short. Josie had broken with convention once again and created her own distinctive style.

Josie continued living in the cabin for over fifty years until she fell on ice and broke her hip in 1963.   She died the following year at the age of 90.   The ranch house started as a low square log cabin, with a kitchen added later.  The cabin now has 4 bedrooms.  The house is surrounded by dependent structures, such as a chicken house, outhouse, root cellar, sheds and a small barn.  A bridge provided access to the root cellar, located across the creek.  The Morris ranch complex was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 19, 1986.


We spent more time at Josie’s cabin than we did at the Dinosaur bones.  The fall colors, the location, the nearby creek, was just the cutest place.  On our way out of the cabin area, we passed Turtle Rock along with other rock formations.  Quite an interesting day.

Originally I would give the Dinosaur National Monument a C rating…the bones didn’t do much for me, but after spending time at Josie’s Cabin, I would recommend coming here and it now gets a B rating...especially in October because of the fall colors.