It was mid-July when I visited the Eldorado Swimming Pool, and I got there barely in time to beat the morning crowd. My friend Stewart—a Colorado native—had come along to revisit the pool that day, and take photographs. Jeremy Martin, one of the founders of the Eldorado Natural Spring Water bottling company and a current co-owner of the pool, had come out to show us around. Jeremy told me about the history of the bottling company and the swimming pool. We went on a short tour of the grounds, ending with a peek at the source itself: the artesian warm spring. Housed inside an old structure that was hand-built, stone by jagged stone, the Eldorado warm spring exudes 120 gallons of clear, warm water every minute. There’s a cold well, too, with pure fresh water, and the two combine to create 100% natural electrolyte water that the company tankers out to nearby Louisville, where it’s bottled and distributed around the United States. About 2,500 5-gallon jugs leave the plant every day. The remainder of the fresh, potable water goes into the swimming pool.
After the tour, Jeremy invited us to hang around for a soak and a swim. We each took a quick shower first to cleanse ourselves of the normal “contaminants” of civilized life—shampoos, soaps, and deodorants—and then Stewart headed to the deep end, while I elected to enter the pool via a ladder at the shallow end. I’m not a swimmer, never have been and probably never will be. I’m a soaker, and quite satisfied with that. Stewart, on the other hand, is a swimmer, and a good one. He’s not a small man, though—broad in the chest and six-feet-tall—but in the water that day, he was a swan. I carefully strode to the middle of the pool, shuffling with my feet, prepared for any sudden drop-off. Stewart popped up in front of me, a wide grin on his face. “It’s just like I remembered,” he said, “when I used to come here in the 70s. Me and Jimmie Dunn and Billy Westbay would climb all day in the canyon, then we’d come here to cool off.”
Stewart dove back into the water and emerged a minute later a short distance away. “You should take lessons. You could learn the breast stroke, and the side stroke, and the butterfly.” He demonstrated each for me, zigzagging across the pool, gliding effortlessly through the sparkling water while I just stared. He popped up again. “Jimmie couldn’t swim,” he whispered, “so he couldn’t go in the deep end, either.”
I had always liked Jimmie Dunn. He was a world-class rock climber, a legend, and he couldn’t swim, and that made me like him even more. And now Stewart was sixteen-years-old again, and I felt about twelve. It was pretty cool watching him, a man in his mid-50s showing off like that. Time slowed and stood still, muffled by the sunshine and the warm spring water, and I was lost in the moment until the sounds of the growing morning crowd brought me back to the pool.
A bunch of little kids took to the big steel slide and splashed in the shallow end, and a group of young girls gathered at the pool’s edge, warily eyeing the lifeguards and whispering and giggling amongst themselves. I wanted to tell them all how good this was, being young at the pool, and that they should stay here as long as they could. But I didn’t. Eventually we got out, and I didn’t shower, because I wanted to take some of that water home with me—or maybe just a little bit of the past. It was a good day at the Eldorado Swimming Pool.
Eldorado Swimming Pool Eldorado Springs, Colorado. Photos by Stewart M. Green.
(April 2012, FalconGuides) introduces you to 32 Colorado hot springs, with directions, maps, and the details you need to plan your hot springs vacation.