A Joyful Journey from Hot Springs City

By Mike Rosso

Isolation is often the first impression when arriving at Joyful Journey Hot Springs.
The resort, located south of Villa Grove in the northern San Luis Valley, consists of a modern hotel, health spa, geodesic greenhouse, hot soaking pools, yurts and teepees. It resides amidst vast fields of rabbitbrush and sage. To the west lie the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a vast beacon in this high mountain valley, the largest and highest in North America.
What is not apparent is the unique history of this seeming oasis: that it was once platted to become a vibrant city and health resort; that the railroad passed through for many years. The largest population at one time consisted of swine; and that for a short while, it was a place to maintain a hippie lifestyle among the crumbling structures, soaking naked in the remains of the baths, away from most of the comforts – and problems – of modern society.
In part one of the story of Hot Springs City, an earlier developer of the resort, Robert Dunshee, passed away, not having realized his dreams of a thriving resort community. The rail stopped running in the early 1950s and the resort sat, alone and mostly abandoned. The post office remained until 1946 and at some point, the resort was purchased by Elmer Walker.
Little information can be found about Elmer Walker and the resort he ran up until the late 1950s. Virginia Sutherland, former director of the Saguache museum, remembers swimming at the pool as a child. Another longtime Villa Grove resident, Mary Moore, remembers she used to “mess around as a kid” at the pool, but not much else.

Read more

Hot Springs City, Colorado

By Christopher Kolomitz

Easing the car off the highway and into the dirt parking lot at Joyful Journey Hot Springs, visitors gaze east out across the landscape which is nearly free of obstruction.

Few trees, even fewer buildings and a steadily blowing breeze greet them as they hustle into the warmth of the now modern and popular hot springs facility just south of Villa Grove in Saguache County.

It’s hard to imagine that more than 100 years ago, a city once formed here with great hopes of becoming a tourist destination and prosperous site. However, the brutal climate, the Great Depression, a floundering agriculture economy with poor soil, and life’s hardships ended that hope.

Read more

Seeds: The Missing Link?

By Tyler Grimes
Photos by Beth Johnston

The conference at Joyful Journey Hot Springs near Villa Grove was at capacity. People of all ages came to share seeds, offer gardening tips and celebrate the upcoming growing season. The Sprout Cafe offered organic concessions and Joyful Journey’s 42-foot grow dome was open for tours. Beekeeping information was provided and the Saguache Library presented books and documentaries on gardening and local food. All were part of the third annual San Luis Valley Seed Exchange on Feb. 16.

Read more