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Manitou Mineral Springs

For the Health of It

Manitou Springs will host Waterfest at the end of the September. Events include educational sessions centered on the mineral springs.

Manitou Springs will host Waterfest at the end of the September. Events include educational sessions centered on the mineral springs.

When you think of Manitou Springs, you probably think of coffin races, fruitcake tosses, the incline and the penny arcade. But long before these quirky events and attractions were part of the scene, Native Americans regarded Manitou Springs as a healthful and spiritual place because of the tranquil setting and mineral springs.

There, mountain snowmelt and rainwater travel below the surface into cavernous drainage systems, where limestone in the water dissolves as it heats up, creating a natural effervescence. Rising to the surface, it picks up minerals and sodium bicarbonate prior to being released through one of the eight springs. It is the variety in mineral contents that creates each spring’s own unique taste.

Manitou Past

While American Indians regarded the area as sacred, European and American visitors started arriving in the late 1800s seeking cures for whatever ailed them in the dry mountain climate – and with the help of the mineral spring waters.

By the early 20th century, Manitou Springs had become a resort community, as well as a healing destination. Bathhouses were constructed and guests could partake in massages, mineral water soaks, as well as oral consumption from the springs. The efforts brought prosperity to the area until the 1930s, when modern medicine overshadowed the healing powers of the waters. At that time, the springs were capped, or often times forgotten, and the bathhouses shut down as Manitou Springs turned its focus to tourism.

Manitou Present

There have been several efforts over the course of the past 30 years to restore Manitou Springs’ history, as well as its healing waters, starting with the formation of the Mineral Springs Foundation in 1987. Today, you can take a walking tour and visit all eight springs conveniently located along Manitou and Ruxton avenues. In addition, SunWater Spa, which opened in 2015 in partnership with the 7-Minute Spring, provides healing treatments through the utilization of the spring’s water. Because minerals can be absorbed through the skin, there are numerous health benefits to soaking in mineral water rather than just ingesting it. These benefits include healing skin conditions, eliminating toxins, increasing the flow of oxygen into the circulatory system, relaxing muscles and providing joint therapy.

In Celebration

To continue those efforts focusing on the history, town supporters are hosting a new event this year called Waterfest 2016. “We don’t want to be known just for tourism,” says Joy Kurschner, event coordinator. “Waterfest will focus on our community as a whole and the health benefits of the mineral springs.”

Waterfest kicks off Friday, Sept. 30 with opening ceremonies and continues on Saturday with the Mayor’s Cup 5K run, an educational treasure hunt centered on the mineral springs, community yoga and other activities around town. There are also discussion sessions scheduled throughout the day with topics including geology and hydrology, cultural history and new medicine. All will be held at the Manitou Springs City Hall. 

“Clear skies, good water and good air. That’s what put Manitou Springs on the map,” says Wendy Wilkinson, public relations representative for Waterfest 2016. “Learning about the springs and their benefits will be a bonus.”