Little Medicine Spa at the 4UR Ranch
When the Ute tribe summer camped around the natural hot springs in the Goose Creek Valley, they referred to them as “the little medicine” and the larger hot springs of Pagosa as “the big medicine.” Today those natural hot springs have a home in our new pool and fitness area. Designed in tandem by Robert H. Clark & Associates Architecture of Dallas and Avery Augur of the Creede America Group of Colorado, this facility was built to honor the vision of the original architecture of 1904 by using consistent historical lines and materials. Complete with a geothermal heated outdoor pool, natural hot springs indoor pool, well equipped fitness room, massage area, yoga canopy, and outdoor fire pit, this new addition to history has become a favorite for our guests.
The History of the Natural Hot Springs at the 4UR Ranch
Twenty-six million years ago the largest volcanic eruption in the history of the planet took place and left behind a 45-mile-wide caldera, the Rio Grande Rift, the San Juan and LaGarita Mountain Ranges, rich mineral deposits throughout the region, and most importantly to us, the natural hot springs of the Wagon Wheel Gap.
Until the mid 1880’s, the Ute Tribe of the area camped around these hot springs. It’s said they considered them sacred land and guarded their location as fiercely as they did their hunting grounds. By the mid 1870’s the Federal Government had signed treaties with the Ute and moved them to a location closer to Gunnison. That paved the way for the railroad, the tourists, a premier health resort called “The Hot Springs Hotel and Cottages”.
Though a bathhouse structure was erected over the hot springs, as early as the 1870’s, by 1904, ownership of this property, had consolidated into the hands of General William Jackson Palmer, a decorated hero of the Civil War and founder of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Palmer hired Scottish architect, Thomas MacLaren, an alumnus of the Royal College of Art in London, to design a luxury health resort rivaling the premier European Spas of the time. At completion, The Hot Springs Hotel and Cottages summer season opened with a “Palatial Bathhouse, three long Adirondack-style sleeping cabins, a new hotel, and livery stable.”