Activity Pool Highlights

activity pool

The new Activity pool will most likely be the favorite of kids and adults alike with the addition of a Rock Climbing Wall which will be located on the southwest side of the pool.

Climbing Wall Mock-Up

The activity pool will also be the new home of our very popular Wibit (obstacle course). The Wibit will live on the east side of the pool running north to south during our summer months. This area of the pool that is home to these 2 activities will require that all children 12 and under will have to take a swim test to be able to climb the Climbing Wall or navigate the Wibit.

Wibit Picture 2015

The new activity pool will hold 223,750 gallons and have a capacity of 255 people. This section will also have stairs to enter the pool from the northeast side and a handicap access ramp on the north side. Led lighting will be throughout this section and will be a great improvement for the entire pool. This area has always been known as the deep end of the pool and not utilized as much as the other areas, so hopefully now with the new additions it will be full of patrons, and be a fun place to play all summer.deep well

Written by: Debbie Senft
Customer Service Associate

Hot Springs Pool July 7 2009 014

The Art of Preventative Lifeguarding

Lifeguarding is one of those jobs that is hard to not bring home after you punch out. In our training we learn to anticipate risky behavior so we can prevent accidents from occurring. This is the primary objective of any lifeguard at any facility. When sitting in the chair, high above the water, lifeguards can effectively scan the pool for potential hazards. However, lifeguards at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool & Fitness Center are trained to use much more than just their eyes to keep you and your family safe.

One of the best tools a lifeguard has is their hearing. From an elevated position a lifeguard can see, but also hear what is going on within their predetermined scanning zone. We look and listen for obvious signs of distress, or unsafe behaviors. Lifeguards spend a lot of time asking patrons to please refrain from running on the pool deck. This is generally noticed just from hearing bare feet slap against the wet pool deck. An attentive lifeguard won’t have to see the person running. Running on the pool deck is a dangerous activity that can easily lead to a head, neck, or spinal injury. This is just one example of how a lifeguard must use their senses to keep the facility safe. Another major auditory cue would be the sound of someone coughing up water. This is an immediate attention grabber for any lifeguard. Patrons rarely noticed how attentive lifeguards are to these cues. However, it is essential that our guards are receptive to these auditory cues to keep our community safe.

These safety sensitive concerns travel with the lifeguard throughout their guarding careers, even when they are not working. I often find myself cringing when I see kids running on wet slippery surfaces outside of work, and identifying children based on their ability to swim in certain sections, and or the need to take a swim test. All facilities are different, but here at the Ouray Hot Springs we look for kids that are potentially 6 and under, or 12 and under. We pay special attention to these age groups because they are most likely to need special attention from parents or guards to ensure safety. Children 12 and under must take a swim test and have a wrist band proving they passed before they can play on the obstacle course. Children 6 and under must remain within arm’s reach of a supervising adult (13 or older) at all times.   While walking down Main Street I see kids with swim test bands on. I find myself trying to guess ages and refine my ability to keep the Ouray Community safe.

Lifeguards go through extensive training on how to make saves and provide basic life support. However, all good lifeguards will you that they never want to use their skills. An attentive lifeguard can effectively prevent accidents from happening but when things do go wrong, we are here to help.


Written By: Josh Vincent

Aquatics Coordinator

Shallow Pool

Shallow Pool Highlights

This is our new shallow pool section and probably the most used by everyone. This section will have some new added features and hold 167,720 gallons of geothermal water. The new design greatly improves entry and a safe area to orient yourself as you explore the rest of the pools that are available here at the Ouray Hot Springs.

Shotcrete 02012017 (2)Along with the curvy walls and seating around the perimeter it will have in-water lighting to improve visibility for swimmers and warm water flow throughout. All of our lighting features will be easily adjustable to accommodate for changing conditions. The temperatures will vary by season, peak season will range from 90 to 95 degrees and in the off season 95 to 98 degrees. The depths will vary in this section as well.  The west and north ends will range from 30″ to 36″, which will be nice for family soaking and toddler swim lessons. The east end will be 42″ and will have a shade structure for those extra sunny summer days. Below is a picture of a light fixture.

LightsThe shallow pool will also have a handicap ramp near the center of the bath house directly across from the main pool entrance. The ramped entry will slope to a 36″ depth. This is a key safety feature allowing visitors an easy access from the building.  There are also 3 sets of stairs that will improve accessibility between pools, also making it easier for the guards to observe, move quickly and enter the different pools. The interior decks will be slip-resistant material.


The west end of the new shallow pool will also be the home of the volley ball net that has been popular to kids and grown ups alike.

Article written by Debbie Senft (Customer Service Rep)

Jeff Olree Jan 15

Contrary to Popular Belief

There are many who believe that lifeguarding is a laid back easy job, where the employee’s main concern is the quality of their tan. Others may think is it something like the over dramatized scenes from shows such as Baywatch. Here at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, this is far from the truth. The fact is, it takes a very special type of person to be a lifeguard. It takes a person who is willing to put in the effort to master lifesaving skills, which could make a difference in someone’s life. It takes a person that cares about the wellbeing of others, and works hard every day to keep their facility as safe as possible.

Vigilant Lifeguard in Ouray Hot SpringsThe guards at the Ouray Hot springs are not only certified in Lifeguarding and in water rescue skills, they have American Red Cross certifications in CPR, AED, Oxygen Administration, First Aid, and Bloodborne Pathogens. This allows them to provide the best care for all patrons.

lg training 2To maintain this high standard of care, guards are required to attend monthly in-service training’s. During these in-services, guards refine their skills and apply them to countless scenarios in an attempt to be prepared for any situation. This is a lot to ask of any employee, especially ones who are still in high school. But, the guards at the Ouray Hot Springs not only take on this responsibility, they excel at meeting the expectation.  While guarding can be stressful at times, we do try to have some fun. Each summer we hold our Lifeguard Games! This is a fun event where teams of lifeguards compete against each other for bragging rights as Lifeguard Games Champions. The events include things such as Jeopardy style trivia, team rescue races, and other team building activities. The games culminate with the lifeguard relay where each team member completes a leg of the race, ending with completing the obstacle course carrying a guard tube. Along with the Lifeguard Games, we hold several employee movie nights throughout the summer. The movie nights are a relaxing night for the employees to come watch a movie and have the pool all to themselves. We put a giant projection screen on the side of the pool, which allows the guards to watch from the water, creating a truly unique experience.



Lifeguarding is fun! Our guards put in the work and are very well trained and prepared to handle almost any situation. Working at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is a truly unique and rewarding experience.

Article written by Jeramy Harthan (Aquatics Coordinator)


Hot Pool Highlights-Ouray Hot Springs

hot pool design
This month I am going to give you some interesting facts about our new hot pool section of the renovation. First off why the curvy design? The concept for this was to create a pool that will hold a lot of people but still feel like you have your own private area. The idea was to increase the square footage and to also increase the bench space (edge space). The new hot pool will hold 357 people in 3565 square feet holding 80,000 gallons compared to the old pool hot section holding approx. 30,000 gallons.

Hot Pool Forms 5

Hot Pool Forms 7
We will have 2 depths in the new hot pool. The first entry on the south end at 30 inches (making it nice for families to access) and slopes to 36 inches at the north end, which is about the same as the previous hot section. We have also added a handicap access ramp entry into the hot pool. This will eliminate you having to look for a staff member to help lift you in or out of the water. You can utilize this whenever you need.


If you remember in the old pool the water came in on one wall and the heat distribution was very uneven. With the new geothermal supply lines we have water entering all over through the walls and even the floors to give uniform heat distribution throughout the pool. Total turnover of all water in the section can be done in as little as 3 ½ hours compared to about a day in the past. The temperature for the new hot pool will range from 100 to 106 degrees.

Hot section shotcrete 90%(pic)
One addition that we have added is LED in water lighting which we never had in the past. This will eliminate those bright lights hanging overhead shining down on you. This will be great, especially on those wonderful starry nights that we so often have here!

panorama soaking pool
Currently in the plans is a boulder feature with the temperature of each pool and the City of Ouray logo. There are also shade sails as extra added features. We have plans for three of them. One to be located over the south end of the hot pool, for those that want to get out of the sun on those extra hot days.

We hope you are getting as excited as we are for this new hot pool! With all of its curves, bench seating and same wonderful scenic views of the mountains, it will be amazing!

 Help us fill this new hot pool!

Article written by Debbie Senft (Customer Service Rep)


It's quite a view from the Elliptical Machine!

Ready, Set, Sweat!

Do you want to start a new workout program, but aren’t sure if the gym is for you? Don’t worry, it is! Ouray is filled with amazing athletes, and it can feel intimidating to be on the treadmill next to one of them. But local extreme sports athletes had to start somewhere too. We’re lucky to have them here to inspire us.


TreadwallThe Ouray Fitness Center is a welcoming community of people who have very different reasons why they work out and how they do it. Our members and visitors share the space respectfully, and some are willing to offer a tip or two if you have questions about the equipment. In my experience, the hardest part is getting started. Here are some suggestions:


  • Talk to your health care provider. It’s a good idea to check in with a health professional before starting a new exercise plan.
  • Take a tour. Check out your options at the Fitness Center. We have a climbing wall, cardio equipment, free weights, and much more!
  • Do some research. Visit sites like to find information on how to find your target heart rate, different types of gym equipment, and recommended stretches. The Ouray and Ridgway libraries have several informative books on improving your health.
  • Set your goal…..realistically. Set yourself up for success by choosing a goal that you are confident you can achieve.
  • Find a workout buddy. Having a friend, family member, or coworker there with you can help you feel less intimidated and have more fun.
  • Start gently. The first day in the gym can be exciting and it’s easy to overdo it. But overdoing it could result in several days of feeling incredibly sore or even an injury.
  • Keep track. Jot down what you were able to do during your first workout. You can choose to track every workout, or just notice what you are able to do after one week, one month, etc. The difference will help motivate you to keep doing your best.
  • Celebrate every success! The only person you need to compete with is yourself. Celebrate each time you are able to improve and challenge yourself to keep it up.


The Ouray Fitness Center is waiting for you!


Article written by Nicole Gans (Lead Cashier)

Lifeguards Working Hard Around Ouray

Since the pool closure the lifeguards have been busy working to keep Ouray in tip top shape.  Currently the Ouray Hot Springs Pool and Fitness Center has 5 lifeguards on staff.  These guards are all year-round employees that have committed to coming back and guarding the new facility in the summer.  In the mean time they have been working with Public Works and other city departments to complete tasks that normally would not get done.

OHSP Employee Sherri working on the fence line along the Riverwalk.

OHSP Employee Sherri working on the fence line along the Riverwalk.

In the early fall guards worked on the Box Canyon building.  They did lots of painting and even fixed some of the metal paneling on the roof where it had been damaged from heavy snowfall.  The Box Canyon building and surrounding pavilions have been restored and are looking great.  If you have been climbing in the ice park you may have noticed some of the work that has been done.

The Lifeguards then took to the streets and painted fire hydrants and took inventory of all the signs in town.  These tasks kept the guards busy for about a full week.  But they were eager to move on and start work at the Rotary Park and the on the Riverwalk.

Over at Rotary Park the guards installed new boards to replace the old rotten pieces inside the hockey rink. Once the boards were installed the lifeguards then put on a fresh coat of paint over the entire structure.  Over at the Riverwalk the guards and pool staff worked hard at replacing all of the rotten sections of the fence that runs along the walking trail.  They then took that scrap wood and cut it into pieces to use as fire wood for Rotary Park Ice Rink.

OHSP Employee Chase enjoying working outside on a beautiful fall day.

OHSP Employee Chase enjoying working outside on a beautiful fall day.

On days where working outside was less than ideal a lifeguard would go up to city hall and work on organizing and logging all of the building permits here in town.  A dirty job but someone has to do it.

Now that winter is here and a lot of the work has been done, lifeguards spend their time down at the Ice Rink making and maintaining the ice everyone loves to skate on.  This has been no easy task this season with the high and low temps, snow and rain and generally unpredictable weather we have been experiencing here in town.

Next month we will be writing about what it takes to become a lifeguard and all of the events and activities lifeguards participate in throughout the year.

Article written by Josh Vincent (Lead Life Guard)

Renovation Project Re-Cap: To Date Summary of Progress

If you’ve been watching the renovation project via our webcam or by simply driving past the pool, it’s hard to believe all the progress in just 2 ½ months! Updates are continuously being posted to our Facebook page and website on a bi-weekly basis regarding the construction progress; however, with everything going on, we thought it would be beneficial to re-cap the progress thus far.

Staff Projects
A common conversation I’ve been having over the past couple of months is, “It must be nice to have all that time off while the pool is closed”. Unbeknownst to most in the general public, pool staff members are working diligently to get the pool facility up and running for the summer season.

“How many?” Because the pool began reducing operating hours in the month of September 2016 in anticipation of renovations beginning the following month, our normal fall hiring cycle was cancelled. Because of this, our normal year-round staff of 23 (give or take a few), currently sat at 13 at the end of September. With renovations looming on the horizon, pool staff members were given opportunities to sign contracts in August of 2016 for continued employment through the renovation project. In turn for employment through the project, employees signed commitments to work through Labor Day of 2017, thus helping us through our new transition period. I am proud to say that 12 of the 13 employees were happy to continue work through the project.

“What are you doing?” Since the beginning of October, pool staff has split into various groups to complete tasks inside and outside the pool facility. Outside the facility, staff members have been completing various projects for other city departments. These projects were numerous and varied greatly in scope. As of today, these projects are still being completed. An upcoming blog at the end of this month will highlight these accomplishments. Inside the facility, staff has been monitoring the construction progress through regular weekly meetings, maintaining our social media platforms, updating our website, staffing the lobby (showers and purchasing of memberships), maintaining our fitness center and keeping up with general facilities maintenance. In addition to these daily tasks, we have put a significant amount of time into planning for this upcoming season (more to come on this during next month’s newsletter).

In July of 2016, the Ouray City Council approved a professional service agreement with Gary Gordon LTD. Owner, Garry Schalla, was originally tasked with raising additional revenue for the construction of a new bathhouse. As the pool renovation project has progressed, the scope of Garry’s responsibilities has now included raising additional revenue for the pool renovation project currently underway.

Currently, Garry is finalizing a number of documents and strategies to move fundraising efforts forward. This includes: Frequently Asked Questions and responses that will be used to help build enthusiasm as to why people should donate to the project, finalizing sponsorship levels and recognition for donations, brochures and donor packets, contact lists and strategies for requests to specific individuals and organizations, coordination of information between social media and donation outlets, crowdfunding strategies, donor events, and timelines. This package should be presented to the City Council on January 17th.


Donations can currently be made in person at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool or online at A full donation page should be up and running shortly after Garry’s presentation to council.

Master Plan

Master Plan

Construction Document

Construction Document









Site Plan
The captions above speak for themselves – the Master Plan and Construction documents look incredibly similar. Although there haven’t been any major changes to the pool dimensions or shapes, there have been “tweaks”:

Pumphouse: The size of the pumphouse had to be increased to accommodate new filtration equipment for the pools, office space, storage space, and room for future expansion.
Waterslides: The waterslide flumes will no longer empty into a pool. To increase safety, the slides will not feature runouts. This will allow for a safe de-acceleration when coming off the slides.
Shade Sails: In response to your comments regarding lack of shade and seating areas, the design now features a large shaded seating area on the northwest side of the facility. In addition to this, shaded soaking areas have been created in the corners of the hot and shallow pools.
Hot Pool: Due to safety concerns, islands have been removed from the hot section of the pool.
Shallow Pool: The zero depth entry has been removed in favor of increasing the available soaking areas in the colder months of the year. In addition to this, the handicap access ramp has been moved along the wall to reduce interference with guarding.
Splash Pad: While not currently in the first phase of the renovation project, a splash pad area has been designated next to the waterslide area. If project contingencies are not used, there is a possibility of funding this quite soon.
Shade Structures: The shade structure that most are familiar with (southeast side of the facility), will remain in place through the next summer season. The shade structure originally proposed on the west side of the facility will be taken out for pumphouse expansion. Other shade options are being explored near the west side of the current bathhouse.

While a more detailed description of the construction process can be found on our Renovation Info page, here is a summary of the progress made thus far:
Demolition-98% Complete (Pool, Pumphouse, Deck, Electrical)
Gas Relocate-100% Complete
Electrical Re-Route-100% Complete
Storm Sewer-20% Complete
Pool Excavation-100% Complete
Pool Piping-40% Complete (Soaking, Hot, Shallow, Lap Lanes, Activity)
Pool Fill-40% Complete
Pool Forms-60% Complete
Pool Rebar-40% Complete
Pumphouse Foundation-90% Complete
Pool Concrete Slabs-30% Complete

As you can see, many people are working diligently on this Renovation Project! When our renovations are complete, we hope all of the changes will enhance your experience at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. We want to provide you with the best of both worlds, whether it’s a day of high-energy fun with the family or a relaxing evening soak. Read more about the Renovation Project here: 


Article Written By Tom Kavanaugh (Pool Manager)


Mineral Content of Our Water

Soaking in a hot springs need not be solely reserved for a relaxing vacation or a weekend getaway. These mineral-rich waters offer a slew of natural health benefits you may not know about.  The healing powers of hot springs have been used for thousands of years and are widely accepted all over the world.  There are regions featuring geothermal pools, hot springs, and water heated by volcanic activity that also contain healing and curative properties.  Minerals in the water help to alleviate ailments and diseases like asthma, psoriasis, muscle pain, acne, arthritis, neuralgia, and more. And not only is it healthy, it’s relaxing too.

The therapeutic use of water, or balneotherapy, could be, “Just what the doctor ordered”, when it comes to relieving pain, stress, skin woes and more.

Here is a list of the minerals in our water:

  • Sodium 99.5 mg/l– Helps balance fluids, water balance, brain function, muscle cramps, anti-aging
  • Calcium 360mg/l– Helps bone development; bone health (osteoporosis), arthritis, dental care, insomnia, menopause, cramps, weight loss, high blood pressure
  • Magnesium 9.8 mg/l– Relaxes muscles, maintains normal heart rhythms, converts blood sugar to energy, it maintains muscle tissue and hormone levels.
  • Potassium 9.8 mg/l– Normalizes heart rhythms; has been shown to reduce muscle cramps, support healthy muscle growth, moderate stress, helps with circulation
  • Chloride 47.9 mg/l– Helps keep the amount of fluid inside and outside of cells in balance and helps maintain blood volume
  • Sulfate 10.30 mg/l– Acne, arthritis, back/shoulder/neck pain, detoxify the body, anti-inflammatory
  • Iron 4.15 mg/l– Hemoglobin formation, body metabolism, muscle activity, anemia, brain function, immunity, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, regulation of body temperature
  • Manganese 0.821 mg/l – Body metabolism, osteoporosis, fatigue, reproduction, inflammation, brain function, epilepsy, helps with bone development
  • Fluoride 2.32 mg/l– Prevention of tooth and bone decay
  • Boron 0.03 mg/l– Bone health, brain function, anti-aging, muscle pain
  • Molybdenum 0.007 mg/l– Supports dental health, essential enzyme
  • Zinc 0.017 mg/l– Skin care, healing of wounds, colds, weight loss, aids in digestion
  • Phosphate (trace amounts)– Weakness, bone health, brain function, sexual weakness, dental care, body metabolism, salt, plentiful energy
  • Lithium (trace amounts)– Associated with healthy brain function
  • Barium 0.02 mg/l– helps balance gastrointestinal tract
  • Selenium (trace amounts)– helps prevent cancer
  • Chlorine (varies)– Disinfectant
  • Bicarbonate 178 mg/l– Antacid


Article Written By Debbie Senft  (Lead Cashier)


How Our Filtration System Works

Chlorine: Just One Step in Our Filtration Process

One of the more frequently asked questions we receive from visitors at the pool is, “Is there chlorine in the pool?” The simple answer is yes, we are required to add chlorine by Colorado State law in order to provide a clean and safe swimming pool. But there’s more to the story than that. It takes more than just chlorine to treat our water.

Water Sources

There are three main water sources that feed the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. The Box Canon Line, the OX2 Line, and the Ball Park Line. These three water sources converge together at our Pre-Filter Vault. The Pre-Filter Vault is the point at which we begin to treat our water before it enters the pool. There are two main areas within the Pre-Filter Vault.

The Mixing Vault

First is the Mixing Vault. This is where all three lines come together. The water temperature is between 120-130 degrees and comes in at a rate of 200-300 GPM. The water coming in has a high Manganese and Iron content. This is where we pre-treat the water with liquid chlorine. We treat our geothermal water with a low dose of chlorine as a preventive measure to keep large quantities of iron out of the pool. If we did not do this, the water would turn a rusty brown due to the Iron Oxide. Ask anyone with a white swimsuit what they think about that!

The Pump Vault

Once the water leaves the mixing vault, it flows into the Pump Vault. Inside this vault is our main pump for the entire pool. This pump runs 24/7 driving water through our filtration system and out to the pool. Water from the pre-filter vault is pumped into our filtration building before going into the pool.

Filtration Building


High Rate Sand Filter

Inside the filtration building there are several large high rate sand filters. There are two rapid rate sand filter systems, the first being a Pre-Filtration System.  This system removes Iron and Manganese that has oxidized with our pre-treatment of chlorine. Second is our Re-Circulation System. This system filters the pool water on a continual basis, removing organic matter and pathogens. Both of these systems run simultaneously.







Water and Temperature Control


Manually Controlled Valves

Unknown to most of our soakers, the Ouray Hot Springs geothermal water is 100% manually controlled by our staff.  Ever wonder why you see staff members walking around with thermometers?  Every 30 minutes, water temperatures are taken in our three main pools.  If the temperatures begin fluctuating outside of our advertised temperature ranges, staff members will adjust the geothermal flow to that pool through the use of butterfly valves in our filter building.  Flow adjustment is more of an art than a science.  It takes a lot of training to discover the right balance of geothermal water that needs to enter each section at any given time.  Wind, ambient temperature and available geothermal water are just a few of the variables that must be considered when setting theses valves.  Because we have a limited supply of geothermal water available, staff sets heating priorities to the three main pools in the winter months.  The first priority is our hot section (102-106 degrees), the second priority is our shallow section (95-98 degrees) and our third priority is our activity pools (78-82 degrees).  Extreme weather events affect our ability to keep our temperatures stable.  Windy days pose challenges because evaporative loss is amplified (imagine the pool as a bowl of hot soup)

Flow Through Pool

The Ouray Hot Springs Pool is classified as a flow through pool. This means the amount of water entering the pool is the same amount of water being pushed out. The water being displaced by the fresh new water is de-chlorinated, and is released in the river. Pool staff strictly monitors this to ensure state compliance.

A More Efficient Filtration System Is Coming

So there it is! If all of this sounds complicated, well, it is. And basically, I just scratched the surface of what goes on behind the scenes. With our historic renovation project underway, the general concept of filtration at the Ouray Hot Springs will remain unchanged. However, there will be a vastly more efficient system in place providing geothermal water for you soaking pleasure. The Ouray Hot Springs Pool has staff on hand constantly monitoring the process to make sure the pool remains a safe and pleasurable experience for you and your family.


Article Written By Ron James (Lead Cashier)