Manitou Springs Mineral Springs: A Free Self-Guided Walking Tour
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Colorado is known for its abundance of hot springs and healing mineral spring waters. And the Manitou Springs mineral springs are no different.
In fact, when we visit the city we like to stop for a tour and a tasting of the mineral spring waters.
Not only that, we look forward to our annual visit to the hot springs at Glenwood Springs to clear up allergies and skin irritations.
The natural mineral waters of Colorado can do wonders for your body and your mind.
If you’re visiting the city of Manitou Springs, we recommend going for a free self-guided walking tour.
You’ll uncover some unique history of the area and learn the stories behind each of these natural mineral fountains.
The history of mineral waters in Manitou Springs
Long before the town was founded, the Ute Indians once inhabited much of Colorado.
Their tribes would visit the Manitou Springs area to rest and heal by the natural springs.
Later when the town was established in 1871, the city of Manitou Springs became a scenic health resort. It attracted those seeking “The Cure” for diseases like tuberculosis, and other ailments.
These naturally occurring mineral water springs have been a popular tourist attraction for centuries.
Because of their mineral properties they are believed to aid in healing certain ailments or simply for relaxation.
Due to their various different mineral contents, doctors in the area once prescribed spring waters to their patients for ailments such as liver and kidney disease, and digestive disorders.
What makes the natural springs so special?
Groundwater sits in underwater caverns where it erodes the limestone. This creates carbonic acid (better known as CO2), which actually carbonates the water.
This makes the water bubbly!
The bubbles force the water up through the earth and out through cracks in the ground.
And along the way, the water absorbs all the healthy minerals that make springs so special for healing.
This whole process takes thousands of years, so the water is actually very free of any modern contaminants.
You can drink this water fresh from any of the eight mineral springs in Manitou Springs. And yes, the water is naturally bubbly.
A free mineral springs walking tour in Manitou Springs
Start your free tour by going to the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce for more info.
You will receive a free cup to taste the mineral water and a map of where all the springs are located.
Each spring has a different mineral content and natural carbonation, so each has a slightly different taste.
They are each worth tasting and trying!
While this may sound like an interesting tour, the reality is, most people think the spring water tastes gross.
It’s not like a refreshing ice cold glass of filtered water because all the minerals and stuff in there gives it a taste.
To us, it tastes like flat seltzer water so it’s definitely not for everyone.
How many mineral springs are in Manitou Springs?
There are a total of 8 different natural springs in the Manitou Springs area. They can be found easily by a short walk around and throughout the city.
Each mineral spring fountain has a different taste and smell due to the fact that they are filled with different kinds of minerals.
Here’s how to take a free walking and tasting tour of each mineral spring in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
1. Seven Minute Spring
Your first stop along the mineral springs walking tour will be at the 7 Minute Spring.
It was named for producing a geyser every 7 minutes and has been a staple of the city since 1909.
Seven Minute Spring is easy to find as it’s located directly across from Memorial Park in Manitou Springs.
You will find it next to the beautiful gazebo and sculpture garden, with views of the Rocky Mountains.
The 7 Minute Spring water contains minerals like alkaline, calcium, chloride, iron, magnesium, potassium, to name a few.
It is one of the most popular mineral springs in Manitou Springs thanks to beautiful restoration done by the Mineral Springs Foundation.
2. Shoshone Spring
As you continue walking north into Manitou Springs downtown you’ll come across the Shoshone Spring.
The decorative fountain was built in the 1890s and is made from red-orange sandstone sourced from the nearby Red Rock Canyon Open Space quarry.
Much like the 7 Minute Spring, the Shoshone Spring contains many varieties of naturally-occurring minerals.
But of all eight natural springs, the Shoshone Spring has the highest levels of mineral content.
It is also the warmest water, naturally coming out of the ground at 70 degrees.
Due to the high mineral water content, you will often see locals bring empty plastic jugs to fill up at the Shoshone Spring.
Yes, some locals drink this water daily!
3. Navajo Spring
As you continue walking down Manitou Avenue, you’ll come to the Navajo Spring.
It is located directly in front of the famous Manitou Springs Penny Arcade, so it’s easy to find.
Throughout the decades this spring was a popular stopping place for the American Indian tribes who traveled here.
The natural soda water created large pools for the Indians to soak in and enjoy for their healing properties.
Compared to the other mineral springs on this list, the Navajo Spring is milder tasting and a more pleasant drinking water.
The water from the Navajo Spring has been so popular that it became the primary ingredient for the drinks created by the Manitou Mineral Water Company.
The effervescent drinks and sodas have been bottled in Manitou Springs and then shipped all over the country.
4. Cheyenne Spring
Located in the middle of the bustling downtown area of Manitou Springs you’ll find the Cheyenne Spring.
You can’t miss it as it’s almost like looking at a piece of street art!
The mineral content of the water is high and contains many things like calcium, fluoride, magnesium, zinc and more.
During the 1870s the Cheyenne Spring was part of a larger network of natural springs in the area called the Soda Springs Park.
Two decades later the Manitou Mineral Water Company built a spring-house over the naturally carbonated water to create an artesian soda spring.
Inside the spring house near the Cheyenne Spring is a carbon-dioxide gas collector that helps capture the natural gas emitted from the water.
As the gas is emitted into the air, it’s then captured and bottled to create sparkling beverages and cola.
5. Wheeler Spring
The Wheeler Spring is located just behind the main downtown area, next to the historic Wheeler House (aka the Cliff House).
It was named for Jerome B. Wheeler, a local Colorado man who made his wealth from banking and railroad interests.
He founded the first bank in Manitou Springs in 1859 and the first fire department in 1892.
Among other large gifts and monetary donations, the Manitou Springs town clock was a generous gift from the Wheeler family.
The Wheeler Spring was drilled in 1920 by Jerome’s son-in-law as part of the family-owned Windermere estate.
Since that time, it’s said that many of the guests who stayed at the Cliff House often enjoy sampling the natural springs waters from the spring nearby.
6. Stratton Spring
Continuing north on your mineral springs walking tour you’ll find the Stratton Spring.
It’s located at the fork of Ruxton and Manitou Avenue, called the Loop, decorated with a bronze lady bending over. She is known as “the maiden of the water”.
After discovering a huge payload of 1.3 million ounces of gold, Winfield Scott Stratton became the region’s first self-made millionaire in 1891.
In honor of his death and the establishment of his Foundation in 1902, the Stratton Spring was drilled.
It flows at 25 gallons per minute and is one of Manitou Springs’ most iconic mineral springs.
7. Twin Spring
Nestled into a small section between shops on main street is the Twin Spring.
It was restored in 1994 and is one of the only springs in the area to be privately owned.
As a member of the Mineral Springs Foundation, Kerstin Eriksson owns the building that the Twin Spring is attached to.
As a local artist, she also created the bronze design that decorates the fountain.
Throughout the years it has been known by several different names and has been a highly decorated natural spring location.
It has a strong natural mineral taste and is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. It is also popular for making mineral water lemonade.
8. Iron Spring Geyser
Located in the most northern part of this self-guided walking tour is the Iron Spring Geyser.
The spring was drilled in 1910 with a custom pavilion meant to protect the fountain from the elements.
It originally erupted out of the ground like a geyser and was named the Iron Spring Geyer.
It has been suggested that the Iron Spring Geyer’s pavilion may be one of the oldest standing structures that houses a mineral spring within the state of Colorado.
As with each mineral water spring on our list, the Iron Spring has its own unique taste and mineral content.
Click the link for a full breakdown of each mineral spring’s water content and how they compare.
Next time you’re visiting Manitou Springs, we highly recommend going on a self-guided (or guided!) walking tour of the mineral springs.
This free tour comes with a small cup for tasting the water and a map with some of the history at each site.