When you visit Manitou Springs, bring a cup. You’ll want to taste all the natural mineral springs you discover as you explore this quaint little town. The artesian waters are naturally effervescent. Each spring has its own signature mix of minerals, but they are all very strong. The high mineral content is distasteful to many. A century ago, people flocked to the springs as cures for their ailments. Many still believe in the health benefits of these waters.

The Mineral Springs Foundation has been repairing the old fonts over the years, updating them with sculptural elements. Here’s a tour of the eleven major mineral springs in Manitou Springs.

Saratoga of the West
Wheeler Spring

Wheeler Spring was drilled around 1920 by Jerome Wheeler, who co-owned Macy’s. It’s located on Park Ave, by the site of Wheeler’s former Windemere estate. In addition to this fountain, he also gave the city its ornate public clock, at the corner of Manitou Ave and Cañon Ave. He also left his mark in Aspen, building the Wheeler Opera House and the famous Hotel Jerome. This spring was said to help cure tuberculosis and other illnesses. It has the highest concentration of copper, 0.17 parts per million (ppm), one of the dietary minerals.

Stratton Spring
Stratton Spring

Stratton Spring is named after Winfield Scott Stratton, whose trolley system turned around at this spot. Passengers could connect to a trolley that ran up Ruxton Ave to the Cog Railway. It was drilled in 1936. It’s located outside The Loop restaurant, named after the trolley loop.

Water No More
Navajo Geyser

When first drilled in 1911, Navajo Geyser would spout 5 to 7 feet into the air every 35-45 minutes. It was later given a hand pump, but today the pump no longer works. It sits inside what is now the Manitou Outpost gift shop.

Crystal Clear
Soda Spring

Another indoor spring is Soda Spring, in the old Manitou Bath House, now known as the Spa Building. The source is a natural spring (not drilled). The main tenant in the building is Adams Mountain Cafe, with a patio overlooking Fountain Creek.

Natural Soda Spring
Navajo Spring

Navajo Spring is located behind Patsy’s, by the Manitou Arcade. Water from this spring was once bottled and sold across the country as “Original Manitou Table Water” and “Original Manitou Ginger Champagne.” It was reported that “70,000 bottles were sold between July and December in 1886.”

Free Water
Shoshone Spring

The spring with the highest mineral content is Shoshone Spring. It has the highest concentration of alkalinity, calcium, chloride, lithium, manganese, and zinc. Calcium is perhaps the most important mineral. It makes up 2% of your body weight and must be consumed daily. The water is also the warmest, with a temperature of just over 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Iron Springs Geyser
Iron Spring

If you suffer from an iron deficiency, visit the Iron Springs Geyser. This chalybeate spring has the highest concentration of iron, as well as sodium, sulfate, silica, potassium, and fluoride. Silica is known as a beauty mineral, since it helps build nails, hair and skin. And of course fluoride is known for its importance for healthy teeth. The water originally erupted every half hour, shooting 8 ft above the top of the pipe. Nowadays the font spills out more steadily, though still with loud fits and starts. It was drilled in 1910 by Joseph G. Hiestand, owner of the Pike’s Peak Hotel and a famed curio shoppe. He also owned the summit house on Pikes Peak, and was the official photographer for the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

Twin Spring
Twin Spring

Twin Spring was originally two springs, but they now flow together into a single font. This is the spring with the highest concentration of magnesium. It sits in a vacant storefront on Ruxton Ave. The spring was drilled in the 1920’s by William S. Crosby, who created the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. It’s said that this soda water is favored by locals for making mineral-water lemonade.

Water Fall
7-Minute Spring

As part of a park restoration, 7-Minute spring was re-drilled in 1993, replacing the one from 1909. The original spring sent forth a geyser every 7 minutes. Its descendant runs continuously, albeit with a lot of loud gurgling. The restoration included the nearby gazebo, built using an 1880′s design of a structure that once sheltered the Ute Iron Spring (which has been capped, sitting under the Iron Springs Chateau).

Ute Chief Spring
Ute Chief Spring

Ute Chief Spring has the lowest mineral content. Yet even this “weak” water has two-and-half times as much mineral content as Perrier. (Perrier has a TDS of 475, versus a TDS of 1,200 for Ute Chief Spring.) The spring was not flowing when I visited. Nearby is the old Ute Chief bottling plant. It was bought in 2003 by a Korean pharmacist living in New York City, and began shipping bottled water in 2006, primarily to Korea, but the business proved problematic (see Manitou has ‘world’s best’ water – but good luck finding a bottle).

Cheyenne Spring
Cheyenne Spring

Cheyenne Spring is in the middle of downtown Manitou Springs. Nearby is a round springhouse, similar to the Shoshone Spring, which houses a small pump and an ultraviolet disinfection unit.

These are just the major publicly-accessible springs. The region has many more springs. This brochure (PDF) has a map of the ones I’ve mentioned here.

Native Americans thought the bubbles in the water (from the natural carbonation) represented the breath of the Great Spirit Manitou, who blessed the waters with magical and healing properties. The land around the springs was sacred.

Whether you visit for spiritual reasons, or recreation, or your health, take the time to sample the various mineral waters of Manitou Springs, in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Mineral Water from Manitou Springs

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