The City of Crystal Springs
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Crystal Springs view towards southwest as seen from slope of Blowout Hill. Full skyline not pictured.
Country: USA
State: State of Colorado
County: Eagle County Seat
Founded: 1861-1-4 as Crystal Springs K.T.
Incorporated: 1870-9-27 as Crystal Springs C.T
Named For: Crystal Springs Hotel and quality of local hot springs
Government: Home Rule Municipality
Mayor: Allen Gainsborough
Elevation: 6,365 ft (1940 m)
Coordinates: 39°40'N, 107°04'W
Population: 360,789+
Zipcode: 81637

The City of Crystal Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Eagle County, Colorado, United States. The United States Census Bureau estimated that the city population was 360,789 in 2007, marking it as the third most populous city in the state of Colorado and the 52nd most populous city in the United States. In 2007 the Crystal Springs-Dotsero-Gypsum Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated static population of 627,096, lifting it slightly above that of Colorado Springs. Year-round tourism and commercial interest have been known to artificially inflate this number dramatically.

Crystal Springs is located just above the confluence of the Eagle River with the Colorado River at Dotsero, along U.S. Highway 6 and Interstate 70, near the head of Glenwood Canyon, approximately 5 miles (8 km) west of Gypsum. At 6,365 feet (1940 meters), Crystal Springs rests over one mile above sea level, though some parts of the city are significantly higher. The city proper is situated in the Deep Creek Valley juncture of dormant Dotsero Volcano to the southeast, Blowout Hill to the northeast, and the sheer cliffs of the Defiance Plateau to the northwest.

Crystal Springs is the home of a satellite campus of the University of Colorado that specializes in Green Industries research.

History Edit

The genesis of Crystal Springs was not exactly auspicious. In the late 1850s, Walter Young homesteaded the confluence of the Grand (now Colorado) River and Deep Creek; this area is now marked by a monument in the current downtown area of Crystal Springs. A series of conflicts with nomadic Ute Indians (possibly refugees of the Walker War) ended in Walter Young's death. His son, Asher Young, traveled east to the Denver City settlement with tales of gold and returned with an assortment of prospectors who were successful in preventing future attacks.


Jebediah O'Hanahan, first man to capitalize on the local hot springs.

Of these original prospectors, Jebediah O'Hanahan saw potential in the local hot springs to become a highly regarded destination, and built the Crystal Springs Hotel after purchasing land from Young. In 1861, shortly before the American Civil War, Crystal Springs was reported by settlers from Denver City as a small collection of lodging cabins, saloons, and brothels that catered to the frequent waves of miners and prospectors inspired by the Pikes Peak gold rush event. The town was officially founded on January 4th and named after O'Hanahan's hotel. Maintaining a neutral stance with Union leanings throughout the Civil War, Crystal Springs remained populated by the usual assortment of gamblers, gunslingers, and prostitutes until the 1880s. Outside of O'Hanahan's lodgings and related amenities, living conditions were dirty, mines partially collapsed on occasion, and rock slides are documented to have been plentiful.

The arrival of the railroads in 1887 brought the first trainloads of tourists to enjoy the many amenities cultivated by O'Hanahan in Crystal Springs and Walter Devereux in nearby Glenwood Springs. In addition to the springs themselves, the newly-renamed Defiance Cliffs and Plateau (previously Jack Springs Plateau; the name Defiance was adopted after the town Defiance renamed itself Glenwood Springs) offered a stunning view of Crystal Springs and the Colorado River. The addition of the Diamond Caves and Riddle Falls provided a total package for the well-heeled traveler. Like Glenwood Springs, however, the local economy was fueled only partially by tourism and commerce, as coal mining, farming, and ranching would remain economic staples until the 1950s.


Both the Hotel Colorado and the Crystal Springs Hotel were designed after the Villa de Medici in Italy.


Glenwood Springs and Crystal Springs maintained a tourist rivalry for many decades, often shamelessly copying each-other in architecture.

In 1888, a friendly rivalry began between Samuel O'Hanahan - Jebediah's first son - and Walter Devereux to create the most attractive resort to the wealthy traveler. On July 4, 1888, both the Hot Springs pool of Glenwood Springs and the Colorado pool of Crystal Springs officially opened. Both would sport beautiful sandstone bathhouses by 1890. Ultimately in response to Jebediah O'Hanahan's popular Crystal Springs Hotel, the Hotel Colorado of Glenwood Springs was opened in 1893 and employed a highly trained staff in its luxurious surroundings to cater to the most affluent visitors. The Crystal Springs Hotel was remodeled in 1894 to not be outdone, and both hotels would play host to presidents, gangsters, and movie stars.

In 1896, the Diamond Caves Co. was incorporated by local attorney Timothy Hanes. A road following Deep Creek was constructed to access the caves which were previously only reachable by foot trails that began at the Crystal Springs Hotel. Pacing Glenwood Springs' Fairy Caves Co., electric wires had been strung up the Defiance Pleateau and throughout the caves, marking the Diamond Caves as one of the first five electrically lighted caverns in the country along with the Fairy Caves of Glenwood Springs. The Diamond Caves Co. remains a large influence in the Crystal Springs tourist industry to date.

Between 1890 and the 1920s, the growing town experienced a steady incline of visitation and tourism, though the static population remained relatively small, and included just as many laborers as upper-crust business owners and other white-collar workers. Several crime lords such as Soapy Smith are speculated to have hidden or moved through the Crystal Springs area during Denver's high crime period in the late 19th century. The town itself, however, remained relatively free of any significant corruption. In 1909, Dr. Richard Matthews opened the first dedicated medical facility, and worked tirelessly to not only further the health of the townspeople, but also to protect the surrounding environment from being torn apart by mines. It is speculated that Dr. Matthews may have dealt with the crime moving through the area, as the man is reported to have been intimidating and secretive. Regardless, in 1951, the Richard Matthews Forest Reserve was permanently established in honor of Dr. Matthews' efforts. His medical practice remains alive today through the Patricia Matthews Medical Facility, or Tri-Med.

Tourism ceased suddenly in the 1930s during the Great Depression, and many of the mines in the area closed. The Crystal Springs Hotel nearly went out of business, but maintained enough patronage to scrape by until its revitalization in the 1950s. The 1940s saw the first major manufacturing industry in Crystal Springs as the government sponsored many war-time factory and mining jobs that slowly revitalized the area that eventually lead to dominate the region as a large commercial and industrial metropolitan area.


Crystal Springs is located in the Deep Creek area of the Southern Rocky Mountains between the White River Plateau to the west and the Northern Sawatch Mountain Range to the east. According to the United States Census Bureau, Crystal Springs occupies a total area of 54.3 square miles (140.637 km²), of which nearly 3% is water. Crystal Springs notably suffers from an extreme lack of usable land, and so is noted for its high buildings and busy skyline.

The Deep Creek valley area is also noted for its "Y" shape, where the Deep Creek itself makes up the northwestern arm, the Colorado River makes up the northeastern arm, and the two together flow south towards Dotsero. The urban center of Crystal Springs rests between the two water sources, though extended residences and small businesses continue far to the northwest, west, northeast, and south.

If viewed from Dotsero, the city skyline is backgrounded by the sheer cliff face of the Defiance Plateau that rises over 1000 feet from the valley below. It is immediately unknown as to how this formation developed, though erosion is the most often-cited cause. Nearby buildings have all been equipped with shielding from rock slides, and much of the lower cliff face has been reinforced to prevent future damages. The Plateau itself is heavily forested, and has been permanently set aside as part of the Richard Matthews Forest Reserve. Defiance Plateau was renamed from Jack Springs Plateau after Defiance, CO renamed itself to Glenwood Springs, CO in the 1880s.

Crystal Springs rests at the feet of both Blowout Hill and the dormant Dotsero Volcano to the immediate east. The largest body of water is the Dotsero Lake and Reservoir nestled against the slopes of Red Hill to the south.


Crystal Springs has a semi-arid, regular climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are mild, and the temperature remains in the high 60s and low 70s with occasional peaks in the mid-80's from June to August. Winters are moderately cold, and the temperature generally remains in the 20s from December to February. The average temperature is 48.9 °F(93.8 °C), and the average annual precipitation is 18.34 inches (465.84 mm) and evenly distributed throughout the year. The season's first snowfall generally occurs around late October, and the last snowfall around late April, averaging about 100 inches.

Humidity is generally quite low; this favors rapid evaporation and a relatively comfortable feeling even on hot days. The thin atmosphere allows greater penetration of solar radiation and results in pleasant daytime conditions even during the winter. Outdoor work and recreation can often be carried out in relative comfort year round, but sunburn and skin cancer is a problem due to the intense high-elevation sunlight. At night, temperatures drop quickly, and freezing temperatures are possible throughout most of the year.

Severe storms are usually limited to winter blizzards, but these also are less frequent and not as severe as those in States farther east and north. Heavy snows in the high mountains create the danger of avalanches, a serious problem to residents and road maintenance crews.

A spring flood potential results from the melting of the snow pack at the higher elevations. In a year of near-normal snow accumulations in the mountains and normal spring temperatures, river stages become high, but there is no general flooding. In years when snow cover is heavy, or when there is a sudden warming in the spring at high elevations, there may be extensive flooding.


The City of Crystal Springs has defined 9 official neighborhoods that the city and community groups use for planning and administration. Although the city's delineation of the neighborhood boundaries is somewhat arbitrary, it corresponds roughly to the definitions used by residents. These "neighborhoods" should not be confused with cities or suburbs, which are separate entities within the metro area.

These neighborhoods' character vary significantly from each other and include everything from large skyscrapers to turn of the twentieth century houses to modern, suburban style developments. Generally, the neighborhoods closest to the city center are denser, older and contain more brick building material. Many neighborhoods away from the city center were developed after World War II, and are built with more modern materials and style. Some of the neighborhoods even farther from the city center, or recently redeveloped parcels anywhere in the city have either very suburban characteristics or are new urbanist developments that attempt to recreate the feel of older neighborhoods. Most neighborhoods contain parks or other features that are the focal point for the neighborhood.

Crystal Springs also has a number of neighborhoods not reflected in the administrative boundaries. Sometimes, these neighborhoods reflect the way people in an area identify themselves; sometimes, they reflect how others, such as real estate developers, have defined those areas.

The nine major neighborhoods include the commercial and high-tech Highcliff, or the northern section of downtown that rests near the Defiance Plateau; Bridgetown takes up most of the southern downtown area where major bridges cross the Colorado River and Deep Creek; Lyons to the far northeast remains a bit rustic; Little Aspen rests on the slopes of Blowout Hill and offers various winter activities; the affluent Diamond Valley includes the historic Crystal Springs Hotel and most of the easily available hot springs; to the immediate south is Ouray and the bulk of Crystal Springs' residences; further south and near the west banks of the river is the rapidly declining industry and mines of Ascott Hills; the area around the University of Colorado to the southeast of Bridgetown is referred to as trendy CoTo; further south is Highway 70 and Old Dotsero, or simply Dotsero, the scenic railroad district that follows the highway in both directions for some ways. Although a suburb rather than a neighborhood, Gypsum to the east of Old Dotsero is often included in this listing.

Parks and RecreationEdit

Numerous small parks dot the the cityscape of Crystal Springs, though the most notable is Creek Park, which stretches between Diamond Valley and Ouray. The park itself follows the western banks of Deep Creek until it meets the Colorado River. Several public hot springs are available in Creek Park and elsewhere; contact Parks and Recreation or a Crystal Springs Community Center for more information.

Springs ComplexEdit

The hot springs of the area begin as far north as Jack Springs beyond the Defiance Plateau. The plateau itself houses many hidden springs deep within the Forest Reserve, but these remain strictly off-limits to travelers. For most, the hot springs in Diamond Valley are the most easily accessible, and several offer many amenities through spas and resorts such as the still-active Crystal Springs Hotel.

Public springs can be found in most of the other districts, though Highcliff and Bridgetown maintain no springs of note. Private springs can be owned with special licenses issued by City Hall. Most of the non-public cold springs in the area are monopolized by Azure Springs Bottling Co.

The springs in Crystal Springs remain internationally famous for their ability to soothe many bodily ails in ways that continue to stump modern medicine. The Tri-Med main campus was built around the spring supposedly studied by Dr. Richard Matthews, and continues research in his footsteps.

Celebrities and notable people visit annually.

Diamond CavesEdit


Visitors to the Diamond Caves around the turn of the 20th century.

The renewed Diamond Caves Co. retains ownership of most of the geothermal caves in Diamond Valley, and continues to offer year-round tourist access. The deeper caves are accessed by a brief railway ride down a refurbished mineshaft. The upper caves offer a 70 min. guided walking tour suitable for all ages. The caverns are well-lit and there are well-maintained walkways with safety hand railings but no elevator or wheelchair access. The Cave Tour is approximately three quarters of a mile in length and includes 182 stairs. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, visitors learn about the history, geology and legends of Colorado’s old townships.

In addition to the basic Cave Tour, it is also possible to take a more strenuous ninety minute tour, the Outrider Tour, exploring new areas of the caves, including some belly crawling. The Vanguard Tour offers the most physically demanding excursion into the caves, exploring rarely visited areas in their natural, undeveloped state. The Cathedral and Young's Grave are gigantic rooms deep within the earth, sporting cave formations such as soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites and cave bacon.

In addition to the cave tours, there is an outdoor recreation complex overlooking Diamond Valley with unusual gravity-powered rides, children's activities, several eating options and an observation deck with a panoramic view of Deep Creek, Defiance Plateau, Riddle Falls, and the Crystal Springs skyline.

Riddle FallsEdit

Riddle falls plummets down a particularly steep edge of the Defiance Plateau and feeds Riddle stream, which promptly feeds into Deep Creek. The falls was discovered shortly after the completion of the Crystal Springs Hotel, and was named for the interesting play of cascading waves over jutting rocks and natural crevasses in the cliff face. In many cases, the water seems to bounce and defy gravity.

The exact source of the stream that feeds this waterfall also remains a mystery. It has been a challenge for rock-climbers and hikers for the past half-century. Currently, scaling the cliff in this area is strictly prohibited due to falling-related fatalities in the past.

The waters of Riddle Falls are curiously warm for a mountain stream, and maintain many of the same healing properties as the hot springs in the immediate area. Several nearby recreation facilities offer inner tubes and various other amenities for swimming in the pool beneath the falls and riding the creek down to Creek Park. Contact Parks and Recreation for more information.

Richard Matthews Forest ReserveEdit

Established in 1951, the Forest Reserve on the Defiance Plateau remains a bastion of nature and environmental security. The visitor's center is reachable by Reserve Rd. which branches off the Colorado River Highway and snakes up the shallow side of the plateau. This is the only constantly-maintained road that safely navigates the side of the plateau. The visitor's center at the road's end acts as nexus for all of the trails that branch out into the dense greenery, as well as holding events and workshops year-round. A small convenience store is always ready to supply campers and visitors.

No trails approach the forest's dense interior in an attempt to maintain some natural integrity, though several of the trails approach the plateau edge for spectacular views of the city skyline. Campgrounds have been established near these spots.

Blowout Hill and Dotsero VolcanoEdit

Blowout Hill is a mountain summit just to the east of Crystal Springs that climbs to 8,671 feet (2,642.92 meters) above sea level. Little Aspen covers much of the west slope and offers a variety of skiing options and other related winter activities. Most of the homes in Little Apsen have fantastic views of both the Colorado River and the Crystal Springs skyline and are conservatively priced in the high hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Dotsero is a 700-meter (2,300 ft) wide by 400-meter (1,300 ft) deep maar volcano located in Dotsero near the junction of the Colorado River and the Eagle River that climbs to 7,316 feet (2,230 m). It is classified as a scoria cone with evaporitic rock, basaltic tephra, and oxidized sandstone. Erupting approximately 4200 years ago, it is the youngest volcano in Colorado. It is currently dormant.

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Dotsero maar in central Colorado near the junction of the Colorado and Eagle rivers.

Dotsero last erupted 4200 years ago, which places this volcano as a Holocene volcano erupting in the year 2220 ± 300 years B.C. This date is based upon a Carbon-14 date from wood found underneath some scoria. It is one of the youngest eruptions in the continental U.S. and it produced an explosion crater, a lahar, and a 3-kilometer (1.9 mi) long lava flow. When Dotsero blew, it created small scoria cones that were constructed along a NNE-SSW line on either side of the maar. Interstate 70 cuts across the old lava flow.

A monitoring station and museum affords both community members and visitors alike a chance to learn more about the geography of the area. Classes and workshops are offered.

Dotsero Lake and ReservoirEdit

This man-made lake is a result of the Red Hill Dam at the confluence of the Colorado and Eagle Rivers and is sponsored by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority stationed in Denver. It is 2,760 feet (841 m) or approximately a half-mile wide at its widest point, and 11,304 feet (3,445 m) or approximately two miles long at its longest point. With the agreement of the town and promise of appropriate resettlement, about half of Old Dotsero was flooded in 1946 to provide cleaner power and flood control for the greater Crystal Springs-Dotsero area.

Today, the lake is a tourist attraction within itself, as Highway 70 follows its sparkling waters in the Dotsero Valley area for a good two miles. Boating, Sailing, Rafting, Kayaking, and Fishing are all sponsored by the Parks and Recreation center just off Highway 70 on the Colorado River Highway.


According to the 2005-2007 American Community Survey, the Crystal Springs' population was 74.5% White (50.5% non-Hispanic-White alone), 10.8% Black or African American, 1.9% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.7% Asian, 0.2% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 11.6% from some other race and 2.4% from two or more races. 34.2% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 69.9% of the city's population spoke only English at home and 23.9% spoke Spanish. 40.7% of Crystal Springs' population had a Bachelor's degree or higher.

There were 148,516 households out of which 34.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.5% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 97.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,081, and the median income for a family was $53,478. Males had a median income of $36,786 versus $32,427 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,496. About 6.1% of families and 8.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.8% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.


Crystal Springs is a Home Rule Municipality with a mayor elected on a nonpartisan ballot, a 13-member city council and an auditor. The Crystal Springs City Council is elected from 9 districts with four at-large council-members and is responsible for passing and changing all laws, resolutions, and ordinances, usually after a public hearing. They can also call for misconduct investigations of Crystal Springs' departmental officials.

Crystal Springs has a strong mayor/weak city council government. The mayor can approve or veto any ordinances or resolutions approved by the council, makes sure all contracts with the city are kept and performed, signs all bonds and contracts, is responsible for the city budget, and can appoint people to various city departments, organizations, and commissions. However, the council can override the mayor's veto with a nine out of thirteen member vote, and the city budget must be approved and can be changed by a simple majority vote of the council. The auditor checks all expenditures and may refuse to allow specific ones, usually based on financial reasons.

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New city hall in Bridgetown.

All elected officials have four-year terms, with a maximum of three terms. While Crystal Springs elections are non-partisan, Democrats have long held a majority sway on Crystal Springs politics with most officials elected citywide having Democratic Party affiliation. In federal elections, the city also tends to vote for Democratic candidates. The office of Crystal Springs' Mayor has been occupied by a Democrat since the municipal general election of 1959, including the current mayor, Allen Gainsborough, who is up for reelection in 2011.

In recent years, Crystal Springs has taken a stance on helping people who are or become homeless, particularly under the administrations of current mayor Allen Gainsborough and previous mayor Edward Dominic. Crystal Springs' homeless population is considerably lower than many other major cities, but residents of the city streets have suffered during Crystal Springs' winters. As a result, the city has followed Denver's national precedent on homeless services, with the creation of a ten-year plan to end homelessness (a plan now becoming popular in other cities as well), a task force and commission to end homelessness, and an expansion of human and civil services through the Crystal Springs area.


Crystal Springs' economy is based partially on its odd geographic position and ability to act as an urban nexus in rugged terrain. Because Crystal Springs is one of the largest cities within 600 miles (1,000 km), it has become a natural location for storage and distribution of goods and services to the Mountain States. Crystal Springs is also approximately halfway between the large cities of the Midwest like Chicago and St. Louis and the cities of the West Coast, another benefit for distribution. Over the years, the city has been home to other large corporations in the central United States, making Crystal Springs a key trade point for the country.

Several well known companies that originated in or have relocated to Crystal Springs include Baldwin Technologies and Sciences, Inc. (BT&S), Hamilton Enterprises, and Grey Incorporated.

Crystal Springs' position deep in the mineral-rich Rocky Mountains encouraged mining and energy companies to spring up in the area. In the early days of the city, gold and silver booms and busts played a large role in the economic success of the city. Like Denver in the 1970s and early 1980s, the energy crisis in America created an energy boom in Crystal Springs similar to that captured in the soap opera Dynasty. Crystal Springs was built up considerably during this time with the construction of many new downtown skyscrapers, see List of tallest buildings in Crystal Springs. When the price of oil dropped from $34 a barrel in 1981 to $9 a barrel in 1986 the Crystal Springs economy dropped with it, leaving almost 15,000 oil industry workers in the area unemployed, and one of the highest office vacancy rates in the nation (29%). Energy and mining are still important in Crystal Springs economy today, with companies such as EnCana, Halliburton, Smith International, Rio Tinto Group, Newmont Mining, Noble Energy, and Anadarko.

Crystal Springs' west-central geographic location in the Mountain Time Zone (UTC -7) also benefits the telecommunications industry by allowing communication with both North American coasts, South America, Europe, and Asia in the same business day. Crystal Springs' location on the 107th meridian at over 1-mile (1.6 km) in elevation also enables it to be one of the largest cities in the U.S. to offer a 'one-bounce' real-time satellite uplink to six continents in the same business day, and often offers cheaper alternatives to Denver's greater economy. Qwest Communications, Dish Network Corporation, Starz-Encore, DIRECTV, and Comcast are just a few of the telecommunications companies with operations in the Crystal Springs area. These and other high-tech companies had a boom in Crystal Springs, Denver, and other similar cities in the mid to late 1990s. Crystal Springs currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 3.9 percent as of October 2007. The Downtown region has seen increased real estate investment with the construction of new skyscrapers.

Green IndustriesEdit

Inspired by the mineral properties of the plentiful hot springs, research and development of Green Alternatives is currently the leading economic pull of the Crystal Springs area outside of tourism. From self-sufficient buildings that demand only small amounts of power from the local energy grid, to new and interesting ways to use solar and wind power, the Green Industries research in the area runs a wide gamut of useful and practical research into minimizing cost and maximizing efficiency.

The local branch of the University of Colorado is sponsored by many of the companies in the area including Grey Incorporated to maintain environmentally-minded degree programs.


While research groups such as Tri-Med have been investing in the local hot springs and the derived minerals for decades, many new companies such as Glaxo SmithKline, Pfizer, Merck & Co., Inc., and Bristol-Myers Squibb have all opened research offices to apply their own methodology and utilize the plentiful resources in the area.


The Crystal Springs-Dotsero Metropolitan Area is served by a variety of media outlets in print, radio, television, and the Internet. Much of the city's radio and television are received from Denver, though there are some local stations.

Crystal Springs also maintains several alternative or localized newspapers published in the city, particularly the CS Daily News, easily the most widely read. Others include Gazing Skywards which details local research and development, Mineral Mysteries which investigates resorts, scandals, and stories related to the tourist districts, and the CS Independent. Crystal Springs is home to multiple regional magazines such as Sightings, which rates the various resorts in the area and offers articles on places of interest, and Crystal Culture Magazine, which highlights the finer things Crystal Springs has to offer.

For more information, see Crystal Springs Magazines and Crystal Springs Newspapers.


Crystal Springs is located at the confluence of the Eagle River with the Colorado River, along U.S. Highway 6 and Interstate 70, near the head of Glenwood Canyon, approximately 5 miles (8 km) west of Gypsum. I-70 is one of the main east-west routes through the Rocky Mountains. I-870 is an auxiliary of I-70 that loops through Crystal Springs and is the major traffic thoroughfare. At the confluence of Deep Creek and the Colorado River, the Colorado River Highway and Deep Creek Boulevard split from I-870 and are the major traffic arteries of the northeast and northwest, respectively.

Due to the mountainous nature of Crystal Springs' topography, most of the city's streets maintain no particular grid system, instead focusing on traversing the terrain as adequately as possible. The relatively flat downtown area does maintain a grid system, however, and is oriented to the four cardinal directions. Blocks are usually identified in hundreds from the median streets, identified as "00", which are Defiance Avenue (the east–west median, running north–south) and Mountain View Road (the north–south median, running east–west).

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Crystal Springs, operating its California Zephyr daily in both directions between Chicago and Emeryville, California across the bay from San Francisco. Amtrak takes an extremely scenic route through the mountains between Denver and Crystal Springs. Much of the route is away from roads and development outside the city proper and follows the Colorado River.

The Eagle River Transportation Authority provides bus transit throughout Crystal Springs with direct connections to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority in Glenwood Springs.

Crystal Springs has access to two airports that both have available cheap, daily flights to the Denver International Airport: The Glenwood Springs Airport (GWS) and the Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) at Gypsum.

Old Dotsero remains an important railroad junction point and is located at the southern end of the Dotsero Cutoff of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The northern end of the cutoff was named Orestod (Dotsero spelled backwards) near Bond, Colorado. Some say that despite the common misconception that Dotsero is a shortening of "Dot Zero," the station name exists from the construction of the Standard Gauge railroad line to Glenwood Springs in the 1890s. However, Ferdinand Hayden did an extensive survey of Central and Southwest Colorado, and used the location of the town of Dotsero as his "Dot Zero" for his survey maps.


Much of the tourism in Crystal Springs is attracted to the surrounding natural features such as Defiance Plateau. The city has numerous trails and parks due to its location in the Rocky Mountains, making the city a popular destination for its scenery. With the mountains all around, Crystal Springs has also gained fame for its rock formations and other geological features.

Other natural attractions include the Richard Matthews Forest Reserve, Diamond Caves, Riddle Falls, Blowout Hill, Dotsero Volcano, and the numerous, rejuvenating hot springs.

Within the city, there are a variety of attractions:

  • Crystal Springs Downtown has many shops and interesting buildings, including the city's earliest high rises. The Winchester Opera House offers weekly musical performances, and there are many museums nearby, including the award-winning Crystal Springs Art Museum.
  • The historic districts of Diamond Valley and Old Dotsero also have their own assortment of museums, but also numerous art galleries and geological features. Melpomene Hall is often open in the evenings in Diamond Valley.
  • There are always new bands and artists playing in CoTo (as well as touring bands/artists), art galleries, and a variety of trendy shops and independent boutiques.


Crystal Springs is home to the Winter Ravens, a new National Hockey League team that plays at the Baldwin Center, which also hosts the Crystal Springs Zephyrs of the Women's National Basketball Association, the Colorado Rockies of the National Lacrosse League and the Colorado Landslide of the Arena Football League.

Religious InstitutionsEdit

Due to the relatively liberal nature of Crystal Springs, the city has attracted numerous faiths and sects to the area, many of which maintain degree programs in the local universities. The city and surrounding area also host a variety of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples that are constantly in competition for land space. Currently, the largest faith-based building in Crystal Springs is the St. Francis Cathedral at the Francis University of Colorado (GFBUC).


Crystal Springs Public Schools (CSPS) is the public school system in Crystal Springs. It currently educates about 45,000 students in 40 elementary schools, 9 K-8 schools, 12 middle schools, 10 high schools, and 14 charter schools. The first school of what is now CSPS was a log cabin that opened in 1863 on the corner of 3rd Street between River and Peace streets. The district boundaries are coëxtensive with the city limits.

Crystal Springs' many colleges and universities range in age and study programs. The city has Roman Catholic and Jewish institutions, as well as a health sciences school sponsored by Tri-Med. The Jacob Williams Academy and Conservatory of Higher Education, Catholic (Franciscan) Giovanni Francesco Bernardone University of Colorado (GFBUC or Francis University) and the two public schools that constitute the Greater CoTo Campus, the University of Colorado Crystal Springs, and the Community College of Colorado Springs, are likely the best known higher education institutions located in the city itself.

University of ColoradoEdit

The University of Colorado Crystal Springs, shortened to UCCS or UC Crystal Springs, is a public university in the United States state of Colorado. It is one of four schools in the University of Colorado system and the second largest research institution in the state of Colorado. The university has two campuses, the main campus in CoTo, and the Matthews Medical Campus located in Ouray near Tri-Med. The CoTo campus features both undergraduate and graduate courses, with the student population currently comprising more than 40 percent graduate (or masters and doctoral) students.

There are currently more than 20,000 students at the school's two physical campuses. The school also offers classes via CU Online. The school offers more than 100 degree programs in 12 schools and colleges. UC Crystal Springs awards more than 2,500 degrees every year, and grants more graduate degrees than any other institution in Colorado, save Denver.

UC Crystal Springs employs more than 10,000 Coloradans, making it one of the Crystal Springs-Dotsero-Gypsum metro area's top employers. The University of Colorado Crystal Springs and Health Sciences Center at Tri-Med serves more than 300,000 patients a year through its hospital and clinical services.

Culture and Contemporary LifeEdit

Melpomene Hall opened shortly after the city's founding in 1961 and worked closely with Jebediah O'hanahan's hotel to attract visitors and settlers to the area. The Melpomene players staged both drama and comedy for eager settlers and eventually affluent tourists until the Hall closed in the 1930s. It was reopened in the 1950s with the Crystal Springs Hotel revival. In the late 1890s Reuben Weber built Crystal Springs' first Opera House. After the turn of the century, city leaders embarked on a city beautification program that created many of the city's parks, parkways, museums, and the Crystal Springs Municipal Auditorium, now known as the Winchester Opera House.

Crystal Springs is home to many nationally recognized museums, most notably the Crystal Springs Art Museum which has recently included a new wing for art made of all-natural materials with natural themes. Additionally, bustling neighborhoods such as CoTo are filled with art galleries, restaurants, bars and clubs. This is part of the reason why Crystal Springs was recently recognized as the best city for singles. Crystal Springs neighborhoods also continue their influx of diverse people and businesses while the city's cultural institutions grow and prosper.

While Crystal Springs may not be as recognized for historical musical prominence as some other American cities, it still manages to have a very active pop, rock, jazz, jam, folk, and classical music scene, which has nurtured several artists and genres to regional, national, and even international attention. More recent Crystal Springs-based artists include Sweat Sox, Fuzzy Retro, and Fred and the Fredriffic Freds.

Because of its location amidst the mountains, and generally sunny weather, Crystal Springs has gained a reputation as being a very active, outdoor oriented city. Many Crystal Springs residents spend the weekends either skiing in the winter or hiking, climbing, kayaking and camping in the summer.

Additionally, Crystal Springs hosts many festivals surrounding the city hot springs and which are associated with local and historical pride. Artists and bands throughout the nation are invited to perform in the various neighborhoods in what has become one of the largest outdoor festivals in the nation: Hot Springs Haze.

As a celebration of innovation, each year for the past two decades, Crystal Springs has hosted the National Western Exhibition of Green Innovations. The "green show" as the locals say, is the largest event of its kind in the nation, attracting over 1,000 exhibits and 300,000 attendees. The Exhibition is held every January at the Blue Skies Convention Complex, which is located on the northeast edge of Highcliff.

The Dragon Boat Festival in July, Moon Festival in September and Chinese New Year are annual events in Crystal Springs for the Chinese and Asian residents. Chinese hot pot (huo guo) and Korean BBQ restaurants have been growing in popularity. The Crystal Springs area has one main Chinese newspaper, the Guan Yin Post.

Of other cultural events, Crystal Springs hosts two of the largest Hispanic celebrations in the nation known to locals as Cinco de Mayo, occurring in May, and El Grito de la Independencia, occurring in September.

Adjacent MunicipalitiesEdit

The following are suburbs of Crystal Springs, and offer housing alternatives to the crowded space of the city proper.

Glenwood SpringsEdit

The City of Glenwood Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Garfield County, Colorado, United States. The United States Census Bureau estimated that the city population was 28,564 in 2005. Glenwood Springs is home to one branch of Colorado Mountain College.

The city has seen numerous famous visitors including President Teddy Roosevelt who spent an entire summer vacation living out of the historic Hotel Colorado. Doc Holliday, a wild west legend from the O.K. Corral gunfight, spent the final months of his life in Glenwood Springs and is buried in the town's original cemetery above Bennett Avenue. Infamous serial killer Ted Bundy was imprisoned in the Glenwood Springs jail until he escaped on the night of December 30, 1977, an escape which went undetected for 17 hours.

Glenwood Springs lies along I-70 at exit 116, about 150 miles west of Denver and about 8 miles west of Crystal Springs. I-70 is one of the main east-west routes through the Rocky Mountains.


The Town of Gypsum is a Home Rule Municipality located in Eagle County, Colorado, United States about 5 miles to the east of Crystal Springs on I-70. The population was 23,654 at the 2000 census. Gypsum is the location of the Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), a popular regional airport used in the winter to transport skiers to nearby Vail. Gypsum is the home of an American Gypsum drywall plant and mine.

The largest industry in the town is American Gypsum (formerly CENTEX and before that, Eagle Gypsum Limited)'s drywall plant. The facility produces a variety of wallboard products, which is shipped by both rail and truck.

The company also operates an open pit gypsum mine in the hills north of town. The mine currently in operation is the second to have been located in the area. Its grade is quickly dropping, and the company intends to close and reclaim it soon. A new mine, roughly a mile away, has been permitted, and is currently in the development stage. Unlike most surface mines, which utilize drill and blast methods to recover material, the Eagle mine uses machines similar to pavement mills (Wirtgen 2200 SM Surface Miners) to cut six inch deep swaths through the relatively soft rock. Front-end loaders then sort the material by color (white is gypsum, brown is waste) and load it into trucks to be hauled either to the plant or to waste piles (although recently, some of the waste has been used to construct the haul-road to the new mine.)

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