The Ute Indians were a group of nomadic hunter-gatherers. For countless generations, they made regular treks through the Glenwood Springs region following the herds and the weather. The geothermal wonders of the area were well known to them and they named the spring Yampah or Big Medicine in the Ute language.
The spring retains the original Ute name to this day.
In the mid-1800s, the U.S. Government began to survey the lands held by the Utes, although legally the government had no claim to it. In 1858, gold was discovered near Pikes Peak which lured Captain Richard Sopris to explore the Roaring Fork Valley for possible new prospecting locations. Mt. Sopris is named for him. Some stories say that Sopris fell ill and Utes in the area took him to soak in the mineral hot springs.
Chief Ouray, a Tabeguache Ute, was highly regarded among the tribes as well as by the whites. In 1868, Ouray negotiated a treaty that limited the Utes’ territory near Aspen. At the time it was considered a win for the Utes because it preserved their hunting grounds around Glenwood Springs.