Soak in the relaxing waters of High Country hot springs
You step out of your clothes and touch toes to chillycement, hastily tip-toeing your way toward the hot poolswith steam swirling out around your body, up towardthe tops of the canyon walls.They vary by location and setting, but the hot waterof the area’s hot springs is always soothing, calmingand comforting – particularly if you’re in town fora ski holiday and want to take a day’s break fromthe aches and pains of hard-working muscles onthe slopes.Hot springs are fed by water that’s heated by volcanicrock deep within the earth and is released throughfissures in the earth’s crust at natural temperaturesexceeding 100 degrees.
At Strawberry Park Hot Springs inSteamboat, the four pools are nestledin a tight valley of stonewalls risingdramatically into the sky. Mineralwater comes out of the earth fromabove and flows through the pools backinto the creek that runs alongside therustic tubs.”It’s a natural hot springs with anatural environment,” manager JoeStepan said.Slightly more than two hours fromSummit County, heading up to StrawberryPark – or any of the springswithin two-and-a-half hours in justabout any direction – is a great way toenjoy a scenic drive and explore the centralmountain surrounds. On the wayto Steamboat, look for ice fishermenon Green Mountain Reservoir, passthrough the historic ranching town ofKremmling and wind through RabbitEars Pass – and look for the rock formation,for which the pass is named.For Stepan, who works at StrawberryPark year-round, winter is one of hisfavorite seasons.”In winter, there’s just somethingabout it,” he said. “It’s the way the snowfalls and swirls. The pools are greatwhen the snow falls – they’re steamy,quiet and peaceful.”He added that he enjoys being comfortablywarm inside the water as snowflakesfall on his head.It’s equally enjoyable in summer,too, he said. The aspens are green andlush, the wildflowers peek out of theground, the air is warm and the generalfeel is more energetic and active. Thesprings are at the foot of many hikingand mountain biking trails – addingto the experience.The inspiration for the setting is theShire from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,”and the springs’ pools and amenitiesref lect that – such as the gaslanterns and basic heat in the stonemassage rooms built into the hillside.The stream runs just outside thewindows, and the sounds echo faintlyagainst the walls.”What we’re trying to retain up hereis the highlight of the amenities – thelack thereof,” Stepan said. He addedthat the goal is to keep the area verybasic at the same time that it’s comfortableand accessible.Like the lodging options. If twoplushours is a bit far for just a daytrip, Strawberry Park has lodging,which fits into the natural, rustic yetwhimsical theme.Small and large cabins provide gasheat, and gas lanterns with grills outsidefor cooking can accommodate variousgroups of people. And then there’sthe train caboose, comfortable for two.It’s a renovated train car with its ownrestroom and shower, gas fireplace andkitchenette. It often books out far intothe future on weekends.In summer, a few more options openup – campsites and covered wagonsare within walking distance to thepools. For all lodging options, visitorsmust provide their own linens, beddingand food.
OLD TOWN HOT SPRINGSSteamboat Springs, Colo.; Approx. 2hours northwest || The facility is openseven days a week with eight hot springfedpools, two waterslides (winter andsummer only), a fitness center, exerciseclasses and massage. Cost for adults is$15. Visit http://steamboathotsprings.orgfor more information, other rates and toconfirm prices.HOT SULFER HOT SPRINGSHotSulphur Springs, Colo.; Approx. 1.5hours north || Seven natural springs flowat Hot Sulphur Springs, situated above alarge fissure with waters that have beenflowing constantly for hundreds of years.They surface at about 104 to 126 degrees.The natural, hot, mineral-rich water flowsthrough 21 pools and baths of varying sizeand settings at controlled temperaturesof 95 to 112 degrees. The water is not recirculatedor filtered, nor are chemicalsadded. Cost for adults is $17.50. Visit http://www.hotsulphursprings.com for more information,other rates and to confirm prices.GLENWOOD SPRINGS HOT SPRINGSGlenwood Springs, Colo.;Approx. 1.5 hours west on I-70 ||Boasting the world’s largest hot springspool, the hot springs also offers a lodge,water slides, mini golf, athletic club andspa. Adults can swim laps while childrenare at play. The temperature is kept in thelow 90-degree range with a therapeuticpool that averages about 104 degrees.Along the way, cross Vail Pass beforetaking in the majestic sights of GlenwoodCanyon along Interstate 70. Daily rates foradults are $16.75 Monday through Fridayand $18.25 on weekends. Nightly rates foradults are $13.50 Monday through Friday,and $15.75 on weekends. Visit http://www.hotspringspool.com for more information,other rates and to confirm prices.COTTONWOOD HOTSPRINGSBuena Vista, Colo.; Approx. 1.5hours south || Nestled in the high mountainnatural ecosystem of the majestic CollegiatePeaks in the Sawatch Range, thehot springs are bordered by CottonwoodCreek and surrounded by the San IsabelNational Forest. The pools are geothermal,gravity-fed mineral spas, known historicallyby the Ute Indians for their medicinaland therapeutic value, as well as a placefor spiritual gathering. Along the way, visitthe historic mining town of Leadville andits quaint restaurants and pass under theshadows of 14ers – the area has the highestconcentration of mountains that exceed14,000 feet in the state that boasts 54 overall.Cost for adults is $10 on weekdays and$15 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday andon holidays. Visit http://www.cottonwood-hotsprings.com for more information, otherrates and to confirm prices.MOUNT PRINCETON HOT SPRINGSNatrhop, Colo.; Approx.1.75 hours south || The heart of MountPrinceton is the geothermal springs withcrystal clear, odorless waters rangingfrom 95 to 135 degrees, situated underthe towering peaks of the Sawatch Range.There’s the large pool with adjacentsauna and several creekside pools, aswell as private pools for lodging guests.Spa treatments, gourmet meals, lodgingand nearby outdoor activities arealso available. Adults are $10 ($7 kids orseniors) on weekdays and $15 for adults($10 for kids and seniors) on Saturdaysand Sundays. Visit http://www.mtprinceton.comfor more information.SALIDA HOT SPRINGS AQUATIC CENTERSalida, Colo.; Approx. 2hours south || Colorado’s largest indoorhot springs pool facility, the Salida HotSprings Aquatic Center is a year-roundfacility, offering recreation and relaxationin natural mineral water. The water is collectedunderground and piped about eightmiles from the source high in the RockyMountains. Adult admission is $11. Visitsalidapool.com for more information,other rates and to confirm prices.INDIAN HOT SPRINGSIdahoSprings, Colo.; Approx. 45 minuteseast on I-70 || From cave baths and outdoortubs to indoor private baths and themineral water swimming pool, Indian HotSprings has a variety of offerings. Guestsare encouraged to spread the mineral-richclay onto their skin and into their hair inClub Mud, and the springs include lodgingoptions, as well as a spa. Adult ratesvary from $14 to $23.50 depending on thetype of pool and whether it’s a weekday orweekend. Combination rates are availablefor the main pool and the baths. Visit indianhotsprings.com for more information and updated rates.
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