Colorado boasts hot springs aplenty, and last weekend, I had the pleasure of soaking at one of the best – Strawberry Park Hot Springs. It had been about a decade (maybe even more!) since I last headed up the mountain. The drive through Strawberry Park was as beautiful as ever, with the hayfields and rolling ridges. Sunrays danced in the late afternoon sky.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs has changed dramatically since I was a kid. The masonry around the pools is much improved. The gardens, filled with wildflowers, add color to the landscape. They even added a few more private pools up the hill after you cross the bridge.
Colorado’s Best Hot Springs
What makes Strawberry Park Hot Springs one of the best Colorado hot springs is the experience of sitting in a natural hot tub in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a peaceful forest and big-open sky. Sprinkle in some brilliant stars and you have pure bliss. (It should be noted that the atmosphere of serenity diminishes when the pools are full – the unfortunate drawback of such popular hot springs.)
As dusk settles in, Josh and I find a secluded spot in one of the bigger pools. It has an incredible view down the valley. The last daylight graces us, and our gaze moves upward to a sky without light pollution. I dig back through astronomy class brain notes to identify Hercules (I think!). And Josh admires the majesty of the Milky Way. Starlight, Starbright.
I let my muscles relax. And my mind wander. When I was in high school, Strawberry Park Hot Springs had a giant teepee as a dressing room. The old cabin that is now a dressing room used to be the entrance. An older gentleman stood guard, took payment, and admonished us to be quiet. He also offered up dirty looks – or maybe those were reserved just for high school kids….
My nostalgia was satisfied with the antique stove that still resides in the changing-room cabin. I have a vivid memory ofpeering beyond the half-open door of the cabin. The stove glows, and orange light fills the room. The old man, my friends, and snow gently falling from the sky.
What You Need to Know
Strawberry Park Hot Springs is open year round. Don’t make the mistake of only bringing a credit card like we once did. They only accept cash or a check. You will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle in the winter for snowy or icy road conditions (November 1st – May 1st). In the summer, there are campsites, cabins, and even a train caboose you can reserve overnight.
Children are allowed during daylight. But the coolest pool is still pretty warm at about 102 degrees.
Also important to note…Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a “clothing-optional” hot spring after dark.
Growing up, my parents would usher us out well before nightfall. I avoided telling my parents when, as a teenager, my friends and I would go for a dip. We were only half rebellious – not nude, but in our bras and underwear. Most everyone else was naked, which led to a nearly super-embarrassing experience one night when I literally bumped into a ski coach of mine. I scooted away as quietly as I could, praying for anonymity. The old man certainly didn’t have to worry about me being a loud and crazy high-school kid that night!
Strawberry Park Hot Springs | http://strawberryhotsprings.com/ | 44200 County Road 36, Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487 | 970-879-0342