Ethereal steam drifted through the cold winter air, shifting and swirling white against the black sky in the light of a nearly full moon. Hot water cascaded peacefully into the pool where dozens of people soaked in Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
It was spring break, and while there were some hoots and hollers from drunken revelers, the experience of soaking in the naturally hot waters of Strawberry Park Hot Spring was a peaceful, rejuvenating experience in which contrasting elements invigorate the body and relax the mind.
Located about seven miles from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Strawberry Park is natural mineral hot spring in an idyllic location. Nestled in a valley populated with aspen trees and evergreens, bathers are treated to 104-degree water pools with sand and rock bottoms.
In the winter, fine powder snow collects in deep drifts in the valley and frosts the trees.
The logistics of the spring are pretty simple – pay a $10 entry fee for adults, wander down a couple hundred yards to the springs, don a bathing suit and slide on in. The water, I assure you, is better than fine.
Unlike some less developed or more liberal hot springs, Strawberry Park has a pretty long list of prohibited behavior. No alcohol, glass, smoking, pets – the list goes on. Plan on being on good behavior at this spring although plenty of hanky-panky seems to go on unabated.
Access to the springs is down a nasty road and 4-wheel drive or chains are mandatory in the winter. Shuttle services are available through Sweet Pea Tours and Hot Springs Adventures.
Restrooms and changing areas are available, but the springs are pretty rustic. At night, headlamps or flashlights are a must-have to access the springs. Keep in mind that the springs are clothing optional after dark.
If you are in the mood for more than an afternoon visit, lodging is available at the springs. Ranging from $55 tent sites for up to four people to fine rustic cabins for $115 a night, lodging at the springs allows visitors ample time to access the pools and explore the natural beauty of the valley.
During the summer months, hiking and biking are popular on many nearby trails. National Forest land begins within six miles of Strawberry Park and provides many opportunities for backcountry camping and exploration.
In the winter, Strawberry Park has an influx of skiers recovering from days on the slopes at nearby Steamboat Springs Ski Area. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are also popular on the many trails in the nearby forests.
The springs are open 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Don’t forget your towel!