The ancient Romans knew it. So did the Native Americans. Sometimes getting into hot water is a great idea.
A natural hot spring offers the benefits of a spa, with the added bonus of beautiful natural surroundings.
“There’s nothing better than soaking in a hot pool of water surrounded by mountains and fresh air,” says Susan Joy Paul, author of Touring Colorado Hot Springs. And during winter, there’s something decadent and delightful about sitting in a hot pool surrounded by snow.
Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West is hot springs–central, with literally hundreds of these sensuous soaking spots. Some include full-blown wellness centers, while others may be just handmade pools of rocks on the edge of a river.
Hot springs have literally been around for millions of years, the geothermal waters heated by the same energy that fuels volcanoes. In the West, tribes like the Utes sought out these springs for health reasons and for ceremonial purposes. Pioneers and more recent settlers quickly saw the appeal.
Hot springs found new fans in the 1960s and ’70s, but many then fell out of favor and into disrepair, Paul says. In the last decade, though, they’ve rebounded, their growth paralleling the surge of interest in health and wellness. From 1999 to 2010, the number of all spa visits grew by about 40 percent, reaching 150 million a year, according to the International Spa Association, and interest in hot springs has also increased dramatically. Indeed, many springs are now full spas, offering everything from massage services to mani/pedis to tanning.
“People are more into taking care of themselves. [Hot springs are] a good way to smooth away the pings and pains,” Paul says.
We’ve spotlighted five hot springs in the Rocky Mountain West, including four in Colorado and one in Wyoming. Some are family-friendly swimming pools. Others are adult-only spots, where clothing is optional. But all will let you soak your cares away.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs
Just reaching this laid-back getaway near Steamboat Springs is an adventure. The last 2 miles are unpaved, steep and winding. From Nov. 1 to the end of May, visitors can arrange for a shuttle up the mountain. Or they can try it themselves—four-wheel drive or a regular vehicle with chains is required.
Read more: USA Today