Away from the ski slopes, at the end of a long, twisting, snow ridden, and frequently perilous, road lies a series of hot springs that take on an almost etherial and magical quality against the snowscape.

This is Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs – just outside Steamboat Springs – and we had ventured out, without the boys, to explore and possibly even decompress.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs

On our way, we passed these horses grazing in a field.

Horses in the Snow

Be warned, once you arrive, the trek down to the springs from the parking lot is steep and the log cabin assigned for changing, is cramped and rudimentary.  But it’s all part of the experience and the effort is very much worth it.  Don’t make the mistake I made of going barefoot down the steps once you have changed.  The distance down is further than it looks and the snow and ice gets very cold underfoot, very quickly.  I picked the wrong moment to embrace my inner Bear Grylls. Fortunately everyone else there was either similarly navigating the icy flagstone path (just not minus the footwear) or were luxuriating in the springs and so failed to notice my foolhardy attempt to appear rugged.

The more popular spring to the right is milder in temperature.  The pool on the left, where we spent most of our time, is considerably warmer – “hot” you could say – and contains pockets of blisteringly hot water bubbling up from the ground.  Geography not being my forte, I had to keep reminding myself that this is not man made.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs

Beyond the safety of the walled hot springs lies a natural river.  Which was freezing.  Perfect for a reviving dip and some natural plunge pool action.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot SpringsStrawberry Park Hot Springs

Literally, and figuratively, a breathtaking scene and experience.

On balance I think it probably a good idea that we left the boys out of this one.  These days I always end up feeling guilty if I exclude them from an experience that they might very well enjoy, but what with my school boy error in navigating the pathway down, and the emphasis at the springs on relaxing,  I feel as though adding two small boys into the bubbling mix would have been a bridge too far.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs