DAY 3 — AAAH. I’m soaking in Steamboat’s famous Strawberry Park Hot Springs (www.strawberryhotsprings.com) in a natural pool that is about 105 degrees surrounded by mountains and snow covered trees. There are two other pools that we sample—one that is 101 and one at 75 degrees is downright freezing. Some hardy souls are rolling in the snow and jumping back in.
18-month old Liam Burns is certainly a happy camper as is his four year old brother James as they splash in the pool with their parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle. “It’s like a giant bath tub and they certainly love their baths,” said their dad Martin. The family had gathered from the east coast for a ski trip that so far is getting high marks especially for the kids’ ski school. “We tried to teach him ourselves,” Burns said. “But it just didn’t work. He wouldn’t listen to us.”
Other families are splashing in the pools while couples canoodle in smaller, more intimate areas. After dark, the springs become “bathing suit optional” so kids aren’t permitted. Today, manager Joe Stephan tells me, 150 people had visited before dark.
It is a treat and affordable too–$5 for teens, $3 for kids and $10 for adults. We paid more to take Sweet Pea Tours (www.sweetpeatours.com) so we didn’t have to drive the road that can be tough in the snow. They picked us up at the condo and returned us there later. Easy! There is also an Old Town Hot Springs—first dug 132 years ago by town founder James Crawford. Today it’s got a fitness center, pools, waterslides and a custom designed hot pool with climbing wall and two spa pools. (www.oldtownhotsprings.com)
That’s the thing about a ski trip to Steamboat (www.steamboat.com) which incidentally is also great in summer with hiking, mountain biking, rafting and fishing—there are opportunities for unique experiences off the slopes too.
This morning, for example, while the kids skied and boarded and another adult in our group opted for a ski lesson, three of us signed on for a snowshoe tour. Our tour guide, Paul Longsdorf, tells us he was originally from Pennsylvania. A pilot, he’d fly all over checking out ski mountains and loved it here enough to move.
He figures he’s going to teach us a thing or two about snowshoeing so here we are in five feet of snow slipping and sliding through the aspen trees. I learn how to get up when I tumble in the snow. It’s not easy. But it’s so pretty-and silent—because the tumult of the ski resort seems so far away though we are just off the trails. Fun—and a good workout.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a morning in the mountains. And we’ve certainly earned the Bloody Marys we order at lunch at Hazie’s at the top of the Gondola. They are the restaurant’s signature drink, after all. The teens head off on their own and we linger over lunch.
Parents deserve a break—for a little while anyway—even on a family ski trip.