By Matt Yemma, Taking the Kids Correspondent
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO — “Somebody must really like you guys,” said the ticket operator at Steamboat Resorts as he handed over our passes and lift tickets for the next couple days. Coupled with our tickets had been a birthday surprise for my little sister, four passes to Strawberry Hot Springs Park.
Nestled in the hills about 10 miles outside the town of Steamboat Springs, Strawberry Hot Springs is a natural hot springs fed by heated underground aquifers that come to the surface to make a number of heated pools, some much hotter than others, and one cold pool. There are three heated pools, a number of smaller spa type pools, one large cold pool, and a natural steam room of sorts that is fed from the naturally heated water into a small grotto. The entire park is built into a ravine in the mountainside. The pools are dug out from the mountain and separated by stonework. They each have sand and crushed stone bottoms and are no deeper than four feet at the deepest. Each of the heated pools is no more than four feet deep.
During the day, especially in the winter, this idyllic natural hot springs makes a great activity while visiting Steamboat. There are even a few cabins for rent but you’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow.
I had vague memories of coming here as a kid. In those days more than 20 years ago skiing was my focus on trips like this. Now I can see why my parents liked side trips like this.
“It’s a nice break from skiing,” said my mom, Eileen Ogintz, while we visited that Monday morning. “The pools are supposed to have rejuvenating powers,” she continued, referring to the urban legend that the heated pools are full of healing minerals. The pools do come from underground aquifers that are likely full of more minerals than normal tap water, but are not necessarily full of any abundance of minerals that will heal you. But, a break away from skiing or another particularly involved activity to wade around in the heated pools, as the snow falls around you in the middle of winter, can sure feel rejuvenating.
Kids are welcome during the day, but it’s best to avoid bringing children for any of the evening sessions. Things can get a bit rowdy.