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Snowy Apres-ski Soaks

Colorado is home to scores of natural hot springs—and plenty are tucked in the mountains where we love to play. Here are our top picks for winter dips after a day on the slopes.

BY CARA MCDONALD

Strawberry Hot Springs

Strawberry Park Springs,
Steamboat Springs

In winter, you’ve got to be prepared with 4WD and/or chains to make the 20-minute trek from Steamboat Springs into the mountains to Strawberry Park Springs, but oh, the payoff when you arrive. In recent years, the springs have been beautifully developed, morphing from an off-the-grid ski-in experience for hearty locals to a true destination—the pools and facilities are carved into a hillside with gorgeous stone-masonry and tiny Hobbit-house-like structures home to spa treatments and changing rooms. Pools are large and run from pleasant for swimming to almost unbearably hot, depending on location. For setting and get-away-from-it-all factor, these are the springs to beat. strawberryhotsprings.com

Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa,
Hot Sulphur Springs

Legs shredded from Mary Jane’s bumps? Winter Park–area skiers head to Hot Sulphur Springs to soothe tired muscles, reviving in one of the 21 pools fed by seven different volcanic springs.

The Ute Indians first utilized the springs for healing, followed by white settlers who eventually made the resort a destination, drawing visitors by train to the tiny town. Families with children are limited to a selection of the lower pools, but quiet-area pools up the hillside are peaceful and romantic, with some pools just for two. You can stay at a cabin or lodge rooms on site, and don’t miss heading to the nearby historic Stagecoach Inn for an apres-soak dinner at The Dean Public House. Tip: Night soaking is a thing, with discounts after 8 p.m. hotsulphursprings.com

Avalanche Ranch

Avalanche Ranch, Redstone
Not too far from the slopes of Aspen, tiny Avalanche Ranch, just outside Carbondale, wins the day for intimate setting and Western charm. Quaint old Avalanche Ranch rents comfortable log cabins with hot springs access, or day-guests can call ahead for reservations to use the pools. The pools are small, landscaped seamlessly into a hill and cascading into a larger plunge pool, with smaller soaking options tucked into an old barn. Pools are drained and cleaned on Wednesdays. If you’re booking lodging, be sure to plan ahead, as the ranch is frequently booked out for months in advance. avalancheranch.com

Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa, Buena Vista
These springs have a long history, formerly home to a hotel built in 1878 for visitors to take in the healing waters. Though the original hotel burned down and is long gone, the Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa still welcomes visitors. It’s an easy day trip from Summit County, and also a draw for visitors to Buena Vista or Salida who flock to ski at Monarch Ski Resort. Lodging options at the springs abound—there are lodge rooms, cabins, dorm rooms and tent sites to choose from, or day visitors on a walk-in basis are welcome. cottonwood-hot-springs.com

Indian Springs Resort, Idaho Springs
Though technically not in a ski town, these springs just off of I-70 offer a great chance for I-70 corridor skiers to bail from busy afternoon traffic and take a soothing soak instead. There’s a mineral water swimming pool for general splashing around, and geo-thermal cave baths add a novel twist to the soaking experience. It’s a busy place and some areas are clothing optional, so set expectations accordingly—you can always opt for a private bath area for a little more privacy and peace and quiet. indianhotsprings.com

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