STRAWBERRY PARK COLD, LUKEWARM, AND HOT SPRINGS
With cloudy October skies hanging overhead I got into the first pool at Strawberry Park Hot Springs with my fleece hat on. This first pool didnâ€™t warm me up like I wanted it to. It was lukewarm, like old bath water. But moving down the hill, I found just what I wanted, a hot pool to warm me up and get rid of my midterm headache.
Only ten other people sat scattered around the six pools and I relaxed into this newfound quiet. This was definitely the coolest (or hottest?) place Iâ€™ve been in a while. All the pools are gravel-bottomed and as you move around to each, youâ€™ll find you have quite the variety in temperatures. When you get too hot, you can hop over the rock wall into a pool full of shockingly cold river water. It took me three attempts to get more than ankle deep in this frigid water! Ever been swimming in Crater Lake in Oregon? This water is colder.
Strawberry Park is a well-kept secret (at least it was to me) in the hills east of Steamboat. The drive from Steamboat is about 20 minutes and the last two miles of the road are unpaved. It gets a little sketchy sometimes, so make sure you have the right car or are prepared to park at the bottom and hike a bit.
The entrance fee is only ten bucks, a great thing for a college student! If your satisfying job in food service or retail has earned you serious cash, you can get a massage or wiatsu, which is a unique form of water therapy.
Joe Stepan, the manager of the hot springs, says it is reported that the hot springs were used by the Ute Indians before the 1880â€™s. The 40 acres of land were homesteaded by a family and bought by the City of Steamboat in the 1930s. Steamboat owned the park for 50 years until it became too much of a liability and was bought by the current owner, Don Johnson.
Before the 1980s, the park was nothing but the river running down the hill with makeshift pools made by visitors, a local told me. Indeed, Stepan confirms, the facilities were landscaped and the access road improved by the current owner.
The park is definitely not makeshift pools anymore. The pools are separated by low rock walls and the park is landscaped for comfortable barefoot walking (except for one crazy-sharp rock I got embedded in my heelâ€¦they must have missed that one!) There are two covered shelters and nice wooden pool chairs that proved to be perfect for dozing in the sun.
The best part about the weekend in Steamboat? It was snowing in Fort Collins and sunny and steamy at Strawberry Park!
Driving directions from CSU:
- Take Prospect to Overland, turn north on Overland
- Continue north until you run into Highway 287
- Turn west on Highway 287
- Continue on Highway 287 until Highway 14, turn west on Highway 14
- Follow Highway 14 to Walden
- Turn left at 7th St./ CO 14 W
- Take the 1st left onto Co-125/ CO 14 W/ Main St.
- Turn right at Co14 (follows signs for Steamboat Springs)
- Turn right at US 40W
- Turn right at 3rd St.
- Turn righ at Fish Creek Falls Rd.
- Turn left at Amethyst Rd
Directions courtesy of Google Maps