February 2017: Fish Creek Trail & Strawberry Hot Springs
My birthday is in early February, usually the same exact week as blizzard madness in the Midwest and Superbowl Sunday. Not being a big fan of either, I’ve always shown my true Aquarius colors by gravitating towards water.
Growing up I had birthday after birthday spent at an indoor pool with friends, usually at a hotel of some sort. Ice cream cake was the only way to make those hotel pool parties even cooler! Pretending like there was no snow always seemed to do me well for being “stuck” with a winter birthday.
This year now being in Colorado, I immediately found myself in search of water all over again! Water to swim in isn’t nearly as available in Colorado without icky chlorine or it being ice cold because it’s snow melt. However, having a birthday in February here is not even half as bad as it is in Illinois. You can’t escape the snow, ice, and face-stinging temperatures in Illinois! They are there to stay. Here you have the most beautiful winter wonderland you could imagine, with the sun still so hot and shining so bright that you nearly get amnesia three days later after the snow has all miraculously disappeared and you’re getting too hot in the sun!?
Anyway, I decided that is was finally time to seek out a natural hot spring that I was eyeing for quite some time. Another couple that was joining us agreed that the spot in Steamboat Springs seemed perfect. Strawberry Hot Springs was near a hiking trail called Fish Creek Trail, around 4.6 miles. We figured we could go for a quick hike and then relax the rest of the day in the warm springs!
The hike alone was hands down the coolest winter hike I have ever done; Steamboat had just gotten a huge dumping of snow the day before, making it somehow look almost like a fairyland! The creek was alongside the trail, which had snow piled up so high on what I assumed were rocks beneath, that it looked like numerous layered snow “bubbles” coming out of the ground! You could only hear and barely see the brief openings down into the icy cold water flowing below. How cool.
What made it even more fun was the sketchy and steep bear-climbing we did to get up to the high point of the largest – and completely frozen – waterfall I have ever witnessed!! We snapped a quick pic, and slid on our butts back down to then head to the springs. It was so. much. fun. I bet this hike is AWESOME in the summer as well!
After making it to the hot springs, I was quite surprised at how many people were there; given that it was Superbowl Sunday! There was still plenty of room though for us to enjoy our time. What a crazy feeling it was though to be freezing your booty off in your bathing suit(when in the shade) while looking at all the snow-covered ground surrounding you. You start asking yourself what the heck you’re doing… almost just like when you find yourself on the top of a mountain 14,000 ft + above sea level and in the clouds! It definitely wasn’t as extreme as that though as you may have guessed…
Sucking it up, I started to follow my friends right into the “medium” pool as we called it and quickly jumped back; holy hot water!! Was I really that naive that I didn’t realize that natural hot springs are as hot, if not hotter, than a hot tub?! Due to my fair and “sensitive” skin, I have always had issues with real hot water; it has always taken me what seems like 15 minutes just to dip a toe in! Eventually I was able to tolerate it and was super thrilled just to be able to relax in the comforting water and watch the beautiful sun setting.
The springs had 2-3 other pools connected to it; a quite chilly pool flowed into the medium pool, with a very tiny hot tub shaped area for two in between that was more my preferred temperature, and then another bigger pool that flowed from the medium pool and was even hotter.
WHAT?! Who are these freaks of nature that can tolerate THAT hot of water??
There were definitely not nearly as many people in the hottest pool, and most were just dipping their feet or legs in. No comfort here. I did also see someone with what looked like the cupping technique marks on his back, so I believe there are some type of spa services offered there as well. Next time I would love to check into that!
As the sun was setting, we decided that we were as relaxed as relaxed could get, so we headed back home before seeing what the “night life” was like at the springs. More and more people were still entering as we were leaving. Must have been the “nudists” that I had heard about ;-P. Might also be fun for the next time…
Overall, this trip is highly recommended- even in the winter! I would actually prefer the hot springs only in the cooler months, as I can’t imagine being any hotter in general, unless it’s during a cooler night. I WILL be returning!
Go and check Steamboat out for yourself! Let me know your experiences!