Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some like it Hot Hot Hot

With the changing seasons brings a chill to the air in Colorado and a tendency to want to migrate indoors...if only there weren't so many things to do outside. Between skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and even hiking you'll never go bored in Colorado especially not during the long winter months. Sometimes though you just want to do some relaxing for the weekend in the mountains and there's no better place to do this than the Hot Sulphur Springs.

Colorado boasts a variety of hot springs which are located anywhere from Idaho Springs to Glenwood and even as far as Steamboat. While they are all beautiful, for the cheapest and the closest weekend getaway we like to venture to Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado. It's located one hour and 45 minutes northwest of Denver via I-70 to Highway 40 (and only 30 minutes west of Winter Park). Chad and I had first visited here in May about 2 years ago before we got married when I wanted to get away for my birthday but we had to pick someplace cheap to save money. I found this place on the internet and we decided to head west and check it out. We had such an entertaining weekend here we invited our friends Lyndee and Mark to join us again this past April.

There really isn't much to the town of Hot Sulpher Springs and even less was open when we went at the end of April. Because it's in the off season you can get great discounts but you must also be prepared that even less of the few restaurants that are in town will be closed. In fact a place called, The Glory Hole (I kid not here) which has the best french toast I've ever tasted was closed this time around as was the local hot dog and ice cream store. The springs are the heart of the town and it's a wonder anything else really survives up here. What makes the springs nice though as there are only a few tourists and locals in the off season meaning the pools are pretty empty.

While you can stay on site at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa, we always opt to stay at the Canyon Motel. Lyndee and I were able to book adjoining rooms, which we realized upon arrival, were probably the smallest rooms there but we made it work.

(four is a bit of a crowd in one room here!)
I like the Canyon Motel because they allow dogs, they have lots of free samples in the lobby area as well as free cookies and coffee, they are friendly and inexpensive and they are within walking distance of the springs. They also feature room service which is really just some heated up burritos or DiGorino's pizzas but even a frozen pizza tastes good when someone else makes it and delivers it to your room!

(Lyndee with our pizzas)
The actual Sulphur Springs Spa doesn't allow dogs, being loud or alcohol either so that's another reason for the stay at the Canyon which also offers discounted hot springs tickets. A day pass is normally $17.50 a day (I believe it's $11 or so at the motel's price) which allows you access to the pools from 8am until 10pm and you can go in and out as many times as you like. There are 16 pools total and you can also rent a private bath or treat yourself to a massage or mineral scrub.

For those who prefer to camp there's sites available at this place:

We actually met some very nice, albeit a bit creepy redneck men camping here who were kind enough to share their beer with us but then followed us around the springs all night. The campsites aren't very private and there are train tracks that run alongside but the upside is the Colorado River runs parallel to the campsites so there's plenty of fishing for the avid outdoorsman (or woman). 20 minutes away is Grand Lake which is a much bigger town for restaurants and shopping as well as boat rentals. You can also cross country-ski, snowshoe, hike, golf, hunt, 4-wheel, dog sled, horse back or hot air balloon ride in the sulphur springs and surrounding areas.

The downside to the sulphur springs, is, well, you come out smelling like a rotten egg. The Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat are not sulphur based so you don't have any smell to you when you come out which makes them a nice alternative. Just remember to bring a bathing suit, towel, robe and clothes you don't mind smelling of sulphur for a few washes! Of course, the Hot Sulphur Springs have more variety of pools and more privacy than any I've ever been too. All of them fit at least 4 people and Lyndee, Mark, Chad and I could sit in a secluded one towards the back of the park and be as loud as we wanted with no one around for us to annoy. Children also aren't allowed except in 4 of the pools on site which makes it nice for those wanting a kid free relaxing vacay. Glenwood springs is practically overrun by children and I had a hard time swimming a few feet (their pools are indeed the size of a swimming pool) without one jumping on my back or splashing me in the face.

With the state of the economy I hope this tiny town survives long enough for my future (grown) children to visit. The last visit I noticed a lot more restaurants boarded up and I just hope the town succeeds well into the future. I know bigger hot springs in the area will be fine which is why I feel such a fondness for this area because I really like the small town vibe. With the winter fast approaching I hope we can make it up again sometime this year to experience the place with snow on the ground. Something about snow on the ground while sitting in hot water really makes for a relaxing stay-cation.

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