On my first trip to Colorado three years ago, my aunt and uncle took me to Strawberry Hot Springs near Steamboat. It was wonderfully relaxing to spend an hour or two soaking in the hot water, and incredibly refreshing to then jump into the ice cold creek. Since that first trip to a hot spring, I've jumped at the opportunity to visit other hot springs, and luckily there are several within a short drive of Salida where we were staying this year. Each hot spring has its own personality between the people visiting and how the pools are built. After hiking our first day, Jackie, Teddy and I visited the hot springs at Orient Land Trust – the views of the wide valley were gorgeous and we soaked in the pools until dusk.
After two long days of skiing our tired legs were ready to return to a hot spring for a good long soak. This time we drove to Joyful Journey hot spring. While Orient Land Trust was perched on the side of the mountain, Joyful Journey was nestled on the valley floor, looking back at the snow-capped mountains. Afternoon turned to dusk as we soaked, but this time we decided to wait for the stars to come out. As the stars began to shine overhead, we glimpsed a small sliver of the moon begin to rise over the mountains. In the mater of minutes the full moon was over the ridge, illuminating the entire valley.
Our final hot spring adventure of the trip was to Mount Princeton Hot Springs. Located in a valley right next to a looming 14,000ft peak, Mt Princeton Hot Springs had the structured man-made pools of other hot springs, but also an area of natural pools right along the creek. While not very deep, these natural pools are a lot of fun, as you can move around the rocks to adjust the flow of the water and as a result the temperature of the pools, either directing more hot water from the hillside, or funneling in the ice cold creek water. The sun was out and it felt great to just lay back and relax with the water flowing past.