There are two kinds of people in the world—those that like hot springs, and those who haven’t been to Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Nestled in an idyllic aspen-sheltered canyon above Steamboat Springs, Strawberry Park has been attracting soakers to its steamy waters for decades. And I’ve yet to meet a single person who has visited Strawberry Park and decided they don’t want to go back.
While there are many ways to reach the hot springs, including driving there on your own or taking one of the shuttle options from town, the most memorable way to get there is via the Hot Springs Trail accessed from the Mad Creek Trailhead parking lot off of Routt County Road 129. The Hot Springs Trail is a great destination in its own right, with large, pristine aspen groves interspersed with dense grassy meadows. Hot Springs Creek parallels much of the trail and soothingly drowns out all signs of civilization. The trail is only 2.5 miles one-way and is popular with mountain bikers.
The payoff of the Hot Springs Trail is, of course, the hot springs. But if it’s a warm day, you may want to take a swim in the creek first. I like to sandwich my hot springs soak between two dips in the cold creek. First to wash off the dirt and grim from the hike up, and then again after soaking in the hot spring pools in order to wake up and cool off prior to the short walk back to the car at the Mad Creek trailhead.
If there were a Mount Rushmore for hot springs in the United States, Strawberry Park would be front and center. It has everything one could want in a hot springs—a primitive setting, beautiful forest scenery, unique and creative architecture, and several hot water pools—each with its own unique character. Strawberry Park Hot Springs is one of Steamboat’s treasures, and experiencing it at the end of a beautiful walk or ride up the Hot Springs Trail is by far the most memorable way one can soak it in.