A snowy hot springs where clothing is optional after dark

Take a dip in Colorado's beautiful hot springs in snowy Strawberry Park, where nighttime rules leave the choice of attire up to the guests.

Posted: Feb 26, 2020 10:01 PM
Updated: Feb 26, 2020 10:01 PM

If you are a bit of an exhibitionist and can handle the exposed snowy shuffle from the snow-covered chairs down to the pool, this is the wintery night time soak for you.

During the day, clothing is required at Strawberry Park Hot Springs, about a 15-minute drive from downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

A small mountain town known for its ski resort and multiple springs, Steamboat got its name from one spring that once sounded like a steamboat steam engine. Local folklore says that construction of the railroad in the early 1900s silenced the steamboat sound.

But once the sun dips below the snow-capped mountains and everything goes dark, you can slither out of your suit.

"That's something that we hope to only see — or not see — after dark," Joe Stepan, Strawberry Park's general manager, told CNN Travel. "The nighttime hours come around, we make sure there are no kids around, and it [clothing] is totally optional."

The property doesn't have any specific numbers on how often the laid-back policy is taken advantage of, "but it is approved of," Stepan says.

Keeping it natural

Even though clothes are required during the day, the all-natural theme is evident in the park's stone-built pools, walls and wooden railings.

"We want to keep the rustic atmosphere. We want people to be able to enjoy the hot springs as if they were in the natural environment somewhere out in the middle of the woods."

It's all built tucked into the top of the valley surrounded by snow-covered aspens and fir trees.

"We've got 40 acres here that happens to have some of the best hot springs around, and we have developed a park in a very minimalistic fashion," Stepan says.

Every building on the property, built out of wood and stone, blends into the valley.

You pay at an old vintage camper before descending to the springs ($15-$20). On your way down, there is a changing hut where you can put on your suit for the kid-friendly hours.

If you plan on staying to soak disrobed at night, make sure to bring a flashlight, as the place has hardly any artificial lights.

The surrounding snow dampens most of the ambient noise.

The only thing you hear, as you immerse yourself in the warm water, is the water cascading down the series of pools from the top of the springs to the creek bed below.

Cooling 150 degrees

It's essentially a gravity-fed system, says Stepan.

Each of the pools is dammed by big stones nestled into the mountainside.

"The main spring comes out of the ground at 150 degrees and feeds the hottest pool that we have."

The cold water creek flowing through the valley is about 40 degrees and is used to regulate the temperature of the pools, so they aren't dangerously hot.

"It's not an exact science, but it works," he says.

They use a headgate -- a gate for controlling the water flow -- to adjust the volume of creek water that mixes in with the springs water.

After mixing in the colder water, the temperature of the pools range from about 106 to 107 degrees down to about 103 degrees, depending on the pool.

The hottest of the four pools is located next to the springs, and the coolest is located lower down the mountainside next to the creek.

There is a fifth pool. But don't be fooled. Even though it looks enticing, it is simply dammed cold creek water.

"People love to take the cold plunge," Stepan says.

You can move from the lower pool up and over some stairs and straight into the cold pool. It's a bone-chilling experience but worth the rush.

After a quick cold shock to the system, the hot pools feel that much warmer when you get back in after the plunge.

The only thing more exhilarating might be a quick jump right into the snow.

No matter how you choose to participate -- minimal material bathing suit or birthday suit -- it's a rush to the nervous system.

Stone massage rooms

This hot spring is about allowing you to enjoy the best nature has to offer. There isn't a beverage service. Alcohol isn't even allowed.

Many come to the hot springs to ease the stress of a full day of snow skiing or snowboarding, or even to soak the stress of life away.

So they have built two stone rooms into the hillside where you can make reservations to get a massage during the hours the springs are open.

Massage therapists work onsite every day in those rooms heated by the hot springs themselves.

A massage is an excellent option, especially after a hard day of skiing, says Stepan.

All around, Strawberry Park is a rustic experience that gives you the option to be as natural in nature as nature intended. As long as you follow the rules and don't let your moon come out until the sun finally sets.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 441935

Reported Deaths: 5885
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin918591461
Ramsey39405729
Dakota32551324
Anoka30638354
Washington19827221
Stearns17686184
St. Louis13453237
Scott1178693
Wright11485101
Olmsted1024870
Sherburne812364
Carver686636
Clay643278
Rice595266
Kandiyohi551069
Blue Earth533833
Crow Wing476573
Otter Tail449860
Chisago446331
Benton414885
Winona383946
Douglas370366
Nobles364646
Mower358026
Goodhue340757
Polk326754
McLeod321644
Morrison308743
Beltrami305746
Lyon298735
Itasca281143
Becker279438
Isanti279440
Carlton276942
Steele26879
Pine263813
Freeborn237219
Todd230029
Nicollet222136
Brown212334
Mille Lacs211645
Le Sueur206515
Cass203823
Meeker197433
Waseca187515
Martin168226
Wabasha16712
Roseau164916
Hubbard146937
Redwood138527
Renville136139
Houston133213
Dodge13134
Chippewa130632
Cottonwood125118
Fillmore12084
Wadena118214
Rock108511
Sibley10757
Aitkin106633
Watonwan10548
Faribault103214
Kanabec96818
Pennington95915
Pipestone92522
Yellow Medicine92514
Murray8585
Jackson84510
Swift82617
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68114
Lac qui Parle65216
Lake62215
Wilkin6179
Koochiching57910
Lincoln4771
Big Stone4513
Unassigned43568
Grant4247
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36619
Red Lake3154
Traverse2433
Lake of the Woods1741
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300884

Reported Deaths: 4197
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk44949440
Linn17563269
Scott15228161
Black Hawk13552228
Woodbury12896175
Johnson1191749
Dubuque11229148
Pottawattamie8863112
Dallas874169
Story857433
Webster464768
Cerro Gordo458766
Sioux452451
Clinton445461
Warren430637
Marshall424561
Buena Vista389029
Muscatine382275
Des Moines377340
Plymouth347967
Wapello336796
Jasper315955
Lee310828
Marion298852
Jones268949
Henry262130
Carroll252233
Bremer240048
Crawford227622
Boone214116
Washington213531
Benton207543
Mahaska189936
Jackson189631
Tama184757
Dickinson183225
Delaware171136
Kossuth169241
Clay165319
Wright161724
Fayette157022
Buchanan156920
Hamilton156828
Hardin153129
Harrison152961
Winneshiek150819
Clayton149848
Cedar149119
Butler145423
Page143115
Floyd137236
Cherokee137125
Mills135216
Lyon133132
Poweshiek131024
Hancock127924
Allamakee125927
Iowa122122
Calhoun12159
Jefferson118623
Grundy118522
Winnebago117229
Madison11639
Mitchell114634
Louisa113729
Cass111741
Chickasaw110111
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose108838
Union107922
Humboldt103919
Guthrie102124
Shelby101026
Franklin99818
Unassigned9370
Palo Alto8969
Keokuk84225
Montgomery82722
Howard81119
Monroe79918
Pocahontas77211
Clarke7717
Ida73530
Greene6837
Davis68221
Adair68120
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62316
Taylor5889
Worth5873
Fremont5005
Van Buren49112
Decatur4744
Ringgold4229
Wayne41321
Audubon4118
Adams2923
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 23°
Mason City
Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 15°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 18°
Austin
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 25°
Charles City
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 24°
A quiet weekend ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

John Marshall ready for 2021

Image

Is the City of Rochester paying men and women equally?

Image

LWVMN asks for "truth and consequences" for state lawmakers

Image

Sports Overtime Part 2

Image

Sports Overtime Part 1

Image

Plans for polar plunge

Image

Equal work and equal pay.

Image

Aaron's Friday Night Forecast

Image

Mega Millions jackpot soars to $750 million

Image

Increase in 2021 travel plans

Community Events