It’s a well-known fact that one of the best ways to recover after a hard-hitting day on the mountain is to settle into a hot tub. The warm water is therapeutic, relaxing muscles and dispersing tension; the convivial atmosphere doesn’t hurt, either. And while a hotel hot tub will suffice, there is another option: natural hot springs.
Scattered around the country, natural hot springs range in size and amenities from spa-like soaking experiences to “hippy dips,” which are little more than holes in the ground. But some of the best hot springs are also conveniently located near ski resorts, making it the perfect destination after a day of shredding. Most are commercial springs (charging an entry fee or are private for a certain lodge), but there are some primitive sites to be discovered (hike-to access, no entry fee).
1. Mammoth Mountain, CA
Mammoth has been getting its fair share of news this year—after all, they’re reporting a 350” base depth due to the insane amount of snow they’ve been getting.
After you finish exploring the mountain and are ready for some R&R, head to the Long Valley Caldera, where some of the area’s best hot tubs are. Both the Hilltop Tub and Wild Willy’s are “man assisted” (the water is natural, but someone built the tubs) and are open to the general public. While Hilltop is famous for its views, Wild Willy’s also has good views and has two tubs for more soaking opportunities. See Mammoth Mountain lift tickets.
2. Steamboat Springs, CO
It’s in the name: Steamboat Springs, Colorado is almost as famous for its hot springs as it is for its ski resort and town, which just keeps churning out Olympians.
Not only is there a nice facility downtown, but there’s also Strawberry Park Hot Springs, which are located approximately seven miles from downtown Steamboat Springs. With its unique stone masonry that blends beautifully with the natural setting, these hot springs are a favorite destination and worth the drive. Go early on a weekday to avoid the crowds, take a shuttle for easy access and make sure to bring cash for the entry fee. Oh, and be aware: clothing is optional after dark. See Colorado lift tickets.
3. Donnelly, ID
Located about 15 minutes from Tamarack Resort in Idaho, Gold Fork Hot Springs are waiting to relieve aching legs after a full day of skiing. Featuring six pools with mineral rich waters, Gold Fork might not be the most fancy hot springs that you’ll encounter, but they’ll definitely do the trick. See Idaho lift tickets.
4. Aspen, CO
Known for its four mountains, hosting events like the Winter X Games and its “see and be seen” clientele, it’s no wonder that Aspen and its surrounds also have their fair share of soaking opportunities. Whether you’ve hit the pipe on Buttermilk or hiked Highlands Bowl, there’s no better way to soothe those tired muscles than a trip to a near-by hot springs.
For a more elevated experience, check out the new Iron Mountain Hot Springs in nearby Glenwood Springs. People have been soaking for centuries in the area (the largest pool in the world is just down the street), this new facility along the Colorado River has 18 different pools of different sizes and temperatures to mix and match to your heart’s content.
Looking for something a bit more low-key? On the banks of the Crystal River, Penny Hot Springs in Carbondale remains a primitive hot springs experience. There are no amenities, but there’s a large parking lot on the east side of Highway 133 for access. From there, it’s a short hike to the pools, which are free to use. See Aspen Snowmasss lift tickets.
5. Lake Tahoe, CA
A visit to Lake Tahoe can come with some very serious decisions. Should we ski north shore or south shore? Mega-resort or smaller gem? It can be tough to decide, but there’s plenty to explore and so many opportunities for turns.
After you’ve clocked all your vertical, head to Grover Hot Springs State Park, just south of South Lake Tahoe on Hwy 89. Located about four miles from the tiny town of Markleeville, these springs lie in a 700-acre forest surrounded by stunning views of Sierra peaks. The facilities aren’t super fancy, but the waters are just right for soaking after a full day on the slopes. See Tahoe lift tickets.
6. Park City, UT
Park City is home to several ski resorts—the bigger than ever Park City, as well as Deer Valley—which makes spending your days searching for new stashes super easy.
When you’re finished exploring on the mountain, take the opportunity to check out one of the most unique hot springs experiences around: Homestead Crater. The Crater is a geothermal spring, hidden within a 55-foot tall, beehive-shaped limestone rock, with water temperatures of about 96 – 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only can you soak or take a tour, but it’s also the only warm scuba diving destination in the continental U.S., so bring your mask and fins, if you’re so inclined. See Utah lift tickets.
7. Taos, NM
Taos Ski Resort is a one-of-a-kind place, blending a variety of influences as well as offering some gnarly terrain. It was the home of extreme skiing in the U.S., but it has a good mix of terrain, even if you don’t want to pump up the intensity.
The area of the Rio Grande near Taos is home to almost 100 hot springs, but most are cold water. There are a few that have water warm enough to relax those muscles: Manby Hot Springs is one of them. Located about 45 minutes from the ski resort, these springs have a long history—look for the ancient petroglyphs as you soak—which add just one more element to the experience. See New Mexico lift tickets.
8. Salida, CO
Monarch Mountain is a hidden gem in Colorado. Spend a day exploring the terrain on the mountain, throwing tricks in Mirkwood, or sign up for a cat skiing trip, which will give you access to more than 1,000 acres of open bowls, steep chutes and awesome glades.
When you’re finished slaying the mountain, head for one of the several nearby hot springs. While Cottonwood, Antero and Creekside Hot Springs are all worthy destinations, Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort remains a favorite. In addition to the five geothermal pools, you can also wade in to chilly Chalk Creek to dip in the natural hot pots. See Colorado lift tickets.
Winter is perhaps one of the most pleasant and picturesque times to visit hot springs: The steam rising off the water with a soft punctuation of snowflakes lends a hazy, dream-like feel to the experience. So the next time you hit the slopes, consider hitting the hot springs after: the waters are just waiting to revive you.