These are the best hot springs for cozying up this ski season

Skip the ski slopes and head right to the natural baths!

Hot springs are Mother Nature’s gift to the mountains. Sure, Colorado is graced with the Rockies and beautiful scenery, but sometimes we want to kick off the hiking boots and skis and relax in nature’s natural hot tubs. Not only are the springs a haven for relaxation, some believe that hot springs have a medicinal value. Pack your bathing suit (or not)  and take a day hike out to some of these hot springs. From Arkansas to California, these natural baths will have you skipping the slopes this ski season!

Big Bend National Park is where the dedicated hikers come to relax. The Texas park has Hot Springs that are not accessible by car. That’s right, you’ll need an excuse (as if you need one) to strap on your hiking boots and venture to the springs. It’s only about a mile loop, which is manageable for a park the size of Rhode Island! You won’t be disappointed with the scenery either. Famous for containing a mountain range of its own, Big Bend is a breathtaking medley of desert geography, canyons, and rocky plateaus. It’s almost as famous for day hiking as it is for night hikes, due to its reputation as one of the darkest and best stargazing spots in North America. Don’t go too far though… this part of Texas is in a drought and you’re limited to small amounts of water. 

National parks are the winners when it comes to a collection of killer spas—who knew? Nicknamed “The American Spa,” Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is the coolest and weirdest spring. You can actually get into a tub filled with spring water. If it sounds too good to be true, trust JFK, Cy Young, Al Capone, or Babe Ruth—just a few of the greats to grace these natural springs. If you’re up for the full spa treatment, there’s a cool-down shower, a Swedish massage, heat therapy, and even a pool. And make sure you go up to the top of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower that overlooks the entire park, you’ll be amazed by the views; 47 pools bubbling at 143 degrees.

We can’t talk about hot springs without mentioning Colorado and the umpteen mountainous springs they have. Conundrum Hot Springs rewards hikers with several pools fed by plastic pipes to each spring. Marvel at the scenery, (because what part of Colorado isn’t gorgeous?) in a natural infinity pool heated by the earth’s crust. 

And since the best form of relaxation can be keeping the kids occupied, check out the Old Town Hot Springs. This historic spring site doesn’t look like your average historic landmark. Think natural hot springs—waterpark style. It’s got climbing walls, eight large pools, and some massive slides—a 230-foot waterslide to be exact. And the best part in our opinion? There’s a coffee shop onsite! There are few things better than enjoying the winter weather, while sipping a latte, in a pool. We’re in!

Finally, for the Californian snowbirds, the Travertine Springs in Bridgeport, CA offer natural relaxation, 24 hours a day, for free. East of Yosemite and south of Reno, they’re on the way to some well-traveled natural wonders, but these pools are off the beaten path. Get ahead of the game with us and mark your calendar to enjoy the next meteor shower in one of the 105-degree natural tubs.

Located on a cliff 150 feet above the river, Umpqua Hot Springs in the Umpqua National Forest is one of the coolest natural springs in the country. The hike to the springs is short but steep (snowshoes help if you're headed there in the winter) and once you reach your destination, you have several cascading pools of steamy mineral water to enjoy! The warmest one is at the top, near the source of the water, and the coolest one is near the river. And, best of all, you can soak in the tub's 100-115 degree water and enjoy the view of Surprise Falls across the way at the same time!

Whether you’re bringing the kids somewhere on winter break or need a place to relax after a day on the slopes, escape the winter blues and hop in one of these hot springs.

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Header via Flickr/Ken Lund and Flickr/John Fowler

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This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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