While you will find hot springs at various locations in the state like Ouray and Glenwood Springs, Strawberry Park Hot Springs near Steamboat Springs may be Colorado's best- kept hot springs secret.

I've lived in Colorado for some 30 years but yet had never heard of Strawberry Hot Springs Park, but it has been around for a long time.

Strawberry Park is not on the main strip, and so there is no way to accidentally find it. Outside of Steamboat Springs you wind through the countryside - without seeing any signs of what is ahead. In fact, the last two miles is unpaved road, and though the park is open year-round, in the winter time four wheel drive vehicles or tire chains are required in order to traverse those final two miles.

Once you arrive at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs,  you will find a dirt parking lot with a limited amount of space, but there is someone there to help you find a parking spot.Admission to the park is $15, cash or check only.

You won't find a locker room and lockers, only a changing cabin. That means you definitely want to leave valuables in your vehicles, and it's not a bad idea to have your swimsuit on when  you arrive. Some people have been known to change in the parking lot.

There are little areas around the park to lay your towel, shirt, shoes, etc, and there are a few wooden loungers - about 50 or so I counted --where you can lay your stuff.

There are pools of varying sizes and degrees of temperature from extremely hot -- to warm. The floor of the pools will be anything from sand or rocks or vegetation. And what you have to keep in mind, these are natural pools, so the water is not going to look "clean" like a swimming pool.

It's not a huge place, but  yet there seems to be a lot of rooms, and though there were quite a few people on hand the day we were there, it never felt crowded.

One last thing. If you want to make this a family outing with the kids, it will have to be a daytime excursion. After sunset, clothing is optional and no one under 18 is allowed.

It's a cool place, albeit a bit on the primitive side. It's a beautiful setting - and most importantly - the water feels SO good.

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