From soothing aching ski muscles to recounting heroic tales of the day, the après-ski soak is one of the staples of any ski vacation. Sure, the condo hot tub gets the job done, but a concrete and heavily chlorinated setting isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect post-ski soak.
The good news is that there’s a legit hot-springs-fed pool within a snowball’s throw from many Western ski resorts from New Mexico on up. Here’s a sampling of the soaking on offer, though do check the swimsuit policies before you go—some are family-friendly and some, well, not so much. Consider yourself warned.
Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs, Redstone, Colo.
• Closest skiing: Aspen Snowmass, 45 miles
• Water Temp: 88-105 degrees
• Good to Know: The ranch also offers ice skating, snowmobiling, Nordic skiing, and more on its 36 acres
Rustic and off-the-beaten path, Avalanche Ranch, less than an hour from Aspen, has three tiered, spring-fed pools that complement the natural landscape of this Colorado gem. Avalanche also has guest cabins, though the pools are open to day guests by reservation. This is a great, family-friendly spot for wholesome fun in a rustic setting with pristine views of Mt. Sopris and sprawling Avalanche Valley.
Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort, Santa Fe, N.M.
• Closest Skiing: Ski Santa Fe, 30 miles
• Water Temp: 95-104 degrees
• Good to Know: Renovated and reopened in August 2020
This resort sanctuary an hour from the slopes of Ski Santa Fe has several different pool options, but the Repose Pools are five thermal pools open to day guests that are gently heated to between 95 and 104 degrees and spring fed from a natural source. Not to be confused with its more famous sister property, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort (which is also fabulous and worth a visit), Ojo Santa Fe was rebranded in August 2020 as part of the Ojo family and is focusing on a more intimate and personalized experience.
Mount Princeton Hot Springs, Nathrop, Colo.
• Closest skiing: Monarch, 35 miles
• Temps: 88 to 120 degrees
• Good to Know: The lodging options here range from lodge rooms to two-bedroom cabins
Yes, this is a big resort-style hot springs megaplex, but there are so many different types of pools and vibes that Princeton is a legit option for some serious post-ski soaking. Located about 45 minutes from Monarch Mountain, this sprawling property has built-up pools—including one with a 400-foot water slide, open only in the summer—but also a series of lovely creekside mini pools built into Chalk Creek that range from 88 to a blistering 120 degrees. For those looking to split the difference, there’s a sleek infinity pool with great views of the chalky cliffs of the resort’s eponymous peak.
Crab Cooker, Hilltop, and Wild Willy’s, Mammoth, Calif.
• Closest skiing: Mammoth Mountain, 15-20 miles
• Water Temp: 95-105 degrees, though it varies by time of year
• Good to Know: There’s no real clothing policy, so it can bit of the Wild West when it comes to covering up
These three SoCal gems share several things in common: They’re all natural hot spring pools, no built-up concrete or curvy slides to be found here. They’re all small (as in, each pool only holds 6-8 people comfortably, sometimes less). And they each offer unobstructed views of the Eastern Sierra range. Unlike most of the rest of the options on this list, there’s no amenities here—just park and soak.
Ainsworth Hot Springs, Ainsworth, B.C.
• Closest Skiing: Whitewater, 43 miles
• Water Temp: 96-108 degrees
• Good to Know: The water in the caves can run as hot as 110 degrees
An old haunt of the First Nations Ktunaxa people of the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia, who soaked in the ancient waters for their healing and rejuvenating properties, the modern-day Ainsworth Hot Springs offers pool and cave settings. The hot springs waters flow down through nearby caves and hit resort waters at a high of 117 degrees, then are cooled down to 96 degrees for the pool and a toasty 108 for caves. Ainsworth springs waters contain magnesium, calcium, lithium, silica, and more.
Orvis Hot Springs, Ridgway, Colo.
• Closest Skiing: Telluride, 42 miles
• Water Temp: 103-104 degrees
• Good to know: Bathing suits are optional
Orvis offers a collection of 10 natural hot spring pools with the San Juan and Cimmaron ranges in the backdrop. The hot springs feature seven naturally occurring minerals but are most well-known for the lithium content, which is thought to soothe stress and anxiety and help with arthritis and circulation. Oh, and it’s clothing optional here, so not the place to bring the kids.