9 Places to Enjoy the Snow While Barely Clothed -- or Even Naked
If you've ever spent a winter afternoon sitting in a geothermal hot spring, or run into the snow after a hot sauna, you know all about the wonders of pairing cold and hot. Just like jumping into a cold stream on a hot summer's day is glorious, so too is sitting in a hot spring and watching the snow fall.
Here's a round up of nine beautiful spots where you can do just that, enjoying winter in only your swimsuit, and at a few of them, nothing at all. (If you're the type who wants to , check out .)
1. Valley View Hot Springs, Colorado
Owned by the Orient Land Trust, Valley View Hot Springs is a clothing-optional hot springs whose focus is on putting you smack dab in the middle of a spectacular natural setting. Located between Pueblo and Grand Junction, there are natural soaking ponds as well as a pool. The springs are closed December 1-28 each year, so consider a New Year's jaunt if you're in the area.
2. Hot Springs, Montana
In the vicinity of Glacier Park, the landscape is dotted with natural hots springs, and yes, there's even a town called Hot Springs. There are plenty of natural hot springs and resorts in this area (you can easily search them on the Montana tourism site), so depending on where you are, pick a spot and enjoy the Montana winter in warmth.
3. Ainsworth Hot Springs, Canada
Located on Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, the Ainsworth Hot Springs are anything but ordinary. Beyond its three pools, a highlight of the natural hot springs is the horseshoe cave, actually an old mine tunnel, making for a unique underground soaking experience.
4. Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon
Bagby Hot Springs is Portland's outdoor lovers haven. A little over an hour east of the big city, getting to the hot springs requires a 1.5-mile hike in from the parking lot. A bathhouse has been located here since the 1920s, and today you'll find a collection of bathing tubs built out of wood, and while clothing is required around the bathing area, it's optional on the actual bath decks. Visiting in winter can be treacherous however, as getting to Bagby requires driving on a Forest Service road. So watch for road condition updates.
5. Orvis Hot Springs, Colorado
A short drive from the popular ski town Telluride, you'll find Orvis, actually a full-on naturist resort. Here there are three soaking pools, and while they feel a bit more manmade than backcountry hot springs, they aren't any less enjoyable. You can even pair that hot springs soak with a massage in a yurt afterwards.
6. Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
Aurora borealis from the warmth of a natural pool? This is Alaska people, and it's easy to see why people come here (if you need a visual, check the photo to the right). Sixty miles outside of Fairbanks, it's a remote spot, so if you're looking to break away from reality for a bit, this is your place. Watch the Northern Lights, see the snow fall and be surprised when some local Alaska wildlife walks by.
7. Anywhere, Iceland
Situated just south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is a cold and magical place, and for the outdoor enthusiast that wants to spend his or her days soaking in natural hot springs, there's no better place. There are spas in and around Reykjavik, including the popular Blue Lagoon. Sorry though, you'll have to wear your swimsuit.
8. Bain de Dorres, France
After a day of skiing in the Pyrenees what about a soak in these thermal baths that date back to Roman times? And while Europe is known for being expensive, it will only cost you 4.50€ to get in, which is money well spent.
9. Felsentherme, Switzerland
If you want skiing and thermal baths you head to Felsentherme in Bad Gastein. To accommodate the après-ski crowd, in the winter it's open until 10 p.m., meaning you can get a day on the slopes in and then take in the winter evening in the warmth of the naturally heated pool with a mountain view. Yes, please.