Me at the hot springs surrounded by trees
Location: Colorado, United States of America

Although my arrival in Denver didn’t match my expectations, I still held high hopes for our foray into the Rocky Mountains. Siu On’s friends had planned a weekend camping amongst the aspen trees and under the stars, and we got lucky that the cold wet weather that had plagued us in Denver cleared up for us, so with sunny days we made the four hour drive to Steamboat Springs. As we climbed higher and higher in to the mountains I could feel the weariness of the city and our long drives slowly wear off my shoulders as the road trip west was culminating in this destination, the Rocky Mountains.

Steamboat Springs is a very popular winter resort town that’s blessed with amazing ski slopes, an old mountain town and hot springs. In the warmer months the ski slopes may lay dormant, but there is an abundance of hiking and biking trails, rafting and climbing for visitors to try. The main street is full of old buildings and boutique stores for those wanting to wander around town, and I highly recommend a meal at the Creekside Cafe and Grill which is very popular and has a lovely alfresco area next to a small creek.

A view of the hot springs and the Aspen trees

After grabbing a bite to eat in town we headed out to find ourselves a dispersed campsite. We didn’t have much luck on arrival with our original camp site fully booked, but the Steamboat Springs Information Centre was fantastic in pointing out to us areas in the National Park where dispersed camping was permitted around Buffalo Pass. The site we found is probably one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever camped at, in a valley surrounded by Aspen Trees with a huge stone fire pit, I knew this was going to be a memorable camping trip.

a couple enjoys conversation in front of a campfire

After setting up camp, Siu On and his friends went on a hike through the area while I swiftly fell asleep and rested for a few hours, as I wanted to ensure I was up to see the stars as there was talk of the Northern Lights making an usual appearance in the area, but unfortunately we didn’t see them. Instead we spent the night sitting by the fire, swapping camp stories and making smores before retiring for the night feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Making smores in front of the fire

The next day we packed up camp and headed off to the Strawberry Hot Springs for a long and well deserved soak. This was another highlight of Steamboat Springs for me, I really loved the way the hot spring pools blended in with the surrounding woods and were open air, it was a truly relaxing and wonderful experience. There are a number of different pools with different temperatures, so it was fun to get in to all of them and then pick one that was just right; there are also massages available and you can even camp there or rent a cabin if you wish to stay at the Springs. Check their website for more information.

Me hugging a giant aspen tree.

My American road trip had finally come to an end, and as I waved good bye to Colorado and prepared myself for the long drive back to the mid west, I am so grateful to have taken the time to visit some places that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen had I not gone off the beaten track. The Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Custer and Yellowstone National Park were all amazing sites and unique in their own rights; and Colorado, despite leaving me with mixed feelings, was still an experience I was glad to have. A big thank you goes out to Siu On who did most of the driving, the lovely people we met along the way and the friends who took us in and showed us a great time because travel isn’t the same unless you can share it.

Featured photograph and image 4 by Auyeung Photography, others by Jelena Stipanicev.