FARMINGTON — Because it's the peak of the winter sports season, even after a short drive through mountainous roads, you will see dozens of cars pulled over with people out skiing, snowshoeing or snowboarding.
And one of the best ways to defrost after a long day out in the elements is a soak in a hot spring.
Hot springs are produced when water is geothermally heated from the earth's crust and rises through fault structures to the earth's surface.
New Mexico has dozens of natural hot springs, and there are even more locations a short drive into Colorado. The temperatures of hot springs intended for public soaking vary from 100 to 110 degrees and provide the ultimate relaxing experience.
The Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs is located seven minutes north of Durango off of U.S. Highway 550. Conveniently, it's on the way back down from Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort.
The majority of the hot spring's winter tourism takes place in the afternoon after people have spent a day on the slopes, said Fran Dooan, general manager of Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs.
"We find that when they finish with their winter exercise this is one of the first places they come to," Dooan said.
She explained that a good soak in the hot springs is perfect for sore and tired muscles. The mineral-enriched water loosens up and eases tight muscles, Dooan said.
Jennifer Padill, a representative for the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa located north of Santa Fe, agreed.
"The curative benefits of soaking in warm mineral water have been touted worldwide for centuries," she said. "Immersion into warm water dilates skin pores and increases blood flow to the skin and other organs. When the warm water contains therapeutic minerals, the benefits to the body are magnified. Hot mineral waters helps the body relax and eases tired and sore muscles."
Petra Fuierer, of Fort Collins, Colo., has been skiing since she was young, and she comes to New Mexico every year during ski season. Soaking in a hot spring is one of her favorite ways to unwind after a day on the slopes.
"Skiing all day is pretty taxing," Fuierer said. "By the end of the day, my body is usually exhausted, and going in a hot spring feels so relaxing and loosens all of the muscles. Not to mention it is pretty nice to warm up after a cold day."
Fuierer said if she plans to go skiing, a soak the following day is a must to help her feel rejuvenated.
While soaking after a long day of indulging your favorite winter sports is nice, you don't have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits of a good soak.
Maria and Chris Doyle are big fans of hot springs just for the benefit of pure relaxation.
The couple often drive from their home in Grand Junction, Colo., to the hot springs in Ouray, Colo., which are about two and a half hours from Farmington.
"We come soak once a month," Chris Doyle said. "We missed a month, and we decided we couldn't do without."
Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs: Located about an hour and 15 minutes from Farmington, Trimble Spa is about 20 minutes from Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort. Call 970-247-0111 for more information.
Ouray, Colo.: Ouray, which is two and half hours from Farmington, has several hot springs, including the Ouray Hot Springs pool. The town is a destination for ice climbing, and it's near the San Juan Mountains. Call the Ouray Chamber Resort Association at 1-800- 228-1876.
Pagosa Springs, Colo.: Pagosa Springs has a few locations with soaking opportunities. The city is only two hours from Farmington and is located about 45 minutes from Wolf Creek Ski Area. Call 1-800-252-2204 for more information.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Resort: Three hours from Farmington, Ojo Caliente is less than an hour from four ski areas, Ski Santa Fe, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, Angel Fire Resort and Taos Ski Valley. Call 505-583-2233 for more information.