Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 16- Hot Springs and Steamboat History

Day 16: September 30th 2010, Thursday

Today Tyler and I checked out the nearby hot springs in the morning before it got too hot. It was the perfect time of day to go because there was still a chill in the air from the cold of night. The hot springs were developed but in the best possible way. They weren't like Lolo Hot Springs in Montana where it's basically just a pool that happens to be heated by geothermal energy. The springs in Steamboat were very extensive and stratified at different heights ranging in temperature from creek-water cold to scalding hot. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and because it was the off season and it was still early in the day there were very few people so it was peaceful and relaxing. 

The water feels so nice in the early morning chill

A view of the main hot springs pools from above

Steamboat Springs got its name because early settlers thought the spring, in the middle of what would become the downtown, sounded like a steamboat. Evidently it's a world-renowned winter destination because of the quality of the ski slopes on the mountains overlooking town. Even walking around the town in the fall, I could feel that winter would be a great time in Steamboat. First of all because there is a crazy huge ski jump that you can easily see from downtown. You could be hanging out down there and watch people take the jump, one after another. Steamboat also has a really cool sounding winter event called Winter Carnival, held I believe every February, which consists of various events like dog sledding, slalom, horse-drawn children on skis, and more, all through the main street. This tradition began in 1914 as a way to bring some cheer to the residents who had to live with a very long and harsh winter. I think having the event in February is a great idea because it's after Christmas and seems like a good way to mark that spring is kind of almost on its way! An interesting fact about this event is that volunteers get snow, approximately 400 tons of it, from surrounding areas and pile it up on the main street! Also the high school marching band performs and actually marches down the street playing their instruments while on skis; that is some skill! It's interesting that skiing became so popular in towns like Steamboat Springs because it was the easiest form of transportation in the winter.

The American Indian tribe that called this area home before white settlers came along, were the Utes. They would hunt in the valley in the summer. Trappers and ranchers started moving into the area around the 1800's and soon after, in 1879, the Utes were forced off of the prime land and onto a reservation in Utah, hence the influence on the state name. The Utes were never actually a unified "tribe" but rather consisted of individual nomadic groups that associated with one another.

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