Warm Salida mountain weekend

Bask in a Rockies hot spot
Ted Alan Stedman

Why go now: Winter may be dragging on, but in this town, there are plenty of ways to get warm.

Why it’s warmer here: Situated in Colorado’s "Banana Belt" and surrounded by three mountain ranges, Salida gets only a fraction of the snow that blankets the surrounding high country―and milder temperatures too.

Dress code: Gore-Tex jackets and Levi’s.

Snowmelt sighting: The Angel of Shavano snow formation emerges on the east face of Mount Shavano every spring.

Number of nearby hot springs: Several; Cottonwood, Joyful Journey, Mount Princeton, and Salida are open to the public.

Best place to warm up with the locals: Try a Colorado brew at the Victoria Tavern, known as the Vic (143 N. F St.; 719/539-9003).

Where to work up a sweat nearby: Monarch Mountain ski area, 20 miles west of town, with 63 ski trails (22720 W. U.S. 50; skimonarch.com).

3 other hot spots in Salida:

See a show Catch a curtain call at the SteamPlant Theater & Event Center. Salida’s old municipal steam plant has been reborn as the city’s multi faceted event center, hosting art exhibits, concerts, and theater productions. 220 W. Sackett Ave.; salidasteamplant.com.

Take a dip Stop by the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center, Colorado’s largest indoor hot springs pool facility, where you can ease into natural, odorless mineral water piped into a large 85° lap pool and a smaller 98° soaking pool. $11, $5 ages 6–17, $3 ages 5 and under; 410 W. U.S. 50; salidapool.com.

Try a spicy dish Check out the hot dishes like chile-roasted duck on a cheddar chile relleno with squash sauce at Laughing Ladies Restaurant. $$; 128 W. First St.; 719/539-6209.