Friday, August 31, 2012

Frugal Poet’s Guide to Montana-based Hot Springs Spas, Part 3

Most pools at Bozeman Hot Springs are indoors
After having bathed in some of the remarkable outdoor Montana hot springs locations, I was a little disappointed that all except one of the nine Bozeman Hot Springs pools were indoors. I suppose in the dead of winter this would be the ideal.

However, nearly all the pools are butt up to one another making this main indoor poll area humid and crowded. You either have to walk along narrow tile catwalks balance-beam style to get to the inner hot pools - or pull yourself up and over from one to another. The hottest pool has exposed hot faucets and pipes which burn to the touch. Be careful! Only one hot pool really smelled like authentic sulfuric mineral waters and I shifted between that one and the cold plunge. Best feature are the very roomy sauna and steam rooms. They are both excellent!

Bozeman Hot Springs is located about eight miles west of the city on U.S. 191. Entry fee is a humble $8.50. According to the spa founder, "the water resembles in its chemical composition the water of Carlsbad in Europe."

Thermopolis, anyone?
After we headed farther south to Yellowstone National Park. While waiting for Old Faithful to blow, my husband, friend Raul and I got into a conversation with an adventurous fellow who had traveling throughout the Rocky Mountain area for four months. We told him about our hot springs visits up in Montana and he suggested Thermopolis, Wyoming, which is another haven of hot springs bathing he had personally enjoyed. Guess it will have to wait until our next trip out west, but I’m intrigued by the town name and locale. Anyone out there have any experience to share about Thermopolis, or the Montana hot springs?


Frugal Poet’s Guide to Montana-based Hot Springs Spas, Part 2

Unique motel package deal in Plains let us enjoy Quinn's hot springs in Paradise, Montana
During a visit to the area, a local Montana friend had booked my husband and I at the Glacier Crossroads Motel in Plains, Montana, eight miles north of Quinn's Hot Springs Resort. It was a humble, clean, if spartan motel room, but priced at $60 a night, a value. The big perc was receiving a pass for two to Quinn's Hot Springs pools for each night we stayed at the Glacier Crossroads!

Since the hot springs admission is $10 a person, our passes were worth an extra $20 per day. After our two-day stay at Glacier Crossroads, we used the passes to admit the two of us as well as our two friends to the Quinn's pools. The changing area was clean and nicely decorated.

When we arrived, the sun was just setting and the stars began to poke out one-by-one and dot the sky as we bathed in the rich, sulfuric mineral pools. Pools are open late. I alternated between the hottest pool and the cold plunge right next to it. What a way to relax, feel fabulous and spend time with friends. The cabins situated around the resort look top-rate and, if one has the budget, any one of them would be a wonderful place to stay.

But I think our motel package deal was an excellent way to both enjoy the pools and save on accommodations.


Frugal Poet’s Guide to Montana-based Hot Springs Spas, Part 1

Symes might offer the hottest, most mineral-rich hot springs in Montana, if not North America
A local Montana gal friend introduced my husband, another friend and myself, three poets from Chicago out on the western trials, to the wonders of the Symes Hot Springs Hotel in Hot Springs, Montana. The unincorporated town proper is one of the funkiest, most laid-back corners of the state, with a natural food grocery, a Zen cafe and lots of former hippy types casually milling around in western laid-back style. We didn't stay at the hotel itself, but paid a mere $7 each to loll for hours in the artesian mineral bath outdoor pools. Meanwhile, dramatic 4,000-foot mountains served as breathtaking background, part of the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Balneotherapy or "taking the waters"
Deep beneath Hot Springs, Montana, lies hot mineral water springs heated by thermal pockets and warmth of the bedrock. At Symes, the hottest (108-degrees?) and most sulfuric-rich pool is absolutely amazing! Our Montana friend told us the waters are only second to Baden-Baden in Germany for rich mineral content. I couldn't find any such claim later online. But maybe she's right!

Our other friend, who has a slight case of arthritis in his hands and lower back, found relief over the next three days after bathing in the sulfuric waters. He mentioned that he hoped to bring his 78-year-old mother up there sometime for her arthritis woes. However, I would imagine the extra-hot waters far too intense for someone in their upper years. But the four of us did feel wonderfully loose and relaxed after lolling in the pools for a couple of hours. It was almost dreamlike!

The Symes Hotel itself is a throwback to the 1930s, when it first opened. Not too much renovation seems to have been made, but the art deco facade is striking. Randomly weird gift shops inside. Off the first floor lobby, a long hallway leads to private, clawfoot bathtub rentable spa rooms. Here is where folks can bathe in mineral waters au natural and adjust the temperature to their liking. These bathtub rooms of barebones, dated design -- kind of remind me of little hallway rooms a house of prostitution might have in a town like Bangkok (not that I would know) -- or as portrayed in that 1980s Albert Finney movie "Under the Volcano." One room even had a thick red rope that looked like a noose hanging from the ceiling. Yikers!

Then, at the end of the hall lies a private whirlpool and sauna spa room, which can also be rented. Poor room ventilation and cramped quarters, however, made it a turn-off and we didn't opt for it. The women's changing room and shower was nice, however.

Looked at another local motel called Alameda's that offers mineral hot springs in its own motel bathrooms and that seems like it might be a good choice for those who prefer the indoor, individual bathtub experience vs.the little rentable bathtub rooms at Symes.