Sunday, September 7, 2014

What to do in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado

This summer I have been working as a horse wrangler at a dude ranch in Parshall, CO.  According to Wikipedia, Parshall is classified as an "unincorporated community," barely even a town. Though the natural beauty of the area more than makes up for the lack of attractions in the town, it is still nice to go into town for a warm meal or a cone of ice-cream. For this, I've made friends with the next town over: Hot Sulphur Springs.

The town of Hot Sulphur Springs in Grand County, Colorado is barely a speck on the map along highway 40, north-west of Denver.  If you were just driving through it would be easy to simply pass by. But it is a place that has become dear to my heart, so I would like to take this time to share with you its simple pleasures.

Named for the natural hot sulphur springs found in the town, the natural spa is considered one of the best in the country. The hot springs was originally used by the native Ute tribe and was called their "magic waters" and "big medicine". It was believed to have magical healing properties. They even bathed their horses and dogs in the springs! The first white man to discover the springs was William Byers, who is the namesake of the neighboring Byers Canyon (which I ride my bike through from Parshall in order to get to Hot Sulphur Springs). The spa has been open for over 140 years now and has had recent renovations to make what the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa is today. There are seven natural springs there that flow into 21 man made pools at the spa. It is quite an amazing experience soaking in a pool that you know is heated by volcanic rock thousands of feet beneath you. Once you get past the slightly eggy smell of the sulphur springs, it is quite enjoyable.

The spa alone is reason enough to stop by Hot Sulphur Springs, but that is something I have only taken advantage of once. What really charms me about the town are the three staples of my summer, The Glory Hole, Dari-Delite, and Hot Sulphur Springs Candy Company.

In my opinion, The Glory Hole Restaurant is the best place to get a warm cooked meal in Grand County. Of course, I have only been here for one summer, but it only took one visit for it to become a favorite. Its brightly painted exterior is enough to wake you up from the hum drum of driving down the long stretch of highway 40, but once you enter the doors you are instantly calmed again by the warm woodsy theme. I first visited The Glory Hole my second day in Colorado. I rode my bike five miles through Byers Canyon just to get some warm breakfast and a hot cup of coffee (which I do not recommend when you are not used to the 7500 foot elevation). I was greeted by a busy, but smiling waitress who called me "Honey" and told me to sit anywhere. The place felt more like walking into a friends warm mountain lodge, then like walking into a cafe. Though the beige painted walls and light oak wood made the place feel lighter than a cabin. A large Elk head smiled down at me as soon as I entered the dining area, and woodland creatures in paintings and plaques adorned the walls.  That first day, I enjoyed a phenomenal breakfast burrito. I chose to have it smothered in sausage gravy, but you can also have it with green chili if you would like. The coffee is everything diner coffee should be, served in ceramic mugs with frequent refiles. They also have a great lunch menu. I recommend the chicken fingers, but they also have great sandwiches.

If you are in more of a hurry and do not have time to sit to enjoy your meal, another option in Hot Sulphur Springs is to stop by Dari-Delite. Dari-Delite has a walk up window and outdoor picnic table seating. They serve hotdogs, hamburgers and all other sorts of fried goodness. But what they do best are their shakes and malts. They have many flavors beyond your standard chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, such as pina colada, coffee, butterscotch, and hot fudge (which IS different from chocolate and tastes great!) just to name a few. You can have any two flavors mixed. My go-to is coffee and chocolate mixed together. You can also get toppers for your shakes, such as M&M's, brownies, and Oreos. It is the perfect place to cool off after a hot summers day of work or bike riding. 
My last, but not least, favorite is Hot Sulphur Springs Candy Company, which is so much more than candy. I first visited the Candy Company that same first day I visited the Glory Hole. The owner is a sweet lady named Diane, who I have had many great conversations with over this summer. She works so hard to make her shop a place worth stopping at again and again. The selection of chocolate and other candies is vast. She also sells old fashioned sodas in glass bottles and a wide variety of gift items. In the gift shop portion of the store you will find handmade soaps, candles and lip balms. The place smells amazing. The Candy Company has become a regular stop for me this summer. I come away with at least three bags of chocolate each time, my favorites being non-perals and the mini peanut butter cups. I enjoy knowing I will be warmly greater by Diane and leave feeling like a truly valued customer and friend.

My times in Hot Sulphur Springs have formed in me an appreciation for small town businesses like I have never experienced before. We have all stopped at places such as these before, and we may not always think much about them. But these sorts of places are what make small towns what they are. So they next time you stop at that little diner, or that drive in ice-cream stand, take a moment to appreciate what they add to that town. Take a moment to smile at the lady behind the counter. And if you ever find yourself at the Hot Sulphur Springs Candy Company, tell Diane, Miranda says, "Hello."

Miranda Joy

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