Do you remember Bob Ross on the PBS channel? St. Mary’s glacier hike is like stepping into one of his paintings.
I don’t know if you’re catching on here, but I like hikes with a reward at the top. I don’t like hiking for the sake of walking. No, my final destination better have a waterfall, a cave, rock-climbing, or a field full of unicorns at the top.
St. Mary’s Glacier is only a 45 minute drive from Denver, and about 20 minutes from Idaho Springs, and seriously one of the most stunning hikes in CO.
I’ve done this hike a bazillion times, a bazillion different ways. So down below I’ve put together the perfect day trip to St. Mary’s Glacier, and the town of Idaho Springs.
1st Stop: St. Mary’s Glacier
I started off my 4th of July this year with a mini brunch at the top of the Glacier. And by mini brunch I mean champagne, fruit, and blueberry muffins. Perfect right?
You will hike through a pine tree forest, which will then open up into a gorgeous Lake, and above the lake sits the glacier. Even in the summer you may see people skiing, snowboarding, or sledding down it. Pack a small foam sled if you’re brave enough to join in!
We set up our picnic at the base of the glacier, which gave us an amazing views of the entire area. An hour and half up there is plenty of time to take in the sights and explore.
*bring $5 cash (EXACT change) to park in the parking lot*
*the trail isn’t well marked, ask fellow hikers for direction to lake*
*trail is all uphill and very rocky, not great for an individual with knee issues*
2nd stop: Beau JO’s Pizza
Head back to Idaho Springs for lunch at Beau Jo’s. Idaho Springs was once a mining town during the gold rush, and Beau Jo’s has been serving their famous mountain pies since the 1800’s. They’ve got a pretty awesome salad bar, and huge menu featuring gluten-free options.
Beau Jo’s ALWAYS has a lengthy wait. I have 2 suggestions for this dilemma. Put your name on the list, take the pager, and walk around the adorable town of Idaho Springs while you wait. Or order your food to go while you’re on your way back down from hiking, pick it up, and sit outside the Indian hot springs, where Soda Creek runs through.
Try my “signature” pizza order , which should just be named after me already; pepperoni, cream cheese, and jalapenos. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water!
*There is honey on your table to dip your doughy crust in, just try it*
3rd Stop: Indian Hot Springs
After filling up on pizza head 2 blocks over to Indian Hot Springs. Indian Hot springs features a hot mineral swimming pool, and underground geo-thermal caves.
With a translucent dome and tropical plants the pool has a really cool green house vibe to it. The caves are great because each of the hot tubs has a different temperature, some as hot as 112 degrees F.
Relax your muscles and mind in the healing waters that contain zinc, magnesium, selenium, and silica to name a few. I enjoy going to the hot springs especially when my acneic complexion is flaring up because it will immediately kill the inflammation on my skin. Before the Gold rush these waters were considered a sacred, spiritual place by Ute and Arapahoe Indians.
Taking a dip in these waters is the best way to end your day.Stretch. relax. repeat.
*Indian hot Springs is over 100 years old and I swear most of it hasn’t been updated since then. I would not suggest getting a private bath, using the mud room, or staying over night as you will be disappointed for the prices. The main pool and caves are pretty cool, especially at night, stick with those two attractions.