Discover the Best Natural Hot Springs in Idaho (2024)
The state of Idaho is a stunning natural wonder that very few tourists know about. It is no wonder that Idaho is often referred to as the Gem State, where one can discover the unspoiled wilderness and some of the most fascinating and unexpected treasures. One of the best-kept secrets of Idaho is, apart from the majestic snowcapped mountains and its spectacularly barren deserts, its many natural hot springs.
Some of the best hot springs in the state are nestled in the central mountain ranges. In this region, you will find many wild rivers making their way through the mountainous terrain and there are numerous geothermal pockets located alongside these banks. There are some hot springs in Idaho that need you to undertake a significant hike to reach them, while others are easily accessible. Set within lush green forests, these hot springs are a wonder to behold.
Discover the Best Natural Hot Springs in Idaho
Here are some of the best hot springs to visit in Idaho.
1. Rocky Canyon Hot Springs
You can only visit this breathtaking hot spring in Idaho in the summer months as you need to cross a beautiful river to reach here. This is a three-tiered spring that is nestled right above the Middle Fork of the mesmerizing Payette River. It is also the closest hot spring to the city of Boise. To reach Rocky Canyon Hot Springs, you should take the South Middle Fork Road and stay on it for 12 miles from the area of downtown Crouch. You will soon find that around eight miles into your drive, the road turns to gravel, and there will be a small pull-off road on the left-hand side. This is the signal for the parking.
You will be able to see the steam rising from the pools located on the hillside across the river. You need to get on the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, which is also called the Banks-Lowman Road to reach the hot spring. There are a handful of pools here that have been built right into the canyon itself and offer different temperatures. No matter which side of the river you look at, you will be treated to some breathtaking views of the Middle Form Payette River making its way through the dense Boise National Forest. It is a sight to behold that you won’t forget easily.
There are several beautiful spots for camping as you walk along the roadside to reach the river. As you are heading back from the hot springs through Crouch, make sure to stop at Two Rivers to grab some delicious local food to eat.
2. Bear Valley Hot Springs
Bear Valley is home to some beautiful natural hot springs in Idaho. However, be ready to hike for some distance to reach the hot springs. You will have to hike for at least seven miles to make the round trip. But, the scenic view and the moderate hike are well worth the reward that awaits you at the end of the hike.
Once you reach the hot springs, you will find a crystal clear mesmerizing pool with separate spots for camping in case you want to spend the night in the area. The hot springs itself are located alongside a lovely creek, which makes the visit worthwhile in the scorching summer heat. Visitors who have come to the Bear Valley Hot Springs often describe the waters as being crystal clear and a beautiful shade of blue. You will see for yourself that the entire experience is truly magical.
Bear Valley Hot Springs is located inside the Boise National Forest, very close to Stanley and Grandjean. This is what sets apart this hot spring since it is one of the more rugged hot spring areas in the state. Make sure to pack a good amount of food and water when you visit here as there are not many shops or convenience stores around.
3. Gold Fork Hot Springs
Located just outside of the town of Donnely in Idaho, the Gold Fork Hot Springs is another must-visit hot spring in the state. This is one of the bigger hot springs here, consisting of five manmade pools that vary in their temperatures from being very hot to moderately warm where people can enjoy themselves even in the summer months.
This is one of the most uniquely beautiful hot springs in Idaho. When you visit the topmost pool, you will get the feeling that it has been built right into the mountain. On the other end, the hottest of the hot spring pool is located. The middle pool is another unique one as its bottom is lined with sand, giving a feeling like you are sinking or immersing yourself into the warm earth. At the bottom, there are three pools that are all connected, each of them being maintained at a different temperature.
There are several changing rooms for the comfort of visitors at Gold Fork.
4. Kirkham Hot Springs
Located in the town of Lowman in Idaho, the Kirkham Hot Springs is the most popular natural hot spring in Idaho. To reach this beautiful hot spring, you have to take a wooden staircase to go down just off Highway 21. It is just a short distance from a popular camping ground and you can easily reach the hot springs by walking. Its convenient location and easy accessibility are one of the main reasons behind its popularity. This is why if you are visiting in the summer months, be prepared to meet a huge crowd here.
The Kirkham Hot Springs is also popular due to its breathtaking natural beauty. Located alongside the mesmerizing Payette River, the hot springs are made up of numerous crystal clear and multi-layered pools that are beautifully lined with rocks. There is even a small cascading waterfall here to add to the natural beauty of the entire place.
5. Stanley Hot Springs
Nestled inside the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, you need to undertake an uphill hike of around 5.5 miles to reach the Stanley Hot Springs. Located in north central Idaho, the trail that takes you to the hot springs also winds through Boulder Creek, which is why this hike can be quite challenging and dangerous if you visit during spring runoff. For the people who complete the hike, the end result of relaxing at Stanley Hot Springs serves as the perfect rustic retreat on at the Huckleberry Creek. You may even feel like the surroundings feel like you are in the midst of an Enid Blyton fairy tale.
Due to the hike, there are usually not too many people present in this hot spring.