The Best Hot Springs in Northern and Southern Idaho. Natural Hot Springs and Beautiful Resorts in the “Esto perpetua” State, Let It Be Perpetual
Idaho is in the north of the United States, on the border with Canada. Idaho’s motto is “Esto perpetua”, let it be perpetual. The northern state is forever.
The state’s anthem is “Here we have Idaho,” the perpetual Idaho, with verses such as: “You’ve heard of the wonders our land does possess. Its beautiful valleys and hills. The majestic forests where nature abounds. Here we have Idaho.”
What wonders does the Gem State hide?
One of them is Hells Canyon. With its over 2 km of depth (7,900 feet), this is the deepest gorge in North America. Then there is the Salmon River, which is the longest free-flowing river within a single state. And, of course, the relaxing hot springs, which cover Idaho in all of its 214,044 km2 (82,643 sq miles) of land.
The Best Hot Springs in Northern Idaho
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This part of the state is filled with fun activities to do, from amusement parks, to rides down the mountains’ slopes. Farragut State Park offers an exciting experience to everyone, from birdwatchers, to climbers, from skiers to sunboarders. Bikers will enjoy the Hiawatha Bike Trail, which passes through tunnels, woods, and waterfalls.
Natural Hot Springs Goldbug Hot Springs
To reach this relaxing and sweaty destination, you first have to sweat on the hiking trail.
The trail is a little over 4 km (2 miles) and it’s uphill, so wear comfortable shoes for it. And don’t give up because it is worth it.
The hot springs are surrounded by cliffs, waterfalls, and creeks. There are two pools and the pool on top is the coolest. You are surrounded by the forest, so you will get a boost of oxygen. Keep in mind that camping is not allowed within 500 feet of the hot springs, although there are a few fire rings for marshmallows.
Fall is the best time to visit Goldbug hot springs because the trail will be dry, which makes for an easier hike. Summer might be hot, so if you plan on visiting, bring enough water. There aren’t any facilities, so hike prepared in winter too. Make sure you pack a towel to dry yourself before getting back on the trail.
Where: Goldbug hot springs is located by the town of Salmon, on Highway 93.
Ratings: these hot springs in northern Idaho have gained 4.6 stars, thanks to their lush landscape and the opportunity to camp in the area.
Jerry Johnson Hot Springs
Always in the Clearwater National Forest, these hot springs aren’t too far from Weir Creek. Right on the border with the state of Montana, these hot springs are famous for two reasons: their three pools and the gorgeous hike that leads to them. The trail is 4 km and it is an easy walk, suitable for everyone. Once again, make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
Jerry Johnson is also open all year-round and the winter can be harsh, so bundle up. Whether in deep snow or during the spring, you will hike through a cedar forest and you will find the first pool by the crystal clear creek. The hottest pool is 41° Celsius, perfect if you go in winter. The third pool offers a view of the meadow and of the mountains.
If you stretch your hand, you might reach Montana. While camping is not allowed the trailhead, the Wilderness Gateway Campground isn’t too far from Jerry Johnson hot springs.
Where: you are in the middle of the forest, so instead of a town, add Warm Springs Pack Bridge to your GPS. You will park by the Lochsa River.
Ratings: these hot springs get 4.6 stars thanks to the easy hike and the gorgeous views.
The Resort Mountain Village Resort
This destination is worth the trip and it has an option for every taste. It’s a gorgeous wooden resort, surrounded by snowy peaks that seem endless. The restaurant offers vegetarian options as well as juicy burgers, while the saloon has delicious draft beer. The Velvet Falls Dance Hall is a concert venue and it hosts events, perfect to dance the day away.
And did we mention the hot springs? The Mountain Village Resort has its own steamy and natural pool, which reaches a maximum temperature of 40° Celsius. A small wooden lodge was built around the hot spring, so it’s outside the resort -although only a short walk away. The glass door in front of the spring offers gorgeous views of the landscape and it can be opened, to allow the fresh mountain air in.
The entrance is free for the guests, although it has to be reserved in advance.
Where: the resort is in the town of Stanley, a cute mountain town with original Idaho vibes.
Ratings: the resort has 4.1 stars thanks to its rustic style and, of course, the steamy hot springs.
The Best Hot Springs in Southern Idaho
Southern Idaho is a destination for nature lovers and for people who want to enjoy the outdoors by being active -but also relaxing. The waterfall Mermaid Cove is a popular place for hikers and the many rivers are perfect for kayaks or canoes, like the Snake River.
Pine Flats Hot Springs
Just picture this: a waterfall above a hot spring, by a river and surrounded by lush woods. You have just pictured Pine Flats hot springs. It’s not a joke either. The hike is only 1 km long and it is easy, suitable for all ages. The surrounding forest is a destination for hikers, nature lovers, and birdwatchers. The river is the Payette and the trees are Idaho’s very own Ponderosa pines, a sight to behold.
Once you spot the Payette River, you have reached Pine Flats and their steamy magic. They are located in a campground, so in summer they might get busy. But they are crowded for a reason. Since you are by a river and that the rocks might be slippery, wear comfortable attire.
The area is also a popular destination for water sports such as kayaking and canoes, so you can row your boat and when you are tired enough, soak in the hot springs.
Where: these hot springs are located by the town of Lowman, by the Banks-Lowman Highway.
Ratings: with 4.2 stars, Pine Flats is a destination you can’t miss in southern Idaho.
Bonneville Hot Springs
Right in the gorgeous hearth of the Boise Forest, these hot springs are a paradise for both hikers and relax-seekers. An easy and short hike will take you to the warm pools. You will walk by the Warm Springs Creek with geothermal waters that can warm you both in winter and after a longer hike.
Bonneville Hot Springs are surrounded by a rock wall, which is comfortable to sit. There is also a private cabin with an iron bathtub, featuring hot water piping. To access the trailhead, just walk to the end of the nearby campground. Especially in winter, you can find the warmest water in the private shack.
When visiting, remember that camping around the hot springs isn’t allowed. There are no facilities, so carry all you need with you. And then carry it back home.
Where: near the small town of Lowman, in southern Idaho.
Ratings: Bonneville hot springs isn’t a popular destination, but that doesn’t make them not worth it. They scored 4.2 starts, so they are worth it.
The Resorts Lava Hot Springs
This resort in the town of the conveniently named Lava Hot Springs, has it all. It’s a waterpark as well as a botanical garden (the Sunken Gardens). And, of course, the hot pools. They are mineral pools with a temperature that ranges from 112⁰ down to 102⁰ Fahrenheit, 45°-35° Celsius.
If you are planning on visiting, note that the Lava hot springs are closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving. These are the admission fees for one-time entry:
Ages 2 & Under: $2.00
Ages 3-11: $7.50
Ages 12-59: $6.00
Ages 60+: $5.50
Kids up to 2 years old enter for free.
The rates change for the weekend and during holidays. The resort offers passes too, which can be a good option if you plan on going more than once. One of these passes is the Individual Combination Pass, which gives you access to both the Lava hot springs and the swimming pools. For an extra fee, you can rent towels, swimsuits, and lockers. Outside food and drinks are allowed, but not alcohol.
The resort doesn’t have any lodging facilities, so you might want to stay at the city of Lava, a comfortable ride away.
Where: located in the city of Lava, at 430 East Main Street.
Ratings: this resort scores 4.5 stars because it’s family-friendly as well as the temperatures of the hot springs.
These dreamy hot springs are in the town of Buhl, a winter wonderland during the cold months of Idaho. This resort includes lodgings, SPA services such as massages, and rental kayaks. The Miracle Hot Springs offer both private pools and general pools, with mineral water and all fed by
geothermal springs. The rates for the sole access to the hot springs range from $4 to $10 for the adults. Kids up to 4 years enter for free. One hour in the private pools costs $5.
The accommodations of Miracle Hot Springs are just as fashionable as the pools and the relaxing massages. People who enjoy a luxurious touch during their trip will appreciate the Glamping Domes, which still include commodities such as Heat and AC. If you have more rustic tastes, you can pitch your tent at the camping facilities of the resort.
These hot springs are located in the town of Paradise. Is it just a coincidence? The Trinity hot springs look like heaven, no doubt. The resort includes lodging in hotel rooms, adorable wooden cabins, and a campground.
The warm pools are surrounded by the wild nature of southern Idaho. The temperatures range from 32° to 44° Celsius.
The spring waters are also by the hot springs, full of beneficial minerals -the resort even sells it to visitors.
Guests of the Trinity Hot Springs can also enjoy yoga and meditation classes, as well as the SPA. The SPA offers massages and reflexology treatments too. The membership program allows you special access to all the facilities and it is a way to contribute to the preservation of the hot springs.
Where: you can reach the Trinity Hot Springs at 1020 North Warm Springs Drive,
Ratings: with 4.6 stars, this hot springs in Idaho is appreciated for the wooden cabins and the gorgeous location.
The pools of this resort include: mineral water swimming pools, geo-thermal caves, and outdoor jacuzzis. In the first ones, the temperature varies from 32° to 38° Celsius. In the caves, it gets hotter. The water ranges from 40° to 45° Celsius. Finally, the outdoor jacuzzis of the Indian Hot Springs maintain a steady 42° Celsius. The resort includes private indoor rooms (specifically 11 of them) with hot tubs of 42° Celsius.
At this resort, there are no wooden cabins or tents. The accommodations are typical of a hotel, although they maintain a wooden, warm style. The SPA offers massages, exfoliation treatments, and even a CBD massage -useful against inflammation and pain. Have you forgotten your bathing suit? The gift shop has your back.
Things to remember: pets aren’t allowed and neither is outside food or alcohol. Indian Hot Springs provides an indoor picnic area during the winter from 11am to 3pm.
Where: these hot springs are located at 302 Soda Creek Road.
Ratings: the Indian hot springs score 3 stars since they are a family-friendly destination.
Here we have Idaho indeed, with its natural beauty, the hot springs and one more must: the Dog Bark Park, a bed and breakfast shaped like a giant beagle. And did you know that the statehouse in Boise is geothermally heated from underground hot springs? Truly a state of Gems.
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