Seeing as Idaho is a state that boasts some of the highest numbers of hot springs in the US, narrowing that amount down to just 10 was a challenge to say the least. With such a big number (100+) comes a lot of soaking diversity which includes pools of numerous shapes, forms, temperatures, purposes and properties. However, we’re positive that this list of the best hot springs in Idaho gives you an idea of what to expect.
This list includes all-natural as well as commercialized hot springs fit for all kinds of budgets and personal outdoor preferences, and considering that springs in Idaho are in abundance and soaking opportunities are plenty, there won’t be a single expectation left unmet.
1. Trail Creek Hot Springs
Tucked at the base of Trail Creek *shocker* in the midst of the most picturesque mountainous scenery and thick blankets of snow is Trail Creek Hot Springs, often considered as “Idaho at its finest.”
Trail Creek Hot Springs operates all-year-round and consists of two rock-walled, gravel and sand bottomed pools. The temperature at the source is 125°F which is almost hell-hot, but you can adjust the temperature to your liking via means of a PVC pipe.
Accessibility is pretty hard – with no way to get to the place unless you drive a high clearance car and complete a few-miles hike to reach the springs. The conditions are extra tricky during winter, yet for most people it’s worth the hassle seeing as Trail Creek Hot Springs is a lot more breathtaking when it’s surrounded by endless blankets of snow. However, you gotta look on the bright side: the less accessible the spring, the less crowded it is. So, if you plan well and are careful enough, you’ll be just fine.
Trail Creek Hot Springs is one of the best destinations for those who love the outdoors and don’t shy away from a challenge.
2. Rocky Canyon Hot Springs
Next up we have Rocky Canyon Hot Springs, which is for those looking for a quick soak in an accessible environment. One might consider this a bit of a downgrade after the hidden oasis that is Trail Creek HS, but Rocky Canyon is still considered one of the treasures of Boise National Forest with its three shallow pools and trademark rustic charm formed by the surrounding greenery.
These small rock-walled pools are constructed by the locals and situated next to each other right next to Middle Fork Payette River. The highest temperature can reach 100°F. If it gets too hot for you, seeing as the river is right there, you can alternate between hot n’ cold plunges with no problem.
Even though these springs are located just off the road and have relatively easy access, they’re not crowded. The only challenge on your way to Rocky Canyon Hot Springs is a freezing cold river that you need to cross that adds a sparkle of adventure, but even so you should take all necessary precautions because the flow is pretty strong and the bottom is slippery.
Rocky Canyon Hot Springs is a great apres-hiking destination to unwind after exploring the wonders of Boise National Forest. Considering that it even gives its visitors a taste of challenge and adventure, visiting Rocky Canyon HS may be a pretty memorable experience for adrenaline junkies too.
3. Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs
When you look at Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs, you almost get the same vibes as Trail Creek Hot Springs with its snow capped landscapes and forest scenery. But unlike Trail Creek it’s not that hard to find, but is definitely treacherous to get to in certain months.
These 3 thermal pools – the temperature ranging between 105°F-125°F – are situated next to the riverbank, surrounded by big rock walls and boulders amidst the natural forest landscapes. With the river stretching along the springs, visitors have a chance to regulate the water temperature to their liking by rearranging the rocks and letting as much of the cool water in as they prefer.
Additionally, seeing as Frenchman’s Bend is located right off the road, it’s always frequented by guests. If you’re not smart about when you visit, you’ll most probably find the place crowded. You can check out tips on how to avoid crowds.
Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs is a tricky one when it comes to planning and accessibility. There’s lots to take into consideration when you prep. It’s essential to remember that according to Idaho law, wearing swimsuits is a must.
You also need to be very cautious of the weather and road conditions. Always double check those details before you visit because even though the springs are easy to find, they’re hard to get to due to its location.
4. Kirkham Hot Springs
Don’t be swayed and fooled by Kirkham’s appearance. Just because it’s located on all-natural, rocky land along the Payette River, doesn’t mean there’s not an admission fee of $5 to pay. Well, what can you do?
As one of Idaho’s most famous and popular geothermal springs, Kirkham Hot Springs – its source reaching a boiling 120°F – has been a visitor-magnet for some time now. With its campground (currently closed so keep an eye out for updates) and numerous pools of adjustable temperatures, we’d say that Kirkham is rightfully holding onto its position. The top attraction of the place, however, is a dripping waterfall cascading over an algae-laden boulder and straight into the thermal pool that creates a picture a lot similar to what you’d see in Buckeye Hot Springs.
Kirkham Hot Springs is easy to get to, easy to find and is a good way of socializing with fellow hot springs lovers.
5. Boat Box Hot Springs
Ever wondered what it would be like to soak in a metal cauldron next to the Salmon River, right off the road for anyone to see? You probably haven’t but that’s exactly what you’ll get if you visit Boat Box Hot Springs.
This big thermal ‘pot’ is one of the most unique springs (to say the least) not only in the state of Idaho, but in the entire country, and it isn’t because of some creative infrastructure or unusual healing properties, but simply because it’s literally just a big pot filled with all-natural, 110°F thermal waters. So you really should keep an open mind while visiting this one.
Don’t think that you’ll be safe from the crowds due to the unusual appearance of these springs. If anything, you’ll be overwhelmed by them because it’s extremely accessible, 100% natural, with easily adjustable temperatures and is simply a local favorite, so naturally it gets a lot of foot traffic.
6. Lava Hot Springs
A collection of thermal pools and an aqua park is the combination we never knew we needed and is exactly what you’ll find at Lava Hot Springs, on top of the olympic size lap pool, indoor pool and four thermal pools of varying shapes, sizes and temperatures that range between 102°F-112°F. Surprisingly enough, there’s no sulfurous odor present in these mineral-rich hot springs.
Lava Hot Springs – or more officially Lava Hot Springs Olympic Swimming Complex – requires an average admission of $8-$12. Expect a lot of crowds especially during sunny months when outdoor lap pools and the aqua park open. Also keep in mind that this is a very family-friendly facility, so expect visitors of all ages.
7. Silver Creek Plunge
Family, entertainment, rusticity and adventure. That’s what Silver Creek Plunge tucked deep in Boise National Forest is about. There you will find numerous back-country-style accommodation options, a thermal pool big enough for a couple of dozen people and overall friendly vibes with fellow visitors. It’s also very conveniently located close to Garden Valley National Center which is a great camping option for those who prefer traveling with tents.
The thermal pool at Silver Creek Plunge maintains 180,000 gallons of geothermal water with the source ranging between 102°F-104°F. However, the water in the pool exits at a comfortable 97°F which is perfect for those who aren’t exactly fond of the typical hot springs heat.
Average admission rate is $8-$12
Keep in mind that clothing is required. If you love soaking nude, then Silver Creek Plunge may not be the place for you.
8. Jerry Johnson Hot Springs
Jerry Johnson Hot Springs – just like Kirkham – is one of the most frequented and generally famous springs in the state, which is often visited by locals and tourists alike. It’s college kids’ favorite getaway because it’s relatively easy to find and get to, consisting of three sand-and-gravel bottomed pools surrounded by small rock walls. If we don’t include the heavy traffic, JJs could really be rejuvenation at its finest, considering the alpine environment the pools are nestled into. It’s just tall pine trees and bushes all around.
The average spring temperature is 100°F-115°F and is only 3 feet deep.
Note that the visitor-favorite waterfall pool submerges in May until the spring run-off is over, but the other two pools will be available.
For guest convenience, you’ll also find a campground near JJ Hot Springs, costing $14 per night.
9. Weir Creek Hot Springs
Perched on a rocky ledge that overlooks Weir Creek is one of the treasures of Clearwater National Forest known as Weir Creek Hot Springs. This mud-and-gravel-bottomed thermal pool built into a man-made square rock wall boasts a temperature of 100°F-105°F and is wide enough to accommodate almost a dozen people. It doesn’t stop there, though. Several shallow and cooler pools are also scattered around the area giving visitors the opportunity to alternate between hot and cold soaks, and with Weir Creek situated at the base of the main pool, you’ll be able to regulate the heat just fine.
However, just because Weir Creek Hot Springs is tucked among beautiful pine trees and overall, scenic atmosphere, it doesn’t mean that the place can’t get crowded. In fact, this is another college kid favorite. So be careful about when you visit.
10. Durfee Hot Springs
If you’re looking for something fancy and glamorous, then we’ll tell you straight away that Durfee Hot Springs is not for you. The main appeal of this establishment is where it’s situated and how convenient it is for travelers coming back from outdoor adventures. If you’re finishing up your journey to either City of Rocks National Reserve or Castle Rocks State Park, Durfee Hot Springs is the place to end your explorations. This charming and unpretentious facility is here to serve one purpose only: to rejuvenate the sore bodies of adrenaline junkies.
Obviously, Durfee is also very much loved and cherished by the local community, which is evident by the crowds and customer loyalty.
There you’ll find numerous soaking options wide and big enough to comfortably accommodate dozens of visitors. The average temperature is 104°F and the admission fee for adults is $9.
The Do’s & Don’ts
Every hot spring has its own quirks and a set of rules that we all need to follow. We need to be extra careful and self-conscious when it comes to non-commercialized springs, seeing as it’s up to us to preserve their beauty and properties. For more general and very important “hot springs etiquette,” we highly recommend you take a moment to check out our carefully compiled easy-to-read list of “dos and don’ts” here. And always, always respect our nature – pack out what you pack in and LEAVE NO TRACE.
As you can see, there’s an abundance of geothermal waters in the state of Idaho courtesy of its advantageous geological location. Idaho is home to a lot more springs than what made the list here (some of them aren’t even soakable), but we are positive that these options present a good enough picture to at least give you an idea of what kind of springs you’ll come across in this state. And because of its diverse range, visitors can definitely find multiple thermal springs matching their preferences.
So now all you need to do is plan, sit back, relax and immerse yourself in the riches of the best hot springs in Idaho.
While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about these hot springs sites, life happens, weather happens, and property owners happen. We always recommend you go to the official hot springs’ web page and/or the relevant state authority page to check conditions, times, and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your soak!