You’ll feel the stress drain away as soon as you step foot on this Idaho property. The clean, refreshing, and superbly maintained Challis Hot Springs (also known as the Beardsley Hot Springs) is ideal for families, couples, and groups of friends looking for somewhere civilized and quiet to really get back to nature. The two man-made, fenced-in clearwater pools are pebble-bottomed and geothermally heated, and the views beyond those pools are simply stunning. Watch the eagles soar over the rugged and colorful Idaho hills, enjoy the sun as it sets in bursts of red and gold across the Salmon River, and then let the stargazing begin…
|5025 Hot Springs Road, Challis, Idaho
|Near Challis, Idaho, on the Salmon River
|Summer: 8 am – 9 pm, Winter: Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, Wed. & Thurs. 9 am-12 pm & 4 pm-8 pm, Fridays- 9 am-12 pm & 4 pm-9 pm, Saturday-9 am-9 pm, Sunday-9 am-6 pm
|Easy. All vehicles
|100 – 107°F
|$10 Day Pass, or included in the price of an overnight stay
What To Expect
Challis Hot Springs is a 5th generation, family-owned property sitting peacefully in the green surrounds of Round Valley, Idaho, on the bank of the Salmon River.
They offer two hot springs. The larger of the two is a fenced-in, clearwater, man-made pool with a pebble bottom that is perfect for easing those aching feet after a long day’s exploring. The pool is 100 x 30 feet in size and three to four feet deep- plenty big enough to share and to float away your worries! It is kept (with a touch of help and cool water from the property owners), at a temperature of 96°F in summer and 98-100°F in winter. The smaller hot mineral water pool is 25 x 18 feet, four feet deep, also pebble-bottomed, and is kept at around 105°F. Both open-air pools are fed from an underground geothermal source that sees the odorless water bubbling up through the ground in a continuous circulation of fresh water.
You can visit for the day ($10/day – guests can soak, leave to explore and come back to soak again, all on the same day pass), or stay and relax a while on the property’s beautiful, tree-shaded RV and tent campground on the bank of the Salmon River.
Its riverside location makes Challis Hot Springs an ideal spot to launch your kayak or raft from or to head off from on an ATV or fishing adventure, or as a peaceful “home” to come back to after a hike under the trees for some wildlife spotting. Among the surrounding hills, you might be lucky enough to spot playful wild sheep, quiet deer grazing, or Golden Eagles and Red-tailed hawks navigating the thermals. If you’re looking for more inspiring hot springs in Idaho, head on over to our list of the “bests.”
Check the POOL RULES before you go.
The first inhabitants of the Challis area were Native Americans, who came for the plentiful hunting and fishing opportunities, as well as for the same reason you’re heading there- the natural hot springs!
Then along came white men in 1822, first with Michael Bourdon and his fur-trapping party, then traders, cattlemen, and ranchers, who settled in the valley.
In 1873, gold was discovered and led to a mining boom and the foundation of the local town – in 1876, Alvah P. Challis laid out the town as a supply depot for three mining camps and the nearby cattle ranches. While many of the mining camps eventually became ghost towns, Challis is still with us to this day.
Today’s Challis Hot Springs was homesteaded in 1880 by 40-year-old Robert Currie Beardsley, who had come down from Canada to work in Custer’s Bayhorse mining district. In 1877, he partnered with Wm J. Scott to develop the Beardsley Mine. After selling out for a profit, he decided he wanted to stay in the area. On seeing the hot springs and surroundings, Beardsley filed to homestead 40 acres and the water rights to the springs. Over time, and once married, he built a sawmill and a house/hotel and started the process of developing the hot springs, which were at the time named Beardsley Hot Springs. To read more about the history of the site and how it changed and developed over time, click here.
How To Get There
The nearest big town to Challis Hot Springs is Idaho Falls (Idaho), some 150 miles (2.5 hours) away. From Idaho Falls, take Hwy 20 W and drive the 2h19 minutes (143 miles) needed along US-93 N to get to Hot Springs Rd (a right turn) in Custer County. Follow Hot Springs Rd and Challis Hot Springs Rd (with some right-left turns) all the way to your destination.
Can I Stay There?
Yes. You can visit for the day ($10 pass) or stay on the property’s beautiful RV and tent campground which rests on the bank of the Salmon River and features mature trees for shade and irrigated grass sites.
|RV (50 amp)
|$43 / night (2 guests)*
|RV (30 amp)
|$40 / night (2 guests)*
|RV Dry camping (no power or hookups)
|$35 / night (2 guests)**
|$29 / night (2 guests)
|Each additional guest age 6+
|$10 / night
*RV sites are also allowed one tent per site. The maximum number of guests per site is 8 in the main campground.
**Use of a dumpsite and access to fill your freshwater holding tanks are included. Use of generators is allowed until 10 pm.
All the Challis Hot Springs campsites come with a fire ring and picnic table. You can buy wood at the office for $5 / per bundle and kindling for $3 / per bundle.
To book your spot, call 208-879-4442.
Beyond the commercial campground is the option to stay in a remodeled 1930s cabin. Check out TripAdvisor for more details and to book.
A message from managers Mike and Shana: “Many of our guests are third-generation families who have been camping at the Springs since the late sixties. Most of our other guests are referred to us by past or current guests. If you’re looking for a commercial campground with paved sites packed together, clubhouses, staff in uniforms leading you to your site on golf carts, and numerous entertainment opportunities, then our campground isn’t for you. Please do not come to the Challis Hot Springs to camp if you want to play loud music and party all night. If, on the other hand, you want to camp, enjoy a campfire with family, walk on a beautiful trail in the trees, listen to the river, and relax with the family in crystal clear, refreshing hot water, then this is the place.”
What Else Can I Do In The Area?
Ghost towns abandoned gold mines, mountain ranges to hike and rivers chock-full of salmon, steelhead, and trout to fish in or kayak on- all within an hour’s drive of the Challis Hot Springs. Guests can ride ATVs from the campground along numerous scenic ATV trails and gravel tracks. Add to that horseback riding and birdwatching, and we’d say there’s just about something for everyone here!
Spot The Birds…
June is the top bird-watching month, and if there at this time, you’ll likely see Long-billed Curlew, Ring-necked Pheasant, Red-tailed Hawk, Golden Eagle, Osprey, and American Dipper on your walks around.
Go Ghost Hunting…
The historic town of Custer was one of the most important mining towns in the Yankee Fork. It is now a “ghost town,” and is free to visit year-round. Custer was founded in early 1879 by gold speculators and lasted 31 years, with a peak population of 600, before being abandoned.
(Try Not To) Disappear In The Wilderness…
For brave explorers, there is the “Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness,” offering over 2 million acres of white water, deep canyons, and rugged mountains.
Or Go To Another Hot Spring!
If you just can’t get enough of hot spring simplicity, why not try the primitive, riverside Rocky Canyon Hot Springs in the Boise National Forest? Or Sunbeam Hot Springs, a riverside soak just outside Stanley and right next to the highway!
Challis Hot Springs is the perfect getaway for those seeking peace after a day’s adventurin’, fishing, or hiking. It’s ideal for families and couples, who will love both the warm welcome from the 5th generation owners, and a warm soak in the pebble-bottomed mineral pools.
The Dos And Don’ts Of Visiting A Hot Springs
Every hot springs has its own quirks. Visitors to Challis Hot Springs, for example, should respect the rules of the site, as it is definitely a family-oriented location that thrives on quiet and cleanliness. 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.
Challis Hot Springs is owned by the 5th generation of owners (Beardsley – Hammond), Kate Taylor of Challis and Mary Elizabeth Connor of Boise. Currently, the two sisters run the family business with the help of Mike Williams and his wife Shana, who have been with the business since 2014.
No, the Challis Hot Springs pools are set back from the Salmon River. Both the mineral water pool surrounds are man-made, fenced-in, and drained and cleaned daily.
Challis is famous for its old mining towns and incredible nature – from mountain trails to fishing rivers and hot springs.
Idaho is home to hundreds of ancient, dormant volcanoes which once generated the lava rock that trapped millions of gallons of water in the region. That water, heated by the earth, bubbles up to the surface and creates the hot springs we know and love.
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!