Montana has some wonderful hot springs on offer – some in open meadows, others tucked away at the bottom of wooded valleys, all great places to relax and unwind in. Most of the 61 hot springs in this state, or just over the border in Idaho, are commercial- snapped up by developers and families who maintain and develop them into something more than just a soak. But we know that nothing quite beats the feeling of sinking into an all-natural hot springs pool, especially when you’re lucky enough to get it for free and be the only one there!
Check out what we’ve found by way of free and undeveloped hot springs in Montana.
Renova Hot Springs
A small tributary of the Jefferson River offers visitors a unique chance to soak up some warm minerals in a primitive thermal spring called Renova Hot Springs. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity, which also fuels the powerful geysers and heated springs of the nearby Yellowstone National Park.
Renova Hot Springs offers a more secluded and tranquil experience than the commercialized attractions of Yellowstone, however.
The site offers one large permanent pool, built in the early 2000s, and several smaller pools nearby built out of river rock. The source water comes out boiling, cooling as it fills the two pools. The sulfuric smell of the water is noticeable, but don’t let it stop you from experiencing its wonderful healing properties.
Clothing is optional.
Nimrod Hot Springs
The large warm springs lake of Nimrod Hot Springs, nestled in a green valley opposite pine-covered hills and the highway, is the perfect stopover for a rejuvenating soak under the big blue skies of Montana. Added bonuses at this easy-to-access oasis include a waterfall, a cliff to dive from, and a small underwater cave to explore.
The hot springs lake holds an average year-round temperature of 70°F – cooler than many other springs, but nice in the hot summer months.
Clothing is preferred. Opt for thicker bathing suits in cooler seasons.
Upper Potosi Hot Springs
Upper Potosi Hot Springs, not to be confused with Potosi Hot Springs resort, is a primitive rock-edged pool with a sandy-muddy bottom alongside the South Willow Creek. This lovely, simple, sunny 5-person pool sits in the middle of a meadow and is fenced to protect it from cattle. At night, it makes a great spot for star-gazing.
Access the trail through Potosi Campground.
The water usually averages about 99°F. Expect it to look a little murky- the pool is formed through slow, natural seepage, meaning the water doesn’t cycle in/out quickly enough to clear out the silt that bubbles up with the hot water.
Not for spa-seekers, this is as basic and back-to-nature a hot spring as you can get. Enjoy the dirt, because it comes wrapped in healing warm waters.
Clothing is optional.
Landusky is a deep, crystal-clear warm springs summer-soak in the foothills of the Little Rocky Mountains. A quintessential swimming hole, it is off the beaten track (see directions below) and makes for a lovely, secluded soak. The Landusky Plunge is an undeveloped hot spring that maintains a nice swimming temperature of around 77°F.
It is popular with the locals and well cared for by them, so show respect and pack out any picnic supplies you take in.
Directions: From Malta, take the US-191 55 miles south. Turn right on the MT 66 N and go 1.7 miles. Take a right on the Zortman Landusky Cutacross and follow it for 4 miles. Take a left on an unnamed gravel road and follow it NW to reach the plunge.
Clothing required. Bring water sandals for getting in and out of the water over the rocks.
Gigantic Warm Springs
This last one is not free, but is very close to it (at under $5 per person), so we put it here for you to check out anyway.
This perfectly-named and very popular day-use warm springs has been partially developed by the Vanek family, and makes a great destination to head to for a soak-and-picnic with the family and friends on spring or summer days. The banks of the spring offer a partly shaded, grassy area with picnic tables.
The swimming area is 5,000 square feet and gets down to a depth of 14 feet, while the water temperature averages around 68°F. For kids and those not wanting to head too far in, a special “rock pool” offers the perfect place for an easy soak.
Tucked away from most other Montana attractions, Gigantic Warm Springs is claimed to be one of the largest warm springs in the US (some say “in the world”), with 50,000 gallons per minute flowing out of the source.
Open from June through early September, 12 pm to 9 pm.