Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs, also known as Warfield Hot Springs, can be discovered within the Sawtooth National Forest. Soak in a geothermal pool as you admire the beautiful Idaho wilderness and relax under the blue skies. And when those bubbling hot minerals get too much for you, take a dip in the cool of Warm Springs Creek.
|Address||1080 Warm Springs Rd, Ketchum, ID 83340|
|Location||11 miles southwest of Ketchum, Idaho|
|Open||4 am – 10 pm, year-round|
|Road Access||Easy. All vehicles|
|Water Temperature||105 – 110°F|
What To Expect
Best visited in summer and fall (though also claiming a certain kind of magic in winter), Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs boasts three pools of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium-rich waters surrounded by rocks on the banks of the Warm Springs Creek – this means the temperature in the shallow pools can fluctuate (and be controlled by moving the rocks to let in more or less of the river water). It guarantees that whatever your hot spring taste, you’ll be sure to find the perfect spot to relax at just the right temperature for you. Note that the pools can disappear under the water during spring runoff.
There is one warm spring of around 105°F degrees on the road-side of the Creek, and two others which are hotter (at around 124°F) if you wade over to the other side (bring water sandals).
These clean and well-looked-after sandy-bottomed hot springs are 11 miles of beautiful scenic route southwest of Ketchum, 7 miles of which is a bumpy but drivable dirt road, and they are super easy to find, being right next to the road. They also have designated parking, though this means that they are often busy with locals and tourists. Pick your visit time carefully, and if you can, try to get there early morning or on weekdays.
Clothing is a must, according to Idaho law. You can get there at 4 am and stay right through until 10 pm if you have a mind to, as long as other visitors get their turns too! Camping is not allowed near the hot springs, nor are pets. The nearest services (bathrooms and such) are in Ketchum, 11 miles away.
NOTE: Snow and ice sometimes close the Forest Road from October through mid-May (opening day in May depends on the snow level) – check before you go, and if you can’t get there, check out these other great Idaho hot springs worth visiting.
Since going to press with this article, Traxplorio was contacted by the guardians of this beautiful hot springs, Sawtooth National Forest Service, with an understandable request to emphasize the need for guests to pay due respect to the area, pack out what they pack in and LEAVE NO TRACE. They also provided the following useful advice:
- In the winter, the road to the hot springs crosses numerous avalanche paths. We’ve seen people getting stuck out at the hot springs for multiple days due to avalanches blocking the road. Winter road conditions have also proven to be rather treacherous with countless slide-offs each season. There is no cell service available out there.
- In the spring and summer, snow melt from the mountains floods the river, and blows out the hot spring pools. These have to be rebuilt each season and the water levels may not reduce to manageable flows until the end of July.
- When the springs are in play, it is a first-come, first-serve location. The 30–45-minute drive from town can be a letdown when visitors arrive to find there are no available spots to sit. Currently, there is no way to know what crowds, flows, temperature or road conditions are unless someone has been out there on the day.
- For the summer months, we recommend heading to Easley Hot Springs, which is a great experience with much better infrastructure to handle visitors.
The Ketchum area experienced a silver and lead mining boom in the late 1800s, bringing settlers to the Wood River Valley. David Ketchum, a trapper, and guide, had his name chosen by residents to use as the town’s official name. At first, the town served as the supply base for the Wood River mines, but when the price of silver plummeted in 1890, Ketchum became a livestock base for farmers and sheep ranchers instead.
And then there’s the legend of the “Moss Man”. In March 1984, cross-country skiers reported that a man with peeling skin and green moss on his back was living in the mineral hot pool at Frenchman’s Bend. The man, Hailey resident Timothy Hammerbeck, 20, claimed to have been living in the pool for a whopping 28 days. During that time, he left only to drink creek water, drink one beer gifted by a passerby, hallucinated, and scared off quite a few soakers. Doctors later said he lost 60 pounds during his soak. “When we pulled him out, he looked like a boiled chicken wing,” Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said. Hammerbeck, the “Moss Man” said he had stayed in the water because his clothes had frozen to the ground and he was waiting for spring to come so they would thaw. “It’s also possible,” the Moss Man said, “that the drugs had a little influence.”
How To Get There
From Boise, it is 164 miles and a 3-hour 13-minute drive. Follow the I-84 E
to Mountain Home and take a left onto the US-20 E. Take the ID-75 N to Ketchum, and once there, leave the ID-75 at Warm Springs Road heading southwest. The next 10.6 miles will take you around 30 minutes.
From Twin Falls, Idaho, Frenchman’s Hot Springs are around 2 hours and 10 minutes away – 92.2 miles. Take the US-93 north for 24 miles and get on Hwy 75 N in Shoshone. Stay on this for 55 miles until Ketchum, where you’ll find the turning to Warm Springs Road on the left. The hot springs trailhead is 10.6 miles on.
From the parking area, head upstream around a quarter mile – the springs will be on your left (one pool on your side, two more on the other, which you can reach at low water by wading across the creek).
Can I Stay There?
No, as this is a day site only. But there are plenty of campgrounds and primitive locations to choose from in the surrounding Sawtooth National Forest.
One of our favorite options is back in Bellevue, where an idyllic little campground – Kraay’s Market Garden awaits with a spacious field for your tent or RV, picnic tables, and a fire pit. They also have a teepee for rent. The well-kept grounds and greenhouse, friendly hosts, and farm workers are on hand to welcome you. Help collect fresh produce from the greenhouse, play with the dogs, and meet the hens and goats. There is drinking water and a portaloo onsite.
Other Bellevue offerings include cabins, tiny homes, and private rooms. Check them out here.
For hotels with a bit of luxury, your best bet is Twin Falls, where you’ll find Best Western Plus, La Quinta Inn and Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, and Holiday Inn Express, amongst others.
What Else Can I Do In The Area?
Idaho comes packed with everything you could need and love – abandoned ghost towns and gold mines, mountains to hike, birds to spot (among them the Ring-necked Pheasant, Red-tailed Hawk, and Golden Eagle), and rivers full of fish to catch or gently kayak over.
Very worth visiting is the Sawtooth Wilderness for some stunning scenic driving and hiking.
If you’re a history bug, it is definitely worth checking out Ketchum’s Wood River Valley Ore Wagon Museum, where you can learn about Idaho’s role in mining, the Native Americans, mining in general, and agriculture.
If you’re there over the Labor Day weekend, stay in Ketchum for the famous Wagon Days Parade, the “largest non-motorized parade in the Pacific Northwest.” The parade makes feature of the original Lewis Ore Wagons and celebrates the community’s pioneer and mining heritage. If you just can’t get enough of hot springs soaking, though, why not try the primitive, riverside Rocky Canyon Hot Springs in the Boise National Forest? Or Sunbeam Hot Springs in Stanley, a riverside soak right by the highway. Haven Hot Springs offers a huge split-temperature pool and a motel with four rooms, each with its own private 1-2-person mineral water hot tubs. Nearby Kirkham Hot Springs, like Frenchman’s Bend, offers a riverside soak in idyllic mountain surrounds, while Challis Hot Springs offers a quiet and orderly campground for those seeking a longer RnR hot springs break. We’ll definitely be adding more Idaho hot springs soon, so just type “Idaho” in the search bar and see what else there is to explore!
The Dos And Don’ts Of Visiting A Hot Springs
Every hot springs has its own quirks. Visitors to Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs, for example, should be sure to bring water sandals for crossing the creek and should leave their pets at home. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Owners are asked not to bring their pets to the area.
No camping is allowed near the Frenchman’s Hot Springs. There are primitive campgrounds in the area as well as cabins and hotels to stay in.
The mineral water at Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs varies between 105 – 110°F.
In March 1984, drug-induced Hailey resident Timothy Hammerbeck, 20, was pulled from the hot springs by local sheriffs after living in the pool for 28 days, during which time he left only to drink creek water, drink one beer gifted by a passerby, hallucinated, and scared off quite a few soakers. Hammerbeck, the “Moss Man” said he had stayed in the water because his clothes had frozen to the ground and he was waiting for spring to come so they would thaw.
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!