Hot Springs With Kids – A Guide For Parents Of Little Hot-Springers

I’ve taken my kids to various hot springs – both commercial resorts and the wilder variety. I’ve also been hot-springing on my own, and while I understand all the challenges that come with traveling and vacationing with little people, I also know what it’s like to be on the receiving end if you aren’t traveling with kids yourself. This blog is going to offer some suggestions on keeping your kids safe and happy while hot springing, and how to keep others without kids from complaining when your little ones start enjoying themselves.

Mary Burton with her children at Boat Box Hot Springs

Mutual Respect

Most people go to hot springs to take a break from the urban grind and daily routine. They tend to go to non-commercial (undeveloped) hot springs to relax and escape in the quiet of nature. As such, our noisy, happy, screamy, splashy kids might not be welcome. Let’s respect their quiet and teach our kids to do the same. If someone else is in the pool when you arrive, politely ask if you can join them, or get a realistic time for when they will get out and let you and your brood into the water. 

Alternatively, we have the option of heading for a family-friendly noisy, happy, screamy, splashy commercial hot springs and swimming pool, such as the ones at Lava Hot Springs, Downata Hot Springs, and Crystal Crane Hot Springs. These were made for kiddie fun and often have facilities designed just for them – so that they get their mineral soak while playing or sliding! Beware, though, that even these locations might have rules and time-limits in place to satisfy all guest demands. Read up on these on the Policies and FAQs pages of the commercial springs’ websites before you go. We at Traxplorio link directly to the relevant pages when we write up hot springs, to help ease your planning!

Temperature Control

First concern – the temperature! If you’re visiting a non-commercial hot springs, check the water temperature with your elbow before getting in. If it’s anything like McCredie Hot Springs in Oregon, there may well be hot pockets where the magma-heated water bubbles up into the pool, which can burn bare feet. Consider investing in some water sandals – it also makes it safer when the kiddos start clambering over the rocks and splashing through the creeks (and as protection against trash previous visitors may have left behind)!

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children soak in water temperatures between 98 and 102°F for a maximum of 15 minutes before coming away to cool down. With my restless kids, this is rarely a problem, though if yours is the calm type, you should keep an eye on the time. Also, be sure that everyone is keeping their water levels up. It’s possible to dehydrate in hot springs, leading to a headache, dry mouth, and a rapid heartbeat. If you or your kids experience any of these symptoms, get out, cool down, and drink clean water, tea, or juice, and even consider calling it a day.

Nude Or Not?


I haven’t taken my kids to places where it’s “clothing optional,” though, to be honest, it’s not something I’m against as such, just cautious about. I’ve heard tales about voyeurs and men indecently exposing themselves or behaving inappropriately around other guests. But that can happen in any walk of life – and we can choose to teach our kids to deal with it responsibly, to walk away, to report it, and to be safe. Or, of course, we can totally avoid any hot springs labeled as “clothing optional” so that our little ones are not exposed to nudity at all. It’s a matter of personal choice and parental responsibility to make sure our children’s personal space and comfort are being respected.

Source: saltproject

Keeping It Comfortable And Fun

I’ve been well-aware when my kids are splashing in commercial pools or running around being noisy, and have always done my best to teach them to be respectful of others and of the vibe around them. Again, this is on us parents. If visiting a commercial pool, you should read the resort’s official website’s Policy and FAQs page, respect the zoning if there is any (separating little soakers from adults, for example, such as at Quinn’s Hot Springs), and pay attention to any special hour limitations, where after a certain time in the evening, children are not allowed (or advised) to soak. There may also be rules about what pool toys they can use in there – so be sure to check this out too (noodles, at the very least, are usually a safe bet).

Safe From Germs

Lava Hot Springs.

When it’s a natural pool, I make sure my kids keep their heads above water to avoid dreaded bacteria, such as Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that thrives in warm freshwater and can travel up the nose and into the brain, causing the disease Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). If water gets up their noses, we rinse immediately with clean water. And we always rinse our bodies off after leaving the water (and go in clean, too, where possible!) so as to avoid getting rashes or infections from dirty water that may contain something from previous and less respectful soakers, or from animals that visit the pool – you never know!

Keep It Clean For Others

Encourage your kids to leave no trace.

My kids know not to litter, and they know the reasoning behind “Leave No Trace” – I’ve taught them to respect the environment and care for it not just for their own benefit but for those that come after them. In hot springs, it’s important for the mineral balance in the pools not to use soap or bubbles. You can also encourage your little hot-soakers not to stir up the sediment on the bottom of the hot springs so as to keep the water clean.

We pack out what we pack in, we pick up some trash before we go if we can, we don’t take glass to hot springs pools, and if we go with a friend with a pup, they know she should pick up after him too! These are all things you can teach your kids too. It’s their world as much as the next person’s, and it should be kept clean and tidy and no trace left!


  • Plan before you go. Read official sites, FAQs, and reviews written by previous visitors regarding water temperature, water content, bacteria levels, wildlife, landslide or avalanche risks, and other hazards in the area.
  • Pay attention to warning signs posted near or on the site – they are there to guide you. Set a good example for the kids and follow the rules yourself.
  • Don’t leave designated boardwalks or trails.
  • Don’t get in a hot springs pool without checking the temperature with your elbow first.
  • Stay hydrated (drink plenty of water!) and don’t sit too long in a hot spring pool – listen to your body! If your heart is beating fast or you feel drowsy or dizzy, get out and cool off fast.
  • Keep pets on a leash, or leave them at home. If they run into a pool that is hot, try to get them out without risking your own life.
  • Don’t visit very hot springs (such as Yellowstone) with your kids. If you do, keep them close!
  • Don’t drink alcohol in or near a hot springs pool.
  • Don’t take glass to a hot springs pool.
  • Don’t do your doo within 200 feet of a water source.
  • Pack out your trash – LEAVE NO TRACE!

For more Hot Springs Etiquette, check out our article here.

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