A steamy, rocky wonderland awaits you down the hill, through the trees, and over the bridge just beyond the highway parking lot. Follow the steps and easy trail down toward the sound of waterfalls, and take a moment to appreciate the sight of the steaming water-smoothed rocks of the Payette River, many of which house blue mineral water pools waiting to refresh you. If you can stand the heat, take a shower in the hot springs waterfall, and if it’s too much – there’s always the cold river to dip into!
With its blue skies above, luscious pines towering over and the jade river flowing through, Kirkham Hot Springs promises an amazing and rejuvenating experience you don’t want to miss…and it’s one of many on our list of hot springs in Idaho we’d say the same about, so click, check them out, and get soaking!
|ID-21, Lowman, Idaho, 83637
|Past Lowman, Idaho, on the Payette River
|7 am – 9 pm, year-round
|Easy. All vehicles
|95 to 110°F
|$5 / vehicle per day
What To Expect
The popular Kirkham Hot Springs is just off the ID-21. In season, there’s a parking lot where you’ll pay $5 for the day. Off-season- park by the highway. Walk through the (currently closed) campground to the bridge at the end. This will take you to the downward trail- a wooden staircase that leads you to the jade-colored Payette River and its wonderland of hot springs and waterfalls. There are pools of various temperatures and depths in the area, the biggest ones being those you see first before you get to the river. Some of the pools have formed naturally in the rock over centuries; others have been laid out near the river using stones that can be moved to let more cold water in if you’re finding your mineral soak too warm.
This is a family-friendly place, and, from around 11.30 am in the summer months, it will fill up with kids clambering over the rocks, college students and friends out for some fun and cliff-jumping, and rafters taking a break on their way past. If you prefer to peacefully absorb the forest environs (and maybe get a chance to see some deer!), you’d best get there early morning, or take a chance and go in the evening. Note, they are only open until 9 pm, and as the campground was shut by the state due to noise, rubbish, and general disrespect of nature – there will be patrols checking on the spot out of hours!
Sit and soak in the sandy and gravel-bottomed pools, shower under the steaming hot springs water as it flows off the rock above (check before going under: the temperature at the source is 120°F!), slide down the rocks, swim in the river, or get some adrenaline going by trying some cliff jumping (feet first for safety!) on the opposite side of the river. Just remember to bring some water sandals with you as, while a lot of the rocks are worn smooth, others can be sharp or slippery. The Payette River also has plenty of kayaking, whitewater rafting, and trout fishing opportunities to check out before or after your soak.
In terms of the best time of year to go…well, that depends on your taste, because it’s great in all seasons! Summer will always be busy, noisier, and full of fun-seekers; the spring and fall will be quieter and beautifully scenic; in the winter snow, you’ll get a true “wonderland” experience. Take your pick!
How To Get There
Kirkham Hot Springs is 79 miles (under two hours) northeast of Boise, Idaho. You have two options for getting there. The scenic route is to take the ID-55 N to Banks, and from there turn East onto the Banks Lowman Rd which follows the Payette River through the Boise National Forest. When you get to ID-21, turn North. You’ll find the Kirkham Hot Springs 4.1 miles away on the right.
The shorter and slightly faster option from Boise is to head north-east to Idaho City on the ID-21 (Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route) and stay on the ID-21 for the 38 miles (1 hour) further journey past Lowman to the Kirkham Hot Springs on your right
Can I Stay There?
The Kirkham Hot Springs campground, which in any case was seasonal, was closed by the US Forest Service a few years ago due to littering and mistreatment. We’ve not heard when (or if) it will be reopening. The parking lot has also been closed, but you can park alongside the highway and walk through the site to the springs.
If you’re looking to camp, you can head to Haven Hot Springs just up the road nearer Lowman, where you’ll find tent sites and RV sites with full hookups. There are also simple motel rooms there, each with its own mineral water hot tubs, and there’s a large split-temperature hot springs pool in the back, too, for guests to share or book for private use.
There are also numerous hotels, cabins, and other accommodation options available in the area – check out Boise, Idaho City, and Stanley.
Among our favorites is this clean, fresh, open-plan Luxury Vacation Home in the heart of Boise, and this cabin in Stanley boasts a riverside yard with views of Idaho’s renowned Sawtooth Mountains. Alternatively, check out the best Idaho City options here.
What Else Can I Do In The Area?
The Boise National Forest is packed full of natural sights to appreciate and offers something for everyone. Whether you’re into rafting, hiking, fishing, motorcycles, horses, or bicycles – the well-maintained access roads, trails, and rivers are a real treat to discover. Why not hike Alice Lake for an unbeatable view of Idaho’s famed Sawtooth Mountains?
We recommend other nearby hot springs, too. Check out the rustic Rocky Canyon Hot Springs with its multiple cascading pools and natural greenery, Trail Creek Hot Springs “the gem of the northwest” on the other side of the Boise National Forest, and the laidback Haven Hot Springs, just along the road from Kirkham Hot Springs.
And don’t forget to check out the towns of Boise and Stanley to soak up some local vibes, too!
The key to getting the most out of the Kirkham Hot Springs is to time it right. Early morning (from 7 am) or early evening (from 7 pm) are the quietest times, especially off-season (spring and fall), as during the day it can get crowded and noisy. Choose your water carefully, as those pools closest to the source are extremely hot; those closer to the river are cooler. And bring along some water sandals to make clambering all those river rocks all the easier!
The Dos And Don’ts Of Visiting A Hot Springs
Every hot springs has its own quirks. Visitors to Kirkham Hot Springs, for example, should wear water sandals and choose their timing to suit the experience they want – early morning quiet or mid-afternoon fun and noise. 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
Kirkham Hot Springs is in central Idaho, on the ID-21, near Lowman.
It takes less than two hours to drive the 79 miles from Boise to the Kirkham Hot Springs.
The Kirkham Hot Springs source is 120°F, and the numerous pools the water flows into range from 95 to 110°F.
Yes, clothing is optional at Kirkham Hot Springs. This is a popular destination for families, though, and some pools are visible from the highway, so use your discretion.
While the Kirkham Hot Springs is pet-friendly, you should keep your pets close, as some sections of the water are up to 120°F and can burn.
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!