Just off the highway, this warm spring lake, nestled in a green valley opposite pine-covered hills, is the perfect stopover for a relaxing soak among the rolling hills of Montana, under blue skies, and with a waterfall to complete your rejuvenating oasis.
With the added bonus of a cliff to dive from and a cave to explore, this easy-to-access hot springs has space to spare for locals and tourists alike wanting to swim or picnic with family and friends.
|Location||Near Missoula, Montana|
|Address||At the end of Drummond Frontage Rd, Bryne, Montana 59825|
|Road Access||No direct access. Park and walk 0.5 miles on a dirt/gravel track|
|Water temperature||Around 70°F|
|Clothing||Preferred. Choose thicker bathing suits in cooler seasons|
|Climate||Summers in Montana are short, hot, dry, and mostly clear and the winters are snowy, windy, and partly cloudy. Annual temperatures vary from 20°F to 90°F|
What to expect
Nimrod Hot Springs is an undeveloped, natural hot spring lake located in Bryne, Montana. With unspoiled clear waters continuously topped up by a waterfall running down from the geothermal source in the rocky hill above, the lake holds an average year-round temperature of 70°F – cooler than many other springs, but very welcome in the hot summer months, and even enjoyable in early spring and late fall.
This peaceful, natural, and mineral-rich spring has not been commercialized, which means there are no changing, bathroom, or other facilities – so make sure you go prepared with food, water, and other bathing supplies.
The lake is big and deep, which means that when the local college kids hit the area come late June, you’ll still be able to find your own space to soak by the shoreline or swim into the deep.
If you’re the adventurous type, grab your scuba gear and head down into Nimrod’s famous underwater cave. It’s not far out, not too deep, and has a rope you can use to pull yourself up inside. Still, you should keep in mind that this is a non-commercial spring and you are responsible for your own safety there.
If diving doesn’t take your fancy, what about the thrill of some cliff jumping? It’s certainly deep enough! Or take along your kayak for some practice on the still, clear water.
More on that famous cave
If you’re a confident swimmer and came with scuba gear, you might want to check out the Nimrod Hot Spring underwater cave. Swim under the cliff face next to the waterfall and pop up a few feet away inside the cave. It’s not a huge cavern, but it is a quirky feature of the spring, so perhaps worth adding to your “I’ve done it!” list if you’re brave and able. If you can’t or don’t want to see the cave, check out this video for an online peek at what’s down there.
Will it be busy?
As it’s one of the US’s cooler hot springs, summer is the peak season. It is particularly popular with the college crowd, who tend to flood the area in June-July.
Winter will guarantee you more privacy, but due to the low temperature of the water, a winter visit is not recommended!
Legend has it that the Nimrod Hot Springs were used by Native Americans, its being in close proximity to a medicine tree used by the Salish and other local tribes. More recently, it was home to the Bryne Resort and Pool from the 1930s through the 1960s, closed when the Interstate was built. “The Byrne Resort was built in 1930, the resort was home to a cafe, gas station and store. A 25 x 60 foot swimming pool was blasted out of solid rock next to the warm springs,” – montanahotsprings.net claims. No trace remains of any of the above today, but some say the Nimrod spring was warmer before the construction of the Interstate.
The land has been owned and cared for by the Czorny family for over 60 years.
How to get there
The Nimrod Hot Springs is 34 minutes (34.6 miles) east of the town of Missoula on the I-90.
Whether you’re headed east or west, you need to get off the I-90 interstate at the Barmouth exit, mile 138. The Nimrod Hot Springs is on the north side of the interstate. Head north towards the Drummond Frontage Road (the old highway before the I-90 was built), and turn left at the bend when you see the ‘Fishing Access’ sign. The parking lot is around 1500 feet when you follow the road parallel to the I-90. A concrete barrier will prevent vehicle traffic from going further than allowed, and it’s on foot for around half a mile from there, following the old highway tarmac, then down, curving right away from the freeway and back left towards it – at which point, you’ll see the lake ahead of you. You have to go past it on your left (the hot springs are on your right) before you hit the gravel path leading down to it – keep your eyes open for another concrete barrier and pop under the fence onto that gravel path.
The above parking option is the safer option for your car. Other sites suggest parking after the guard rail near the springs on the verge of the interstate, so as to avoid the walk, but there are plenty of No Parking signs warning against it, so it’s not recommended.
Check out Reddit poster u/denomark’s map of the Drummond Frontage Road access trail here.
Can I stay there?
The land is privately owned, and, while the hot springs are open to all 24/7, there is no accommodation there and camping is not allowed. Instead, consider checking in to Missoula, a half-hour drive away (west on the I-90). There is a range of hotels and guest houses available. We recommend the breakfast-inclusive Holiday Inn Express & Suites Missoula Northwest or the characterful C’mon Inn with its wooden balconies and courtyard hot tub.
Check out Booking’s Top 10 stays in Missoula here.
What else can I see in the area?
The area around Missoula has tons to see and do for all the family, whatever their tastes- from parks to playgrounds, breweries to museums. Check out the Dragon Hollow Play Area with its hand-made “Carousel for Missoula” – the result of 100,000 hours of volunteer wood crafting, and the Garnet Ghost Town, a 19th century abandoned mining town and one of Montana’s best preserved “ghost towns,” where you can take a tour down into the mines. If you’re staying in the area longer, set yourself to exploring the miles of available trails at the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. Offering some 61,000 acres of glaciated topography, it is ideal for flora and fauna lovers. On your walks, you may well spot elk, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, and grizzly bears. Bird-watchers can find over 40 bird species there, including woodpecker, grey owl, ruffed grouse, and American dipper.”?
Frequently Asked Questions
The Nimrod Hot Springs are 34 minutes (34.6 miles) east of the town of Missoula on the I-90.
Whether you’re headed east or west, you need to get off the I-90 interstate at the Barmouth exit, mile 138. The Nimrod Hot Springs is on the north side of the interstate. Head north towards Drummond Frontage Road.
Either take a risk and park next to it on the verge of the Interstate or follow the instructions above to get to the safe and designated parking lot and walk there.
Winter will guarantee you more privacy, but due to the low temperature of the water (around 70°F), a winter visit is not recommended!
While not among the most luxurious of hot spring destinations, lacking as it does the spa amenities, the beautiful Nimrod Hot Springs makes an ideal spot to head to for those seeking a rustic, natural environment to chill out in on the way to or from Montana’s top sights.
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!