Sunbeam Hot Springs: Soak Your Cares Away

Idaho’s Highway 75 winds through the breathtaking scenery of the Salmon-Challis National Forest, following the meandering Salmon River along its course. Hidden among the rugged wilderness along this stretch of highway is a multitude of thermal springs, each with its own unique character and charm. But perhaps the most popular of these hidden gems is Sunbeam Hot Springs.

Surrounded by towering pines and rugged peaks, this secluded oasis promises an unforgettable experience that combines adventure and relaxation in equal measure.

One of the best things about Sunbeam Hot Springs is how easy it is to get to. Sunbeam’s pools are next to the highway, unlike many other hot springs that require a long hike through rugged terrain. This means you can simply park your car and soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters within minutes.

Location13 miles east of Stanley, Idaho, USA
AmenitiesChanging room & toilets
Hiking DistanceShort
Road AccessAny vehicle
Gorgeous crystal-clear water from Sunbeam Hot Springs

Where is Sunbeam Hot Springs?

Sunbeam Hot Springs is situated just a short distance from the town of Stanley, Idaho, making it one of the area’s closest geothermal springs and outdoor adventure hubs. Nestled within a picturesque valley, the hot springs offer panoramic views of dense pine tree forests, craggy mountain peaks, and Idaho’s rolling green hills.

How do I get to Sunbeam Hot Springs?

Getting to Sunbeam Hot Springs is easy but requires some navigation. To start, head towards Highway 75 and follow State Hwy 75 North from Stanley for approximately 12.1 miles. You’ll see steam rising from the river before you reach the springs, and then a huge ‘Sunbeam Hot Springs’ sign will be prominently displayed on the right.

Keep an eye out for an old bathhouse on the right-hand side of the road, along the river – this is a good indicator that you’re getting close.

Once you’ve spotted the bathhouse, look for an extended shoulder along the side of the road where you can park your car for free. From there, simply walk down to the hot springs and prepare to be wowed by the stunning scenery and warm, soothing waters. 

The Sunbeam Hot Springs area is teeming with wildlife, adding an extra thrill to your soak. Eagles, bears, elk, and deer are often spotted in the area. So, while keeping your eyes peeled for these magnificent creatures, always remember to respect their habitat and maintain a safe distance. 

Sunbeam hot tubs

Sunbeam Hot Springs – Soaking Options

Sunbeam Hot Springs offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy geothermally-warmed waters in both manmade tubs and more natural pools within the Salmon River. A thermal creek, with steamy water that can reach temperatures up to 160°F, flows directly above the Salmon River and is piped downhill into the river water.

The pools themselves have been created by volunteers who have used boulders and river rocks to mix the hot water with the chilly river water. These natural pools vary in size and depth, offering visitors the chance to find the perfect spot to soak and relax. Guests are even welcome to create their own pool using river rocks.

For those looking for a more traditional soaking experience, two tubs can be found to the left of the bathhouse. These tubs are fed with pipes coming directly from the source of the boiling springs and cold river, so be cautious about regulating the temperature well. Each tub comfortably accommodates two average-sized adults, making it ideal for couples.

While filling the tubs can be a bit of a workout, the natural pools by the river offer a more relaxing option. Overall, Sunbeam Hot Springs provides a tranquil and beautiful environment, perfect for a refreshing dip and a chance to take in stunning scenery.

Sunbeam Hot Springs History: A Look into Its Native Roots

Sunbeam Hot Springs is not just a stunning natural wonder, it also has an intriguing history. The hot springs have been used for their therapeutic qualities for centuries, with the Lemhi-Shoshone people being the first to discover their healing powers. However, the first recorded visit to Sunbeam Hot Springs was made by Alexander Ross in 1821, when he referred to Sunbeam Hot Springs as a “boiling fountain” in his diary.

Bathouse pictured by Benison Punsalan Zerrudo

Fast forward to 1937, and people from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from the Clayton CCC camp built a bathhouse, diverting hot water from the spring into the Salmon River, while cold river water helped cool the hot water in the pipes. Unfortunately, the bathhouse fell into disrepair during the war years due to a lack of maintenance personnel and funds. 

Today, the bathhouse has been preserved as a historic monument to the CCC’s exceptional craftsmanship, while still serving as a changing area for visitors. 

Thus, a visit to Sunbeam Hot Springs is not just a relaxing getaway but also a journey back in time.

Campsites Near Sunbeam Hot Springs

Salmon-Challis National Forest is known for its abundant basic campgrounds, many of which are free or available for a nominal fee. For those looking to stay close to the Salmon River, there are plenty of options just minutes away from the hot springs. Keep in mind that these campsites tend to fill up quickly during peak season, so it’s best to plan ahead.

View at Salmon-Challis National Forest

If you’re visiting from April through September, expect to pay around $20 per night for a site along Highway 75. In the offseason, some campgrounds, like the Mormon Bend Campground, offer limited services for just $8 per night. For those looking to save even more, there are plenty of free campsites in the area that can be found by simply exploring the surrounding wilderness or by using one of the many online resources available for finding free campsites.

Lodging options near Sunbeam Hot Springs

While Stanley, Idaho, may be small and remote with only 63 residents, it still has a few lodging options to consider when visiting Sunbeam Hot Springs. 

Stanley High Country Inn is a great choice for those seeking clean rooms with added perks such as gorgeous gardens and terraces. 

Another option is Triangle C Cabins, three gorgeous wooden cottages offering terraces and comfortable accommodation. 

And there is Redfish Riverside Inn – a popular place among visitors, featuring stunning river and mountain views and a cozy atmosphere.

Susan shares her experience from Sunbeam Hot Springs / Tripadvisor

Bottom line

Overall, Sunbeam Hot Springs truly is a sparkling gem in the heart of Idaho. The natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, the tranquil sound of the Salmon River, and the geothermally heated water make for a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you choose to soak in the river pools, the man-made tubs or build your own pool, you are sure to leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Sunbeam Hot Springs?

Sunbeam Hot Springs is situated in Stanley, Idaho.

Is Sunbeam Hot Springs open year-round?

Yes, Sunbeam Hot Springs is open year-round, so you can soak in the hot springs any time of the year.

How far is Sunbeam Hot Springs from Stanley?

Sunbeam Hot Springs is just a short 20-minute drive from Stanley, Idaho, making it a convenient stop for anyone visiting the area.

Are there any amenities or changing areas near Sunbeam Hot Springs?

Yes, there is a historic bathhouse that serves as a changing area, and a bathroom is located right next to it, so you can freshen up after your soak.

Is there any cell service at Sunbeam Hot Springs?

Cell service around Stanley can be unreliable, so it’s recommended to download offline maps on your Google Maps app before leaving town to avoid getting lost on the way.


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!

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