Among the peace, tranquility, and abundance of wild nature of Clearwater National Forest, you’ll find what is possibly one of the most endearing hot springs in the US known as Weir Creek Hot Springs. Situated along the Weir Creek *shocker* and surrounded by all things green and natural, Weir Hot Springs triumphs as one of the most frequented outdoor spas of Idaho and Montana.
Consisting of the main pool – big enough to accommodate up to 10 people – and a couple of smaller pools scattered along the Weir Creek (offering visitors a chance to balance their thermal soaks with cold plunges), these springs present a great opportunity to indulge yourself in the natural hot and cold therapy that your sore muscles are begging for.
Even if they’re not, indulging yourself in the aroma of encircling pine trees, laying your head back and having a long awaited rest is never a bad idea.
Weir Creek Hot Springs: First Impressions
Apart from its obvious backcountry location and scenic atmosphere, the first thing you notice about Weir Creek Hot Springs is the size of the main pool, which is relatively big for natural pool standards. Most non-commercialized thermal pools are pretty shallow and with only enough room for 2-3 people. However, this is not the case here. Even if some may consider the main pool a bit shallow, it’s still deep enough to sit comfortably with 9 other people.
The pool is burrowed on to the ledge that overlooks the creek and is surrounded by a man-made square rock wall (which actually gives it a bit of a private feel). The bottom is a bit muddy and gravelly.
The temperature ranges between 100-105°F (38-41°C) depending on the season. Unfortunately, there’s no way to regulate the thermal water temperature by streaming in the creek water. However, the creek is right next to the spring so you can alternate between hot and cold plunges to balance out the temperature.
At first glance, Weir Creek sounds like the ultimate way to completely detach from the city hustle, but as endearing as it sounds, Weir Creek Hot Springs is actually known to become crowded no matter the season. This isn’t really surprising. The forest gives off immaculate Twilight vibes, and if that’s not enough to attract people then perhaps the majestic winter views and great summer vibes will do it. Weir is frequented not only by vacationing families and hot spring enthusiasts, but also a lot of college students who are looking for a budget-friendly, yet fun adventure. Being accessible only via a 0.7 mile hike and requiring no entrance fees, Weir Creek Hot Springs fits all the right molds when it comes to youthful adventure.
So much for the detachment, huh?
From Missoula, Montana, take US 93 W for 2.2 miles. Then turn right onto US-12 W and keep going for 9.2 miles. You’ll have to turn right onto US-12 W/Faq 93/Lolo Creek Road. Keep to US-12 W, entering Idaho in 64.9 miles
You’ll see the parking area from where you’ll have to hike for 0.7 miles. The trail is pretty noticeable from frequent usage. Just keep to the left side of the creek and in about 15 minutes you’ll reach the destination.
Important Information to Take into Consideration
With popularity, unfortunately, comes a lot of damage. While it’s always nice to see people appreciating natural wonders such as hot springs, this appreciation includes a lot more than having a laugh, soak, or taking a picture.
When it comes to Weir Creek Hot Springs, there are actually a lot of factors that need to be taken into account. Most of it is the result of human ignorance, but the rest falls upon mother nature.
First and foremost, even though the hike is only half a mile long, don’t let that fool you. The terrain is extremely steep and it’s better to not only use a trekking pole or a walking stick, but also gear up accordingly, especially during the winter months when the trail is extremely slippery.
Despite this hike being considered only moderately challenging by some, there have been numerous reports describing winter hikes gone awry. So, know your limits. Unless you’re equipped with suitable gear and have considerable winter hiking experience, it’s not advised to visit Weir Creek Hot Springs in the winter no matter how beautiful its winter scenery is. Safety is our best friend in this case.
Crowds mean lots of littering. Weir Creek Hot Springs (just like other hot springs and their natural habitats) is a Leave No Trace Policy active zone. Which means, taking care of nature and if necessary, leaving the place in a better condition than you found it. (for details, click here: Leave No Trace Seven Principles – National Park Service)
It was this type of abuse, along with overexposure, that resulted in the state government enforcing some restrictions on the place that includes night closures, therefore a ban on camping in the area, and no emergency medical services, which further highlights the importance of getting properly geared up. There is no cell reception so in case of an emergency, there’s no way to contact professional help.
Some people prefer to hike with their four-legged furry friends. When it comes to Weir Creek, even though dogs are allowed near the soaking area, they are not allowed in the springs and have to be kept on a leash at all times. This is a rule that unfortunately a lot of people choose to disregard.
The place is clothing optional. Even though the pool is wide enough to accommodate a large group of people, it’s a wide open space that doesn’t offer much privacy. Keep in mind that it’s almost always crowded. If you’re not comfortable around nudity, which is very expected in places such as this, especially with cheery college kids being around a lot, then this place may not be for you.
So let’s do a quick run-down of all the necessary information to consider.
|Bring proper gear, especially, hiking shoes and a trekking pole/walking stick||Come on a whim without preparation|
|Clean up after yourself||Litter|
|Bring a swimsuit if you don’t want to be nude||Keep your dog unleashed|
|Respect other people’s privacy as much as possible||Disrespect other people’s privacy|
|Chemical-free products to not pollute water||Come after dusk, you’ll be fined|
|Follow Leave No Trace policy||Pollute the water|
Alternative Camping Options
Since there is a ban on camping near Weir Creek Hot Springs, the second best option is camping at Lochsa/Highway 12 Corridor (which is also located in Clearwater National Park) which offers:
- 11 campgrounds
- 4 RV camping options
- 2 group camping opportunities
- 2 dispersed camping areas
- 2 cabin rental options
However, experience in Lochsa/Highway 12 Corridor is not limited to just camping. This place offers all kinds of outdoor fun including fishing, horseback riding, scenic rides, winter sports etc. At this point, it also secures a solid spot under the ‘outdoor activities’ headline.
Considering that Weir Creek Hot Springs is located very close to the Idaho/Montana border, you have not one but two great options to arrange your overnight stay. One is the very familial town of Kooskia, Idaho, with a population of approximately 500 very friendly and welcoming residents.
Another option is Missoula, Montana, the second largest city in the state that magically possesses a laid-back demeanor of a small town – despite being considerably bigger than your average town – and is abundant with outdoor recreation options.
You can choose where to stay based on your preferences.
Find accommodation for Kooskia here:
Here’s a list of cabins to stay at if that’s what you prefer:
Find accommodation for Missoula here.
Outdoor Attractions Near Weir Creek Hot Springs
Before we list the options, here’s a friendly reminder that the best outdoor activity to engage in is to explore Clearwater National Forest, especially, as we already mentioned, Lochsa/Highway 12 Corridor that won’t leave anyone disappointed.
The obvious option for many outdoor attractions, apart from Clearwater, is Missoula. It offers a wide selection of entertainment to choose from. The city is very well known for its love of fishing which would be the obvious activity on the list, but now we will be focusing on some of the lesser known ways to have fun that are worth your while
- Rattlesnake National Recreation Area
- Bitterroot National Forest
- Sunset Wild Horse Island Private Boat Tour
- Glacier National Park
- Caras Park
- Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center
- Fort Missoula Museum
- Missoula Farmers Market
- Dragon Hollow Play Area
The Final Take-away
Back to the main matter at hand: Weir Creek Hot Springs. If hot springs could get lucky, we’d say that Weir kinda won the jackpot with its utterly beautiful location. However, this is just a place that, after having gone through a series of serious mistreatment, just tries to stay in presentable shape.
The fame of Weir Creek Hot Springs obviously is not going to decrease overtime, which means that, unless you decide to visit very early in the morning, it will always be crowded. If crowds don’t bother you and your main goal is to just relax your body, immerse yourself in nature or hang out with friends and have a laugh, then Weir Creek Hot Springs offers the best opportunity to do just that. But, as we already mentioned, nature appreciation includes not only enjoying it, but also taking care of it.
So as long as you’re being respectful to our lovely mother nature, follow appropriate principles, and gear up accordingly, go have fun and take care of that body, mind and soul.
Frequently Asked Questions
Weir Creek Hot Springs is open all year around, but it’s closed after dusk.
Weir Creek Hot Springs is located in Clearwater National Forest. Close to the Idaho/Montana border.
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!