People tend to go to the commercially run Wild Horse Hot Springs not seeking (or expecting) luxury accommodation or spa-like facilities, but for the remoteness and wild beauty of the surrounding rolling hills and pastures, which you can enjoy as you soak.
Melt away your tension and stress as you enjoy gorgeous Montana vistas and that big sky above. In the words of the current owners – this is all about good people serving up wonderfully healing mineral water.
|Address||175 Camp Aqua Road, Hot Springs, Montana 59845|
|Location||7 miles from Hot Springs, adjacent to Flathead Reservation|
|Open||Tubs are open from 9 am to 10 pm, year-round|
|Clothing||Required in daylight, optional at night|
|Road Access||Easy. All vehicles|
|Admission||$10-$12/person/day (under 6s go free)|
What To Expect
Wild Horse Hot Springs is a site under development, so past guests have complained of construction works and debris. Focus on the water, though, and any other inconveniences will fade away into insignificance. At the time of writing, 8 hot spring tubs, some communal and open, some semi-private and fenced, and 2 big clean hot spring pools boast water temperatures that vary from 95-120F°. No reservations are needed – just turn up and jump in!
The pools can get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays, so even with a day pass, a two-hour soak is what you’ll get before you should give up your space to others for a while (don’t worry- you can get back in later!).
Note that you are encouraged to be yourself here, and clothing is optional after dark. We advise you to be yourself but also to go with the vibe. Daytime is family time and kids may be present, so keep it covered until evening hours. If you’re staying, you can soak all night if you choose- we highly recommend star-gazer and sunrise soaks!
People heading here should expect a rustic, community feel, where you’ll share a tub with others, chat, drink, and make new friends while you have fun with your own crowd. If you’ve got a mind to, you can even work from the pool, as the Wi-Fi is great!
Bring in what you need – food, drinks (especially water!), bathing suits, and towels.
The amount of hot water flowing into the tubs can be adjusted to your taste to let the water cool or to heat it up again. There are three changing rooms, two open showers nearby to rinse off in, and a restroom, but no private facilities for washing.
Feeling hungry? Wild Horse Hot Springs has food trucks that pop in for all guests to enjoy – call ahead to find out what’s going to be there while you’re visiting. In an interesting twist, they offer “Izumi’s Sushi & BBQ” from Thursday to Sunday evenings. The town of Hot Springs 7 miles away has a few restaurants worth checking out, among them Fergie’s Pub and Grill, Creekside Inn Sports Bar and Grill, Second Home Restaurant, PJ’s Cafe, and The Foxhole Eatery.
If you decide to stay in a cabin, an unlimited soak for two is included in the price. They offer dry sites and hookups for RVs, camping spots, tepees, and tent campsites, and have a number of dry cabins (no running water) with beds so you can get a good night’s sleep in. In short, it is as basic as you can get while still being among civilization – take everything you need to make your night comfortable!
“The overall vibe here is rustic, woodsy; natural.”
You can bring your dog, but keep it leashed and away from the soaking area.
More On That Water
The hot tubs at Wild Horse Hot Springs are supplied with mineral water from a source dramatically named the “Mother Dragon Geyser.” It pumps out 1,200 gallons a minute at 128F° and is packed full of minerals – a unique mineral makeup that includes bicarbonate, boron, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, silica, and huge amounts of the “happy mineral” lithium – all guaranteed to leave you and your skin feeling fully rejuvenated. Find out more about that geyser in the Interesting History section below.
|Adults||$12 / day*|
|Children 6-12||$10* (under 6s go free)|
|Sauna||$10 / 30 minutes*|
|Sauna and soak||$20*|
Discounts are available for birthday visits, servicepeople, and locals (proof will be asked for).
Owner of Wild Horse Hot Springs, Denny Larson, and his business partner, John Porterfield are constantly working to transform the Wild Horse Hot Springs into a “complete health and wellness destination.” While the pandemic set them back, the work is ongoing.
“For years, the motto of the community has been ‘limp in, leap out,’” Porterfield told Kianna Gardner/Daily Inter Lake in 2019. “That’s something that we want to continue providing — an immersive healing experience.”
Wild Horse Hot Springs is sourced from the geyser known as “Mother Dragon,” which was discovered by homesteader Molly Bartlett, daughter of the state’s second governor, Robert S. Smith.
Water in the area being scarce, Molly began drilling a well. In doing so, she accidentally opened up the geyser, which began shooting out 128F° water at 1,200 gallons per minute! Mother Dragon is just as active today, though calmer, as she shares her water between the tubs at Wild Horse Hot Springs. You can see a photo of her hanging in the office.
On a more negative but equally infamous note is the sad story of Laurence Kenmille.
In May 2013, Polson resident Melvin Madplume Jr. arrived drunk at Wild Horse Hot Springs with his cousin Laurence Kenmille of Elmo. Sometime later Madplume came out of the tub they’d been soaking in claiming his cousin had slipped and hit his head. A year later, Madplume was charged with raping and killing Kenmille and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. District Judge John Larson labeled the crime “horrendous and calculated.”
The tragedy shocked the hot springs and nearby communities, and Wild Horse was temporarily shut down. The pool in which Kenmille died has since been sealed up.
How To Get There
Wild Horse Hot Springs is 1 hour 21 minutes from Missoula and 2 hours 46 minutes from Coeur d’Alene.
From Missoula, take the I-90 W for 9 miles until you reach Exit 96 for US-93 N. Follow the US-93 N for 27 miles until Ravalli. Turn off onto the MT-200 W. 41 miles later you’ll get to State Hwy 382 in Perma. Turn right here. 4 miles after entering the town of Hot Springs, turn right on Kopp Road. Follow that for 2 miles, then turn left onto Camp Aqua Road. Wild Horse Hot Springs is half a mile in, on the right.
From Coeur d’Alene, take the I-90 E for 93 miles until you reach Exit 33 at St Regis. Take the MT-135 W for 21 miles, then turn left onto the MT-200 W. 8 miles on, in Plains, turn off onto Mount Hwy 28 E. Stay on that highway for 20 miles, then turn right onto Kopp Road. Follow that for 2 miles, then turn left onto Camp Aqua Road. Wild Horse Hot Springs is half a mile in on the right.
Can I Stay There?
Yes. Wild Horse Hot Springs offers an expanding range of simple accommodations to suit couples, friends, and families.
They have tent and RV campsites which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Some RV sites are dry, some have hook-ups. Contact the property ahead of your visit to check if there’s space.
Fire rings, pits, and grills are available, and you can buy firewood bundles for around $15 at the office.
The dry cabins (no running water) accommodate 2 – 4 guests and come with mini-fridges, tea kettles, AC, space heaters, porches or patios with great views, picnic tables, and in some cases microwaves.
“The Fox,” a full-size duplex cabin, offers two private rooms and a shared kitchenette/living area. Each room has two queen beds, a table, AC / heat, and ceiling fans. The shared kitchenette offers a work surface, microwave/oven, full-size fridge, and an electric skillet.
The three weather-resistant teepees sleep 2 – 4 people and have tarp floors, tie-down doors, and a fire ring outside.
Each reservation in a teepee and cabin includes unlimited soaking for two from check-in to check-out.
Smoking is not permitted in any building. Pets can stay leashed or in your accommodation for an extra fee (see below).
NOTE: The only toilets/bathrooms at Wild Horse Hot Springs are near the communal soaking area, and showers are open, not private.
|Tents / Car campsites||$40 / night*|
|RVs (dry)||$50 / night*|
|RVs (with hookups)||$60 / night*|
|Teepees||$70 / night* (2 guests)|
|Dry Cabins||$90 – $150 / night*|
|Pet cleaning fee||$25*|
Check-in: 4 pm
Check-out: 12 pm
Pet Policy: There is a $25 non-refundable pet cleaning charge for cabins and $15 for tepees and camping. Pets must be on a leash and supervised. They can stay in your cabin or vehicle during your visit. No pets are allowed near the soaking area!
What Else Can I Do In The Area?
If water sports are your thing, why not head northeast on the MT-28 E to Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi in the lower 48 states? It boasts more than 200 square miles of water and 185 miles of shoreline. There, you can enjoy sailing, power boating, waterskiing, fishing, swimming, picnicking, and camping. In the summer, you’ll see stands along the east shore road selling locally grown fruit.
Alternatively, you can head to any of Montana’s many famous ghost towns to step back in time and get a feel for the gold rush era of saloons and vigilantes. Garnet Ghost Town, a 19th-century abandoned mining town and one of Montana’s best preserved, is worth going just to take a tour down into the mines! Coloma Ghost Town also makes for a great peek into the past.
If you’re looking for some great hikes, head to the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and its 61,000 acres of glaciated topography – ideal for flora and fauna lovers. Keep your eyes open for white-tailed deer, elk, mountain goats, and bears. Bird watchers have a chance to find more than 40 bird species, among them woodpeckers, ruffed grouse, gray owls, and American dipper.
If you’re a true hot springer, it is 100% worth checking out some of Montana’s other offerings. Renova Hot Springs on the Jefferson River has a more secluded and tranquil feel than Wild Horse. Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and fresh mountain air, it is a natural oasis that makes the perfect destination for those looking for relaxation and solitude in nature. Just off the highway, the Nimrod Hot Springs lake, in a green valley opposite pine-covered hills, is the perfect stopover for a soak. Nestled at the heart of the Tobacco Root Mountains of Montana, Potosi Hot Springs is a destination as remote as it gets, oozing beauty, peace, and absolute detachment from the outside hustle and bustle. Also worth checking out are the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs and Weir Creek Hot Springs. We’ll definitely be adding more Montana hot springs soon, so just type “Montana” in the search bar and see what else there is to explore!
The Dos And Don’ts Of Visiting A Hot Springs
Every hot springs has its own quirks. Visitors to Wild Horse Hot Springs, for example, should bring their own bathing suits, towels, and water and be ready for a communal soak with others in the pool. 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
Wild Horse Hot Springs is a few miles east of the town of Hot Springs, Montana.
In May 2013, Polson resident Melvin Madplume Jr. arrived drunk at Wild Horse Hot Springs with his cousin Laurence Kenmille of Elmo. Sometime later, Madplume came out of the tub they’d been soaking in, claiming his cousin had slipped and hit his head. A year later, Madplume was charged with raping and killing Kenmille and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. District Judge John Larson labeled the crime “horrendous and calculated.” The tragedy shocked the hot springs and surrounding communities, and Wild Horse was temporarily shut down. The pool in which Kenmille died has since been sealed up.
During the day, when children are around, everyone is expected to be fully dressed, but come nightfall, more freedom is allowed, especially for guests staying overnight, so nudity may be seen.
The owner of Wild Horse Hot Springs is Denny Larson and his business partner is John Porterfield.
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!