Idaho boasts a whole lot of natural beauty from vast sagebrush fields to soaring snowcapped mountains to barren deserts to spectacular rivers to untamed sand dunes and so much more.
But out of all of natural wonders, one of the state’s most sought-after outdoor attractions is its many natural hot springs. Make the effort to track down these often remote and primitive springs for an all-natural outdoor bathing experience that’s unlike any other.
Here are 11 of the best natural hot springs in Idaho.
Best Natural Hot Springs in Idaho
The natural hot springs on this list are all undeveloped. Many are located deep in the backcountry (although some are more easily accessible). They’re all primitive with few if any manmade features or amenities. If you prefer a more modern, spa-like experience, we encourage you to check out Idaho’s developed hot spring resorts instead.
1. Kirkham Hot Springs
Location: Lowman, Idaho
Kirkham Hot Springs is arguably the most popular natural hot spring in Idaho.
It’s located down a wooden staircase just off Highway 21, just a short walk away from a popular campground. This convenient location and the easy accessibility mean that you should expect large crowds during the summer months.
What we love most about Kirkham Hot Springs is its incredible natural beauty. It’s situated alongside the Payette River and consists of several crystal-clear multi-tiered rock-lined pools and a small cascading waterfall.
Learn more about Kirkham Hot Springs.
2. Boat Box Hot Springs
Location: Stanley, Idaho
Boat Box Hot Springs might be small but it still packs a big punch.
Located along the Salmon River just minutes from the scenic town of Stanley, famous for its views of the Sawtooth Mountains, this natural hot spring consists of one small metal tub (made from an old ocean buoy and cabled to the nearby rocks).
A small metal pipe directs hot water into the tub. To cool the water off, a bucket is provided to scoop cold water from the river. Make sure to test the water in the tub before you enter as this hot spring is known for its extremely hot temperatures. Although it’s often busy during the summer, Boat Box Hot Springs is unmarked so it’s much less crowded than other Idaho hot springs.
Learn more about Boat Box Hot Springs.
3. Gold Bug Hot Springs
Location: Salmon, Idaho
Gold Bug Hot Springs requires a potentially strenuous 4-mile roundtrip hike to reach but the final reward is well worth the extra effort.
Nestled in a narrow valley deep in the mountains, this natural hot spring’s cliffside location makes for absolutely stellar views. Several large rock-lined pools give visitors plenty of places to spread out. Nude bathing is common here.
Spring and fall are arguably the best times to visit, although wet weather can make the hike in even more difficult. If you visit during the summer, head out early as Idaho’s summertime temperatures are often brutally hot.
Learn more about Gold Bug Hot Springs.
4. Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs
Location: Ketchum, Idaho
Another one of the best hot springs in Idaho, Frenchman’s Bend is conveniently located just over 10 miles from Ketchum.
Head down the gravel road to discover this Sun Valley hot springs tucked away among a series of large boulders just off the road. Three different pools not only give you space to spread out, but each is a different temperature, so you’re sure to find something that suits your preferences. And, if you really get too hot, the nearby river is an excellent place to cool down.
Because of its convenient location in Sun Valley, Frenchman’s Bend is very popular among locals and tourists alike. The easy access also makes this a fairly common place to soak during the winter months.
Learn more about Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs.
5. Trail Creek Hot Springs
Location: Cascade, Idaho
Trail Creek Hot Springs is another incredibly gorgeous Idaho hot springs that requires a bit of a hunt to track down.
Located about 10 miles off of Warm Lake Road, keep your eyes open for a pullout just before a sign to Yellow Pine. If you visit during the summer, chances are there will be another vehicle parked here to give you a hint as to the location.
Once you reach the hot springs, you’ll be greeted with two large soaking pools. These rock-lined, sandy-bottom pools are the perfect place to relax no matter the season. In fact, the convenient location of these geothermal pools makes them popular for year-round soaking, even during Idaho’s snowy winter months.
Learn more about Trail Creek Hot Springs.
6. Rocky Canyon Hot Springs
Location: Crouch, Idaho
Take a trip to Rocky Canyon Hot Springs for some of the best natural hot springs camping in Idaho.
Notable as one of the best natural hot springs near Boise, these geothermal pools are just an hour drive away from Idaho’s most populous city. They’re situated alongside the pristine Middle Fork of the Payette River.
Rocky Canyon Hot Springs boasts three separate rock-lined pools to choose from. Thanks to their riverside location, you can adjust the rock lining to let in cold river water to better adjust the temperature. The entire forest service road leading up to the hot springs is littered with dispersed campsites for those hoping to turn this unique experience into an overnight camping trip.
Learn more about Rocky Canyon Hot Springs.
7. Sunbeam Hot Springs
Location: Sunbeam, Idaho
The ghost town of Sunbeam has a lot to offer visitors: historic buildings, word-class fly-fishing and whitewater rafting, and one of the best hot springs in Idaho.
Located in the Salmon-Challis National Forest alongside the Salmon River, this hot spring is just one of many alongside this beautiful stretch of highway. Although not visible from the road thanks to a large boulder field, these rock-lined geothermal pools are easily accessible via a very short walk down from the road above.
As for the pools themselves, they are notably shallow but are otherwise spacious. You can easily adjust the temperature by letting in more or less of the cool river water. Five total pools give you a variety of temperature options, although most of the pools sit around 110°F depending on how much river water you let in. This is another good Idaho hot springs to soak in during the winter.
Learn more about Sunbeam Hot Springs.
8. Pine Flats Hot Springs
Location: McCall, Idaho
Pine Flats Hot Springs is yet another Idaho hot springs located off of the scenic Banks-Lowman Road.
But despite the prevalence of natural hot springs in this area, Pine Flats is one that you shouldn’t miss. After a very short 0.25-mile hike in, you reach the springs. They consist of a series of small pools alongside the Payette River. The most notable feature, however, is the geothermal waterfall which showers hot water down into the pools.
Know that this natural hot spring is part of the Pine Flats Campground. Couple its proximity to this campground with the relatively short drive from Boise (only an hour and a half) and it’s easy to see why this geothermal pool is so busy in the summer. Head out early on a weekday morning if you don’t want to mingle with the crowds.
Learn more about Pine Flats Hot Springs.
9. Jerry Johnson Hot Springs
Location: (near) Lolo, Montana
Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is undoubtedly one of the most popular natural hot springs in Idaho.
Notable for its quiet and peaceful location deep in a cedar forest, these relaxing geothermal pools require an easy 2-mile roundtrip hike to reach. The springs are located right alongside Warm Springs Creek. Three large pools are fed by a warm waterfall coming out of the cliffside.
Expect crowds at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, unless you come in the summer. This is also one of the most popular hot springs for nude bathing in all of Idaho. Make sure to always pack out all of your litter – the springs are in a very high use area with fragile plant and animal life.
Learn more about Jerry Johnson Hot Springs.
10. Stanley Hot Springs
Location: Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
A trip to Stanley Hot Springs is not for the faint of heart.
These famous geothermal pools require a grueling 10-mile roundtrip hike to reach. But making the trek is well worth it as you are greeted with a relaxing series of pools to soak your body in. Best of all, the long hike in means that this hot spring is slightly less trafficked than others in Idaho, even during the peak of the summer.
One of the best ways to enjoy Stanley Hot Springs is to make the trek an overnight backpacking trip. Several backcountry campsites are located in the immediate vicinity of the pools. Do note that this remote hot spring is best visited from about July through September when most of the snow is gone for the season.
Learn more about Stanley Hot Springs.
11. Weir Creek Hot Springs
Location: Elk City, Idaho
It might be last on our list of the best hot springs in Idaho – but that certainly doesn’t mean Weir Creek Hot Springs is anything to scoff at.
Located in Clearwater National Forest near Elk City, this beautiful hot spring is primitive but still boasts a slightly built-up design. A number of different pools area available to choose from, although most soakers select the large main pool. Another option is to soak in the nearby creek which has slightly cooler water (although it’s still warmed by the hot spring).
Weir Creek Hot Springs is very popular among nude bathers, although nudity certainly isn’t required. During the summer months, especially summer weekends, this area becomes a party destination for locals. Head out early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Learn more about Weir Creek Hot Springs.
What About Developed Hot Springs in Idaho?
Not everyone prefers the primitive, rustic nature of undeveloped hot springs. For those that prefer a more resort-like experience, a hot springs spa might just be for you.
These developed hot springs usually utilize a natural source of hot water – but also offer built-up pools or tubs, changing rooms, and additional facilities. Most regulate water temperature and some monitor water quality. On-site lodging is often available.
If you’re looking for a developed hot spring in Idaho, you can’t go wrong with the following hot springs resorts:
- Burgdorf Hot Springs – Just north of McCall, this rustic hot spring resort is loved for its crystal-clear mineral pools and historic cabins.
- Mountain Village Lodge – Tucked away in the Sawtooth Mountains near the town of Stanley, this mineral pool resort is notable for the absolutely flawless views of the nearby mountains while soaking in the soothing waters.
- Aura Soma Lava Hot Springs – This vacation village is unbeatable if you truly want to be pampered thanks to its large geothermal pools, riverfront location, selection of cabins and cottages, and family-friendly atmosphere.
Remember that these are just a handful of the best developed hot springs that Idaho has to offer. Are there any other hot springs resorts or spas that you like to visit in Idaho?