Discover the 3 Best Hot Springs in Idaho

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: June 14, 2023
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Idaho is a state of contrast, with freezing winters and scorching summers. The state has a varied topography featuring the Rocky Mountains, steep canyons, plateaus, basins, and abundant lakes and rapids. And with some of the snowiest and chilliest winters and springs in the country, a dip in a steaming, natural hot spring is just the remedy. 

Not only do hot springs warm you up, but they also relax you while improving skin conditions and blood circulation. Discover the three best places to enjoy hot springs in Idaho, including how they form and if they are safe to swim in.

Infographic of 3 Best Hot Springs in Idaho

Idaho has more hot springs than any state in the U.S., with a known 130.

©

Why Do Hot Springs Occur, and Why Are They Good for You?

Hot springs reduce stress levels, boost blood circulation, improve skin, and reduce pain.

©Flystock/Shutterstock.com

Magma, found below the surface, heats the groundwater, which creates steam. It rises through cracks in the ground, creating natural features like geysers, mud pits, and hot springs. 

People all over the world take advantage of these geothermal occurrences and use them for many reasons, including reducing stress levels, boosting blood circulation, reducing pain, and improving skin conditions. 

Soaking in one of nature’s bathtubs is also an excellent way to commune with the environment. Who doesn’t want a spectacular mountain view while they soak up healing minerals?

Is it Safe to Swim in Idaho Hot Springs?

Idaho has the most hot springs out of any state in the country, with a known 130. And while many of the state’s springs are perfect for swimming and relaxing, you should still take certain precautions before getting in.

Pack a thermometer and check the water’s temperature before diving in. If the water is hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you should avoid it. Extremely hot water can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, which can be dangerous to people with health conditions. 

Due to the water’s heat, hot springs can be a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites. Avoid soaking in the spring if you have open wounds. And always pay attention to closure signs and warnings. Even those normally open to the public can close due to outbreaks or unsafe conditions.

Many locations in Idaho can be a hefty hike far from civilization. Be sure to bring plenty of water and take breaks every 15 to 20 minutes to cool off.

The Best Idaho Hot Springs

1. Kirkham Hot Springs

Kirkham Hot Springs in Idaho

Kirkham hot springs features steaming shallow pools and warm waterfalls.

©drewthehobbit/Shutterstock.com

The Kirkham hot springs are located inside the Boise National Forest in Western Idaho. The springs are on the banks of the South Fork Payette River. And feature scattered Ponderosa pines, large boulders, and wildflowers

The scenic trail leads to shallow pools and warm waterfalls, where you can soak and explore. The river also offers fishing, kayaking, and rafting. 

The nearby Kirkham Ridge Trail offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. It is a perfect getaway during the winter. But it’s also a beautiful destination during the summer. However, the area lacks shade, so it can get pretty hot.

2. Boat Box Hot Springs

Boat box hot springs Idaho

Boat Box is a warm soaking tub along the Salmon River in Sawtooth National Forest.

©Sarah Rohrbach/Shutterstock.com

Out of the 130 hot springs in Idaho, Boat Box is one of the most unique. It consists of a wooden tub along the Salmon River in Sawtooth National Forest. A nearby pipe spews steaming hot water out, continuously filling the tub. But you can move it to the side when using it. Many people have to throw in cold river water to balance out the temperature. 

The area offers scenic views of snow-covered hillsides. But the area can get crowded. And the tub only fits three people comfortably. The best time to go is during the early morning before the crowds start rolling in. 

The springs are in the small mountain town of Stanley, where you can book a stay at one of the rustic lodges. Spend a weekend taking in the sights, kayaking, booking ATV rides, or spending time at a mountain spa. 

3. Goldbug Hot Springs

Goldbug Hot springs Idaho

Goldbug Hot Springs is a secluded spot two miles into the mountains.

©linber/Shutterstock.com

If you are looking for a more primitive, out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere type of hot spring, then Goldbug is for you. In Salmon, Idaho, near the Montana border is mile marker 282 on Highway 93. You find the trail off a dirt road, where you hike two miles up a mountain. It is a relatively difficult hike as you have to climb up sections of steep rocks and stairs to access the springs. 

But at the top are multiple pools filled with steaming water overlooking breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys below. While there may be people there when you arrive, this hot spring is less likely to be crowded due to its secluded and difficult point of entry. If you want to experience the area at night with zero light pollution, there is a small campground where you can pitch a tent. Keep in mind that the site lacks modern amenities, so you will need to pack everything you need.

Summary of the 3 Best Hot Springs in Idaho

NumberSpringsLocation
1Kirkham Hot SpringsBoise National Forest
2Boat Box Hot SpringsSawtooth National Forest
3Goldbug Hot SpringsSalmon

The photo featured at the top of this post is © linber/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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