Have you ever taken a dip in a natural hot bath? Naturally hot water heated under the earth by magma or hot rocks under the surface bubbles up in the form of “hot springs.” Many people seek these hot springs out to enjoy for fun as a naturally-warm swimming hole. Others believe that bathing in hot springs brings medicinal or therapeutic health benefits. Many people enjoy relaxing in hot springs, which often have high mineral content said to relax sore muscles, improve blood circulation, help skin conditions, or heal certain illnesses. Some even travel to remote locations to enjoy attractions like Iceland’s famous spas or Japan’s famous onsens. However, you do not have to go far to enjoy the hot springs. In the United States, thousands of people every year visit some of the most famous hot springs in the world at Yellowstone National Park. To help you learn about these incredible natural wonders, this article reviews several of these popular hot springs – that you too can visit to enjoy their recreational or therapeutic benefits!
About Hot Springs
Hot springs are bodies of water that are heated geothermally by the earth. Hot springs come from groundwater seeping into the earth’s crust, becoming heated by magma or hot rocks deep underneath the earth’s surface. When the water makes its way back to the earth’s surface, it forms a natural hot spring. These hot springs could be mildly warm or scalding, boiling hot.
Many hot springs are in geologically active parts of the world. Because of this, you may find a hot spring in a volcanic region or place with lots of tectonic activity and other geothermal features, such as geysers. Some of the countries with famous hot springs include Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and the United States. In the U.S., there are several significant regions of geothermal activity and hot springs. Many of these are in the western part of the country, in states such as California, Nevada, Oregon, and Wyoming. One of the most notable places for hot springs in the United States is Yellowstone National Park.
About Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, the first National Park of the United States, is a famous and vast swath of land that sits primarily in Wyoming, though it also stretches into Montana and part of Idaho. Yellowstone’s more than 2.2 million acres are home to diverse plant and animal species, incredible natural landmarks, gorgeous views, and famous geothermal features such as geysers, mud pots, and hot springs. As a result, Yellowstone attracts thousands of visitors each year. Every year, people from across the country and the world visit to take in the wildlife, Yellowstone Lake, or the famous Yellowstone geyser known as “Old Faithful.”
Yellowstone is also home to multiple hot springs. Some of these hot springs allow visitors to enjoy a dip in the naturally warm (or hot!) water. Some are even said to have medicinal properties, though you should be aware that these medicinal benefits are not confirmed. In total, Yellowstone National Park claims to have the “most extraordinary collection of hot springs, geysers, mud pots, and fumaroles on earth.” In fact, the park is home to over 10,000 hydrothermal features, of which more than 500 are geysers. The area surrounding the park is also home to many other hot springs.
This article rounds up several of Yellowstone’s notable hot springs. Let’s jump in to discover these famous hot springs in Yellowstone now!
Hot Springs in Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park has extremely limited opportunities for swimming or soaking. This is because the park’s high-elevation lakes and rivers are often full of snowmelt. This makes for very cold water, where swimmers could be at risk of hypothermia. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Yellowstone’s hot springs and geysers often get so hot that they start boiling. Because of this danger, and the desire to protect the natural and unusual thermal environment, Yellowstone prohibits soaking in hot springs.
However, you may still be interested in knowing about the hot springs located in the park. For that reason, this list will include several hot springs within Yellowstone National Park. However, for swimming and soaking in the medicinal hot springs, look to some of the hot springs named that are in the region outside of the park’s borders. What could be a better way to unwind after a long day of taking in the park’s sights?
Mammoth Hot Springs
First on our list of hot springs in Yellowstone is the famous Mammoth Hot Springs. Mammoth Hot Springs is located in the northern part of Yellowstone and is famous for having travertine terraces. Travertine terraces are limestone (calcium carbonate) deposited by the spring over the course of thousands of years. These terraces are a unique sight to behold! Just don’t jump in. You must stay out of the Mammoth Hot Springs to protect your own safety and help preserve the environment.
Although Boiling River is not a traditional hot spring, it is a unique place where swimmers can enjoy the waters of Yellowstone during certain times of the year. Yellowstone prohibits swimming in any of the thermal features of the park, but you can swim in certain places where the hot spring water runs off. At Boiling River, the waters from a hot spring mix with the cold waters from the Gardner River. During certain years, swimming is prohibited due to recent flooding, dangerously cold temperatures, or local wildlife. However, if you get lucky, you may be able to enjoy the unique experience of taking a dip in this unique part of Yellowstone.
Yellowstone Hot Springs
Yellowstone Hot Springs offer a hot springs experience just eight miles north of Yellowstone National Park’s northern entrance. Here, Yellowstone Hot Springs gives visitors the chance to soak and swim in mineral-rich waters that have fresh, clean, and clear water circulating all day long. Enjoy the resort experience of visiting Yellowstone Hot Springs and relax surrounded by nature, mountains, and Montana’s big sky.
Hot Springs State Park
One of the most unique hot springs is at Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Known as “the world’s largest hot springs,” this hot water comes from a mineral-rich spring that pushes out 3.6 million gallons of water on a daily basis. Said to contain 27 minerals, the three pools at Hot Springs State Park offer plenty of space to swim and relax in naturally hot water.
Hobo Hot Springs
If you want to take a dip in a hot spring with the assurance of food and drink nearby, try visiting Hobo Hot Springs in Saratoga, Wyoming. The Saratoga Hot Pool is free and open to the public 24/7. The nearby Saratoga Hot Springs Resort also features multiple outdoor and covered pools, with an on-site pub and Biergarten.
Granite Creek Hot Springs
For those who want to enjoy the outdoor adventure and local amenities of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, there is a hot spring for you too! Granite Creek Hot Springs has a campground, swimming pool, and hot spring pool for soaking during both the summer and the winter season.
Green Canyon Hot Springs
Green Canyon Hot Springs in Newdale, Idaho is a popular destination for many families or large groups to enjoy a warm 96-degree bath or hot outdoor pool that stays 105 degrees.
Kirkham Hot Springs
Kirkham Hot Springs in Lowman, Idaho allows visitors to enjoy a scenic hiking trail, scenic views, a river, steamy waterfalls, and soaking pools. In this area, Kirkham Hot Springs is just one of many hot springs pools found along Idaho’s Highway 21.
Lava Hot Springs
Lava Hot Springs in Idaho is a quaint town that has naturally heated outdoor pools that stay between 102 and 112 degrees at the Lava Hot Springs’ Foundation. This is the place for people with sensitive noses. If you can’t stand the sulfuric smell associated with so many hot springs, go to Lava Hot Springs. The water has all of the minerals you might want, but no sulfur to give it the rotten egg smell.
Safety Guidelines and Warnings
Please keep in mind that the medicinal benefits of hot springs are not confirmed. When attempting to visit and enjoy a hot spring, always follow local guidelines or National Park regulations. It is very important to exercise caution, abide by laws, and listen to expert guidance. Hot springs can be dangerous. Hot temperatures and unpredictable geothermal activity can make bathing in a hot spring deadly when done against the expert recommendation. In addition to following rules and regulations, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor or healthcare professional about any health or medical concerns you may have. They will be able to provide qualified advice and offer guidance around treatment for a health condition.
Are Hot Springs Medicinally Beneficial?
Whether you visit a natural hot spring outdoors in a park or take a trip to a spa or wellness resort, bathing in hot, mineral-rich water is said to bring multiple health benefits. What are these potential benefits? According to those who believe in the medicinal impacts of soaking in a hot spring, you may experience pain relief, healing of certain skin conditions, stress relief, weight loss, or cardiovascular benefits. However, although these benefits are not scientifically proven, you can always enjoy the most obvious benefit of enjoying a hot spring: simple rest and relaxation.
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