Discover the 9 Medicinal Hot Springs Throughout Yellowstone

Written by Carrie Woodward
Updated: July 27, 2023
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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! 

Beam of light shines through an opening in the underground cave onto the thermal hotspring waters at Cave and Basin National Historic Site, the birthplace of Canada's national parks in Banff.

Some hot springs appear in underground caves, such as the thermal hot spring waters at Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Canada’s Banff National Park.

©Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock.com

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

Young woman relax in infinity pool with lake view. Natural hot spring spa under Batur volcano. Travel in Kintamani, Bali. Healthy lifestyle, recreational activity on family summer holiday.

There are natural hot springs and spas in many parts of the world with geothermic activity, as seen in this photo of a young woman enjoying a hot spring under the Batur volcano in Kintamani, Bali, Indonesia.

©Denis Moskvinov/Shutterstock.com

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!

Yellowstone National Park

Hot springs are produced in areas, such as Yellowstone National Park, with lots of geothermal activity. Other geothermal features include geysers such as Yellowstone’s famous geyser known as “Old Faithful.”

©Susanne Pommer/Shutterstock.com

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?  

Family relaxing and enjoying beautiful view of gazer on vacation hiking trip. Father with arms around his family. Excelsior Geyser from the Midway Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming, USA

One of the most famous geysers in Yellowstone National Park is the Excelsior Geyser from the Midway Basin.

©Margaret.Wiktor/Shutterstock.com

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. 

Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming

Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park is famous for its travertine terraces.

©alpenart/Shutterstock.com

Boiling River

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.

boiling river yellowstone

Boiling River is one of the few places in Yellowstone National Park where people may swim at certain times.

©goodluz/Shutterstock.com

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.

Yellowstone National Park - Hot Springs

Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding land have numerous natural hot springs.

©Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

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. 

Hot springs mineral water flows through Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Hot springs mineral water flows through Thermopolis, Wyoming.

©melissamn/Shutterstock.com

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.

The Snowy Range of southwestern Wyoming in early winter. Medicine Bow-Routt National Park. Snowy Range in Wyoming's Medicine Bow Wilderness.  Boulders, trees, snow and sheer rock faces.

Southern Wyoming has stunning landscapes and hot springs.

©Rexjaymes/Shutterstock.com

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.

An adult female goes for a swim at Granite Creek Hot Springs, a natural hot spring in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Fisheye view

Granite Creek Hot Springs is a natural hot spring in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

©melissamn/Shutterstock.com

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. 

Newdale. Idaho. USA

Newdale, Idaho attracts many large family, church, or work groups who enjoy the waters of Green Canyon Hot Springs.

©SevenMaps/Shutterstock.com

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.

Kirkham Hot Springs in Idaho

Kirkham Hot Springs in Idaho has rivers, soaking pools, and steaming waterfalls.

©drewthehobbit/Shutterstock.com

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.

Lava Hot Springs Flowers in Idaho

Lava Hot Springs in Idaho offers hot springs full of minerals without the unpleasant rotten egg smell of sulfur.

©Zachary Wade Johanson/Shutterstock.com

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.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jose/Wikimedia Commons – License / Original


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About the Author

Carrie is a writer and fan of all types of plants and animals. Her apartment is home to more than dozen different houseplants and she aspires to adopt more in the near future. You can find Carrie taking long walks or reading a book under the trees in the park.

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