22 Natural Hot Springs in Idaho And Where To Find Them

Foot bridge over Lochsa River with Tamaracks in the background
Debraansky/ via Getty Images

Written by Shreya Agrawal

Updated: November 2, 2023

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Idaho has numerous rugged landscapes and lots of geothermal activity. Thus, it is a treasure trove of natural hot springs that offer a rejuvenating escape for both locals and travelers. Located everywhere from remote wilderness sites to easily accessible rivers, these natural springs invite you to unwind in their soothing waters while surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Here’s a guide to 22 enchanting natural hot springs in Idaho and where to find them:

1. Goldbug Hot Springs (Salmon)

Goldbug Hot springs Idaho

The Goldbug Hot Springs in Idaho is one of the most popular vacation spots in the state due to its natural beauty and calming waters.

Located in the mountains near Salmon, Goldbug Hot Springs offers a truly enchanting experience within warm, calming waters. It is accessible via a moderately challenging trail. After the hike, people are rewarded with a series of pools that cascade down the hillside. As you soak in the warm waters, you’ll also be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding valley and river. The hot springs’ remote location adds to the serene atmosphere. Thus, this makes it a popular spot for those seeking relaxation in a pristine natural setting.

2. Jerry Johnson Hot Springs (Clearwater National Forest)

The forest is reflected in the South Fork of the Clearwater River in Idaho, USA

The Jerry Johnson hot springs are located along the Clearwater River in the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho. Like some of the other locations on this list, they are located in a secluded area.

Tucked away within the stunning Clearwater National Forest, Jerry Johnson Hot Springs offers a soothing, blissful retreat from the modern, noisy world. They are accessible through an enjoyable hike. A trail goes along a creek, which leads you to a series of naturally formed pools of varying temperatures. Surrounded by lush foliage, these pools create a tranquil ambiance that perfectly complements the soothing geothermally warmed waters. This spot has the gentle sound of flowing water and the scent of pine in the air. Thus, this spring epitomizes the serenity of the Idaho wilderness.

3. Kirkham Hot Springs (Boise National Forest)

Hot Springs

Kirkham Hot Springs, Boise National Forest

Situated in the Boise National Forest, Kirkham Hot Springs is a haven of relaxation. It is perched beside the Payette River. Multiple terraced pools with a range of temperatures, it ensures a comfortable soak for every visitor. The pools are surrounded by the forest’s beauty, creating a sense of intimacy and seclusion. You can unwind in the geothermal waters while listening to the rhythmic sounds of the river and smelling the scent of pine needles. This sensory experience rejuvenates both the body and soul.

4. Boat Box Hot Springs (Salmon-Challis National Forest)

Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho

Boat Box Hot Springs lies in the middle of the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho.

The Boat Box Hot Springs is only accessible by boat because of its secluded location. Therefore, it adding an element of adventure to your journey. It lies beside the Salmon River. These natural pools are the perfect place to unwind while surrounded by the soothing sounds of the rushing water. The location also makes them an excellent stop for those exploring the scenic Salmon River by boat. Therefore, they are a relaxing oasis in the midst of nature’s beauty.

5. Burgdorf Hot Springs (Payette National Forest)

Day time silky water flow of Payette River

Near the Payette River in Idaho are the Burgdorf Hot Springs, a lovely destination for relaxing your body and rejuvinating your spirits.

In the rugged landscapes of Payette National Forest lie the Burgdorf Hot Springs, a historic gem. The springs have been a destination for relaxation since the late 1800s. Therefore, they have been offering visitors a chance to unwind in the midst of alpine beauty for ages. You can choose from a variety of soaking options, including both indoor and outdoor pools. As you enjoy the warm waters, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees. This creates an atmosphere of rustic charm.

6. Pine Flats Hot Springs (Sawtooth National Recreation Area)

Morning Reflections on Stanley Lake in the Idaho Sawtooth National Forest

The Pine Flats Hot Springs lie in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area amidst the mountains.

Lying along the Salmon River, Pine Flats Hot Springs are a calm spot amidst the stunning landscapes of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The hot springs can be reached via a scenic trail, which adds to the sense of calmness you feel once you reach the springs. As you soak in the pools, you’ll be able to gaze at the pristine river and forested surroundings. You can also immerse yourself in the natural beauty that defines this remote wilderness retreat.

7. Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs (Snake River)

Snake River

The Snake River flows through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and joins the Columbia River in Washington. Along this river within a canyon is the Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs.

Accessible only by boat, Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs is a remote oasis nestled along the Snake River. This secluded spot gives visitors an opportunity to soak in the geothermal pools. At the same time, they can also enjoy the tranquility of the river and the surrounding canyon walls. It is a long journey to reach these springs. However, that adds an element of adventure, making your soak all the more rewarding when you finally take in the untouched beauty of this hidden gem.

8. Shea Hot Springs (Boise National Forest)

Ponderosa Pines and mountains in  Boise National Forest

Ponderosa Pines (Pinus ponderosa) and mountains in Boise National Forest

Along the banks of the Payette River in Boise National Forest lies Shea Hot Springs. It is a scenic spot to unwind and rejuvenate. The hot spring water flows into a series of terraced pools. Each offers a unique soaking experience. The natural setting is only complete with the soothing sounds of the river and the beauty of the forest. It creates an idyllic ambiance that invites you to relax and let go of everyday worries.

9. Lava Hot Springs (Portneuf River)

The Portneuf River, popular for floating and swimming, is a tributary of the Snake River that winds for 124 miles. Along this lies the town of Lava Hot Springs with several hot springs.

Situated in a charming resort town that shares its name, Lava Hot Springs has a diverse range of soaking options. From indoor to outdoor pools, each with varying temperatures, these springs cater to all kinds of visitors who seek both relaxation and recreation. In addition to the geothermal waters, the town itself has a delightful atmosphere with shops, dining, and entertainment. This makes it a well-rounded destination for those seeking a getaway filled with comfort and warmth.

10. Bonneville Hot Springs (Snake River)

The Bonneville Hot Springs are located along the Snake River and are only accessible through it.

Accessible only by boat, Bonneville Hot Springs is an opportunity for a truly unique geothermal experience. As you cruise along the Snake River to reach these springs, you can see numerous pools perched above the water. The isolation and the adventure required to reach them make for a more than memorable and rewarding soak.

11. Sacajawea Hot Springs (Salmon)

Tributary of the Payette River in Grandjean Idaho, at the Sacajawea Hot Springs

Tributary of the Payette River in Grandjean Idaho, at the Sacajawea Hot Springs

Named after the famous guide Sacajawea, these hot springs provide a picturesque soak beside the Salmon River. You’ll be surrounded by the river’s gentle flow and the tranquil beauty of the surrounding valley. Thus, it makes them an excellent stop for those exploring the Salmon River region, a peaceful and rejuvenating pause in your journey.

12. Weir Hot Springs (Clearwater National Forest)

Clearwater River; Lewis and Clark 1805 expedition route, Idaho

These hot springs lie in the Clearwater National Forest.

For those willing to embark on a rewarding hike, Weir Hot Springs in Clearwater National Forest is a hidden oasis. They are accessible via a scenic trail. They are located within a forested setting where they create an atmosphere of peaceful seclusion. As you soak in the warm waters, you’ll hear the sounds of the creek and witness the natural beauty that characterizes Idaho’s wilderness.

13. Sunbeam Hot Springs (Salmon-Challis National Forest)

Sunbeam Hot Springs in Idaho are located next to the highway

Sunbeam Hot Springs in Idaho are located next to the highway in autumn season

Situated beside the Salmon River in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Sunbeam Hot Springs are a historic spot. These pools have been enjoyed for over a century, and still their geothermal waters continue to provide a soothing experience for visitors. As you soak in the warm waters, you’ll be able to appreciate their rich heritage while taking in the scenic beauty of the Salmon River.

14. Sandy Beach Hot Springs (Boise National Forest)

River Tranquility 1

Calm sunny Autumn afternoon on the Payette river in Idaho

As the name suggests, Sandy Beach Hot Springs provides a serene and picturesque spot for relaxation along the middle fork of the Payette River. These natural pools along a riverside setting offer visitors a chance to soak in warm waters while surrounded by the beauty of nature. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or an adventurous day by the river, these hot springs have something to offer.

15. Avery Hot Springs (St. Joe National Forest)

St. Joe River, Idaho

The St. Joe River attained protection from the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 1978. Avery Hot Springs are located along this river.

Hidden along the St. Joe River, Avery Hot Springs are a unique and secluded spot to unwind. They are accessible along the river via a trail. The hike to these springs adds an element of adventure to your soak. As you relax in the geothermal waters, they create a tranquil ambiance that perfectly complements the remote beauty of the surrounding forest.

16. Elk River Hot Springs (Clearwater National Forest)

Elk River falls in the wilderness of northern Idaho

In Clearwater National Forest lie the Elk River Hot Springs. The pools are accessible by a picturesque hike, adding to your sense of anticipation as you make your way to these falls and springs.

17. Trail Creek Hot Springs (Boise National Forest)

The Trail Creek Hot Springs are located in the Boise National Forest.

Hidden within the Boise National Forest, Trail Creek Hot Springs are serene and peaceful to unwind in. The springs are nestled beside Trail Creek and give a soothing soak to anyone who steps in them. Meanwhile, you are surrounded by the sounds of flowing water and the beauty of the forest. Whether you’re seeking a solo retreat or a memorable experience with friends, these hot springs are the epitome of relaxation.

18. Mesa Falls Hot Springs (Caribou-Targhee National Forest)

Upper Mesa Falls on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest

Upper Mesa Falls is a waterfall on the Henrys Fork in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Located within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Mesa Falls Hot Springs has views of the stunning Mesa Falls. As you soak in the warm waters, you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of the falls while surrounded by the serene ambiance of the forest. Whether you’re doing a day trip or a longer exploration, these springs offer a refreshing pause in your outdoor adventure.

19. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs (Salmon-Challis National Forest)

Sawtooth Lake in Sawtooth Mountain Range in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Stanley Idaho. Logs in foreground

Sawtooth Lake in Sawtooth Mountain Range in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Stanley Idaho. Logs in foreground

Named after a local character, Wild Willy’s Hot Springs are a scenic and rustic spot to relax in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. These pools are located near the Salmon River. They are a tranquil retreat where you can soak in the warm waters. You can also enjoy the soothing sounds of the river and the untouched beauty of the surrounding landscape.

20. Baker Creek Hot Springs (Sawtooth National Recreation Area)

Saddleback lake

The Baker Creek Hot Springs are located in the middle of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho.

Accessible via a scenic hike, Baker Creek Hot Springs in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area are a secluded retreat amidst nature. You’ll be treated to the sight of the Salmon River and the surrounding forest, which creates an immersive experience showcasing the rugged charm of Idaho’s wilderness.

21. Warfield Hot Springs (Snake River)

beautiful sunset over the snake river in idaho

beautiful sunset over the snake river in idaho

Accessible only by boat, Warfield Hot Springs offers an opportunity to experience geothermal relaxation while surrounded by the majestic beauty of Hells Canyon along the Snake River. As you journey to reach the springs, you’ll be treated to breathtaking canyon views. The pools themselves provide a serene and scenic oasis, allowing you to bask in the warm waters while taking in the awe-inspiring surroundings.

22. Laird Hot Springs (Clearwater National Forest)

Remote Vista in the Mountains

Remote Vista in the Mountains of Idaho

Situated within Clearwater National Forest, Laird Hot Springs offers an off-the-beaten-path geothermal escape along the Lochsa River. The pools can be reached by a scenic hike, adding an element of adventure to your soak. As you relax in the warm waters, you’ll be able to appreciate the unspoiled beauty of the forest and the gentle flow of the river, creating a sense of peaceful immersion in nature.

Wildlife Near Natural Springs in Idaho

The hot springs of Idaho create a unique and inviting habitat for a diverse array of wildlife. These geothermal oases, surrounded by natural beauty and warm waters, often attract various animal species seeking both sustenance and sanctuary. As you soak in the rejuvenating warmth of the springs, you may have the opportunity to witness wildlife flourishing in their natural environment.

One of the most common sights near hot springs is the presence of various bird species. Birds such as waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors are drawn to the water sources near the springs, providing ample opportunities for birdwatching. The serene surroundings of the springs create a calming atmosphere for both visitors and the feathered inhabitants, allowing for peaceful coexistence between human and avian visitors.

Mammals are also frequent visitors to the areas surrounding hot springs. You might spot curious deer grazing on the nearby vegetation, or even catch a glimpse of smaller mammals like raccoons and squirrels. The warm waters of the springs can serve as a natural attractant for animals seeking hydration or a cozy spot to rest. Keep an eye out for signs of activity along the water’s edge, as these habitats provide a vital resource for the local wildlife.

In addition to terrestrial creatures, some hot springs also have proximity to water bodies, which can make them ideal locations for aquatic wildlife. Frogs, turtles, and even aquatic insects might call these areas home. The combination of the geothermal warmth and the availability of water can create a haven for amphibians and other aquatic species, contributing to the overall biodiversity of the region.

Summary of 22 Natural Hot Springs in Idaho and Where to Find Them

NumberName of Hot SpringsLocationDescription and Location
1Goldbug Hot SpringsSalmonCascading pools and scenic views.
2Jerry Johnson Hot SpringsClearwater National ForestAlong a creek in a lush forest setting.
3Kirkham Hot SpringsBoise National ForestBy the Payette River in a forested area.
4Boat Box Hot SpringsSalmon-Challis National ForestUnique, boat-accessible by the Salmon River.
5Burgdorf Hot SpringsPayette National ForestHistoric springs amid towering trees.
6Pine Flats Hot SpringsSawtooth National Recreation AreaAlong the Salmon River.
7Frenchman’s Bend Hot SpringsSnake RiverAlong the Snake River.
8Shea Hot SpringsBoise National ForestTerraced pools along the Payette River.
9Lava Hot SpringsLava Hot SpringsDiverse range of indoor and outdoor pools.
10Bonneville Hot SpringsSnake RiverBoat-accessible.
11Sacajawea Hot SpringsSalmonBeside the Salmon River.
12Weir Hot SpringsClearwater National ForestAccessible via a scenic trail in the forest.
13Sunbeam Hot SpringsSalmon-Challis National ForestAlong the Salmon River with scenic beauty.
14Sandy Beach Hot SpringsBoise National ForestAlong the Payette River.
15Avery Hot SpringsSt. Joe National ForestAlong the St. Joe River.
16Elk River Hot SpringsClearwater National ForestScenic Elk River hike.
17Trail Creek Hot SpringsBoise National ForestPeaceful soak along Trail Creek.
18Mesa Falls Hot SpringsCaribou-Targhee National ForestViews of Mesa Falls.
19Wild Willy’s Hot SpringsSalmon-Challis National ForestNear the Salmon River.
20Baker Creek Hot SpringsSawtooth National Recreation AreaScenic hike with river and forest views.
21Warfield Hot SpringsSnake RiverBreathtaking canyon views in Hells Canyon.
22Laird Hot SpringsClearwater National ForestEscape along the Lochsa River with a scenic hike.
These natural springs offer a variety of experiences, from remote and rugged to luxurious and family-friendly, all surrounded by the natural beauty of Idaho’s wilderness.

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About the Author

Shreya is a climate scientist. She also studies paleontology and evolutionary biology. She enjoys reading all kinds of literature and listening to rock music in her free time.

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