Idaho is known for its potatoes, ever changing landscapes, and crystal clear rivers, but did you also know that it has an unreal amount of natural hot springs too? Over 130 soak-able hot springs to be exact! Over the past several years it seems more people are realizing that stunning landscapes and mountain adventures aren't just reserved for states like Colorado or Washington! So if you are planning a trip to Idaho this summer (see my 3-Day Guide to the Sawtooths), you definitely want to plan on checking out some hot springs along the way! In this blog I’ll cover a few remote options, some easy-to-get-to ones, and end it with some resort style pools as well as latitude and longitude locations for you to easily punch into your GPS! Let's get into seven of the BEST hot springs Idaho has to offer!
WEIR HOT SPRINGS
Kicking us off first, we have Weir Hot Springs (N46.46288 / W115.03572) in the Clearwater National Forest off of Highway 12. This highway corridor is a scenic and beautiful drive that follows the Lochsa River. Weir is located smack dab in the middle between Kamiah and Missoula with an easy-to-get to creekside hike. The natural flow of water keeps the rock pool clean and the views are cozy under a canopy of evergreen forest. An absolute must-see if you are in the area!
ELKHORN HOT SPRINGS
One of the more well-known and recognizable options is Elkhorn Hot Springs, also known as “The Boat Box” (N44.24481 / W114.88608). This little tub is located right along the Salmon River just outside of Stanley. If you’ve followed along my adventures before, you know my love for the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. These two combined make for a perfect adventure combo!
JERRY JOHNSON HOT SPRINGS
For my next recommendation, we have the nearby Jerry Johnson Hot Springs (N46.46193 / W114.87205). Along Highway 12 you’ll find a packbridge at milepost 152 which takes you across the river and starts along the easy one mile hike to the springs. With a few spaced out pool options there is a lot to choose from which makes this popular spot more user friendly. It is a day-use location so plan on being out by 8pm. For questions on both Weir and Jerry Johnson contact the Powell Ranger District.
GOLD BUG HOT SPRINGS
If you’re looking for a beautiful and wide-open view with a good hike in the Salmon area check out the Gold Bug hot springs near Elk Bend (N44.9053 / W113.9296). This hike includes a few footbridges and steps then gets fairly steep toward the end so make sure you wear proper shoes and use caution in snow. For condition details contact the Salmon/Cobalt Ranger District.
STANLEY HOT SPRINGS
The last option I want to showcase in the Highway 12 corridor is Stanley Hot Springs in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (N46.31609 / W115.25869). This one offers a bit more of a hike and adventure for those willing to put in the work! From Kamiah take Highway 12 to the Wilderness Gateway Campground where you will find the trailhead tucked in the back across the bridge. This hike starts with an initial climb and goes back about 5 miles. At mile 4.5 stay right at the junction and continue on to the pools. For questions regarding conditions contact the Lochsa Ranger District.
PINE FLATS HOT SPRINGS
Just down the road, about 10 miles, you'll find Pine Flats Hot Springs at the Pine Flats Campground. There are a few pool options, with the most picturesque being the waterfall pool (N44.06038 / W115.68886). The first pools you’ll come across tend to run fairly hot so soak with a bit of caution. If you want possible seclusion, wade along the river around the rock outcropping to the tucked away waterfall pool. For information on these two, contact the Lowman Ranger District.
KIRKHAM HOT SPRINGS
One of Idaho’s all time favorites is none other than Kirkham Hot Springs along the South Fork Payette River near Lowman (N44.07251 / W115.54545). If you’re traveling north-northeast from adventuring in the Sawtooths this stop is an absolute must! With cascading pools near the parking area and waterfall pools right on the river there is something for everyone. The bright blue crystal-clear water of the river is incredibly stunning and jumping off the surrounding rocks into the river pools is a popular activity.
RESORT-STYLE HOT SPRINGS
If primitive pools aren’t your style and you want a more resort style option with lodging there are still many to be seen. Three of my favorites are Red River Hot Springs and Lodge in north-central Idaho, Burgdorf in central, and Lava Hot Springs in the southeast part of the state.
Wherever the hunt for hot springs takes you in Idaho you are sure to be met with adventure and wild views. If the more rugged hikes to these hot springs intimidate you, make sure to check out my other Fit For Hiking blogs, or a Free Week of Workouts Guide to prepare for the treks! As always, be sure to leave no trace and recreate responsibly!
Happy + Healthy Trails,