Idaho is known for its glorious hot springs scattered throughout the state. They sit on top of mountains, next to clear streams, and are even in some backyards. In fact, in Idaho alone, there are more than 100 hot springs that you can soak in — if you know where to look. Because unlike Southern Idaho’s majestic waterfalls that are seemingly around every corner, some of the state’s most beloved hot springs are only found with the right coordinates.
But first, a few ground rules to visiting these, as well as all of the other, Idaho hot springs: Remember to always leave no trace when visiting the pools to keep the natural beauty intact. You also shouldn’t crowd or hog a location, as many have tight quarters and can only hold a couple of people at a time. Idaho hot spring etiquette is to let the person in the spring finish soaking before you go in. Give them 30 minutes before heading down to the springs.
With those guidelines in mind, you can start to build your Idaho hot spring itinerary. One of the joys of hot spring hopping in the Gem State is the mix of natural springs, built up springs, and springs that are a mix of natural and built up. These seven will give you a sense of all three.
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1. Sunbeam Hot Springs on the Salmon River Scenic Byway
North of Boat Box is another wonderful riverside hot spring with a view. Sunbeam is an old dam that’s stunning to see tower over the river. Just south of it, you’ll find a variety of hot spring options. There are two tubs sitting down by the river, plus a couple of pools below formed with river rocks. The little pools have cooler water than the boxes, which are adjustable with pipes. Sunbeam is a beautiful area to visit and you will be able to take your choice of site seeing all around, including ghost towns farther up the Salmon River Scenic Byway.
How to get to Sunbeam Hot Springs: Drive about 12 miles north of Stanley on Highway 75. The hot springs are located shortly before the dam itself.
2. Snake Pit Hot Springs in Lower Stanley
Snake Pit looks toward the Sawtooth Mountains, which provide a beautiful view. At Snake Pit, which is also sometimes called Valley Creek Hot Springs, there’s just one large natural pool that’s located next to Mountain Village Hot Springs. Mountain Village Hot Spring is inside a wooden hut and is privately booked for hour-long time slots for around $25. Snake Pit, however, is free to the public.
How to get to Snake Pit Hot Springs: Located along Valley Creek and accessible via a pulloff on Valley Creek Road.
3. Goldbug Hot Springs near Challis
Goldbug Hot Springs is one for your bucket list. This magical hot spring requires a two mile hike up the side of a mountain, but it’s so worth it. There are a number of springs to soak in once you make it to the destination. Some are inside of caves, while others look over the valley and mountains. This hot spring is one of the most Instagrammable in the Pacific Northwest, and people travel from all around the United States to hike to it. This spring is another one that you may have to wait your turn, but the pools are large, and it’s a perfect location to make friends with other hot spring lovers. In the winter, plan to bring crampons or spikes, as the switch backs can get slippery. The hike is steep — bring water and prepare accordingly.
How to get to Goldbug Hot Springs: Drive about 35 miles north of Challis on Highway 93 and exit on Warm Springs Road. Here, you’ll find the start of the trailhead that will take you to the springs after a two mile hike.
4. Miracle and Banbury Hot Springs near Hagerman and Buhl
These locally owned hot spring resorts are a delight. Enjoy soaking in large swimming pools or in VIP rooms. Banbury’s VIP hot springs look over the Snake River, while Miracle’s are in romantic closed off rooms. Miracle and Banbury both have camping spaces, and Miracle has magical glamping domes on the property to stay in. To make these springs even more special, there are alligators (yes, alligators) on property you can check out.
5. Boat Box Hot Springs near Stanley
One of Idaho’s most popular hot springs is an adorable little tub next to the river. While the draw is easy to understand, that means theres a chance there will be people there and the tub only holds a few. Visit on a weekday and early in the morning to avoid crowds. The spring itself is a tub (a boat box) and the hot spring water flows into the tub via a pipe. Temperature of the spring can be adjusted by moving the pipe out of the tub. It’s the perfect spring for a photo opportunity.
How to get to Boat Box Hot Springs: Drive Highway 75 out of Stanley for about three miles and watch the side of the road for steam, then pull off. If you pass Salmon River Campground then you’ve gone too far. There’s a limited space for cars just like there’s a limited space in the tub, so circle back around at another time if you can’t fit.
6. Skillern Hot Springs near Fairfield
Another hot spring that requires a hike is Skillern Hot Springs, so be sure to pack water and hiking boots along with your swimsuit. The six mile round trip hike leads you through the Soldier Mountains with a low trail that has spring crossings, or a high trail with about 300 feet of elevation gain. The hot spring is found on the edge of a cliff looking over the river, almost hidden away. It’s one of the most tranquil locations to soak in hot springs. Note that this spring isn’t accessible in the winter because the road becomes a snowmobile only trail. You can snowshoe in if you ride a snowmobile up, but the trail can be prone to snow slides, so check conditions before embarking on the journey.
How to get to Skillern Hot Springs: From Fairfield, take National Forest Road 94 north for almost 20 miles until it merges with National Forest Road 227. Drive another five and a half miles or so until turning right on Big Smoky Road, and the trailhead is at the end.
7. Riverview Yurt with private geothermal hot-pool in Buhl
The Riverview Yurt is located just off the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway. The private hot springs on the property can only be accessed by renting the Airbnb. The property couldn’t be any more picture perfect! The spacious yurt is cozy and sleeps up to 6, and the yard is fully decked out for you to enjoy your vacation to the fullest. The private hot spring is oh-so-soothing and perfect for that getaway you’ve been dreaming of.
How to get to Riverview Yurt: Book for address