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The Best Natural Hot Springs in IdahoWant to know the best natural hot springs in Idaho to visit this summer (or any time) – then read on!

One of my biggest travel highlights last year was our road trip through Idaho – wow, did I fall in love with this massively underrated state!

Beautiful Idado has incredible hot springs

During our two weeks roadtripping through Idaho, the two big focuses of our trip were hiking and hot springs – and Idaho does both things really, really well.

As much as I love Colorado, it is not exactly an under-the-radar destination, and the hiking trails and hot springs of my home state just seem to get more and more crowded each year.

Enter Idaho.

Kirkham Hot Springs is one of the best Idaho hot springs

All the natural hot springs in Idaho we visited were both incredibly scenic, and not crowded at all, making Idaho the perfect destination for hot spring lovers like myself.

Check out my list of the best natural hot springs in Idaho, plus a couple of rustic, developed hot springs that are definitely worth visiting as well.

Extend your road trip and visit Colorado too – the hot springs in Colorado are also plentiful and incredible!

The Best Idaho Hot Springs

Idaho Hot Springs Map

I mostly traveled in the south of Idaho so most of the hot springs mentioned are in this area, although I have added a couple of others that I have heard great things about that are further north.

Check out my interactive Idaho Hot Springs Map so you can start planning which ones to visit!

Natural Hot Springs in Idaho Map

Best Natural Hot Springs in Idaho

These are all the natural hot springs in Idaho that we visited and absolutely loved – and I’m sure you will too.

Kirkham Hot Springs

Kirkham Hot Springs is not just one of the best natural hot springs in Idaho, it is one of the best in the United States – or maybe even the world!

These hot springs are out of this world beautiful, with super clear turquoise water, hot waterfalls, and a number of pools along the Payette River.

Kirkham Hot Springs is one of the best natural hot springs in Idaho

Although they are one of the most well-known hot springs in Idaho, when we visited on a weekday in August there were only a handful of people there.

Make sure to check out the waterfall pools, as well as the pools further along the river, and there are even a few hot pools right by the car park. If it gets too hot, jump in the river to cool off.

Secret Hot Spring at Kirkham Hot Springs Kirkham Hot Springs in Idaho

There is a $5 day fee to park outside the locked gate, and there is camping usually available, although the campground is closed for the foreseeable future.

Bonneville Hot Springs

Another beautiful natural hot spring, Bonneville Hot Springs is not as well-known as Kirkham Hot Springs so it’s more likely that you will get a pool to yourself here.

There are a few small rock pools right on Warm Springs Creek, and a private soak shack with a bathtub that thermal water is piped into. The hot springs are surrounded by forest and far enough off the main road that you can’t hear any traffic. It is a super peaceful spot.

Bonneville hot springs is one of the best hot springs in Idaho

Some of the pools are too hot to soak in, and there is a super hot waterfall. Make sure to check the temperature of any pools before hopping in. The closer to the river, the cooler the temperature.

Bonneville Hot Springs is a twenty-minute drive further towards Stanley from Kirkham Hot Springs and requires a short 0.3-mile walk to reach them.

It is a $5 fee if you are just visiting for the day, or you can camp in the campground if you want to stay longer.

Hot waterfall at Bonneville Hot Springs

Boat Box Hot Springs

Unfortunately the “boat box” was washed away in June 2023.

Boat Box Hot Springs is Insta-famous, and has got to be one of the more unique hot springs I have visited.

The “boat box” is essentially a giant cauldron that I think was used in mining operations in the past. It has been placed beside the river and a pipe continuously fills it with natural hot springs water.

Boat Box Hot Springs is one of the best Idaho hot springs

There are also a couple of small rock pools on the river if there are already people in the boat box, because it will only fit up to three people, and you wouldn’t want to get in there with anyone you don’t know because it is VERY cozy.

We found the water to be much too hot to get into when we visited, but you can cool it down by carefully moving the hot water pipe so hot water will no longer be flowing into the cauldron, opening the water release tap at the bottom to empty out some of the hot water, then using the bucket provided to collect cold water to pour into the cauldron from the river.

If you do this, make sure to put the pipe back and turn off the release tap when you are done.

Other hot pools at Boat BoxSoaking in Boat Box Hot Springs

All you can see of Boat Box is a small pullout on the side of the road – perhaps big enough for two or three cars. Make sure to check the location on the Idaho hot springs map or you will blink and miss it.

Sunbeam Hot Springs

Lovely Sunbeam Hot Springs is only a ten-minute drive further on from Boat Box, so if it is too crowded there, then head to Sunbeam instead – at least to wait it out.

Sunbeam has a number of small rock pools with beautiful clear water on the Salmon River. It is a very peaceful spot despite being just off the road, with a verdant forest right by the river.

Sunbeam hot springs is one of the best natural hot springs in Idaho

There is also a large plastic soaking tub around the other side of the old bathhouse building by the car park, but I didn’t know this at the time and didn’t see it – you should check it out though!

The pools range in temperature, and when I went in September this year, about half of them were too hot to get in – choose the pools closest to the river for the best temperatures. Hot thermal water comes out of the mountain through a pipe that goes under the road so don’t go too close to the pipe.

This is a popular hot spring with visitors and locals, and we enjoyed chatting with others that were also having a relaxing soak.

Sunbeam Hot Springs is one of the best Idaho hot springs

Goldbug Hot Springs

Vying for the best natural hot springs in Idaho along with Kirkham Hot Springs is the impressive Goldbug Hot Springs near Salmon.

Goldbug Hot Springs is a number of tiered hot waterfall pools in a narrow valley with impressive views. Every pool has a different temperature, with the pools at the top of the waterfall generally being the hottest.

Goldbug Hot Springs is one of the best natural hot springs in Idaho Beautiful Goldbug Hot Springs is one of the best natural hot springs in Idaho

The setting is simply spectacular and you could easily spend hours hopping around the different pools and having natural hot showers under the many waterfalls here – we did.

Unlike most of the other hot springs on this list, it is a decent hike to get there – 2.2 miles each way with just under 1000 ft elevation gain. Part of the trail travels through private land, so be respectful of that.

Trail to Goldbug Hot Springs in Idaho

Make sure you take lots of water because it can get really hot on this exposed hike in summer, and wear proper hiking shoes.

You can camp at the top of the hot springs as well as spots down by the river below, and I will definitely do that next time.

When searching on Google maps, make sure to search for “Goldbug Hot Springs Trailhead” because if you just search for the hot springs, the directions are wrong (trust me, that’s what we did).

Soaking at Goldbug Hot Springs

Lava Hot Springs

The town of Lava Hot Springs in southeast Idaho is home to a number of natural hot springs, but the most well-known natural hot spring here is right by town – directly across the river from where you put in for tubing.

These natural hot springs are made up of a couple of rocky pools on the Portneuf River. A hot waterfall flows into the end pool, and the hot waterfall water mixes with the cold river water so you can move to different parts of the pools for different temperatures – the waterfall was very hot so I would advise you to not go too close to it.

It’s a great spot to watch the tubers go over the rapids right beside the pools.

You can reach this hot spring either by stopping off on your tube if you are tubing the river, or you can walk through the camping ground and along the river to reach it.

Lava Hot Springs natural hot springs in Idaho

Other Natural Hot Springs in Idaho to Visit

We didn’t get a chance to visit these natural hot springs in Idaho, but I have heard great things, and they are on our Idaho hot springs bucket list for the future.

Frenchman’s Hot Springs

We were meant to go to Frenchman’s Hot Springs during our time in Ketchum, but we ended up just kicking back in the cabin instead – we really needed the rest after our backpacking trip.

Frenchman’s Hot Springs is popular with Ketchum and Sun Valley locals and is a 30-minute drive from town. It consists of a couple of small pools that have been built up with rocks along the side of the river, with a mixture of hot thermal water and cold river water.

Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

Rocky Canyon Hot Springs is made up of several tiered waterfall pools that have been created with river rocks. The closer to the river, the cooler the pool.

The hot springs are a bit of a detour no matter where you are heading. You will need to drive 15 miles on a dirt road, and you will also need to cross a river, so it is only advisable to visit in mid-summer to mid-fall because the river will be too high or too cold at other times.

Upper hot spring at Kirkham Hot Springs

Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is one of the best Idaho hot springs in the north of the state, and it is a 2-mile return hike to reach the springs.

Located north of Salmon, Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is made up of two year-round pools, and additional waterfall pools that are submerged due to spring runoff until late summer. There are also a few smaller pools that are cooler than the others.

You used to be able to camp there but because of people leaving trash and not respecting the springs, it is now day use only.

Trail Creek Hot Springs

Trail Creek Hot Springs, also known as Samuel’s Hot Springs and marked as such on Google Maps, consists of two large rock pools formed with cement on Trail Creek that were built by local soakers.

The water looks beautiful and clear and the setting in the forest looks like a dreamy spot to spend a few hours relaxing.

It is a very short but steep walk to the springs, and they are located northeast of Cascade, Idaho.

Waterfall at one of the best Idaho Hot Springs, Kirkham

Best Hot Springs in Idaho – Developed

Although natural hot springs are my favorite kind, we also visited a couple of super relaxing and understated developed hot springs in Idaho that I think are also definitely worth visiting. They both have natural thermal water in their pools and are super relaxing.

Maple Grove Hot Springs

We were told about Maple Grove Hot Springs by my brother-in-law who is based in Salt Lake City, and we fell in love with this peaceful hot spring retreat and wished we had more time there.

Set in the beautiful Bear River Valley on 45 acres, this sustainable off-grid resort has yurts and other glamping options available to stay overnight, and four natural thermal water-fed pools, right on the river.

Maple Grove Hot springs pool

Each pool is a different heat, and we enjoyed soaking in them all, chatting to other guests, and stargazing – the stars are amazing here.

We spent a few hours in the evening here and it was heaven. Next time I am going to stay a couple of nights and enjoy the other activities on offer at the resort as well, like SUPing on the river and hiking one of the nearby trails.

This has got to be one of the more offbeat hot springs in Idaho, because I haven’t seen it on any other best Idaho hot springs lists.

It is $18 for a hot springs pass ($12 on Mondays), but the hot springs are included in the price if you stay here.

Maple Grove Hot Springs Retreat in Idaho

Lava Hot Springs

Along with the natural Lava Hot Springs, there is also a developed Lava Hot Springs that I highly encourage you to visit as well.

Although these are developed hot springs, over 2.5 million gallons of water flow through the hot springs each day, keeping the water fresh and clean. No chemicals are added to the water.

Lava Hot Springs is one of the best Idaho hot springs

With various pools of different temperatures ranging between 102˚F to 112˚F degrees, I enjoyed pool-hopping at Lava Hot Springs and liked that the pools had stone or gravel bottoms, and a number had sun shades.

My favorite pool of the lot was the super hot pool at the back of the small complex, at the bottom of a sunken garden and with a waterfall soundtrack. Definitely make sure you visit the beautiful Sunken Garden before or after your soak.

The entry fee to Lava Hot Springs is a very reasonable $8 on weekdays and $12 Friday through Sunday, and there are changing rooms and restrooms. Don’t get confused with the nearby Olympic swimming complex of the same name, you want the hot pools – they are marked on the Idaho hot springs map at the beginning of this post.

Sunken Gardens in Lava Hot Springs

Plan Your Trip to the Best Hot Springs in Idaho

It would be hard to visit all these Idaho hot springs without hours of backtracking, so I would suggest three different routes, depending on what direction you will be heading in.

Starting in Boise, make sure you definitely visit the hot springs that are close to Stanley – Kirkham, Bonneville, and Sunbeam.

Then if you are heading south towards Salt Lake City you could stop at Frenchman’s, Lava, and Maple Grove; if you are heading north towards Salmon and Missoula, stop at Goldbug and Jerry Johnson; and if you are heading north towards McCall, you could visit Rocky Canyon and Trail Creek.

Waterfall at Kirkham Hot Springs

Where To Stay on Your Idaho Hot Springs Trip

Along with the camping that is available at some of the hot springs, I wanted to add a few other options in the areas that the hot springs are in.

Stanley Accommodation

We stayed at the historic Sawtooth Hotel and I really liked the vibe there – it’s also one of the cheapest places to stay that is right in town. The room was small but nicely decorated and we shared a bathroom with other guests. There is also a restaurant onsite.

Sawtooth Hotel in Stanley

Mountain Village Resort is probably the most well-known place to stay in Stanley and it has numerous room types and its own hot spring onsite that has spectacular mountain views.

For vacation rentals in the Stanley area, check out this cute studio with amazing views, or this rustic cabin with views of the Sawtooth Mountains

Ketchum Accommodation

Treat yourself by staying at the stylish Hotel Ketchum, the cozy Tamarack Lodge, or at the comfortable Tyrolean Lodge, all of which have pools and are right in town.

For vacation rentals, check out this cozy condo with access to a pool and hot tub, this wood-accented studio, or this mountain view condo with a shared pool and sauna.

Downtown Salmon in Idaho

Salmon Accommodation

We stayed at the Bear Country Inn for two nights and it was a good, simple and affordable motel with large rooms that have fridges and microwaves, an indoor pool and hot tub, and a great location on Main Street.

Other great options include The Stagecoach Inn which is by the river and has a hot tub and pool, and the Twin Peaks Guest Ranch for a real local experience with hiking on the property and cabin-like rooms.

For vacation rentals, stay at this cozy log cabin or at one of these red, green, or blue gypsy wagons/tiny homes.

Lava Hot Springs in Idaho

Lava Hot Springs Accommodation

Stay at the homey Alpaca Inn, right in town, or the historic adults-only Riverside Hot Springs Inn & Spa.

For vacation rentals, stay at this super cute cabin right by town or the Naughty Pine, a sweet two-bedroom house in town.

Maple Grove Accommodation

You should definitely stay at Maple Grove Hot Springs Retreat. If you stay overnight you have so much more time to soak in the pools, plus they have other activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and hiking.

Stay in a cabin, yurt, or canvas tent – or bring your own tent for a great budget option.

Maple Grove Hot Springs

What to Pack to Have the Best Idaho Hot Springs Trip

Make sure to pack these items when visiting Idaho’s hot springs:

  • Towel – a large, cozy beach towel is best, especially in the colder months
  • River shoes or flip-flops to wear in or between pools. Great for rocky pool bottoms.
  • Water bottle – it’s important to stay hydrated when you are soaking in hot water. I recommend a hydro flask which will keep your water nice and cold on a hot day
  • Packed lunch or snacks if you are planning to stay awhile
  • Sunglasses and a good sun hat if you are visiting in the middle of the day to protect your face from the sun.
  • Natural sun protection like coconut oil – don’t pollute the pools with sunscreen

Kirkham is one of my favorite natural hot springs in Idaho

Tips for Considerate Hot Springs Soaking

  • Pack out what you pack in. Usually, there aren’t any bins near natural hot springs, and you should definitely not leave your trash behind – make sure you take everything you brought in with you.
  • Don’t crowd people – If there is no room in any of the pools, then just wait till space becomes available.
  • Be aware that natural hot springs in Idaho are generally clothing optional. Just a warning for people who may feel uncomfortable with this.
  • Be respectful of others, especially with your noise level as a lot of people come to relax and unwind so don’t want to deal with loud music or people talking loudly
  • Don’t wear sunscreen to keep the pools as pristine as possible. If you are worried about getting sunburnt, use coconut oil instead which is natural and will protect you from the sun. Also, I’m sure it goes without saying that you shouldn’t use soap or shampoo in any of the hot springs either.

I hope I have inspired you to visit these best hot springs in Idaho. Writing it has made me want to get back there ASAP!

If you liked this post, check out more of my Western U.S. content:


The Best Natural Hot Springs in Idaho The Best Idaho Hot Springs The Best Hot Springs in Idaho

6 Comments on The Best Natural Hot Springs in Idaho For a Relaxing Soak

  1. Little late to the game, but good post. For those who complain and think they have a right to say no visitors need a reality check. Being a native of Idaho I welcome and love to share the beauty of Idaho as one should. Any person who loves their local vibes should be willing to share as well. Some need a reality check. When, probably, your ancestors came here and killed, stole, pillaged, and then relocated my ancestors to small patches of land decide that they can’t share from “out of staters” is a joke. I am glad you enjoyed soaking in some of our pools. I have not been to some of these places and plan on going. The world is growing as it has for the last billion years. It is a wonderful place with millions of treasures. Just respect each other and respect the land.

  2. It’s not just your little blog, it’s a lot of blogs that have created an easy way for people to just search hot springs, which have inundated our hot springs with out of towners. The strange thing is most of the articles and YouTube videos are made by people that don’t live here. We would never share our places that used to be somewhat private. Thanks for helping me having to deal with all these visitors now. Picking up trash and broken bottles.
    People also, apparently, don’t know how to bury their shit anymore either.

    • I’m sorry that you feel that way Kevin, but unfortunately, you don’t own them. Surely you visit places away from where you live too? Do you think that no one should be allowed to visit places that aren’t near their home? I disagree with that. Don’t assume that locals wouldn’t trash them either, because a lot of the time that isn’t the case

  3. Yes enter Idaho, the new California/Colorado… ugh. We prefer to stay under the radar and underrated. That’s how these things stay, nice and quiet, and not crowded. The less blasting the better. These places should be discovered. Not sought out. But gone are the good old days eh…

    • People do seek out beautiful and interesting places to go, that hasn’t changed. I don’t think an article on my little blog is going to suddenly inundate Idaho with tons more tourists – I wouldn’t worry about that…

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