Most people have never heard of Kirkham, Idaho. However, this small unknown city in the western state of Idaho is one of the best places in the country to find amazing hot springs.
Some major hot springs in the state require an experienced hike in order to access them, however, some are within a short distance from their designated parking areas. No matter your physical abilities, Idaho has a hot spring for you!
Hiking and Travel to the Hot Springs
All of these amazing hot springs are surrounded by lush green forests - perfect for the ideal Instagram photos! These magical places are bound to leave you feeling cleansed and refreshed. Make sure to look up the distance from parking to the hot spring and prepare yourself for the journey.
Hot springs are an inviting and delicate environment. The longevity of any hot spring requires best-use practices from all who visit. Follow these handy tips to make sure you are doing your part:
- Stay on the designated trails
- Follow the camping restrictions
- Make sure to take out any packed trash
- Remember to leave hot springs in a better condition than you found them
These hot springs tend to get populated quickly, especially during vacation seasons. It’s important to remember to be respectful of all others who might also be attending and limit your time in the pools as they tend to be a bit small. Some people also have the practice of sitting nude in the pools - so prepare yourself for whatever adventure might await you.
Top 5 Springs to Visit in Idaho
Kirkham Hot Springs, Boise National Forest
This bubbling spring and delightful landscape are on the South Payette River, and it is actually visible from Highway 21 (Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway). Kirkham Hot Springs is the most popular spot in the state. People have loved coming to this relaxing soak for decades. Whether you attend in the summer or the dead of winter, this spot will offer some of the most amazing relaxing feelings you’ll experience on your vacation.
There is also a campground right next to the hot spring that has the same name. This is a wonderful place to camp and spend the weekend enjoying the delightful nature scenes as the hot springs. This spot also takes reservations. Make sure to book quickly as the summer reservations tend to fill up fast.
Jerry Johnson & Weir Creek Hot Springs, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest
Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is one of those with a bit of a hike that begins by crossing a suspension bridge over the Lochsa River. It can be an uphill hike, but it’ll be rewarded in the end with three spacious pools for relaxing and calming weary muscles. The pools tend to vary in temperature offering a perfect space and heat level for everyone in your party.
If you’re not so much into hiking Weir Creek Hot Springs offers a quick walk from Highway 12. The trail is a quick and relatively easy path to navigate, but steady footwear is still recommended. Nestled into a lush mountain canyon, you’ll find the pool at Weir Creek. It tends to be a bit deeper than others and will comfortably accommodate everyone in your party. If you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, there’s a smaller pool for one or two just above the mountain slope. This spot also has camping available if you choose to extend your rejuvenating vacation to more than a day.
Goldbug Hot Springs, Salmon-Challis National Forest
Hidden between Salmon and Challis in central Idaho, you’ll find Goldbug Hot Springs. This is one of the best Instagram spots in the state with a fantastic panoramic view of the mountains and valley below the pool.
This particular pool offers quite a hike up the twisted mountainside. The trail climbed about 1,300 feet to reach the divide in the mountain that holds this spectacular spring. Though the hike can be a bit grilling, it’s well worth it once you reach the top and enter the welcoming pools that offer some relief to sore muscles.
Sunbeam Hot Springs, Salmon-Challis National Forest
This amazing spring is one of the easiest to access as it sits just off of Highway 75 - no hiking required. However, there are still beautiful scenes of the forest and rock formations around for perfect Instagram photos or if the mood strikes you to explore.
This hot spring follows the Salmon River and is usually one of the most popular in the area because it’s near a central base camp for exploring Sawtooth National Recreation Area - one of the best national forests in Idaho.
Another notable cleansing pool nearby is Boat Box Hot Springs (also known as Elkhorn Hot Springs). This amazing roadside soaking spot features a large metal tub that is perfect for a romantic occasion with just you and your partner. This unique spot is just enough away from the highway to offer privacy and enhance your delightful romantic experience.
Bonneville & Pine Flats Hot Springs, Boise National Forest
There is a good collection of hot springs that are located in Boise National Forest and are within an hour of the capital city. Bonneville is one of the closest hot springs and easiest to access, located east of Kirkham on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway.
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, this is the ideal spot in Idaho. It’s an easy quarter-mile walk to Bonneville from the Bonneville campgrounds. The moss-covered spring is accessible by a trail that follows along Warm Springs Creek - perfect for dipping your feet in along your walk. There are also campsites scattered all around the area, perfect for your ideal weekend trip.
There are several pools gathered together at this location, offering a spectrum of temperatures. The pools closest to the spring can be incredibly hot, take caution when stepping in. Enjoy the varying temperatures and alternate between warm pools and cool pools, offering a deeper relaxing experience for your mind and body.
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and you need a break from everyday life. Take time out to visit one of these amazing pools in Idaho.