by Diane Norton, Idaho Tourism
Mineral hot springs have always been popular and many people believe the relaxing water has magical healing powers. Native Americans have a long relationship with hot springs and revere hot springs as sacred healing places. The hot spring areas were also known as neutral ground where warriors could travel to and rest peacefully. “Some tell us it’s spiritual because they are right above the springs source where there’s that interface of water, earth and the atmosphere,” said Mark Lowe, Executive Director of the Lava Hot Springs Foundation.
Lava Hot Springs was originally part of the Fort Hall Indian reservation. In 1902, the government realigned the boundaries and the hot springs became the State of Idaho’s property. With the railway in place and western expansion underway, settlers constructed tents next to the springs as early as 1907. Seven years later the Riverside Hotel, the first hotel in Lava Hot Springs, was built. Fast forward to today, the region is known as a “Hot Spring Mecca” inviting travelers to enjoy local hospitality at Lava Hot Springs Inn, Home Hotel and Aura Soma Lava.
Whether you are seeking a place to meditate, relax or sooth your muscles, the Gem state offers an abundance of year-round soaking options. Winter is the perfect time to visit Idaho’s steamy springs. Imagine yourself relaxing in the hot mineral water, watching the snow fall and gazing up at the stars. Not much compares…
Below is a sampling of year-round springs to enjoy!
Bear Lake Hot Springs, Paris, ID
Soak in large pools near the shore of beautiful Bear Lake. Camping is available.
Burgdorf Hot Springs, McCall, ID
Established in 1870, Burgdorf is both a hot springs and ghost town. Remains of cabins and an old hotel can be seen in a meadow on private land surrounded by the Payette National Forest. Accessible in winter only by snowmobile or cross-country ski. Lodging available.
Challis Hot Springs, Challis, ID
Challis Hot Springs is an historic springs and campground on the banks of the Salmon River south of Challis. Water temperatures range from 90-127 degrees and pools are open year-round.
Downata Hot Springs, Downey, ID
Downata Hot Springs is a full-service hot springs resort south of Pocatello.
Givens Hot Springs, Givens Hot Springs, ID
Long an Indian winter village site, the area was homesteaded in 1881 by Oregon Trail pioneers Milford and Mattie Givens. A pool and hotel were built in the 1880s to accommodate travelers, Silver City miners seeking arthritis relief, and local residents coming out for diversion. Within a 45-mile radius of Givens there are two museums, Indian petroglyphs, ATV trails, and Silver City – an historic mining town.
Gold Fork Hot Springs, McCall, ID
Gold Fork Hot Springs offers mineral pools and hydromassage.
Lava Hot Springs Pools, Lava Hot Springs, ID
For centuries, many Indian tribes gathered at these natural hot water springs, calling them the healing waters. Geologists theorize that the water has been a consistent 110 degrees for at least 50 million years. Today, the State of Idaho maintains this world-famous, family-friendly resort complex year-round. The facility offers hot mineral pools that are odor free.
Travelers Mike and Jurgen take a break at Lava.
Miracle Hot Springs, Buhl, ID
Miracle Hot Springs is open year-round with two outdoor pools, and 19 private hot pools. The water is soft to the touch and naturally clean with a sensational alkaline pH of 9.6. Professional massage therapists are on site. There is a 12 unit RV park and many tent spaces. Miracle also rents overnight camping domes and a 1000 sq. ft. event dome can be reserved for group activities.
Riverdale Resort Hot Springs, Preston, ID
Two hot springs pools, which are open year round, one Olympic-size pool, water slides, camping and RV sites are features of this new development near Preston.
Silver Creek Plunge, Garden Valley, ID
Silver Creek Plunge is a remote mountain hot springs resort on the middle fork of the Payette River in the Boise National Forest near Garden Valley. It features campsites, a mini-mart, snack bar, horseshoes, volleyball and basketball. It’s open year round, but accessible only by snowmobile in winter.
Sligar’s Thousand Springs Resort, Hagerman, ID
Sligar’s offers an indoor swimming pool and private hydro-jet pools with a scenic view of the Snake River and the Thousand Springs area. Riverside camping spots with electricity are also available.
The Springs, Idaho City, ID
Reservations are definitely recommended on weekends at this luxury hot springs retreat. The pools aren’t overcrowded so everyone may relax and soak in comfort.
Zim’s Hot Springs, New Meadows, ID
Zim’s is located in scenic New Meadows, just north of McCall. Open year-round, these natural hot springs surface at 90 to 95 degrees, depending on weather. One of the pools is Olympic size and kept at a cool 93 degrees and the other soaking pool is a muscle-relaxing 104 degrees.
For lodging and activity information near these springs, visit www.visitidaho.org.