Idaho boasts some of the most pristine geothermal hot springs in the country with varying temperatures perfect for a soothing soak. Natural pools of relaxing water ranging from 85-120°F can be found all over the state. The only issue will be picking which ones to visit!
After spending two days in Boise exploring the downtown area and wine tasting along the Sunnyslope Wine Trail, Brad and I were ready to hit the road. After a hearty breakfast in the city, we grabbed some snacks and drinks before heading to two hot springs in central Idaho.
Kirkham Hot Springs
Undoubtedly one of the most popular hot springs in Idaho is Kirkham. The roughly two-hour drive from Boise along Idaho State Highway 21, or Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route, features gorgeous views of pine covered hills along winding roads. There are plenty of viewpoints along the way to admire the scenery.
Upon arrival, look for the gravel parking lot conveniently located right off the roadway. Walk across the bridge leading to the paved campground parking lot and follow the signs to the hot springs. Bathrooms and picnic tables are available.
One of the highlights of these hot springs is the waterfalls! Feel the hot water trickle off the cliffs into the clear pools below. Feeling adventurous? Leap from the jumping point into the turquoise water of the Payette River if you need to cool down.
Waterfalls aren't the only attraction here. If privacy is what you desire, walk west along the river to find hot pools away from the crowds. These shallow pools offer plenty of room to stretch your legs. Ahhhh.
Ready for the crème de la crème? A picturesque location awaits farther down with hot spring water flowing directly into the cold river. The combination of the temperatures is refreshing, especially if you visit during the summer months. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face as I enjoyed this breathtaking oasis!
Goldbug Hot Springs
Continuing on our hot springs quest, we drove three hours east along the Salmon-Challis National Forest to the Goldbug trailhead. The parking lot is straightforward, but feel free to park along the road if all the spots are taken. A bathroom is nearby the beginning of the two-mile trail.
After ascending a few switchbacks on private property, you'll come to a gate which marks the start of public land. The moderate hike has a mix of terrains and inclines. Although some sections were difficult, our water sandals worked just fine.
The striking views are worth the effort as you climb your way to the top. The lush valley cradles multiple levels of cascading hot springs that decrease in temperature. Taking a dip in the pools of cool refreshing water was invigorating after walking in the sun.
Cracking open a drink was a great way to enjoy our second hot spring. I was waiting for a magical fairy to swoop in among the wildflowers, squishy moss, and waterfalls. We explored the popular hot pools, but spent most of our time in the cool pools after we saw a nude soaker at the top. You've been warned!
Initially the hot springs can feel near scalding, so test each pool before completely submerging. The rocks can be slippery, so be careful! A water sandal or shoe is useful for crossing the terrain.
There also isn't a lot of shade at Kirkham or the Goldbug trail, so prepare for nonstop sunshine. Expect crowds especially if you visit during the weekend. Be respectful of personal space and noise since some visitors are there to meditate.
Cell coverage can be spotty in rural Idaho. For a stress-free journey, download Google Maps ahead of time to help with navigation.
Salmon Gypsy Bed and Breakfast
Brad and I were ready to unwind following our busy day of driving, hiking, and soaking. We opted for a quaint and cozy retreat about two miles from the Goldbug Hot Springs trailhead. Run by Lorett and Pat Rogers, Salmon Gypsy Bed and Breakfast offers a romantic glamping experience with several amenities.
Located right on the Salmon River, these three wagons come with unique bohemian decor, fire-pits, bathrooms, and kitchenettes. Although we only stayed for one night in the red wagon, the friendly service and delicious breakfast left a lasting impression. I highly recommend these comfortable tiny-homes if you need a place to rest!
Kirkham and Goldbug Hot Springs are equally worthwhile. Each has its own beautiful landscape nestled in the vast wilderness of Idaho. You are bound to find paradise in these geothermal pockets of relaxation!