MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
There's nothing quite like the feeling of relaxing in a warm pool of water while steam rolls through the air. Add an incredible view and some good company in the mix and great times are bound to unfold. But not everyone has such a picture perfect hot tub setting. Fortunately, Idaho's volcanic history and vast mountain ranges have it covered.
Hot springs, nature's hot tubs, are abundant in Idaho and are relatively close to both Mountain Home and Boise, Idaho. There are more than 130 in the state, which is a pretty daunting number before narrowing down the search.
There are two types of hot springs - commercial springs, which usually have filtered concrete pools and some sort of lodge available, and public springs, which are usually made of piled rocks on the edge of a mountain or riverside.
Commercial springs require a fee, normally around $10, and sometimes even a reservation. Public springs are free but more often than not, are packed with people and it comes down to either waiting for a group to leave or some extra planning.
An easy work around to avoid the crowds is to get there at the right time. Early mornings and just before dark are perfect. The sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful when on the edge of a mountain while basking in a pool of spring water... just saying.
Morning and evening trips can also add to the level of risk however. Reduced visibility or icy paths can create dangerous commutes to some springs. Some are next to their parking areas and others require some pretty vertical hikes to get there. Be sure to understand the type of travel required for each spring prior to visiting.
Unfortunately finding a spring isn't as easy as asking your smartphone to take you to one. Only a few are available on GPS and the others require a bit more searching, which is sort of bittersweet in my opinion. If everyone knew where they were, it would kill the peace and quiet. Luckily, there is a devoted community to Idaho's natural hot tubs who have made it a bit easier to find them if you know where to look.
These teams of people are also committed to keeping the springs clean and safe. As these natural wonders are often visited by partiers, broken glass and trash can be an issue at some of the more popular springs. Visitors can do their part by cleaning up after themselves and ensuring they leave nothing behind.
While there is some research and trial and error involved in finding a perfect hot spring experience, finding the best spot can create a staple weekend adventure for friends and family to relax.
For more information on hot spring locations, pricing and more, visit Idaho Hot Springs
Or visit the Bureau of Land Management for the most accurate information on closures and renovations
***No federal endorsement intended***