The Best Hot Springs Near Boise
Post Summary: Two of the best hot springs near Boise and how to prepare for a visit.
Did you know Idaho is a hotbed of natural hot springs? Yes, that pun is intended! Bad puns aside, Idaho has one of the highest concentration of hot springs in the US. Furthermore, Idaho is one of the least visited states in the US. Fewer people = More Fun.
After spending nearly four months living in Boise, we knew we had to schlep our toddler out into the backcountry to experience the magic of an Idaho hot spring.
While there are ample hot springs in Idaho, finding hot springs in Boise isn’t as easy as it seems. Most of the hot springs are located in central and southern Idaho and will be more enjoyable if you make visiting them a long weekend from Boise.
If you’re looking for some easy day trips from Boise, Kirkham Hot Springs and The Springs at Idaho City are our two favorite hot springs near Boise.
Read on to learn about them and everything you need to know to enjoy your day soaking in the steamy geothermal pools. We’ve also included some additional Boise area hot springs you can add to your Idaho hot springs bucket list.
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KIRKHAM HOT SPRINGS
Kirkham Hot Springs in Lowman, Idaho, is largely considered the best hot spring in Idaho. It’s not hard to figure out why. It’s out of this world beautiful.
We visited in the winter when the mountains and hills were still covered in snow, creating an even more dramatic backdrop for this heavenly hot spring nestled along the Payette River.
We LOVED our time there and would go back time and time again if we lived closer. It’s a natural hot spring with about ten small to medium-sized wading pools spread along the side of the river. Most of Idaho’s natural springs will be close quarters, but Kirkham offers a little more room, so it doesn’t feel too crowded if there are a handful of small groups.
The highlights of Kirkham Hot Springs are the hot steaming waterfalls that cascade down the mountain. It’s basically an outdoor shower with fantastic water pressure. (Sidenote-please don’t be tempted to actually shower. Soap is not good for the water.)
When you arrive at Kirkham, you’ll walk past the picnic benches and public bathrooms to find a wooden staircase leading you down to the pools. You will have to maneuver and climb along rocks to get to the wading pools. There are about three small pools, a heavenly waterfall, and another set of pools accessible by climbing over a rock wall.
If you are traveling with someone who can’t climb stairs or rocks, there are two small pools before you take the stairs down. It’s perfect for toddlers or anyone with limited mobility.
How to get to Kirkham Hot Springs from Boise
Kirkham Hot Springs is located in the Boise National Forest, about an hour and 45 minutes away from Boise, Idaho.
From Boise, you’ll drive north on Highway 21, passing through Idaho City and Lowman before coming to the parking lot on the right. You’ll know you’re close when you spot steam rising from the valley below.
Parking is $5 from spring to fall (the exact times are ambiguous). The parking area is closed in the winter.
Since we visited in early March, we had to park on a pullout along the road. It wasn’t hard at all and required at most an extra three minutes of walking.
If you’re visiting in the dead of winter, I would be prepared to do some deep schlepping through the snow. I would also check road conditions before you go, as you might need snow chains for parts of the trek. An excellent resource to check road conditions is the Idaho Transportation Department.
Best time to visit Kirkham Hot Springs
The high season for Kirkham is the summer months when the Kirkham Campgrounds are open, and you can go back and forth between the cold water of the Payette River and the steaming hot springs.
Spring and Fall are also popular times and bring the unparalleled beauty of spring blooms and fall colors.
Winter is the slowest time of the year, and there are times you can get the entire hot spring to yourself! When we visited in March, there were three small groups, and it was easy to feel like you had your own space.
No matter what time of year you’re visiting, the best way to avoid crowds is to arrive there early in the morning. The official hours of Kirkham Hot Springs are 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM. We arrived at 11:00 AM, and if we were to do it again, I would have gotten there from 8-9 AM to try to have as much quiet time there as possible.
Is Kirkham Hot Springs Family Friendly?
Yes! Kirkham hot springs is an excellent option for families. Public bathrooms, picnic tables, easy accessibility, and shallow water make this a great family day out.
We took our two-year-old, and he had a blast sitting in the shallow water, thoroughly examining rocks. He enjoyed it so much; he might have had a mini tantrum about leaving.
That being said, if you’re going to the springs with a baby or toddler, you might want to babywear them down so you can have both hands free while navigating the rocks. I like the Bitybean Ultra Compact Baby Carrier because it’s lightweight, and you can get it wet.
The pools have varying temperatures from warm to jacuzzi level hot, so you’ll want to test out the pools as they aren’t all the same temperature.
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That’s all great, but can I get naked?
Sorry, my body-free people who are hoping to be one with nature and frolic nude amongst the sharp rocks. While most natural hot springs in Idaho are clothing optional, Kirkham Hot Springs is not. You’ll see many signs explicitly stating that you must keep your clothes on at the hot springs.
Tips To Enjoy Your Time at Kirkham
-Since there’s no food around, make a day of it and pack a lunch to be enjoyed at the picnic tables. Please be kind and don’t eat in the hot springs.
-Don’t forget your towels or a bathrobe!
-Bring bags for wet clothes.
-It’s best that you have your bathing suit on before you get there. There are bathrooms, but they aren’t exactly comfortable or clean.
-The rocks can be sharp and slippery so it’s best to wear swim shoes. I always use my beloved Jefferson Slip Ons from Native shoes when I’m going in the water, but also recommend the super affordable Mohem water shoe, because it offers better grip when walking along the rocks.
–Lastly, the incredible land surrounding the natural hot springs should be taken care of and revered. Don’t litter. Whatever you bring in, take it out with you. It’s that simple. This holds true for all the natural hot springs in Idaho.
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THE SPRINGS AT IDAHO CITY
If you want something different than the rustic wild quality of Kirkham Hot Springs, a great option is to visit the more upscale spa retreat at The Springs at Idaho City. The Springs is for anyone who wants the hedonistic pleasure of hot springs without having to trek through the forest.
The Springs is our second choice for the best hot springs near Boise. We’re nature lovers at heart, so we’re always going to choose the wild beauty of a natural hot spring like Kirkham, but The Springs still offers beautiful views of the mountains and a feeling of being wrapped up in the embrace of nature.
What To Expect at The Springs
The Springs have one main communal swimming pool with warm springs that everyone enjoys together. There’s also a smaller hot tub (for those that like it reaaaaly hot) and a unisex steam room located right beside the hot tub. You can also reserve a private soaking tub if you want more privacy. All the private tubs are for 18+ only. Since we were visiting with our toddler, we didn’t reserve a private hot tub, but the pictures online look amazing.
The place is set up for you to be as relaxed as possible. You just have to show up and enjoy yourself. They supply towels, clean changing rooms, lockers, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, sunblock, water, and poolside chairs so you can fully enjoy your time there.
Delicious food and alcohol are available for purchase to be eaten poolside or in heated yurts.
If you’re wanting to go all out, you can book a massage for the day you visit.
How to get to The Springs from Boise
Luckily, The Springs is one of the closest hot springs to Boise. Located 45 minutes away from Downtown Boise, you’ll drive north on Highway 21 toward Idaho City. Look for their sign on the left, just past mile marker 37. If you find yourself in the town of Idaho City, you’ve gone a mile too far!
Are The Springs in Idaho City family-friendly?
Yes! In fact, visiting The Springs is one of our favorite things to do in Boise with kids. Wednesday through Friday is for adults only, and all other days are open to children. The Springs is closed on Tuesdays. We chose to visit on a Sunday, which is their official “family day.” It means kids can be kids, and no one will judge you for it. They also extend special pricing that day, making it more affordable for the entire family to come.
In addition, they put out fun pool toys and floaties for the kids to enjoy. Our two-year-old loved it and once again had a small meltdown when we left.
Tips For Visiting The Springs
They keep the number of attendees to a minimum to preserve the quality of the experience. It’s highly recommended that you reserve a time beforehand. The Springs is a beloved spot for Boise residents, so time slots do fill up quickly. We had to reserve our spot two months in advance! If you aren’t able to book a spot, I would call the day of to inquire about last-minute cancellations.
We visited in the winter, and I wish I had brought a warm cozy robe to wear when sitting outside of the pool. It was freezing cold!
Current rates for admission are:
-$20 per adult
-$14 per child 12 and under
Discounts are offered after 8 pm, for military, senior, and family days.
For more information on the Hot Springs, you can visit their website here.
Those are our two favorite Boise hot springs! While we did them on two separate trips, a cool way to experience them would be to make a road trip weekend out of it. The Springs at Idaho City offers a hotel called Inn The Pines you can stay at for a night or two. While staying there you can also visit Kirkham Hot Springs. It cuts down on driving time allowing you to have even more time to enjoy your soak. Conversely, if you’re visiting in the summer, you could camp at Kirkham Hot Springs and visit The Springs from there.
Click here for reviews and current prices for Inn The Pines.
Additional Hot Springs Near Boise, Idaho
If you’re wanting to explore additional Boise area hot springs that are within three hours, here are a few popular hot springs close to Boise.
Boat Box Hot Springs
Stanley, Idaho – 3 hours from Boise
One of the more famous hot springs near Boise is Boat Box Hot Springs, located in Stanley, Idaho. A unique and picture-worthy site, the hot spring is enjoyed inside a metal tub that sits next to the Salmon River. Steaming hot water is funneled down from a pipe that flows directly into the tub. The tub can comfortably fit two to three people. Its small size and popularity mean you will most likely have to wait your turn to get a chance in the tub. Arrive at the crack of dawn or visit in the winter to have better odds of experiencing this unique Idaho hot spring in solitude. Boat Box Hot Springs doesn’t require a hike and is accessible from the road. There is minimal parking, so if the parking lot is full, it’s best to move on and head to the next spot on the list, that’s an easy 10 minutes down the road.
Sunbeam Hot Springs
Stanley, Idaho – 3 hours from Boise
While not as photographed as Boatbox Hot Springs, Sunbeam is a simple hot spring located right off Highway 75 that more than satisfies the desire to soak in hot water. Sunbeam Hot Spring also has a small tub similar to Boatbox Hot Spring.
Mountain Village Resort
Stanley, Idaho – 3 Hours from Boise
A more refined hot spring close to Boise is the Mountain Village Resort in Stanley, Idaho. Similar to The Springs in Idaho City, it funnels natural spring water into a medium-sized soaking tub. Smaller than The Springs, it can comfortably accommodate 7 people. It’s free to anyone who is staying at the resort, but you can also pay for a reserved soaking time. The tub’s main charm is the barn doors that open up and look out to Idaho’s gorgeous Sawtooth Mountains.
Trail Creek Hot Springs
Cascade, Idaho – 2 hours from Boise
Located in the Payette National Forest, Trail Creeks Hot Springs (also known as Samuel’s Hot Spring) is a natural hot spring created by boulders and rocks that form small, soaking pools. Like many of the Boise area hot springs, Trail Creek Hot Springs is located along the river and right off the side of the road. However, the path down is steep and can be slippery in the winter. One of the coolest features of Trail Creek is the human-made pipes that bring cold creek water into the pools. Depending on how hot you like it, you can adjust the temperature of the water.
Gold Fork Hot Springs
Donnely, Idaho -2 hours from Boise
Located near the magical mountain town of McCall, Idaho is Gold Fork Hot Springs. A beautiful getaway with so much to offer, it’s worth making Gold Fork and McCall a weekend trip. If hiking or parking on the side of the highway isn’t appealing to you, the pristine and manicured quality of Gold Fork is perfect for you. It’s also family-friendly, with a sandy bottom pool for kids. Gold Fork has six pools formed by natural rock formations with temperatures ranging from 85-110°F.
Rocky Canyon Hot Springs
Garden Valley, Idaho – 1.5 hours from Boise
A gorgeous site, Rocky Canyon Hot Springs, requires a river crossing to access. Certain times of the year may make accessing the hot springs dangerous. There are three hot springs of varying temperatures with stunning views of the Middle Fork Payette River.
Frenchman Hot Springs
Sun Valley, Idaho – 3 hours from Boise
A hot spot for visitors to Sun Valley, Frenchman Hot Springs is a primitive hot spring consisting of three soaking pools. Its popularity and easy walk from the parking lot can make it a crowded spot, so skip it if you’re looking for a quiet soak. Or, get there at sunrise, and few, if any, will be there with you.
Enjoy your time exploring the sizzling hot springs near Boise. What are your favorite Idaho hot springs? Share below!
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I have never visited a hot springs but have always wanted to experience it. I visited Boise for the first time 3 months ago and didn’t know they had hot springs! I’m sure all these tips will be useful no matter which I visit. It sounds like a nice way to relax and enjoy the outdoors after being home for the last few weeks.
Sounds like a lot of fun! The photos of the natural hot springs look gorgeous 🙂
It was fun! The hot springs are unbelievably gorgeous. I hope you can go someday.
Wow, I never knew Idaho could look like this! The Hot Springs area look so inviting! Great post!
Thank you! I appreciate that. Idaho is an undiscovered gem.
Wow, they all look so gorgeous! You’ve officially put Idaho on my US bucket list lol! Will be saving this to return to someday when I go 🙂
I love that! Idaho has so much to offer and so many people have no idea.
These hot springs look amazing and great you had them to yourselves! I would love to try one!
You have to do it someday! It’s truly amazing.