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 hot bed 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 visiting 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 an ample amount of 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 a long weekend or overnight trip.
If you’re in Boise and looking for an easy day trip, 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.
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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 along with a heavenly waterfall and then another set of pools that are 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 the elderly.
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), and the parking lot 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 popular times as well 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 other small groups there, 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.
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.
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 Sawtooth Mountains and a feeling of being wrapped up in the embrace of nature.
What To Expect at The Springs
The Springs has one main communal 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
The Springs are about 45 minutes away from Downtown Boise. You’ll drive north on Highway 21 towards Idaho City and 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! If you’re visiting Saturday through Monday. Wednesday through Friday is adults only, and they open it up to children the rest of the days. They are closed on Tuesdays. We chose to visit on 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 your whole 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’s cold!
Current rates for admission are:
- $20 per adult
- $14 per child 12 and under
- Discounts: Military, After 8 pm, Senior, and Family.
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 offer 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.
Additional Hot Springs Near Boise
If you’re wanting to explore more amazing hot springs near Boise, here are a few popular spots.
- Mountain Village Resort in Stanley, Idaho | About 3 hours from Boise
- Sunbeam Hot Springs in Stanley, Idaho | Natural Hot Spring | About 3 hours from Boise
- Boat Box Hot Springs in Stanley, Idaho | Natural Hot Spring | About 3 hours from Boise
- Gold Fork Hot Springs in Donnely, Idaho | About 2 hours from Boise
- Frenchman’s Hot Springs in Sun Valley, Idaho | Natural Hot Spring | About 3 hours away from Boise
- Rocky Canyon Hot Springs in Garden Valley, Idaho | Natural Hot Springs | About 1.5 hours away from Boise
- Trail Creek Hot Springs near Cascade, Idaho | Natural Hot Springs | About 2 hours away
Enjoy your time exploring the outstanding Idaho hot springs. What are your favorite hot springs near Boise? Share below!