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Idaho Hot Springs Pt. 2

The next morning the weather is a bit cooler, just perfect for hot springing. I had planned on driving further up the same road past Rocky Canyon, where there is a string of hot springs but a bridge is out for repair work, so I move on. First for the day is Campground Hot Spring – basically a concrete tub tucked in between the highway and the river right near a campground. Although it’s not the most beautiful spring to look at, the temperature is just perfect and it is super convenient, right on the side of the road.

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Campground Hot Spring, not much to look at but a great soak

Next up is Pine Flats Hot Spring, just a little way down the same highway. A short walk is required from a campground to the beautiful setting at the spring. Hot water flows down a rock face into the river for a few hundred meters, with dozens of different hot sources. A rock pool has been made in the gravel bar on the side of the river, but it’s a little on the cold side.

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The first soaking pool at Pine Flats Hot Spring

Walking further along the river for a hundred feet or so yields the goods – a 30 foot hot waterfall drops directly into a crystal clear soaking pool at the ideal temperature. The setting here is amazing right on the side of the bubbling river, with not a person or man made object in sight and I had a fantastic soak.
The whole area reminded me a lot of Dewar Creek Hot Spring in British Columbia.

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The magic pool below the waterfall at Pine Flats Hot Spring

I reluctantly pulled myself away, promising another spring quickly simple smile
The very popular Kirkham Hot Spring is next on my list  – again this spring sits on the bank of the same river, just on the other side. A campground and day use area provide access, where ample hot water flows over rocks into the river. Around ten haphazard pools had been created, and it was clear they come and go with the height of the river.

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Kirkham Hot Spring pools riverside

It is a quiet day and I shared my soak with two other people, who were happy to recommend my next stop. I spot some great swimming holes in the river which would be amazing on a hot day.

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Kirkham Hot Spring falls

I eat lunch quickly and move onto the much-hyped Bonneville Hot Spring. This one is a couple of miles off the main highway and again a campground and day use area are close by. A short walk along the creek leads to a kind of meadow where a staggering amount of very very hot water gushes out of the hillside, across the meadow and cascades over a rock ledge to many pools below. A single wooden bathing house sits in the meadow, but I am not interested in being inside.

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The hillside at Bonneville Hot Spring, bathing house visible in background

The pools close to the waterfalls are much too hot for me, so I wander downstream to find pools that have a good mix of hot and creek cold. Unfortunately Bonneville suffers from being too hot, which sounds crazy I know.

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The soaking pools at Bonneville Hot Spring

I couldn’t find the sweet spot, so one side of me is scalding hot while the other is freezing cold. The spring came very highly recommended though, so I can only assume I came at the wrong time in terms of the height of the creek water.

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A lonesome pool upstream at Bonneville

My last stop for the day is Sacajawea Hot Spring, a small detour down some forest roads. About ten or so rock pools have been made on the side of a river that catch the hot spring water trickling down. Rocks can be adjusted to allow in more or less river water to find the perfect soaking temperature. This spring is quite different from the others I’ve seen in that there was not an abundance of hot water, no waterfalls and also the soaking area is very open so there is no feeling of being cramped in like some of the others. I stay for hours, lying around in the perfect temperature shallow pools.

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Riverside soaking is the way at Sacajawea Hot Spring

I find a great back country campsite on the side of a small creek with no one around for miles and for the first time in a long time I can really feel the cold in the air. Pretty soon I am wearing all my thermals and rain gear as it starts to pour.

I pull the strings on my sleeping bag into full mummy mode throughly excited for the cold – for some reason I feel more adventurous when the going gets a little tougher.

If only I knew how cold it was going to get…

-Dan

4 Responses

  1. melissa says:

    Hey Dan,

    Glad to see your adventure is still going well. You and your brother sure do love the hotsprings!! there is snow on the tops of the mountains here now, and everyone is getting ready for another snow season!

    safe travels!

  2. Loyd says:

    What about Tenmile hot springs? Did you check out Tenmile?

    • Dan says:

      Loyd – I don’t have my guidebook with me right now and I can’t remember why I didn’t go to Tenmile. I think was was a reason… is it a good one?

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