Throughout our world Nature delights us with its unique gems. When we find them we in awe; soaking in the breathtaking wonders of this incredible Earth. Idaho has shown us much beauty along the Salmon and Payette Rivers as natural Hot Springs emanate from underground.
Man loves to change the natural phenomenon of Nature and turn something incredibly unique into a regulated, profitable attraction. For this reason, as well as our personal preference for the secluded and natural, we avoid man made hot spring pools as much as possible. All along the Salmon and Payette River, as well as the Wood River, mineral pools dot the sides of the highways, roping in tourists for the therapeutic relaxation of healing water. If you look around for yourself however you will find multiple places to dip in without forking over cash, and without nauseating crowds. Timing is everything though, no place is a secret anymore in this world!
The Sacajawea Hot Springs lie on the South Fork of the Payette River. Through a series of ten plus pools one can find the perfect balanced temperature to soak. As rushing river water meets the trickling, bubbling sulfuric waters temperatures can range from 80-115˚! This particular pool was only comfortable right in the middle, where two hot spring streams intermingled with the River.
Soaking is only have the fun when scouting out different Nature Pools. Scanning the sides of the roads while following a meandering river excites the senses, anticipation and wonder soaring through your mind and body while taking in new, breathtaking scenery. To date the Payette is the most incredibly blue and clear river we have seen in the United States and we are blessed to be working so close to it this Summer.
Just a twenty minute drive from the Sacajawea Hot Springs a more accessible and an incredibly unique hot pot rests at the backside of the Kirkham Campground on the Payette River. Here the hot water cascades down cliff edges in multiple locations. It’s panoramic scene is an absolute delight. Dripping green algae, crystallized rock formations, cave like soaking areas, and an in river hot waterfall make this stop a must for anyone! From the highway it appears that too many people overrun this spot…but if you time your visit properly, you have the chance to soak in complete harmony, just you and the spectacle of nature.
We had a late night evening soak to ourselves, watching the stars pop through the midnight sky. The Milky Way visible clear as anything. So incredible. In the early morning we again had the pools to ourselves to enjoy a nice cup of tea and a relaxing soak. We cherish these moments in Nature full heartily.
Just a few miles further down the highway another set of hot springs are tucked alongside the riverbed that are accessible by a quick quarter mile trail. If you don’t look closely enough, you just might miss it! To access the pool we had to climb up the side of a small cliff and follow it around to the back side, hopping up and over large boulders. Again, we had this pool all to ourselves. It was only about two feet deep but the temperature was absolutely perfect. A trickling Hot Waterfall empties into the pool allowing for a perfect massage.
Dozens more remote and trail accesible hot springs litter the side of the Payette River from the headwaters until the drainage; we haven’t gotten the chance to see them all yet! Closer to our current home multiple hot springs are easily found alongside the Salmon River. Boat Box Hot Springs may be the most noticeable while traveling just past Lower Stanley on the way to Challis. It is a quaint “cauldron” on the side of the river, filled by a pipe coming from the hillside. The cauldron can be drained and refilled, temperature adjusted by adding river water. Two people can comfortably fit inside, but as we have experienced it can fit 5 with legs intertwined or bunched up, making it a super cozy, intimate pool.
Another few miles downriver lies SunBeam Hot Springs. This one has a bathhouse on the side of the road to change and contains restroom facilities. It is still however, free! A friend of ours we met this summer hung out with us on the river as we soaked the afternoon away in this small plastic tub. Directly piped in we had to cool down the tub with river water to reach a desired temperature. Multiple pools surround this area, but this one we had all to ourselves for the afternoon! There is something so incredibly enchanting soaking with friends in the natural elements. No need for anything else other than to relax and enjoy each other’s company. We spent our time building up other pools and adding hot water to the mix to have multiple bathing opportunities on the river.
Even though we do not like swimming pools, it is hard to resist when there is a free hot swimming pool located on the lower ranch of the property we are working on. When we are too lazy to make a drive elsewhere, we can always come down for a nice peaceful dip after work. Even as we post this blog, there are so many more hot springs that we have had the chance to dip in this summer, and many more we have yet to discover. Most all of these have been easily accessible. Dozens dot the landscape that one must need to hike into, these we will not unravel for the secret of it!
Wherever we travel we are always on the lookout for Natural Hot Springs. They bring us so much closer to home (Pagosa) and bring out that inner sense of connectivity to Nature. We know we will be rewarded with amazing new hot spring dips on our next adventure to the Middle East this Fall! Stay tuned for more of Nature’s Bathtubs!