BY EMILY MCDONALD
Tucked away in the Boise National Forest, just off of the breathtaking Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, is Bonneville Hot Springs. Idaho is known for its abundance of natural hot springs, and people travel from everywhere to soak in these healing pools. The gem state sits on the Yellowstone hotspot, which, as the name indicates, is the same geologic feature that powers all of the thermal wonders in Yellowstone National Park.
Bonneville Hot Springs is just 23 minutes east of the well-known and often over-crowded Kirkham Hot Springs. The best time to visit Bonneville Hot Springs is from May until October, because it can easily be accessed from the Bonneville Campground. The beautiful national forest campground offers 22 sites that cost $15 per night and is a great place to stay and make the most out of your visit to the hot springs. From the parking lot at the Bonneville Campground there is an easy one-fourth-mile hiking trail through the national forest to mother nature’s spa. There are no facilities at the springs themselves, but the campground that is run by the forest service provides water and bathrooms.
Hot water streams out of the hillside and flows down in waterfalls to Warm Springs Creek, where it collects in multiple soaking pools, which vary in temperature. Beside the walking path down to the creek where the pools sit, look for an old wooden soaking shack on the grassy hill to the left. Inside there is a cast iron bathtub with hot water flowing in directly, and it’s a great private soaking spot.
This hot spring is one of the most relaxing destinations in the Boise National Forest, because of how tranquil the setting is. The water is clean, clear and constantly cycling with a mix of the cool fresh creek water and the hot water from the geothermal source. With gently trickling hot waterfalls and towering pine trees in every direction, this intimate destination is the perfect place to unwind.
Remember, these national forests are part of public lands and belong to everyone. The weekends in the summer are the busiest time to visit, so be respectful of everyone soaking, and don’t forget to pack out all of your trash.
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