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The Best 8 Natural Hot Springs in Idaho During Winter

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Natural Idaho Hot Springs

There is something about visiting natural hot springs in the winter time that is a completely magical experience. And no state does hot springs better than Idaho, with 130 swimmable natural hot springs scattered throughout the state.

This list will take you through some of the best hot springs near Stanley. This region of Idaho is a must-visit destination for hot spring enthusiasts and winter adventurers alike. Nestled in the heart of the Sawtooth National Forest, you can soak in the healing waters of several different nearby springs easily while surrounded by snow-covered peaks and the serene beauty of Idaho’s wilderness.

We know from personal experience that these hot springs are all reachable during winter time, and are guaranteed to make you feel like you are in a winter wonderland. From easily reachable road side pools to more secluded spots that require a snowy hike, there’s something for every level of adventure.

So, what are our favorite hot springs near Stanley, Idaho? Read on to find out.

Idaho Hot Springs Etiquette:

Signs in front of Kirkham hot springs in Stanley Idaho

Before we dive into the best of Idaho’s natural hot springs for winter, it’s essential to understand hot springs etiquette. Respect the natural environment by staying on designated paths and leaving no trace. Remember, these are communal treasures to be enjoyed by all, so let’s keep them pristine for generations to come. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Cleanliness: Make sure you’re clean before entering the hot springs. It’s good practice to shower or rinse off any dirt, sweat, or lotions that might contaminate the water.
  • Noise Level: Keep noise to a minimum. Hot springs are often places of relaxation and natural serenity, so loud conversations or music can be disruptive.
  • Respect Privacy: Many hot springs may have a clothing-optional policy. It’s important to respect the privacy and choices of others, and avoid staring or making inappropriate comments.
  • Leave No Trace: This principle is crucial. Take out whatever you bring in, including trash. Don’t leave anything behind in the natural environment.
  • Limit Your Time: During busy times, be mindful of how long you spend in the hot springs so others can also enjoy them.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Glass Containers: Alcohol can dehydrate you and alter your judgment, which is risky in hot water. Glass containers can break and cause injuries.
  • Respect the Environment: Many hot springs are in delicate ecosystems. Stick to designated paths and avoid disturbing wildlife or plants.
  • Pets: Usually, pets are not allowed in or near the springs. If they are allowed in the vicinity, keep them under control and clean up after them.
  • Come Prepared: Make sure to do your due diligence and research any required permits, fees, or reservations in advance as each hot spring can be different.

Best Hot Springs in Stanley: 

1. Boat Box Hot Springs:

Woman sitting in Boat Box hot springs in Stanley Idaho during winter
  • Hike Mileage: N/A Road Side
  • Elevation Gain: N/A
  • Temperature: 103°-105° F
  • Entrance Fees: N/A
  • Restrooms: No
  • Parking: VERY Limited to Pull Out (1-2 cars)

Boat Box Hot Springs offers an intimate and unique soaking experience. Located just a short drive from Stanley, this hot spring used to be essentially a large metal tub beside the Salmon River. However, after a flood in 2023, it is now just a roadside set of natural pools that the locals have put together with some rocks. I repeat – as of 2024, there is no more aesthetic cauldron tub at Boat Box Hot Springs. Stephen and I were quite confused when we arrived and it wasn’t there as no blogs we read had been updated with the newest conditions.

However, the rock pools now are equally as stunning with a beautiful backdrop. The setting provides a serene environment, ideal for those seeking a quiet retreat. Its riverside location offers stunning views, especially enchanting during winter months.

2. Sunbeam Hot Springs:

Woman sitting in Sunbeam hot springs cauldron tub in Stanley Idaho during winter
  • Hike Mileage: N/A Road Side
  • Elevation Gain: N/A
  • Temperature: 103°-105° F
  • Entrance Fees: N/A
  • Restrooms: No
  • Parking: Limited to Pull Out

Sunbeam Hot Springs, one of the more accessible road side springs, offers several pools of varying temperatures, as well as two separate soaking tubs. Whereas the cauldron at Boat Box was missing, Sunbeam had one that looked just like the old one!

You have to use the pipes next to the pools to regulate the temperatures. There is also a little bucket that you can use to pour cold water or snow in the pools to help cool them down as it can get quite hot.

3. Mountain Village Hot Springs:

Woman sitting in Mountain Village hot springs in Stanley Idaho during winter
  • Hike Mileage: 5-10 Minute Walk
  • Elevation Gain: N/A
  • Temperature: 105°-108° F
  • Entrance Fees: $32 for 2 People for 1 Hour
  • Reservations Required: Call (800) 843-5475 to Book
  • Restrooms: Yes (at Mountain Village Restaurant) & Changing Rooms
  • Parking: Yes

Located within the Mountain Village Resort, these Idaho hot springs are perfect for those seeking a more structured environment. These hot springs are the only commercial manmade hot springs on the list, however, they are absolutely worth the visit! Beware, though, as they are extremely hot, at about 105° F. The tub overlooks an incredible backdrop with some of Idaho’s most beautiful mountains right in sight!

You do have to make reservations in advance of soaking. You can simply call the hotel, or pop in the Mountain Village Resort Front Desk to reserve your time slot. It was $32 for the two of us to soak for one hour, but it is complimentary for guests staying at the hotel. They also offer complimentary towels at the front desk.

4. Kirkham Hot Springs:

couple standing under Kirkham hot spring waterfall near Stanley Idaho during winter
  • Hike Mileage: .2 Miles (*closer to .4 Miles in Winter)
  • Elevation Gain: 30 ft.
  • Temperature: 80°-85° F (*when we went)
  • Entrance Fees: $5 (*during Fee Season)
  • Restrooms: Yes
  • Parking: Yes (outside gate)

Kirkham Hot Springs is a must-visit natural hot spring, known for its natural steamy pools and cascading warm waterfalls. This is probably the most famous one on this list. Situated along the South Fork of the Payette River, Kirkham offers a breathtaking view and the unique experience of sitting under natural hot waterfalls. In winter, the contrast of the hot springs with the surrounding snow makes Kirkham exceptionally magical.

Make sure to park right outside the gate, and you’ll have about a 5 minute walk to get to the hot springs. There are restrooms available in the campground area if you need them. Fair warning, out of all the springs on this list, these were the coolest ones. We visited while it was snowing, so we’re unsure if that is what majorly affected the temperature, but they were only about 81° F. While this hot spring is extremely unique and photogenic, we wish it was slightly warmer.

5. Pine Flats Hot Springs:

Woman sitting in Pine Flats hot springs in Stanley Idaho during winter
  • Hike Mileage: .6 Miles (*Closer to 1.1 Miles in Winter)
  • Elevation Gain: 92 ft.
  • Temperature: 95°-105° F
  • Entrance Fees: $5 (*during Fee Season)
  • Restrooms: Yes (in Campground)
  • Parking: Limited to Pull Out in Front of Gate

Pine Flats Hot Spring is a bit of a hidden gem near Lowman, requiring a short hike to reach during the winter. It took us about 30-40 minutes each way from the parking area. Make sure to bring microspikes with you as this hot spring does get a little slippery!

The main attraction is a pool that sits right on a cliff edge overlooking the Payette River, offering a stunning view of the river and the forest. There are also beautiful pools at the bottom of the hot spring waterfalls.

6. Bonneville Hot Springs:

Couple sitting in Bonneville hot springs in Stanley Idaho during winter
  • Hike Mileage: 2.6 Miles (*Took us 50 Minutes Each Way)
  • Elevation Gain: 184 ft.
  • Temperature: 100°-105° F
  • Entrance Fees: $5 (*during Fee Season)
  • Restrooms: Yes (in Campground)
  • Parking: Limited to Pull Out

Bonneville Hot Springs are ideal for those looking to combine a hike with their hot spring experience. These springs are a bit more remote, located near the banks of the Middle Fork of the Payette River. The hike to Bonneville offers beautiful scenic views, and the reward is a series of natural pools with gravel bottoms, surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the Idaho wilderness.

We brought our snowshoes and trekking poles with us for this one, and we were super happy we did. The snow was incredibly powdery and deep and those that we saw that didn’t have snowshoes were struggling. However, the hike itself is magical. It took us about 50 minutes of snowshoeing each way, and the hot springs were probably our favorite ones on this entire list.

Woman sitting in Bonneville hot springs jacuzzi tub

Bonneville has both a manmade jacuzzi like bath tub you can soak in, as well as an area with tons of lower pools next to the river. We highly recommend planning a visit to this gorgeous natural Idaho hot spring if you can, and if you’re up for the hike!

7. Cove Creek Hot Springs

Aerial View of the river next to the hot springs near stanley idaho
  • Hike Mileage: Road Side (.1 Miles)
  • Elevation Gain: N/A
  • Temperature: 95°-105° F
  • Restrooms: Yes
  • Parking: Limited to Pull Out

Cove Creek Hot Springs, also known as Basin Creek Hot Springs, is a serene and natural geothermal spot located in the Sawtooth National Forest along the Salmon River. These hot springs are located right in between Boat Box and Sunbeam, and are easily accessible from Highway 75. The hot springs feature volunteer-built rock-and-sand pools along the river. However, it is possible that during winter, the river level can rise enough to submerge the hot springs.

8. Goldbug Hot Springs

Woman snowshoeing in Idaho during the winter
  • Hike Mileage: 3.6 Miles
  • Elevation Gain: 896 ft.
  • Temperature: 110°-115° F
  • Restrooms: Yes (at Trailhead)
  • Parking: Yes

So Goldbug Hot Springs is technically right next to Stanley, but we had to include them on this list! It’s about a 2 hour drive away toward Salmon if you have the extra time for a day hike out that way. The hot spring itself is located in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Elk Bend, Idaho, and is super popular for its series of natural hot pools overlooking the valley from above. These pools are accessed via a moderately challenging near 4-mile round-trip hike.

The hot springs themselves consist of several pools with varying temperatures, fed by both cool and hot waterfalls. The temperature of the pools fluctuates throughout the year, and the highest pool is typically the warmest. It’s recommended to bring water shoes for moving between pools! Goldbug Hot Springs is free and open year-round, but access can be difficult in the winter due to snow, so make sure you bring snowshoes or backcountry skis just in case!

Due to its remote nature, clothing is optional at Goldbug Hot Springs, and it’s common to find visitors skinny dipping. The area can be crowded, especially on weekends, so it’s advised to visit early in the morning or during off-peak times for a more secluded experience. The trail can be particularly challenging in winter, requiring proper gear like microspikes.

The first quarter-mile of the hike to Goldbug Hot Springs is on private property, but they do permit public access. It’s important to respect this area to maintain access to the springs. Camping is not permitted at the trailhead, and overnight camping is prohibited within 500 feet of the hot springs. There are some primitive campsites available on the trail.

Stanley, Idaho Hot Springs Map

Things to Know Before You Visit Idaho’s Hot Springs

How to Get to Stanley, Idaho:

Woman standing in front of Kirkham Hot Springs near Stanley Idaho during winter

Stanley is accessible yet wonderfully remote. The nearest airports are in Boise and Sun Valley, with car rentals available for the drive to Stanley. We opted to rent a 4Runner off of Turo and it was super convenient. The most scenic route is via Highway 21, offering breathtaking views. Winter travel to Stanley requires preparation due to potentially harsh weather conditions. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with winter tires, 4×4 abilities, and carry chains, especially if you’re traveling through mountain passes.

  • From Boise Airport (BOI): 130 Miles. The drive typically takes about 2.5 to 3 hours via ID-21, along the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway.
  • From Sun Valley: 60 Miles. The drive usually takes about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on road conditions and weather. The most common route from Sun Valley to Stanley is via ID-75 N, along the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.

We highly recommend checking road conditions before you head to Stanley. During winter storms, the road can occasionally close due to avalanche risks and you don’t want to get stranded on the scenic highway without a backup plan. 

Additional Winter Travel Tips:

Sign for hot springs covered in snow
  • Keep an eye on weather forecasts and road conditions. Idaho Transportation Department’s website provides current road status and conditions.
  • Make sure to have a full tank of gas, as gas stations are sparse in some areas along these routes.
  • Consider daylight hours for safer travel, as mountain roads can be more challenging to navigate in the dark.
  • Keep in mind that cell phone reception can be spotty in this area, so it’s a good idea to have a physical map or offline directions on Google Maps downloaded and available.
  • During winter, many restaurants and shops are temporarily closed, especially on weekdays. Make sure to account for this.

Planning Your Trip Duration to Stanley:

Woman sitting in outhouse with hot spring tub in Idaho

A weekend in Stanley might suffice for a quick getaway, but a week-long trip allows for a more leisurely pace to explore multiple springs and nearby attractions. We spent 2 full days exploring Stanley, allotting a separate day for travel, and we wish we had more time. However, we still were successful in exploring three hot springs per day. It just depends how leisurely you want to explore, but you can hit all of the hot springs on this list in 3 full days if you want to.

Accommodations and Lodging in Stanley

Stanley, Idaho, only offers a hand full of lodging options for visitors during the winter months as it is off season in the area. That being said, here are the most popular options:

Triangle C Cabins

Triangle C Cabins in Stanley Idaho

These are stand-alone cabins that provide an authentic mountain retreat experience. They offer rustic furnishings combined with modern amenities, perfect for a winter getaway. This is where we decided to stay and it was perfect. Location wise, it’s right in the heart of Stanley, the bed was super cozy, and it had a microwave and fridge, which we appreciated. We would 100% stay here again.

Mountain Village Resort

Mountain Village Resort in Stanley Idaho

Known for its convenient location and range of amenities, this resort is a popular choice for visitors. If you are wanting to use their hot springs on property and want to be closest to the only restaurant in town that is open 7 days a week during winter, then this would be the place to stay. It’s right down the street from Triangle C, and right across the street from the gas station and the grocery store.

Winter Packing List for a Visit to Idaho’s Hot Springs

Woman sitting in Boat Box hot springs in Stanley Idaho during winter

Pack smart for your hot springs adventure. We’ve listed all of our favorite items to bring on a hot springs trip here too.

  • Bathing suits
  • Towels/ changing towel/robe
  • Winter clothing, base layers and accessories 
  • Sitting pad with insulation
  • Water Shoes
  • Headlamps
  • Reusable Water Bottle
  • Snacks
  • Handwarmers 
  • Cash 
  • Lots of warm wool socks 
  • Chargers/Battery Packs- batteries drain faster in winter 

Ready For Winter Hot Springs in Idaho?

That’s it for our roundup on the best Idaho hot springs to visit during winter! Have you been to any of these hot springs before? If so, which one was your favorite? Let us know down in the comments.

Looking for more hot springs to try? Check out our top recommendations for hot springs in the United States.

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