The Best Hot Springs in the United States

Plus a bonus “hot” spot just over the Canadian border
Photo by Courtesy of C2 Photography.   High in the mountains of Colorado, Conundrum Hot Springs is one of the country’s best hot springs. 

Nothing warms the bones and soothes the soul like soaking in mineral-rich waters heated deep below the earth’s surface. Add open sky and a killer view to the picture, and you’ve pretty much achieved nirvana. It’s no wonder that people from all walks of life have long sought out hot springs across the United States.

Most of the country’s hot springs are concentrated in the western United States, a region particularly conducive to producing geothermically heated water. Regular soakers tend to have their favorite spots, and here we have gathered 12 of ours. With isolated natural pools for ambitious outdoor enthusiasts and thoughtfully designed retreats built around thermal springs for those seeking total relaxation, this list recognizes that there is more than one way to experience a hot spring.

Conundrum Hot Springs
Colorado

Nestled in a meadow at an elevation of 11,200 feet in the majestic Maroon Bells–Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen , Conundrum Hot Springs (pictured at top) features a main pool that fits around 15 people and a smaller cool pool. The natural springs offer stunning views, looking out over three nearby peaks that top 14,000 feet: Cathedral Peak, Conundrum Peak, and Castle Peak. A soak at this glorious, clothing-optional spot does not come easily. Simply arriving at the springs requires an 8.5-mile uphill hike, so most visitors stay overnight at one of 20 primitive campsites, which require a permit and a $6 reservation that can be made through Recreation.gov. Campers should be aware that there are no toilets on site and should visit between July and September to avoid camping in snowy conditions.

Photo by Courtesy of Visitjacksonhole.  In the winter, soakers can snowshoe or snowmobile to Granite Hot Springs Pool near Jackson, Wyoming.

Granite Hot Springs Pool
Wyoming

This hot spring–fed swimming pool in the scenic Bridger Teton National Forest sits among huge evergreens on the banks of Granite Creek, just above Granite Creek Falls. About 30 miles southeast of Jackson, Wyoming, the family-friendly spot is beloved by locals and has a strict no-alcohol policy. It is open from late May to late October and from early December to early April. Summer visitors can drive the bumpy and winding, 11-mile access road to the springs, but in the winter, soakers arrive via snowmobile, cross-country skis, or dog sled. There are changing rooms and toilets on site, and entry is $8 for adults and $5 for children.

Esalen Hot Springs
California

For most of the day, guests attending spiritual retreats at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur have exclusive access to the property’s cliff-side spring-fed hot tubs with dramatic ocean views. But night owls can experience the magic during the public “night bathing” sessions from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. An attendant guides nighttime soakers from the roadside parking area down a steep, dark path to the baths, but guests are on their own for the return journey and should bring flashlights. Soakers choose from seven “quiet” or “silent” hot tubs, and there is a handicap-accessible tub with a lift and a wheelchair-friendly changing room. The tubs are clothing optional, but most choose to forgo swimsuits. There is a $35 entry fee during these public sessions; reservations can only be made the morning before visiting and are limited to groups of four.

Photo by Photo by hundertmorgen_/Flickr. Goldmyer Hot Springs once served as a retreat for loggers and miners.

Goldmyer Hot Springs
Washington

With a daily admission cap of 20 people, large crowds are never a concern at Goldmyer Hot Springs, located 60 miles east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Ancient forests surround these three minimally developed hot pools (and one cool pool), which were privatized as part of a mining claim in the early 1900s and served as a retreat for loggers and miners. One of the pools sits at the entrance of a horizontal mine shaft, creating a cave-like atmosphere. The 4.5-mile hike to the clothing-optional springs begins at the end of an unpaved forest service road. Facilities include an open-air cabana, outhouses, and campsites. Reservations are required (no groups larger than eight are permitted) and can be made by phone through the Northwest Wilderness Program, a nonprofit that now manages the site. Costs include a national forest pass ($5) and entry fees ($20 for adults, $10 for seniors). Camping is an additional $5 per person, per night.

Read the entire article here.

Photo by Courtesy of Tourism Tofino. Hot Springs Cove on Vancouver Island features a geothermal waterfall and pools that lead out to the ocean.

Hot Springs Cove
British Columbia

While they’re not actually in the United States, these isolated pools on the west coast of Vancouver Island are not far from Washington’s northern border. The natural hot springs are tucked away in Maquinna Provincial Park, which is reachable by a 1.5-hour boat ride or 20-minute seaplane flight that can be arranged through outfitters in Tofino, British Columbia. A 1.2-mile boardwalk through lush rain forest leads to a geothermal waterfall that empties into a cluster of small pools that eventually connect to the ocean. Be prepared to scramble over some sharp rocks to reach the water. There are toilets and changing rooms on site, and the park entrance fee is $3. Boat transfers begin at $129 (round trip) and flights at $89 (one way). The trail to Hot Springs Cove is currently closed due to storm damage. Check the BC Parks website for updates.

 

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