8 natural hot springs to warm up this winter
Nothing better in winter than a dip in a hot spring. While backyard hot tubs and spas are nice, there’s something special about soaking in a natural body of water surrounded by nature.
Some require multi-day treks to access while others are a stone’s throw from the parking lot – but all are uniquely beautiful. Here we’ve rounded up eight of our favorite natural hot springs in the United States.
8 natural hot springs
Chena Hot Springs: Borough of Fairbanks North Star, Alaska
Located 56.5 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Chena Spa is the most accessible and developed health resort in interior Alaska.
The natural springs were first discovered in 1905 and became famous for their healing powers. Today, the springs are commercialized but still exhibit their original healing qualities, and its hot springs lake offers plenty of outdoor beauty. Whether you choose to stay at the resort or just visit for the day, the natural hot springs are well worth the visit.
Umpqua Hot Springs: Umpqua National Forest, Oregon
Nestled in the heart of the Umpqua National Forest in southern Oregon, the Umpqua Hot Springs is a popular travel destination in the Pacific Northwest.
The hot springs are located on a mineral deposit above the North Umpqua River and feature three small pools surrounded by beautiful forest. During the summer months, the springs are a short, steep 0.3 mile hike from the parking lot. But during the winter, the gate is often closed, which extends the hike by a few kilometers.
The springs are also frequently accessible by hikers, bikers, or horseback riders on the 79-mile North Umpqua Trail.
To note: There is a $5 entrance fee to access the park.
Sykes Hot Springs: Big Sur, California
One of the prettiest stretches of the California coast, there isn’t much that could improve a visit to Big Sur, except perhaps a visit to the local hot springs.
Located in the Ventana Desert, Sykes Hot Springs requires a little extra work to get there. To access the springs you will need to travel approximately 9 miles along the Pine Ridge Trail. Although the hike can be strenuous, at the end you will be rewarded with a clear mountain stream and a series of small pools to immerse yourself in.
The hike can be done in a single day, but to get the most out of your trip, bring hiking gear and spend the night near the springs or at one of the many campsites along the way.
To note: Be sure to fill out the self-registration permit at the trailhead if you plan to stay overnight.
Conundrum Hot Springs: Aspen, Colorado
Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, drive to Conundrum Hot Springs is not a walk in the park. the raise to the springs is about 8.5 miles one way and includes 2,400 feet of elevation gain, so it’s not for the faint of heart.
The trail crosses Conundrum Creek three times and can be dicey in the winter, so it’s best visited in the summer months. Located at 11,200 feet, the Distant Springs are both soothing and stunning, making it well worth the effort.
There are several options for camping near the springs, but be sure to get a permit if you plan to stay overnight.
Weir Creek Hot Springs: Kooskia, Idaho
Located just outside of Missoula, Montana, Weir Hot Springs are easy to access, making them well suited for soakers of all ages. From the parking lot, a well-defined half-mile hike will take you directly to the springs.
The springs have a large pool surrounded by pine trees and a few smaller ones as well. If you’re looking to make a weekend of it, there are also plenty of campsites in the area.
Due to their accessibility, the springs are heavily trafficked, so be sure to pack your trash well and leave the area better than when you found it.
Thermopolis Hot Springs: Hot Springs County, Wyoming
Thermopolis is a series of four different hot springs, all located in Hot Springs National Park in the city of Thermopolis. First visited by Native American tribes, the springs are popular for their healing powers and are home to 20 different minerals known to have medicinal healing properties.
The first is Big Spring – you can’t soak in Big Spring, but it feeds the other four pools. Star Plunge, Hellie’s Tepee, Days Inn Athletic Club, and Hot Springs County Wyoming State Bath House are all marketed, but each offers an incredibly unique experience.
Do a little research ahead of time to decide which source is best for you, or make the most of your time at the park and visit all four.
Fifth Hot Spring: Springville, Utah
A tributary of the Diamond Fork River, Fifth stream of water is an adventurer’s paradise. Along the creek are three scenic waterfalls and a series of springs.
The 4.5 mile round trip hike to the springs is fairly easy but may require snowshoes to access during the winter months. There are several pools of varying temperatures along the way, so you can jump around until you find one that suits you.
To note: The road is sometimes closed in the winter, so be prepared for a longer hike.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs: Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Fed by Hot Springs Creek, Strawberry Park Hot Springs is located just outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Mineral springs are commercialized in order to make them accessible to all while retaining their original natural beauty.
Additional features at the springs include restrooms, a heated changing cabin, and picnic areas. You can drive to the springs or take a shuttle from downtown Steamboat Springs.