Looking to explore more hot springs in Idaho? Then this 3-Day Idaho Hot Springs Road Trip Guide is for you!
A beautiful scenic drive with plenty of Idaho hot springs along the way? Count me in! Idaho is my husband’s home state and I’ve made a concentrated effort to see more of it with him. So when the opportunity presented itself to take a three-day road trip through that beautiful state, we, of course, said yes!
This guide will be broken up into three days of adventure because there is no way you can see all of the hot springs along our route in a single day. It is also helpful because we will break them up into regions just in case you aren’t able to fit the entire route into your plans.
Day 2 will cover the area from Twin Falls, ID to Stanley, ID. If you are from eastern Idaho like Steve, you may have found yourself googling hot springs near Idaho Falls and only come up with Lava Hot Springs or Heise Hot Springs.
While both of these hot springs in Eastern Idaho are incredible, you may be looking for natural hot springs in Idaho. I would recommend this route to Stanley, Idaho if you are leaving from eastern Idaho because you can find some of the best hot springs in Idaho along this route. Below is our Idaho hot springs map where we outline our three day route.
Alternative route- If you decide you want to continue to head North after hitting Stanley, Idaho (instead of coming back down to Boise) don’t miss out on a visit to Burgdorf Hot Springs!
Day 2 Itinerary-
Wake up early so you can fit as many hot springs into the day as possible. If you are traveling this route during winter, you know how short days can really be so you will need to maximize the sunlight hours. The Idaho hot springs we will be covering include-
- Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs
- Russian John Warm Springs
- Boat Box Hot Springs
- Bonus Hot Springs
- Mormon Bend Hot Springs
- Kem Hot Springs
- Sunbeam Hot Springs
- Elkhorn Hot Springs
- Mountain Village Resort Hot Springs
Idaho Hot Springs
Frenchman’s Bend Hot Spring
From State Route 75 in Ketchum (near Sun Valley) take the warm springs road west on a road that turns from the pavement into a gravel path 4 miles into the drive.
Just beyond a bridge at 10.5 miles, you’ll see a sign that welcomes you to Frenchman’s Bend. Park the car and then walk upstream to the pools. The hot spring is nestled in the creekside boulders right underneath the road. Please note that this is a seasonal soaking pool.
Russian John Warm Springs
From Ketchum, drive 18 miles northwest on State Route 75. You can find the turnoff located 2.5 miles past the Baker Creek Road. After that, turn west onto a dirt road which you will find just after milepost 146.
Then take a south turn to the parking area by the pool. The spring is partially covered by a short stack of logs. The water here is around 85-95 degrees and about 1 foot deep.
After visiting Frenchman’s Bend and Russian John Warm Springs you’ll arrive at the small town of Stanley, ID. Stanley Idaho is nestled in the heart of Sawtooth National Forest. We reviewed several lodging options, but found that the Stanley High Country Inn was a no-brainer! After an already busy morning of seeking out hot springs, it was so nice to check into a warm Inn.
We stayed in the Ace of Diamonds Suite and all we could say was WOW! From the California king size bed to the propane fireplace, the suite just screamed “welcoming.” We also loved that the room had a door which led directly to the deck that housed a large hot tub and a killer sunrise view.
Later that evening after we were done soaking in the natural springs, we came back and cuddled on the queen size futon while watching our favorite shows. We joked that if we could move anywhere in the world, we would stay indefinitely at the Stanley High Country Inn!
It was the perfect romantic oasis that we needed after our adventures. Oh, and did we mention they offer an out-of-this-world brunch? If you weren’t already sold before, this brunch will for sure do the trick.
We ordered the Belgium Waffles and the Eggs Benedict with homemade banana bread and a delicious parfait. Steve’s favorite part? Their very own hot sauce! Stay at the Stanley High Country Inn, you will not regret it!
Although it may be tempting to spend the entire day inside your luxurious suite at the Stanley High Country Inn, there are still too many hot springs left to explore!
More Idaho Natural Hot Springs-
Boat Box Hot Springs
Drive .4 miles east of the Stanley junction on State Route 75. There are two things to watch for, steam and a small pull-out by the river in the middle of a left curve. This turn is less than a mile away from milepost 92. Park there and carefully climb down the trail to the river.
You will then witness the coolest sight you’ve probably seen… an old tub being filled with piped water from underneath the highway! Oh, and did we mention that the tub is situated with a beautiful view of frosted trees and a blue river? Hands down, this is the most unique hot springs that I have ever visited.
If the tub is currently being occupied, no worries. Awesome people have built up additional hot pools along the river. We really liked these hot springs because it was so easy to control the temperature. Too hot? Move a rock and let some of the cold water from the river in. Too cold? Take the piped water and direct it into these small hot pools.
Bonus Hot Springs
From the Stanley junction, go 3.6 miles east on State Route 75 to the first big bend in the river. It is located just west of milepost 193. Park in the nearest pull-out and then walk back upstream.
Bonus Hot Springs has varying temperatures but can be adjustable like Boat Box. The best way that you can find these hot springs is by spotting the steam while driving along the road. You’ll also be able to see these hot springs while soaking in Boat Box Hot Springs.
Mormon Bend Hot Springs
From the Stanley junction, go 6.6 miles east on State Route 75 to the Mormon Bend Campground. The springs are .2 miles east of milepost 196. We weren’t able to reach these hot springs since they sit on the other side of the bank. If you have a way to get across the cold river though, by all means, give it a go!
Kem Hot Springs
Drive 8 miles east of the Stanley junction on State Route 75 just beyond the Basin Creek Campground. There is a pull out on the right which has a path that drops to the hot springs. This is a rock and sand soaking pool that has about 110-degree water.
Sunbeam Hot Springs
Just west of Sunbeam off of Hwy 75. What we love about the sunbeam hot springs is that there is a bathroom and a changing area located nearby. If that is something that is important to you, then I would make this stop a priority.
The water flows out of the springs at 160 degrees, but there are built pools along the edge of the river to mix river water with the hot water.
Elkhorn Hot Springs
Elkhorn Hot Spring is a small hot springs hot tub on the rocks between the road and the Salmon River. You can park at the same place that you do for Sunbeam Hot Springs and just walk upstream.
The water here was so hot that we couldn’t get in! And unlike Boat Box Hot Springs, there was not a bucket to put in cold, river water.
We later thought that we could have just put in snow, but that thought came after we had already left. So we enjoyed sitting in the small hot pools that had been built up next to the box and being out in the forest.
Mountain Village Resort
If you’ve ever searched for Idaho hot springs resorts you’ve most likely learned about Mountain Village Resort. There is only a few hot spring resorts in Idaho and this resort if extra special because they have an incredible, easy access, semi-indoor swimming pool that can be enjoyed year round.
What they have done is pipe natural hot water into their man made pool which is covered by a small cabin with large swinging doors so you can still admire the beauty around you without being exposed to potentially harsh elements.
If you are not a guest at the village resort, you still may purchase an hour slot the day before for yourself and up to four guests. Give this resort a call at 1-800-843-5475 to reserve your time!
And that’s it for Day 2! If you plan on making your Idaho Hot Springs Road Trip longer than three days, I would extend your stay in Stanley, Idaho. That town is the mecca of hot springs in my opinion.
On day three, you’ll continue onto Lowman, Idaho City, Boise National Forest, and Boise itself (because there are plenty of hot springs near Boise Idaho to be explored!)
Hot Springs Etiquette
We’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to share the location of some of the hot springs that we have visited. It’s not because we are selfish and want to keep those spots to ourselves. Rather, we desperately do not want them to get trashed.
We’ve decided that since the whereabouts of these hot springs are already floating around on the web, we might as well share them along with some hot springs etiquette with hopes that they will continue to be taken care of
- Pack in what you pack out. Most common items that we see left behind are towels, random socks, wrappers, and beer cans.
- Keep them clean. Avoid spilling your drinks/food while soaking. Also, important to note that these are not baths…leave the bar of soap at home.
- Do some good and pick up garbage if you see it. We like to bring a bag with us in case we encounter trash left behind from others.
- While most natural hot springs are clothing optional, be mindful of others.
- “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” Although Aretha Franklin probably wasn’t referring to hot spring visitors, the same rings true. Be respectful of those around you. I sometimes like to play light music while I’m soaking, but refrain if others are around. Everyone visits hot springs for different reasons, so don’t assume your reason is the same for everyone else.
Our stay in Stanley, Idaho was hosted by the Stanley High Country Inn. All opinions remain our own.
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