The Hidden Gems Of Hot Springs Heaven
Hot Springs Commercial Pools vs. Natural, Primitive Hot Springs
I would have to say that soaking the soreness away at the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood Springs, CO or Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah is a most wonderful experience. Walking out of the bath houses and descending into the hot pools produce goose-bumps every single time, without fail.
Recently, I have started to look for primitive hot springs...locations where there are natural hot pools usually alongside a river bank. Gone are the days of paying money to go to a fancy bath house where tourists visit and are amazed at how an entire Olympic-sized swimming pool can stay warm. After locating a few, I have actually experienced a few natural hot pools on the Colorado and Crystal Rivers in Colorado and have found them to be better than the commercial pool. Water temperature is regulated by the movement of rocks, letting the cold river water in to cool it down if necessary. The heat from geothermal activity makes the water bubble up from under the rocks. Some pools are even too hot for humans to enter.
Some primitive hot springs locations have several pools, built by people over the years, using rocks. If you are walking along a riverbank or floating down a river and you stumble upon rocks that outline a pool of some sort, you might want to check it out as it might be a natural hot springthat people have stacked rocks around to create a nice soaking pool. Others only have one pool. From my experience, most are "clothing optional" so beware if you have young children with you! Most of these are harder to find and are usually shared through word-of-mouth so mostly locals are hanging out in the primitive pools. No bath houses. No toilets (if you don't count a bush you can hide behind). No entrance fee. Just you, close friends, and nature! Now that's the way to enjoy a good, hot, relaxing soak in the hot springs.
Where Are They?
- Radium Hot Spring in Colorado ~ There is a single pool that is created by a circular wall of rocks which is large enough for 20 people. The water temperature stay in the 90s, sometimes reaching into the low 100s. To find this location, take I-70 to Highway 40 toward Kremmling. Turn left on Highway 9 and travel two miles to Trough Springs Road. 12 miles up Trough Springs Road, you will notice an unpaved road on the right. Turn onto this road and stay on it for a mile to an overlook of the Colorado River. Climb down to the river and walk upstream a short way to the hot spring. It is located under a large rock outcrop.
- Penny Hot Springs in Colorado ~ Nine miles south of Carbondale on Highway 133 sits the Penny Hot Springs on the left side of the road. It is on the banks of the Crystal River between Carbondale and Redstone. There are two tiny mineral springs under granite and marble rocks. Locals stacked rocks to create the pools. The water here can get up to 130 degrees. Beware...and shift the rocks to let in more river water if it is too hot!
- Olympic Hot Springs in Washington ~ The Olympic Hot Springs are located in Olympic National Park. A 2.5 mile hike (longer during the winter) from the trailhead brings you to the five pools. Hot springs emanate from a variety of locations. Three of the five pools are usually contain perfect soaking-temperature water. In order to reach Olympic National Park, take Route 101 from Port Angeles west about 8 miles to Olympic Hot Springs Road. Turn left onto the road and continue to Olympic National Park. After traveling for about 3 miles, you'll pass Elwha Campground as you head toward the ranger station. At this point, Whiskey Bend Road will veer to the left but you will turn right. Take this road for 6 miles and you'll find the Boulder Creek trailhead. Drop off your car on the closed road and take the hike along this road for 2 miles and you'll see a side trail. Take the side trail to the left about half a mile and cross over three creek beds...Cougar, Hell, and Crystal Creeks. After crossing over the last creek bed, the trail breaks off to the left. Follow this for half a mile and you'll see the springs.
- Spencer Hot Spring in Nevada ~ This geothermal swimming hole
is located about 20 miles southeast of Austin, NV, in the northern part
of the Big Smoky Valley. This hole looks like a crude pool dug in the
ground. People have built a partial wooden deck around the hole, but it
is mostly surrounded by a chalky alkali ground covering with assorted
grasses and sage. There are no amenities at this site. The water
temperature can be regulated by a faucet where the hot spring water is
draining from into the pool. To reach the Spencer Hot Spring, take US
50 east out of Austin for 14 miles. When US 50 intersects with State
Route 376, turn south and turn left immediately onto a dirt road. There
is a historical marker here for Toquima Cave. Travel on the dirt road
for 6 miles, then turn left onto another dirt road and head toward a
small rise in the land. You'll find the spring on the east side of the
- Milemarker 4: Skinnydipper Hot Springs in Idaho
~ Skinnydipper is the most recent hot spring discovered in Idaho.
There is a large chain of large, deep, rock and mortar pools fed by
water that is piped in. There is the ability to adjust the temperatures
in each of these pools. These springs were cultivated by Hot Springs
Harley and maintained by "keepers" who take care of the pools and
trails. To find the pools, take Hwy 55 onto Banks/Lowman Road and drive
4 miles to the large turnout. Park there. Hike up a steep hill for
about half a mile. Three pools are waiting at the top for your soaking
- Sunbeam Hot Springs in Idaho ~ This hot
spring location provides soakers with man-made, rock-walled pools that
vary in temperature and size. The Sunbeam Hot Springs is one of very
few soaking holes that provides a restroom and changing room, even
though it is non-commercial. From Stanley, take Hwy 75 for 11 miles and
you'll see the old stone bath house.
- Gatton Rocks in Ohio ~ The Clear Fork River runs through northern Ohio and provides people with a swimming hole that has a deep end, a shallow area, and a grassy beach. This is a great place for children. There are 6 natural rock-lined hot springs pools at Gatton Rocks. To reach Gatton Rocks, take Route 13 south to Bellville to Route 97. Go east on Route 97 for about 2.5 miles and turn south or right on Dill Road. Then, go west (right) on Gatton Rocks Road. After another 1.5 miles, you'll see the swimming hole.
You might consider visiting one of these primitive, natural hot springs the next time you have an urge to go and soak...or if you decide to go on an adventure. Non-commercial swimming or soaking holes give you a very different experience than visiting a commercial pool. It is usually much more peaceful and relaxing for those looking for true rest and relaxation.