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The Hidden Gems Of Hot Springs Heaven

Updated on March 31, 2012

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.

Radium Hot Spring, CO
Radium Hot Spring, CO
Penny Hot Springs, CO
Penny Hot Springs, CO
Olympic Hot Springs, WA
Olympic Hot Springs, WA

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 Springs, NV
Spencer Hot Springs, NV
  • 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 rise.
  • 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 pleasure.
  • 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.

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    • profile image

      Nicole 

      4 years ago

      We drove to gatton rock ohio. And we found the swimming hole. However we could not locate the six pools you speaking of. Do you have any more insight of the hot sping

    • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      gypsumgirl 

      7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      Patlesaux: Thank you for reading and commenting. You'll have to enjoy the springs in person some day. They are spectacular when primitive or natural.

      50 Caliber: Thank you for your story and comments. I enjoyed reading about the 7up bottle. I will have to do some investigating to find out more about it. It's interesting that you've gone back in the past and plan on going back in the future to find the bottle. Natural hot springs truly are gems.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Great hub, you presented and executed well, I really enjoyed reading. I was holding my breath that you did not mention "7 UP" hot springs in a place as fr as I know only 3 plus who they brought has found it. It's got a 7 UP bottle from the 60's era with mineral slug weighting the bottom to keep it floating neck up. It has a rolled up paper around an old Bic pen, I wrote a note on it and my name and number and managed to get the pop top on reasonably well and brought some corks on my next trip as well as 3 friends 2 girls and another guy. I carved 1 cork to fit and marked it #2 with a pencil I brought because I was afraid the 100 to 103 would cause the ink to run out of the pen, when I got the end fished out the paper in the pocket clip pen tip helped a lot, I hadn't planned on that and breaking the bottle was a no go. A pencil wrapped with the paper then with bread bag twisty ties and a cork, last time there were 2 different marks on the paper so it's been found again, I'm panning on riding a desert Burro to the spring in a month or so, well before hot weather. I'm too old to make the climb in one spot, I want to see the bottle and Paper dated in 1963 that a running buck deer led me to on a hunt. So many people so few had been there in 1995 my last trip, I look forward to seeing it hopefully untouched before releasing the grid co-ordinance to the Arizona State University and the Rolla University of Missouri of geology, the Dean of it is a cousin who brought 4 other students to collect samples of rocks, go figure doing that for 50 plus years, thanks for the read and reminder of the good stuff God made, 50

    • patlesaux profile image

      patlesaux 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      These hot springs sure are beautiful. Great hub.

    • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      gypsumgirl 

      7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      Denise: Thank you for your compliments and congrats. Thanks for your encouragement and support. I have really enjoyed my time on HP so far and am really looking forward to continuing to get to build on the wonderful relationships I have started over the last month. What a bunch of wonderful people!! I look forward to writing more and reading what you and others have to say as well...

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      GypsumGirl-YOu and your incredible writing did it! Congratulations on your second win. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi gg-I just caught your 'curry' hub on the featured stories this week. You are a dynamo picking up speed down that snowy mountain, LOL Good going for you! Congratulations!

    • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      gypsumgirl 

      7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      Thank you, Denise! And thank you for all your positive vibes!! You really will have to come out to CO to spend a few days, at least! Fall is the most beautiful time...late October is when the Aspen trees are golden!!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      CONGRATULATIONS! Number 2 is well on its way. I loved your hub-filled with great info and photos and of course, well written. Good for you. I'm looking forward to the results.

      I didn't realize there were hotsprings in CO...which makes sense, but I'm not sure I didn't assoctiate it with your state. Hmmmm I think I may have to check out CO - I have a cousin I can drop in on.

      Good luck to you GG. :)

    • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      gypsumgirl 

      7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      Thank you, ripplemaker! I appreciate your support and thank you for reading my hub. You'll just have to add that to your "bucket list". :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Yay, another Hubnuggets nomination! It's fantastic! :D Congratulations! This way to the Hubnuggets Land: http://bit.ly/f8XToN

      Now you just made me wish I could take a vacation in one of these hot springs!

    • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      gypsumgirl 

      7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      RedElf...glad you've heard about Radium! I have decided that natural hot springs are the way to go for R&R. :) Thanks for the comment and for reading my hub!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Love Radium! Nice photos and lovely places to visit.

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