Soak In the Best Natural Hot Springs In the U.S.
Sure, human-made spas are nice, but nothing beats a spa created by nature. Usually made by geothermal activity, natural hot springs are like a thoughtful gift from Mother Earth to humans (and other animals).
The United States is graced with thousands of hot springs, many of which are safe to bathe in. Some have been incorporated into formal spas and resorts, while others continue can be found out in the wild. But they all provide numerous health benefits associated with lowering stress, boosting circulation and even helping with skin issues.
Get a healthy glow at these 15 best natural hot springs in the U.S.
15. Hot Springs National Park
Closest city: Hot Springs
Enjoying Hot Springs National Park
The only national park in the U.S. to be dedicated solely to hot springs, this destination has been a preferred spa getaway for over a century. People have been coming here since the early 20th century to see Bathhouse Row, where numerous bathhouses harnessed the power of the region’s naturally occurring hot springs.
The park has outdoor natural hot springs, but you can't bathe in any of them. Rather, you can enjoy the geothermal water at the two remaining operating bathhouses in town: The Buckstaff Bathhouse and Quapaw Baths.
Where to stay: Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa
14. Castle Hot Springs
Closest city: Morristown
Enjoying Castle Hot Springs
Although these hot springs are completely encased within a resort, they still enjoy relative seclusion. Surrounded by the Arizona Sonora desert and the Hieroglyphic Mountains, the main hot spring cascades down into three natural pools.
The Castle Hot Springs Resort is on the National Register of Historic Places, having been originally built in 1896. Besides access to the relaxing springs, you’ll have meals and guided hikes included in your stay. What's best, your meals will be made with ingredients grown in the resort's on-site farm and greenhouse.
Where to stay: Castle Hot Springs Resort
13. Potosi Hot Springs
Closest city: Pony
Enjoying Potosi Hot Springs
Potosi Hot Springs are the perfect amount of wild. These natural pools are public and free. They are surrounded by forest and large stone formations, which provide a secluded atmosphere.
But there has been some human intervention, with a mid-sized pool built for one spring, where you’ll find some lounge chairs and pool rails. Smaller pools have been fenced on some sides with wood. The set up is still fairly simple, but it does provide some infrastructure to visitors.
Where to stay: Potosi ridgetop cabin
12. Strawberry Parks Hot Springs
Closest city: Steamboat Springs
Enjoying Strawberry Parks Hot Springs
Another geothermal area that has been engulfed in a high-end resort, Strawberry Parks is perfect for those who want the benefits of natural water with a modern pampering experience.
The resort is within Colorado’s Yampa Valley, surrounded by forest and views of the mountains. It manages to keep a somewhat wild ambiance in the pools, which are encased in rock rather than cement. When you’re done letting the steam melt your worries away, you can book a massage to make this a full wellness trip.
Winter is particularly popular, given how amazing it is to bathe in the hot springs while everything else is covered in snow. Many visitors also spend the day skiing before relaxing at night in the springs.
Where to stay: Strawberry Parks Hot Springs
11. Boiling River Hot Springs
Closest city: Gardiner (Montana)
Enjoying Boiling River Hot Springs
Located within Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, what’s cool about this spot is that it’s a river rather than a natural pool. The park’s famous geothermal activity makes this river hot in certain areas, thus giving it its name. You can choose how hot or cold you want to be by simply moving up and down the river.
Boiling River is also near Mammoth Hot Springs, so you can easily enjoy both locations in a single day for the ultimate natural spa experience. While both spots are located in Wyoming, the closest city to them is actually in Montana.
Where to stay: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins
10. San Antonio Hot Springs
State: New Mexico
Closest city: Jemez Springs
Enjoying San Antonio Hot Springs
Located within Santa Fe National Forest, the San Antonio Hot Springs can only be accessed through a short hike. Once you arrive, you’re greeted by the mystifying sight of three perfectly shaped natural pools that flow into one another. The pools are naturally walled by rocks and are surrounded by views of mountains and thick forest.
You won’t have to worry about the temperature, since each pool offers different degrees of heat, with the first pool being the hottest. Just be aware that they are clothing optional and are pretty popular, so you should only plan a trip here if you’re comfortable with seeing several behinds.
Where to stay: Jemez Springs mountain cabin
9. Kirkham Hot Springs
Closest city: Lowman
Enjoying Kirkham Hot Springs
Idaho has hundreds of hot springs. Located within Boise National Forest, the Kirkham ones are definitely some of the most beautiful in the state. What sets them apart is that, besides the natural pools, there are also hot waterfalls that you can stand underneath. If you love steamy, hot showers, you really don't want to miss out on bathing under these waterfalls.
And if you want a bit of a hot-and-cold contrast, you can easily jump back and forth between the hot springs and the cold Payette River, which runs right next to them.
Where to stay: Cabin on Payette River
8. Mystic Hot Springs
Closest city: Monroe
Enjoying Mystic Hot Springs
These desert hot springs are definitely mystical. Touted as "the best hippie hot springs in the West," the location is actually a resort. But unlike other hot springs resorts on here, it doesn't cater to the luxury traveler. Rather, it offers converted buses, cabins and campgrounds as accommodations, live performances and probably a lot of talk about how the Age of Aquarius is coming.
Nature helps by providing an incomparable background: Clear water gushes from tall rust-colored formations to form light sea-green pools. Porcelain tubs have been placed under some of the formations, so you can take an intimate bath in a truly surreal setting.
Where to stay: The converted New Moon Bus
7. Boquillas Hot Spring
Closest city: Marathon
Enjoying Boquillas Hot Spring
Set within Big Bend National Park, right on the Rio Grande's border with Mexico, these hot springs have a location unlike any other.
Given their remoteness, you'll have to take a four-wheel drive and do a short hike to get to them. But rest assured your troubles will be worth it when you're soaking in the springs and enjoying views of Mexico. If you get too hot, you can always get out and take a dip in the Rio Grande — the contrast of hot and cold water is supposed to be great for circulation.
Where to stay: Lajitas Golf Resort
6. Conundrum Hot Springs
Closest city: Aspen
Enjoying Conundrum Hot Springs
Only the truly committed make the difficult 17-mile hike (round trip) necessary to get to Conundrum Hot Springs. Those that make it are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains.
Formed in natural calderas and primitive rock pools, the spring water is full of minerals that are great for your health. The trail is usually open from April to October.
Where to stay: St. Regis Aspen Resort
5. Umpqua Hot Springs
Closest city: Glide
Enjoying Umpqua Hot Springs
Tiered pools of spring water cascade down rock formations, each with a different temperature to seat different preferences. Depending on the time of year and how much it has rained, the hot water can display different colors, from yellow to light green to deep blue.
Umpqua Hot Springs are located near Toketee Falls, so hikers often visit the waterfalls and then come to the springs to rest after the trek. Bathers are surrounded by the deep green forest of Umpqua National Forest.
Where to stay: River Vista Vacation Homes
4. Arizona Hot Springs
Closest city: Boulder City (Nevada)
Enjoying Arizona Hot Springs
These springs are a bit of a conundrum themselves. Although they are in Arizona, as their name suggests, the closest city to them is Boulder City, Nevada. In fact, they are a mere 40 minutes away from the noise of Las Vegas. As such, they are a popular getaway for those who want to take a pause on partying and relax in nature for a bit.
Also known as the Ringbolt Hot Springs, the three-tiered pool sits within a narrow canyon. To get there, you'll have to complete a hike. Keeping in mind that the region can get hot during summer, the most popular time to visit is in fall and winter, where the heat of the water actually feels like a reward.
Where to stay: Hoover Dam Lodge
3. Travertine Hot Springs
Closest city: Bridgeport
Enjoying Travertine Hot Springs
Though we've seen some pretty unique hot springs, few of them can compare to California's Travertine Hot Springs. Travertine is a sedimentary rock, and travertine hot springs are a pretty rare occurrence, not just in the U.S. but in the world.
These natural pools are free and easily accessible, so they are pretty popular. Their location near the Sierra Nevadas and gorgeous Yosemite National Park makes them an even more enticing spot. There are five pools within the area, and they are all clothing optional.
Where to stay: Virginia Creek Settlement
2. Fifth Water Hot Springs
Closest city: Spanish Fork
Enjoying Fifth Water Hot Springs
Nestled within Utah's Diamond Ford Canyon, these sulfur springs have thick turquoise water that sets them apart from other springs on here. Despite its somewhat strong smell, sulfur is very good for the skin, so a soak here will leave you glowing and feeling as if you'd gone to a beautician.
The pools are located near a trail and are complemented by a majestic waterfall.
Where to stay: Spanish Fork resort property
1. Chena Hot Springs
Closest city: Fairbanks
Enjoying Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs may be the least accessible and most remote of all the hot springs on this list, but they are also the undisputed best. Several legends of the spring's magical properties have spread throughout the decades, with tales of maladies cured by the waters. But whether you believe the tales or not, there is no denying that being at this resort is good for the body and soul.
After all, few other places give you the extraordinary experience of bathing in hot springs under the Northern Lights.
Where to stay: Chena Hot Springs Resort