While many people would argue that hot springs are wonderful any time of year, there’s something extra special about soaking in a steamy pool of natural spring water among a snow-covered landscape. Whether you’re looking to relax tired muscles after a day of adventure or for a place to spend a romantic weekend, there are hot springs for every travel style.
From riverside tubs deep in the forest to the laid-back luxury of bathhouses built around natural springs, here are six of the best places across the country for a warm winter soak.
1. Gila Hot Springs, New Mexico
Tucked away in a lush river valley amidst eastern New Mexico’s sprawling desert mountains, the Gila Hot Springs invite weary travelers to slip into full relaxation. The Gila Hot Springs & Campground features three serene pools built up with natural stone and gravel bottoms, set alongside the impressive rock pinnacles decorating Gila River canyon. The campground offers a full day of soaking for a modest fee, while booking a campsite costs just a few dollars more—and includes unlimited access to the tubs all evening.
Situated 40 miles north of historic Silver City in the Gila National Forest a few minutes from Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, these springs make for the perfect post-hiking treat.
2. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs, California
The Eastern Sierra corridor along the California-Nevada state line is home to one of the country’s highest concentrations of geothermal springs. Steaming out of the sagebrush flatlands just 20 minutes from the popular ski town of Mammoth Lakes, Wild Willy’s Hot Springs are a set of two naturally heated pools. A quick stroll on a boardwalk over the sulphuric clay leads to these clothing-optional pools, where dramatic, uninterrupted vistas of the snow-covered Sierras truly steal the show.
3. Hot Springs State Park, Wyoming
In the aptly named town of Thermopolis (directly east of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks), Hot Springs State Park delights travelers with a free public bathhouse and two privately operated pools. From the comfort of the constantly 104-degree mineral water—no hiking is necessary—you have views of the park’s natural rainbow terraces of travertine. A bonus for those braving the cold weather: Rangers feed the state park’s bison herd daily during the winter, meaning you can get a glimpse of these magnificent animals up close.
4. Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Colorado
The artistic stonework around these mineral springs can make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a high-end spa rather than an outdoor oasis. Set along Hot Springs Creek in a cozy alcove full of aspens and pines, the property includes five spacious pools, picnic and lounge areas, a heated cabin for changing, and lodging opportunities. Just seven miles from downtown Steamboat Springs, a soak in these pools makes for a well-deserved après ski indulgence. Driving to Strawberry Park Hot Springs during winter requires four-wheel drive and snow tires, and no hiking is necessary.
5. Kirkham Hot Springs, Idaho
A short walk down a wooden staircase leads to these undeveloped geothermal pools along the banks of the South Fork of the Payette River. Steaming water cascades over a cliff and into the shallow pools where bathers cozy up against the rocks and enjoy views of this pristine river canyon. Summertime brings plenty of travelers to this natural hot spring situated along Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, 80 miles northeast of Boise. But come winter, the crowds tend to thin out as the snow piles up, affording an even more idyllic scenery and more solitude.
6. Hot Springs Resort & Spa, North Carolina
The East Coast might not boast the same abundance of naturally occurring hot springs as seen out west, but the few that do exist provide a special experience in the region. The historic town of Hot Springs, North Carolina, lies right along the Appalachian Trail in the quintessential misty air of the slow-rolling mountain range. Reports of Native Americans and European settlers seeking out the 100-degree mineral water for its healing powers dates back centuries. Today, the Hot Springs Resort & Spa pipes the spring water into modern jacuzzi tubs positioned in the open air on the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River. The 100-acre resort includes campsites, cabins, and suites along with spa treatments to round out the hot springs experience.
Written by Jenna Herzog for RootsRated Media in partnership with Royal Robbins.
Featured image provided by Lisa Elliott