What’s better than relaxing in the warmth and taking in the surrounding beauty of a natural hot spring? Well, maybe nothing. The United States is replete with gorgeous natural hot springs just waiting to be explored and enjoyed. If you’re ready to take the plunge, we’ve done the legwork! To narrow down your search, we’ve compiled 15 experts’ consensus top picks of the best hot springs in the country for you to enjoy.
In addition to the obvious calming effects of a warm soak, there are other ways a visit to the hot springs can help you relax. For instance, one study shows that the sounds of nature can help calm the body. The burble of a brook or the sighing of the wind was found to trigger outward-focused attention in the brain and an increase in nervous system activity linked to feelings of relaxation. So as you sit back and relax in the warm water, be sure to listen to the soothing sounds of nature all around.
Now more than ever seems to be a good time for a relaxing getaway. A recent poll shows that the average American feels relaxed for just 40 minutes a day, while many feel relaxed even less than that! More than half of respondents said they are making self-care a priority, including working out (36%), listening to music (35%), and going for walks (33%). Three in 10 enjoy indulging in a hot bath . . . and to that we say, find your perfect hot springs!
Many of America’s number-one hot springs sites are also home to amazing landscapes, incredible wildlife, and exciting outdoor activities. So whether you’re looking for a free day trip with the kids, or a luxury getaway retreat, there’s a spring for everyone. Ready to locate the best hot springs? Check out our list of the most beautiful spots according to 15 experts. Know of another perfect spot? Tell us in the comments!
The List: Best Hot Springs In America, According to Travel Experts
1. Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
Located in Fairbanks, Alaska, Chena Hot Springs is a popular site for warming up while watching the northern lights, as it is located under the most active band of the aurora borealis. The geothermal waters at this resort are chlorinated so that you can avoid bacterial illness as well.
Local Adventurer writes, “Soak in the toasty waters and gaze at the spectacular views around you, but the highlight is getting a glimpse of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, dancing across the sky as you soak. The best times to see the northern lights are from September to March.”
SmarterTravel notes, “You don’t have to stay at the resort to soak in its pool, but overnight guests can request an aurora wake-up call when the night staff sees the lights. Day-trippers from Fairbanks often follow up a soak with a drink at the on-site Aurora Ice Museum’s ice bar or with outdoor adventures in the adjacent Chena River State Recreation Area.”
“There are many ways to get to Chena Hot Springs. You can drive the 60 miles of paved roads yourself, hop on a shuttle or tour bus or even take a scenic train aboard the Chena Aurora Magic,” adds Outdoors.com.
2. Burgdorf Hot Springs, Idaho
Burgdorf Hot Springs is a great place to get away from it all. The rustic resort can be found 30 minutes outside of McCall, Idaho, and is open by reservation only.
“Idaho might just be the most underestimated state in the country. Not only is it immensely beautiful, but it’s also a veritable hot springs treasure trove. And the most glorious of them all is Burgdorf Hot Springs. This resort in McCall, Idaho, has something for everyone: two hot pools that simmer at an average temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit, along with a smaller pool that’s perfect for kids,” enthuses OnlyInYourState.
Getaway Couple details the child-friendly conveniences: “There is a separate shallow pool for parental-supervised children with changing rooms nearby.”
Culture Trip adds, “The property has rustic cabins that you can stay in, but note: you will need to bring your own bedding. During the spring and summer months, the resort is accessible by road, but any other time, you must rely on snowmobiles. It’s open 365 days per year, so you can even soak here on Christmas Day.”
3. Hot Springs State Park, Wyoming
Although it takes a little effort to attain the remote north-central reaches of Thermopolis, Wyoming, the benefits are numerous. Enjoy everything from free entry to the hot springs bath house, to myriad outdoor activities, sightseeing, and wildlife.
Luxury Columnist says, “Hot Springs State Park in Wyoming is a few hour’s drive away from the popular Yellowstone National Park. It’s nestled along the Big Horn River at Thermopolis, where hot springs flow at a constant temperature of around 135 °F. The park features plenty of hiking trails and thermal pools surrounded by a beautiful landscape. There’s a free bathhouse with an indoor and outdoor pool fed by the surrounding mineral hot springs – ideal for relaxing and soothing your muscles after a vigorous hike in the park.”
Lonely Planet loves the free ticket: “What’s better than a hot spring surrounded by nature in a state park? Free-entry hot springs surrounded by nature in a state park. That’s right: there’s no one taking tickets or sliding your credit card to access the Wyoming State Bath House at Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming.”
Travel Triangle touts the many activities that await: “Visitors to these springs can also head out to other attractions such as walks on the Suspension bridge over Bighorn River, watch herds of bison being reared as well as the Legend Rock petroglyph site.”
4. Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado
Unlike some of our other top picks, this one comes with a hefty price tag falling under the category of luxury resort. Still, it tops many lists as one of the best hot springs in America and is definitely a beautiful site to visit, if you can swing it.
Afar explains, “Situated in an alpine valley in the San Juan Mountains about two hours southwest of Telluride, Dunton Hot Springs is a former ghost town that has been transformed into a rustic luxury resort complete with refurbished log cabins and communal, chef-prepared meals served in the old Saloon. There are six different hot, mineral-rich soaking options, including an outdoor spring near the main compound, a restored 19th-century bathhouse, and a natural pool overlooking the nearby Delores River.”
Attractions of America adds, “If you want to be surrounded by the peaceful tranquility of nature all around you while you drift off into space inside a balmy, mineral-rich hot spring, then Dunton is the place to do it. This therapeutic and relaxing hot spring is one of many popular attractions in Colorado.”
BestLife suggests saving it for a special occasion: “Given the cost, we recommend this for a special stay like an anniversary or birthday.”
5. Travertine Hot Springs, California
Fee free and clothing free, Travertine Hot Springs is located in Bridgeport, California, and offers beautiful views along with several lovely soaking pools.
Travel Curator writes, “A 20-minute drive from the Nevada border, Travertine Hot Springs are, in one word, unique. The springs are free, easily accessible (just a few dirt miles off highway 395) and forewarning: clothing here is optional. The pools are formed by scalding geothermal water that trickles down travertine rock and algae, settling at a comfortable 103 to 105 degrees. Their floors are mud, so smearing yourself and enjoying your own mud bath is all part of the vibe.”
Adventures & Sunsets says it can get crowded around here. “So bring all you need to enjoy the day and consider avoiding the hot springs in the midst of summer (& the middle of the day) when they are busiest. If you’re seeking to add to the adventure, wind down for the night by camping under the stars at the nearby site.”
Travel + Leisure likes the view: “Take in views of the Sierras while soaking in the natural Travertine Hot Springs near Bridgeport, California.”
You might also be interested in:
- Best Swimming Holes In The U.S.
- Best Hot Tubs
- Best Beaches In The U.S.
- Best Hiking Trails In The U.S.
- Local Adventurer
- Getaway Couple
- Culture Trip
- Luxury Columnist
- Lonely Planet
- Travel Triangle
- Attractions of America
- Travel Curator
- Adventures & Sunsets
- Travel + Leisure
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