Can you imagine being some of the first people to come across steaming pools in the middle of the Idaho wilderness? It would have been something, watching the clear water bubbling up from the ground, throwing steam into the air. The hot pools at Lava Hot Springs were once considered to have healing properties, because of the hot, natural mineral water. Now, the hot pools are a booming attraction for tourists and Idaho locals alike. The hot pools are open year round, allowing everyone the chance to come soak in the natural mineral water and enjoy the relaxation the hot water allows.
The fact that the hot pools at Lava Hot Springs are fed directly by underground hot springs probably adds to their appeal. The water is clean and pure from any man made additives. The water, while mineral rich, is a little unique in that it doesn't contain any sulfur. If you've ever visited Yellowstone National Park and have explored the hot springs there, you’ll remember the smell of sulfur. It smells like rotten eggs. The presence of sulfur, and other minerals, is also what contributes to the variety of colors you’ll witness in Yellowstone National Park. But, the hot pools at Lava Hot Springs don’t have sulfur. The hot pools are pure and mineral rich, and that’s a large part of their appeal.
While it’s doubtful that the hot pools ever had any true healing properties, that didn't stop a town from being built around them. They became a kind of gathering place. Although, with the warm water, it would be easy to understand how the idea of healing pools came about. After a long day of work, or working out, it’s always nice and relaxing to take a nice hot shower or bath. The heat feels great on sore muscles, and that might be a part of where the idea of the healing pools came about. Whether or not that’s the case, one thing is certain: soaking in the hot pools at Lava Hot Springs is a sublime experience.
You can visit the pools anytime of the year; they are open year round. Don’t worry about being cold during the winter, though. The walkways are heated, and the dressing rooms all have heated floors. From the time you change into your swimsuit to the time you get into the delightfully warm water, you’ll stay nice and toasty, and you won’t have to worry about the snow or the cold. Besides, Idaho in the winter is gorgeous. Can you think of anything better than soaking in the hot pools watching the snow fall on a crisp Idaho night?
After your soak, you might like a nice warm place to sleep. Lava Hot Springs has plenty of lodging available. Maybe you’d like to camp outside, and sleep under the starts (just maybe not in the winter)? There are several campgrounds nearby. If a hotel, or condo, and having to share your building with other guests isn't your idea of a good time, you should definitely check out the cabins that are available. While you’re still basking in the warmth of the hot pools, and sleeping in a cozy bed, you can dream about what you’re going to do tomorrow.
Apart from the hot pools, there’s a large swimming complex. They have an Olympic-sized pool, 10 meter high diving platform (with lower tiers), two water slides, an indoor swimming pool, kid’s area, and indoor hot pools. If you want to stay outside and get away from people for a bit, you can float the river on inner tubes or rafts. If you want to get even further away, check out Lava Zip-line Adventures. They take you to a private canyon with zip-lines up to 1500 feet long. Or you can just wander the streets of Lava Hot Springs, checking out the local shops and museum.
Lava Hot Springs began as a gathering place, centered around the natural hot springs. And today, people still gather around the hot springs. Things have changed, but the hot pools are still the focal point of the town. Whether you’re just visiting, or Lava Hot Springs is right in your backyard, it’s a part of Idaho worth visiting.