Top 5 Natural Hot Springs
Steaming mineral waters, panoramic mountain views, lush landscapes—it’s no wonder natural hot springs have been treasured for relaxation and healing for centuries. While hot springs can be found across the United States, some stand out as the best places to experience the pleasures of geothermal bathing. From luxury retreats to free public soaks, here are five of America’s premier natural hot spring spas chosen by travel experts.
|This article explores America’s top 5 natural hot springs, according to travel experts:
Chena Natural Hot Springs is renowned for its shimmering aurora views in Alaska’s remote boreal forest. The resort’s hot springs flow with clear geothermal waters at temperatures up to 165°F. Guests can soak in outdoor rock pools with stunning mountain vistas or inside the resort’s thermal bathhouse.
The Chena geothermal system is fed by water, which circulates deep underground throughout thousands of years, picking up the natural heat from the earth and then ‘short circuits’ back up to the surface through cracks and fractures in the granite rock underneath the hot springs area. Granite rock fractures or breaks very nicely in all directions, unlike layered sedimentary rock, which tends to break horizontally. This allows the hot water to quickly reach the surface from a great depth (~3000 feet).
The water is composed of a variety of different identified minerals. Many people believe that by bathing in the water, skin conditions such as psoriasis, muscular pains, and arthritis may be relieved. The water may benefit some circulatory disorders and attract many people with bronchial disorders who claim the combination of steam and minerals provides breathing relief.
The soothing, mineral-rich waters have turned Chena into a premier aurora viewing spot. Local Adventurer says, “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 resort’s location under the most active northern lights band makes it one of the best places in Alaska to see the dazzling display.
In addition to the natural hot springs, Chena offers luxurious lodges, massage therapies, ice museums, dog sledding, snowmobiling, fishing, hiking, and more. SmarterTravel recommends visiting the Aurora Ice Museum’s ice bar after a long soak.
Getting to this oasis requires commitment – a 60-mile drive from Fairbanks, Alaska’s second-largest city. Outdoors.com says determined travelers can drive themselves, take a shuttle, join a guided tour, or even ride the Alaska Railroad. Once there, guests are rewarded with a magical wilderness hot springs experience.
Burgdorf Natural Hot Springs delivers for those craving a remote Rocky Mountain soak. This rustic, reservation-only hot spring lies in Idaho’s Payette National Forest, surrounded by pine forests and whitewater rivers.
Steam rises from Burgdorf’s three hot pools, ranging from 104°F to 113°F.
The middle-temperature pools for adults contain soothing minerals like calcium, magnesium, and lithium. A smaller kids’ pool rounds out the options. Getaway Couple notes the family-friendly convenience of nearby changing rooms.
In addition to communal clothing-optional pools, guests can reserve private soak cabins. Lodge rooms with shared bathrooms are also available for overnight stays. With no cell service or WiFi, Burgdorf provides an ultimate back-to-nature hot spring experience. Please bring your own swimwear, towels, and locks.
Reaching these springs requires dedication – they’re a 30-minute drive from McCall, followed by a bumpy dirt road. But Idaho’s secluded location makes it supremely relaxing. OnlyInYourState calls Burgdorf “the most glorious of them all,” perfect for disconnecting from the world.
This rustic gem welcomes fewer than 20 guests daily, so advance reservations are essential. With limited capacity and high demand, the spring’s reservation waitlist fills quickly. Planning ahead lets you secure a coveted time slot.
Nestled along the Bighorn River, Natural Hot Springs State Park has provided soothing geothermal waters for over 10,000 years. Visitors flock to Thermopolis, Wyoming, to soak in the park’s free public bathhouse and vibrant mineral springs.
At Hot Springs State Park, 135°F hot mineral water flows from Opal Spring at over 800 gallons per minute. After cooling, the water reaches the State Bath House pools at a relaxing 104°F. This National Historic Landmark contains both indoor and outdoor soaking pools.
The park’s free bathhouse is a major perk. “What’s better than a hot spring surrounded by nature in a state park?” asks Lonely Planet. “Free-entry hot springs surrounded by nature in a state park!” Budget-friendly access makes Hot Springs State Park a treasured regional asset.
Beyond healing waters, the park offers hiking trails, suspension bridges, petroglyphs, and roaming bison herds. Outdoors enthusiasts can also fish, raft, kayak, and horseback ride with stunning mountain vistas.
Natural Hot Springs State Park welcomes over 500,000 visitors annually, making reservations advisable during peak times. Avoid summer crowds by planning a rejuvenating spring or fall soak surrounded by Wyoming’s iconic landscapes.
For luxurious hot springs in the Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs is unparalleled. This former 19th-century mining town transformed into a ritzy wilderness spa resort. Guests soak in five natural hot spring pools scattered throughout Dunton’s 1,400 acres of alpine forests and meadows.
Afar Magazine describes Dunton’s springs as “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.” With the San Juan Mountains as a backdrop, the scenery complements the healing waters.
In addition to sensational natural hot springs, Dunton offers activities like horseback riding, fly fishing, yoga, saloon dining, and extravagant lodging. Cabins fuse rustic decor with indulgent details, creating a “luxury western” aesthetic.
Well & Being reveals that stays don’t come cheap – prices start around $1,200 per night. Given the exclusive setting and amenities, BestLife recommends Dunton for special occasions. The unparalleled combination of nature, history, and luxury make this an extraordinary vacation.
Due to Dunton’s intimate size, reservations should be made three to four months in advance. This guarantees coveted entry to one of America’s most exclusive hot spring escapes.
Travertine Hot Springs – Bridgeport, California
For natural hot springs variety, only some locations rival Travertine Hot Springs. Located in California’s Eastern Sierra region, Travertine’s geothermal pools dazzle visitors with their colorful mineral formations and stunning mountain views. Best of all – they’re free.
Travertine’s natural springs cascade down brush-covered hillsides, forming terraces of warm pools. Temperatures range from 105°F near the top down to 80°F further downstream, letting you find perfect heat. The springs empty into chilly Travertine Creek, creating contrasting hot-cold immersion.
Adventures & Sunsets describes Travertine as “three main terraces carved into the hillside, interconnected by a web of narrow, geothermal channel streams.” While the springs are undeveloped, the variety of pools creates an intriguing natural hot springs playground.
Another unique aspect of Travertine is its clothing-optional status. Travel Curator says, “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 mud bath is all part of the vibe.” So remember your mud mask!
The springs see 300,000 visitors a year, mainly during summer weekends. For more solitude, Adventures & Sunsets recommends avoiding peak season midday crowds. Travertine’s stunning Sierra vistas and free cascading pools create an unforgettable experience whenever you visit.
Discover More Revered Hot Springs
America overflows with stunning natural hot springs. Beyond our top five, numerous treasured geothermal sites tempt hot spring connoisseurs.
The rustic bliss of Oregon’s Summer Lake Hot Springs… Idaho’s remote Goldbug Hot Springs snuggled in the Salmon River Mountains… luxurious Two Bunch Palms in the California desert…and Arizona’s sacred Montezuma’s Well fed by an underground limestone spring. The United States has an abundance of hot springs, a glory waiting to be cherished.
For wellness, relaxation, and awe-inspiring nature, few experiences rival the magic of our country’s natural hot springs. Whether seeking adventure, scenery, or affordable luxury, America’s top hot spring spas deliver. Listen to the experts and plunge into the warm embrace of healing waters surrounded by spectacular landscapes. One sublime soak will have you eager to return again.
America abounds with natural hot springs waiting to be enjoyed, from renowned spots like these top five to secluded pools still unknown. For relaxation, healing, and proximity to nature, soaking in the country’s hot springs offers an experience like no other. Listen to the experts, research your options, and unwind surrounded by beauty in the nation’s top natural geothermal spas.