Lava Hot Springs Idaho

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

On a recent road trip to Yellowstone National Park, I booked a room for the night in a little town called Lava Hot Springs Idaho.  It was one of the best places we stopped on the whole trip, and when you’re talking about a trip to Yellowstone National Park, that’s a bold statement to make.  Lava Hot Springs is the quintessential American town you see on old postcards.  It’s situated on the original route of the old Oregon Trail. It’s most famous for the natural hot spring baths located throughout the town.

The tiny town of 400 people is actually situated in a river valley. Main Street runs parallel with the Portneuf river. There are about 6 different places in town where you can rent a tube, catch a shuttle and then ride the river as it twists  through town. Be warned: my girlfriend and I both ended up with a few well deserved battlescars when we went over one of the waterfalls in the wrong spot. There were about ten different signs warning us, but we saw the locals doing it, so we followed them. Because the river is fed by several hot springs, the water temperature is pretty mild compared to most mountain streams.  I would estimate it was around 60 degrees. In contrast, the Snake River in Jackson Wyoming is 42 degrees in June.

I highly recommend staying in one of the historic hotels in the city. We found a 60$ room in a great little hotel called the Riverside Hot Springs Inn. For those of you who are used to a 40 inch flatscreen tv in the bathroom like they have at the Planet Hollywood Tower in Las Vegas, this little hotel will probably disappoint. The rooms here don’t even have a tv and the bathroom was actually out in the hall, but it only added to the charm. There was a giant moose head hanging in the lobby. It’s probably been hanging there for 100 years. The hotel has several private baths on the ground floor that are fed directly from the hot springs. The clerk at the front desk chatted us up and gave us a lot of great advice about the local hikes.  On our 2,500 mile trip from Southern California to Cody Wyoming and back, we saw all of the major tourist spots and they did not disappoint, but I can honestly say Lava Hot Springs was one of my favorite stops.  I could easily have spent a few more days tubing the river during the day and drinking 2$ beers with the locals at night in the Wagon Wheel Lounge. If I ever decide to drop off the grid for a summer, Lava Hot Springs is my first choice of destination. 

Cliff Jumping in Lava Hot Springs Idaho on the Portneuf River

Tubing in Lava Hot Springs Idaho


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