Idaho is home to numerous incredible hot springs and other natural beauties, and the Bear Valley Hot Springs, just outside Stanley, near Lowman, is no exception. After a night at the Fir Creek Campground and a fairly difficult 3.5-mile hike, you can sit back and enjoy Bear Valley Hot Springs’ healing waters.
Natural Hot Spring Pools
A string of primitive hot spring pools offers the perfect getaway when you need some healing and relaxation. The biggest pool at Bear Valley Hot Springs is large enough to fit around 10 people and its water level typically reaches the mid-thigh. The water is 130°F at the water’s source, and in this pool, it rests at about 104°F.
The other hot spring pools are smaller and cooler, but because there is no cold water source mixing with the source, all of the pools have high temperatures. They are typically around 100°F, though the exact temperature depends on the season and weather.
While the rock walls and gravel/sand-lined bottoms of the pools are not the most modern, the water is normally very clean and free of algae. While soaking, be aware of slippery rocks as well as the possibility of red spider mites in order to stay safe and enjoy your visit.
Remember that all of this water is a sensitive salmon-spawning area, so tread lightly and pack out all of your trash. As for all you backpackers hoping for a great place to set up camp for the night, there is enough space for about six tents near the springs.
Bear Valley Hot Springs can be accessed year-round. If it is summer, make sure you also pack in some major bug spray so the mosquitos will not carry you away. Other than that, it is always a good time for a long, hot soak, so don’t miss this gem of a hot spring discovery as you continue to explore all that the surrounding Stanley, Idaho, outdoors has to offer.
Because the hiking route to the Bear Valley Hot Springs can be treacherous in bad weather, it is best to plan your visit between the months of April and October. While it is better to hike the whole route in the fall months, in the spring, you may want to bring a raft and float all or part of the way down the river.
If you’re looking for a nearby place where you can camp overnight, then you should check out the Fir Creek Campground. It’s approximately 3.5 miles away from the hot springs, located on Forest Service Road 579. And while primitive, it does offer pit toilets.
Best of all, the campsite is free to use and provides you with a perfect home base for hiking, backpacking, soaking in hot spring pools, and mountain biking in the area.
Day hikers seeking to discover Bear Valley Hot Springs can begin their trek at the Fir Creek Campground. Simply drive 20 miles northwest of Stanley on ID21 and turn west on FR 82/579. Another 8 miles will deliver you to the entrance of Fir Creek Campground.
This 7-mile out-and-back hike will take you through a lovely meadow and down a steep 1-mile stretch with loose rock and sand. Be cautious. You will know you are close to your destination when you see an arrow sign posted on a tree with “HS” carved above it. Continue downriver to discover this unbelievable hot spring.
From Stanley, ID
- Take ID-21.
- Turn west when you get to FR 82/579.
- Soon after, you will see the Fir Creek Campground.
- Park and begin your hike to the hot springs.
Address: Forest Rd 579A, Lowman, Idaho 83637
Season: Best to visit April-October
Camping: Permitted | Free