Throw on your swimsuit and enjoy the soak of the year next time you visit Yellowstone National Park. Warm water generated by Mammoth Hot Springs enters the Boiling River and mixes with cold water from the Gardner River creating a very enjoyable experience for tourists.
Boiling River is located just south of the state line and north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. This is one of two spots in the park where you are allowed to get in the water. The other swimming hole is the Firehole River off Firehole Canyon Drive. If you enter the park from the north on Highway 89, you will come upon a 45th Parallel sign.
Just past that sign, use the parking lot on the east side of the road, and then hike half a mile upstream until you see steam coming off the water. The hike is novice level with a distance of 1.25 miles out and back.
While visiting the Yellowstone region, be sure to check out Granite Hot Springs in Jackson, WY. It’s a rustic hot springs pool developed in the 1930s.
Primitive Hot Springs in Yellowstone, Wyoming
You can access the hot spring in the mid-summer and fall months. The river flows at a dangerous pace once the snow melts causing the park to revoke access during spring months. Keep an eye on young children if you visit when the river is moving at a faster pace.
Typically, it’s open from sun up to sun down, although sometimes it’s closed for the season, check the current conditions on the NPS website, listed below under Details. Park Rangers will give everyone the boot at 9 pm.
You’ll find it to be somewhat crowded given how easily accessible the hot spring is from the road, but do not let that deter you from taking a soak. Wildlife, including moose and elk, are known to saunter past the area so keep your camera ready.
The elk are not shy of tourists and get pretty close as you are soaking in the river. Do not put yourself in danger for that selfie you think would get 1,000+ likes on Instagram – it’s not worth the risk.
A primitive bathroom is located along the hiking trail; however, it resembles the last bathroom stall from Desperado with Antonio Banderas. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you are best served to wear your swimsuit under your clothes or change in the car.
Once you enter the river, you will feel the water on the right (facing downstream) is frigid while the water on the left is almost scalding hot. Find a spot to relax somewhere along the center of the left half for that optimal temperature.
Water shoes are something that will make the experience more pleasurable as well – highly recommended as you will have to walk around in the river to find the Goldilocks zone. Most people visiting Yellowstone National Park claim this was one of the highlights of their trip so definitely check it out. As you can imagine, the best time to avoid crowds will be on weekdays during the early hours.
Address: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA 82190
Things to bring:
- Water shoes
- No pets
- No food; no drinks; alcohol is prohibited
Hours of Operation:
- South of Gardner (north park entrance)
- Park at lot along state line & 45th Parallel sign
- Hike upstream 1.25 miles
- Do not hike off the trail