Situated just north of the Yellowstone National Park boundary, Gardiner, Montana is a gateway to one of America’s most famous parks. Known for its geysers and beautiful pools of geothermally heated water, this area is also home to a number of hot spring pools and resorts, which make it a perfect year-round destination.
From primitive pools without facilities to full-service, luxurious resorts, this area of Montana has all types of hot springs. Ordered by their proximity, here’s our list of the best hot springs near Gardiner, Montana:
Boiling River (3 miles)
Note: As of July 2022, Boiling River is currently closed to swimming. Additionally, the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park is closed due to flood damages.
Located just inside Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary, the Boiling River is created where an underground hot spring meets the Gardner River, forming a section of warm, relaxing water. Surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of Yellowstone, the Boiling River is one of the best places to soak near Gardiner.
To access this section of the river, park in the small parking lot on the east side of Highway 89 just past the 45th Parallel Bridge, then follow a path approximately 0.5 miles upriver towards the spring. The Boiling River is usually accessible year-round, but be sure to dress warmly for the walk during the winter months.
Swimsuits are required, and no food, drinks, or alcohol are permitted in the river. Swimming is only permitted during the day, and there is no lifeguards present. Parking is extremely limited, so be sure to arrive early or visit during off-peak days for the best chance at a spot.
The other natural spring for swimming in Yellowstone National Park is the Firehole River Swimming Area. It’s usually closed in spring and most of the summer due to spring snowmelt fueling the raging river. So check the NPS website for updates and hope to visit after mid-summer.
Yellowstone Hot Springs (8 miles)
Less than 10 miles north of Gardiner, Yellowstone Hot Springs is an impressive resort offering multiple pools, cabin rentals, and a full campground. Generally, open six days a week, Yellowstone Hot Springs does not require reservations, and the price of admission is good for an entire day.
The main pool is kept at 102º F, making it the ideal temperature for relaxing soaks. Additionally, the main pool is quite large, and its various alcoves allow for privacy.
For those looking for a hotter pool, try out the 104º F hot plunge, but consider cooling off in the 60-65º F cold plunge pool afterward. All of the pools are flow-thru, so fresh mineral water is constantly flowing into the pool, meaning the water stays clean and at the ideal temperature.
For accommodations, Yellowstone Hot Springs offers a few choices. Cabins are available for rent, all of which feature a bathroom, kitchenette, and smart TV.
Additionally, both full-hookup and electric-only RV sites can be rented, and they can accommodate a maximum length of 40 feet. Finally, walk-in tent sites with fire rings, picnic tables, and nearby showers are another option.
Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa (34 miles)
With hot spring pools, unique accommodations, a number of restaurants, and even additional amenities like a disc golf course, Chico Hot Springs Resort is one of the premier resorts in the Gardiner, Montana area. The primary draw of the resort is the two open-air hot spring pools.
The smaller pool averages a warm 103º F, but the larger pool sits at a more comfortable 96º F, making it better for extended soaks. Both pools are chemical-free, and they are accessible to lodging guests and guests with a day pass. No outside food or drinks is permitted in the pool area. Locker rooms with showers and changing areas are located adjacent to the pools.
There are a few different options for dining at Chico Hot Springs. While enjoying the pools, consider eating at the Poolside Grille, a casual spot open for lunch and dinner serving salads, burgers, sandwiches, and delicious desserts. For a more luxurious experience, make reservations at the Historic Dining Room. Finally, for live music, great signature drinks, and video poker, go to the Chico Saloon.
Accommodations are available at the Historic Main Lodge, in rustic cabins, larger houses, and even in unique covered wagons. Most rooms are elegantly appointed and feature private bathrooms. However, telephones and televisions are not included in any rooms, and WiFi is only available in select areas in the resort. Reservations can be made online or over the phone.
Bozeman Hot Springs (88 miles)
A bit further from Gardiner than the first three options, Bozeman Hot Springs is another popular choice for thermal water in Montana. With 8 indoor and 4 outdoor pools with varying temperatures and sizes, it’s easy to find the perfect place to relax. All 12 of the pools are naturally heated with geothermal mineral water, and, thanks to a flow-thru system and nightly cleaning, few chemicals are necessary.
The four outdoor pools range in temperature from 80 to 104º F. Kids will enjoy the large kiddie pool, while the middle, big, and old pools are perfect for everyone else. The outdoor section is also the site of live music and various other events throughout the year. Inside, find a large main pool, two cold pools, an additional kiddie pool, and a few hot tubs.
Locker rooms with showers and lockers are available on-site, and towels are complimentary for all visitors. Bozeman Hot Springs is open year-round, but the pools close for lightning and for weather below -10º F.
In addition to the hot spring pools, there is also a state-of-the-art fitness facility with weights and cardio machines. Group fitness classes and personal training sessions are offered.
Bozeman Hot Springs also has an on-site campground. Located next door to the hot spring pools, Bozeman Campground has one and two-room cabins, RV sites, and tent sites. RV sites have full hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Reservations can be made online.
Norris Hot Springs (115 miles)
Located about 2 hours from Gardiner, Norris Hot Springs is another good place for a relaxing soak in southern Montana. Water flows from a set of springs known as the “Water of the Gods” at 120º F, and it is pumped into the soaking pool at a temperature of approximately 100º F in the summer and up to 106º F in the winter.
In addition to the beautiful 30 feet by 40 feet pool, the facility is home to a delicious restaurant serving fresh foods, some of which are grown on-site. The menu includes salads, pizza, nachos, burgers, and much more, and there’s also an expansive drink menu. Finally, Norris Hot Springs features a small campground. 9 sites have full hookups, and 4 only permit tents.
Boulder Hot Springs (159 miles)
At about 2.5 hours, Boulder Hot Springs Inn, Spa, and Retreat Center is the furthest from Gardiner on this list, but it makes up for its distance with its scenic 300-acre property and beautiful, 100-year-old historic inn.
Outdoors, the primary draw is the large pool, which is maintained at a temperature between 96-100º F. Indoor, take advantage of the plunge pools. Separated by gender, the women’s plunge features a hot pool and a cool pool, while the men’s side has only a hot pool maintained at 103-106º F.
Water in the pools is completely changed every four hours and the plunges are cleaned nightly. Both the men’s and women’s sides have dressing rooms, bathrooms, and steam rooms.
Boulder Hot Springs also offers spa facilities including massages, guided exercise, and custom meals.
For accommodations, the inn has a number of unique bed & breakfast rooms, all of which have bathrooms and impressive views of the property. As expected, breakfast is included, and the inn can cater to each guest’s nutritional needs. For a more budget-friendly choice, consider one of the inn’s guest rooms, which do not include breakfast and generally lack a private bathroom.
These have been some of the best hot springs in and around Gardiner, Montana. Enjoy your visit to Big Sky Country!