Visiting the hot springs in and around Yellowstone National Park is a must-do on any trip to northwestern Wyoming. Only a couple are safe for swimming within the park, though you can find a few more safe, soakable options outside of it.
These geothermal springs are the park’s essence, and even if you’re just there to view the hot pools and erupting geysers, they will surely blow your mind away. Most of the park’s springs and geysers are not suitable for interacting with, but their colorful and crystal-clear waters are worthy of photographing from every corner.
Boardwalks and paths were built around many top viewing points, making it easy for visitors to see them over a day or two. It’s critical to note that leaving the walkway and entering a hot spring can be lethal. Please do not attempt to get in any of the pools unless it is specifically allowed.
It might sound disappointing that many of Yellowstone’s springs aren’t for soaking, but don’t worry; there are plenty of such places within driving distance. Some of the Plains region’s most scenic and relaxing thermal pools are the perfect way to soothe those sore muscles after trekking around the national park.
This list covers the most popular and accessible hot springs inside and outside Yellowstone Park, starting with the former and ending with off-site soaking springs organized in order of proximity.
Springs Safe for Swimming in Yellowstone Park
There are only two natural swimming areas within Yellowstone National Park. Because of their location along the rivers, they are closed in the spring and into summer. This is due to snowmelt causing high, fast waters. They typically open in mid-summer but always check ahead with the NPS for closures and warnings.
Note: The Boiling River has been closed during all of 2022 so far and will remain closed until further notice. Yellowstone Park’s website posts updates regarding reopening.
The Boiling River is a fun, warm place to take a dip while exploring beautiful Yellowstone. The water is pretty temperate due to the hot spring waters mixing with the Gardner River, and this spot has become a popular place for visitors to stop. It is open throughout the year during daylight hours.
To get to the Boiling River, drive about three miles south of the north entrance to the park. From the parking lot, it’s about a half-mile walk each day to the river and back. No outside food or beauty products are allowed in the water, and swimming suits are required.
Firehole River Swimming Area
Note: The Firehole River Swimming Area has been closed during all of 2022 so far and will remain closed until further notice. Yellowstone Park’s website posts updates regarding reopening.
Firehole River’s Swimming Area is also subject to closure due to strong currents and lots of snowpacks running off. The only way to plan for a swim here is to check their status online or by calling the Yellowstone NPS. It typically is closed until mid-summer.
If you can catch it open during your visit, the Firehole River Swimming Area is a refreshing natural pool with a nice beach. It’s typically open in fall and winter when water levels are lower, but of course, that means the water is even more chilly.
No official parking area exists, but many visitors find spots to leave their cars along the road. Swimsuits are required, and no outside food, soap, or glass containers are permitted by the water. There is only swimming during designated hours and no swimming at night.
Toxic (No-Swimming) Geothermal Springs & Geysers
Yellowstone is home to many unique hot springs, but most are not appropriate for getting in. Coming in various colors and sizes, these amazing thermal waters are one of the main reasons people visit the park. Geyers are also hot springs; they just have a constricted pathway in their plumbing.
A person could spend all day looking at these steamy pools and geysers because there are so many around Yellowstone Park. The NPS even keeps an updated list of the geysers’ activity. Here are some of the park’s most visited thermal springs that are NOT SAFE for swimming.
Grand Prismatic Spring – One of the park’s most famous springs and the world’s third largest hot spring. This colorful wonder gets crowded fast, so be sure to arrive early. It is 121 feet deep and 370 feet wide.
Excelsior Geyser – Although it has been dormant since 1985, this hot spring geyser is still popular. Featuring azure blue waters, these waters are a steamy 199℉.
Mammoth Hot Springs – Comprised of over 50 springs, Mammoth Hot Springs features two tiers of chalky, mineral-covered rocks and several boardwalks for viewing.
Canary Spring – Located just a couple of miles south of Mammoth Springs, these stunning springs can also be seen by broadway or from the side of the road.
Beryl Spring – Keeping a steady temperature of 196℉, this is a large sulfur spring pool known to boil and erupt up to four feet in height.
Abyss Pool – Located in the West Thumb Geyser Basin, this 53-foot deep hot spring is the deepest in Yellowstone Park. Its mesmerizing crystal-clear waters have incredible visibility and are lovely for photo ops.
Old Faithful – The first geyser to be named in Yellowstone, Old Faithful might also be the most famous. It has over 1,000,000 recorded eruptions, which happen every 60 to 90 minutes or so. The water can spout up to 185 feet in the air, and each eruption lasts between one and five minutes on average.
Upper Geyser Basin – The Upper Geyser Basin is home to several thermal pools and geysers, including the world-famous Old Faithful. There are boardwalks to walk through and view the various hot water holes, which keep temperatures ranging from over 100-200℉. Remember that going off the walkways is illegal and potentially lethal to your health.
Springs Safe for Swimming Outside of Yellowstone
For those visiting Yellowstone and up to doing a little driving to soak in some hot springs, these are some of the best and closest options. Here, you’ll find actual resorts, with well-developed mineral pools that will feel like a paradise under the vast northwestern skies. Several have lodging options on-site to make spending the night near the springs easy.
Yellowstone Hot Springs – 8.5 miles | 15 minutes
Yellowstone Hot Springs is one of Montana’s newest hot springs destinations and is set just a few miles away from the north entrance to the national park. It’s among the closest hot springs to Gardiner, Montana, which makes a great basecamp if you’re looking for a town nearby.
Even though this property was a similar spa-type resort several decades ago, it shut down for many years starting in the 1940s. The gorgeous scenery and treasured waters were finally brought back to life in 2018 when guests were welcomed back for a soaking.
There are three pools on this property: the hot pool (103-105℉), the main pool (98-100℉), and the cold plunge (60-65℉), all of which have mineral-rich flow-thru waters. This is a day-use facility, and they are open Tuesdays through Sundays, 1 pm – 9 pm.
Bozeman Hot Springs – 80 miles | 1 hour 30 minutes
Bozeman Hot Springs is a spa-goer’s paradise and is only about 90 minutes away from the national park. These magical, relaxation-inducing waters have been used by people for well over a century, back when the facility only had one small pool.
Today, there are 12 hot springs pools that range from 59 to 106℉ and a gym for those who want to purchase personal training sessions. Four of the pools are outdoors, while the remaining eight are indoors.
These hot springs are open year-round and do not require reservations to visit. Swimming lessons are also available, as well as multi-visit passes for those staying in the area. Travelers interested in RV, cabin, or tent camping can stay at the Bozeman Campground, right next door to the springs.
Norris Hot Springs – 89 miles | 1 hour 30 minutes
Set in the Madison River Valley, Norris Hot Springs is a 30 x 40-foot cement pool filled with natural thermal waters straight from the Earth. Even though it comes out of the source at a scalding 120℉, the average water temperature is around 100℉ in the summer and 106℉ in the winter.
This facility is a casual, inviting environment that is open to the public Thursdays through Sundays and for private parties Mondays through Wednesdays, except Tuesdays when they are closed. Special poolside music events are hosted periodically and listed on their website calendar.
Norris’ on-site restaurant has year-round service, offering two unique menus depending on the season. They grow many of the ingredients right on their property and supplement the rest from local and nearby farms to keep the “taste of the area” authentic.
Visitors that want to spend more than one day by the hot springs can book one of their 13 campsites, four of which have full hookups. Special prices for unlimited soaking during pubic hours are offered to campers.
Broadwater Hot Springs – 180 miles | 3 hours
When you’re in central Montana and have time to road trip, visit Helena’s Broadwater Hot Springs facility. It’s perfect for a day of swimming and soaking. There are two hot tubs, a recreation pool, a springs pool, and a soaker pool that all have temperatures around 85-104℉.
Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied to the water by an adult. There are also saunas, steam rooms, and fitness centers for additional exercise and wellness activities.
This wellness facility offers a variety of memberships and passes to use the pools and other parts of the venue. Visit the Springs Taproom & Grill for a refreshing beverage or snack during your visit. Guests who want to host private parties can rent out the large event room, west patio, or event tent for small and big groups.
Thermopolis – 180 miles | 3 hours 20 minutes
Thermopolis is home to a few different spots to enjoy some natural mineral waters, which have witnessed many periods of history dating back to as far as prehistoric times. These year-round swimming areas are great places to take a dip for the whole family and have the added benefits of the healing minerals infused in the water.
The TePee Pools and Spa feature indoor and outdoor pools that keep a temperature of 94-100℉, along with a steam room, sauna, baby pool, and water slide. Hot Springs State Park’s traditional bathhouse also features indoor and outdoor swimming areas that are 104℉, along with a couple of cooling ponds.
The third area in Thermopolis is the Star Plunge, an indoor/outdoor water park filled with mineral waters ranging from 90-104℉. Aside from the pools, there are water slides, a fitness center, and a vapor cave.
Chico Hot Springs – *185 miles | 3 hours 45 minute
*The distance given is due to the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park being closed as of August 2022. So this is quite the detour. Here you can check on the current road time.
Chico Hot Springs Resort has the complete package for indulging in self-care and leisure. One of the highlights of the property is the two open-air mineral pools where visitors can come to swim, soak, and play in naturally heated water. Day passes are available for those just passing through, but the venue also has lodging and cabins suitable for individuals, couples, families, and groups.
It might be worth staying for a night or two as there are numerous dining options on-site and outdoor activities organized throughout the resort. River rafting, skiing, snowshoeing, fly fishing, mountain biking, and more.
Yellowstone is one of the country’s most enchanting national parks. Whether you’re in town to admire the park’s hot springs or soak in one, this list has got you covered.
For those camping out and heading south to Grand Teton National Park, check out our list of campgrounds near Jackson Hole.