Jerry Johnson Hot Springs in northcentral Idaho is a rural geothermal pool area set in the Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forest. The natural mineral baths are free to use and considered clothing optional due to their primitive location.
However, this is a popular place to visit, and you may run into people there, especially mid-day or on weekends and holidays.
Natural Hot Springs Pools
It’s important to note that there are no bathrooms near these springs, but there’s a vault toilet in the parking lot. To keep the pools clean for everyone, make your pit stop before heading to the wet areas.
There are a couple of groups of pools at Jerry Johnson. The upper cliffside ones have hotter water and a source of about 113-115℉ coming out of a waterfall. As the water trickles and fills the pool below, the temperature cools to around 95-105℉, making it a cozy environment for soaking.
Warms Springs Creek is next to these pools and can be a good option for a cold plunge after heating up. During the spring, the river can overflow into the thermal waters, bring down the temperature quite a bit, or even submerge them for a while.
The other set of pools is riverside and has a notable large pool with a boulder in the middle. This collection has cooler water than the others and is more shallow, but it’s a great spot to enjoy the water when the others are too full already.
The biggest pool is more separate from the rest and overlooks a grassy area down a hill with extraordinary mountain vistas. It can seat around ten people comfortably and has pretty clean water.
Soaking in the hot springs is allowed from 6 am to 8 pm, and law enforcement patrols the area after hours.
Spending the night directly at the hot springs isn’t allowed, but the Jerry Johnson Campground is a short distance away from them, about a 3-minute drive. At the grounds are 20 campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Reaching the springs is not difficult but requires a 2.6-mile trek roundtrip from the Warm Springs trailhead. Visitors can drive up a paved road, leave their car in the parking lot, and then make their way across the highway and wooden suspension bridge to start the journey.
Parking space is limited in the defined lot, so getting there early is beneficial to beat the crowds and avoid parking on the freeway.
From Missoula, it’s about a 1.5-hour drive, and from Boise, it’s a whopping six hours by car. The best time to visit is May through October, and dogs are allowed as long as they’re leashed.
Address: Mile Post 152 on Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, Idaho 83539
Season: Year-round (best visited May to October)
Hours: 6 am to 8 pm