Pine Flats Hot Springs is one of the multiple hot springs on the Payette River in rural Idaho. While they’re all special in their own right, this one is particularly majestic.
The breathtaking views of the river and the Boise National Forest are amazing, but it’s the warm water waterfall pouring into the pools that steal the show.
The Mineral Water Pools
The waterfall pool is surrounded by flora and fauna and is the hottest of a few options at 107℉ (42℃). It’s the closest to the 127℉ (53℃) source. The others are carefully nestled away in the woods on the way to the waterfall. Note that the pools closest to the river are just lukewarm.
You’ll have to look for other pools closely if you want a more private experience. There’s a reason there aren’t as many bathers in them, and that’s because many people pass by without even seeing them!
While these aren’t known for their sweeping vistas for views, they’re beautiful in their own right, carefully carved into the rock face to one side of the crystal clear river. Without a crowd, you could imagine yourself as an early-day pioneer discovering it for future generations. There is no developed land area within view.
Pine Flats Campground
If you like camping, you’re in luck. This natural geothermal pool sits right in the middle of the Pine Flats Campground. Guests can come and go to the pools as they please, and the fees are included with the accommodation. As you might expect, summer is a popular time to visit.
There are 24 campsites at Pine Flats, open from May through September. They can be reserved ahead of time, so plan to do so. Drinking water is available and there are vault restrooms.
Surrounded by gigantic pines and plenty of open space on the ground of the forest, it’s a perfect place to set up shop for a few days. There are picnic tables and fire pits, but you’ll have to bring your own food.
In the fall, when they close for the season, you can still park on the grounds and walk to the springs or access them by kayak from up the river.
The pool is about a quarter of a mile walk from the main area, and it involves steep climbs and rock. Bring shoes, and know that it might be difficult to get to the waterfall pool with young children, but others are more easily accessible.
Pine Flats Hot Springs is just about an hour and a half drive from the capital and half an hour from Garden Valley. Be aware, cell service is spotty, at best, along these drives.
From Boise, ID, take ID-55 north for 35 miles to the Banks-Lowman Highway junction. Head in the direction of Garden Valley.
From Garden Valley, ID, continue east on the Banks-Lowman Highway for another 18 miles. Take a right at the Pine Flats Campground. You’ll find parking near the entrance.
Address: Banks-Lowman Road, Garden Valley, Idaho 83622
Season: Year-round, but the waterfall pool can sometimes get cut off by high water levels in the spring.