Rocky Canyon Hot Springs is a stunning group of natural pools in rural Idaho. Set practically in the middle of the Middle Fork Payette River and walled off by boulders, it doesn’t get more nature-forward than this.
Surrounded on all sides by giant pines and wildlife of the Boise National Forest, you can count on a peaceful soak despite its popularity. In its most popular period, Rocky Canyon Hot Springs was known for being a clothing-optional spring for people looking to drink and have a good time.
In 2009, city officials in charge of the area took jackhammers to the pools to deter people from going. Locals have since rebuilt a few of the pools.
Rocky Canyon Hot Springs
The number of pools at the Rocky Canyon Hot Springs varies due to a number of factors, but there are always a few available. Temperatures fluctuate as well, but if you’re a heat-seeker, the highest pool, since they are tiered on a hillside, will be your best bet for hitting closest to the 100℉ (38℃) mark.
You’ll want to bring some type of sandals or water shoes to get to the springs as the nearby rocks can be sharp and slippery. Also note that clothing is optional here, and you will find people who both do and don’t take advantage of that. If you happen to bring Fido, make sure he’s on a leash and stays out of the springs.
While there aren’t any hotels nearby, both primitive and official camping is readily available. You won’t find spots directly next to the pools, but the short, scenic walk isn’t troublesome. You can also drive. There are sites about half a mile past the area you would park for the hot springs, and they continue down the river.
If you’re starting in Boise, go west on State St. to ID-55 North in Eagle. Turn right onto the highway and drive in just under 40 minutes. Take Banks Lowman Rd. to Middlefork Rd. in Valley County. It takes about 1.5 hours to get there from the capital. To reach the pools, you’ll have to follow a dirt road with your car before taking a short hike and wading through a cold, shallow river.
Address: Garden Valley, Idaho
Season: Year-round | Road can be closed during winter | Snowmobile access available