City Guide

Your Guide to the Best Hot Springs in the United States

By Cassandra Brooklyn | Jul 5, 2022
Man sits in steamy Jemez Hot Springs in New Mexico, one of the best hot springs in the United States

Sometimes referred to as hydrothermal springs, geothermal springs, or even just “springs,” hot springs are above-ground springs of water that are produced by geothermally heated groundwater. These so-called thermal springs and mineral waters come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and even smells, as some springs even have the distinct Sulphuric smell of eggs.

Springs enthusiasts may want to spend some additional time in spring-rich states like Colorado, where they’ll find Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Springs, Conundrum Hot Springs, and Steamboat Springs, or in California, where Wild Willy and Travertine Hot Springs are the talk of the town.

Whether you’re looking to soak in spring-fed streams that are only accessible by hiking one mile down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere or if spa-like, adults-only hot tubs and hot spring pools are more your style, we’ve got you covered. Here’s where to find some of the most amazing magical mineral waters and hot springs in the United States, including:

  • Hot Springs State Park
  • Saratoga Hot Springs Resort
  • Granite Hot Springs
  • Astoria Hot Springs
  • Gold Fork Hot Springs
  • Lava Hot Springs
  • The Springs Resort
  • Castle Hot Springs Resort
  • Hot Springs National Park
  • Buckstaff Bathhouse
  • Quapaw Bathhouse
  • Jemez Hot Springs

Let’s get started!

Hot springs in Wyoming

Wyoming’s natural hot springs are one of the state’s top attractions, and for thousands of years, the springs were used by Native American tribes, mountain men, early pioneers, and settlers who found them to be a welcoming oasis. While Wyoming’s claim to fame may be Yellowstone National Park, where you’ll find Boiling River Hot Springs with not-quite-boiling hot water, there are many less-crowded springs that are easily accessible from must-visit cities like Thermopolis, Saratoga, and Jackson Hole.

In Thermopolis, Hot Springs State Park has three soaking pools, rainbow terraces, and one of the state’s bison herds. In the foodie destination of Saratoga, you’ll find several free public soaking pools or you can head to the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, where year-round fun includes cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Near the tourist hotspot of Jackson, both Granite Hot Springs and Astoria Hot Springs are available year-round. but Granite Hot Springs can only be reached in the winter by snowmobile, dog sled, skiing, or fat biking. If you can’t make it all the way up to Chena Hot Springs in Alaska, Wyoming is a fabulous place to soak in springs in the middle of winter. Do note that you may need four-wheel drive to get around the snow to access the hot spring pools.

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Hot springs in Idaho

Some of the best hot springs in the United States are located in the Gem State of Idaho, from the clothing-optional, natural hot springs in the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest to the bubbly waters near the adventure hotspot of McCall. For a relaxing soak with some welcome amenities, head to hot springs like the Gold Fork Hot Springs in Donnelly or the Lava Hot Springs mineral waters in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho.

About 45 minutes north of fun-filled Boise is the historic mining town of Idaho City, where you’ll find The Springs Resort, plus loads of hiking trails, a historic pioneer cemetery, and many original buildings listed with the National Historic Register. Soaking is by reservation only, so there’s no risk of overcrowding. Plus, private pools are available and there’s beer, wine, and a limited food menu to enjoy while you take in the mountainous surroundings. Should the mineral-rich springs pool get too warm during hot summer days, be sure to reserve one of the cooler geothermal pools for a less-intense soak.

Hot springs in Arizona

About an hour north of Phoenix is Castle Hot Springs, where you’ll find the hottest non-volcanic natural spring in the entire world. At the Castle Hot Springs Resort, guests can soak in natural hot springs rich with lithium, magnesium, and bicarbonates that are said to help ease aching joints and muscles, lift your mood, and calm your mind.

For an especially steamy soak in the thermal springs, head to the top pool, which simmers at a sweltering 106 degrees Fahrenheit and is surrounded by waterfalls. The water from the top pool cascades into the second pool, which is about 96 degrees Fahrenheit. The third and coolest pool, which is surrounded by towering palm trees, hovers around 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Outdoors enthusiasts can explore the nearby Sonoran Desert, take a guided hike, or head to the Via Ferrata Adventure Course, while more relaxation-minded visitors can sign up for yoga, meditation, and wellness classes. If you’re hoping to cross a few epic parks off your bucket list, know that Petrified Forest National Park, Saguaro National Park, and must-see Grand Canyon National Park are all less than a four-hour drive from Castle Hot Springs.

Hot springs in Arkansas

Unlike Yellowstone National Park, which is a massive park with an unfathomable amount of wilderness area, Hot Springs National Park is the second-smallest National Park in the country. And while it may be known for its thermal waters, don’t expect to stumble on any mineral springs or natural pools while hiking through the woods.

In Hot Springs National Park, proper bathhouses are the only way to soak—and neighboring Buckstaff Bathhouse and Quapaw Bathhouse are the places to be. Buckstaff has been in operation since 1912 and offers a more traditional bathing experience, while the Quapaw is a modern spa that offers both community and private pools.

As the town of Hot Springs is less than an hour from Little Rock, both the park and the bathhouses could be visited as a day trip, but the charming, family-friendly town has enough to entertain you for at least a few days. Most attractions and hiking trails are within walking distance from the downtown area’s main drag, Central Avenue., including the Bathhouse Row section. Here, you’ll find the one-of-a-kind Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and Museum, where you can tour four floors of “Spa City” history and geothermal bath culture.

Hot springs in New Mexico

New Mexico may not be as well-known for its hot springs as its northern neighbor, Colorado, but New Mexico can bubble with the best of them. About an hour north of Albuquerque, numerous free, all-natural thermal pools are scattered around the Jemez region, including Spence Hot Springs and McCauley Warm Springs. These primitive springs have a more natural feel, but if hiking to hidden springs isn’t your style, head to Jemez Hot Springs, where you can just drive up and soak in health-boosting waters.

Day-use passes are sold by the hour, but if you require more soaking time, consider staying overnight at the tiny, bohemian-style, mountain-adjacent resort. Day-trippers will appreciate that you can even show up without a towel or bathing suit, as the inn rents both of them. Nature lovers who want to make the most of their trip to Jemez should head just a bit further north for a forest hike or waterfall swim in Jemez National Recreation Area or Bandelier National Monument.

Live near the country’s best hot springs with Landing

If you’re looking to explore some of the most amazing hot springs in the United States, you may want the flexibility of having a home base in different states. Landing offers fully furnished apartments in over 375 cities throughout the U.S., along with flexible lease terms that make it easy to try out a new city, then move on when you’re itching to try out somewhere else!

With Landing’s network of fully furnished apartments, you can find an amazing place to stay no matter where your hot springs adventures take you! Learn more about what a Landing membership can do for you today!

Cassandra Brooklyn

Cassandra is a freelance travel writer based in New York City with work appearing in The New York Times, National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, Fodor's, USA Today, and The Daily Beast, among other publications. She specializes in sustainable travel, adventure travel, and all things outdoors - hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, camping, and scuba diving. She's also the owner of EscapingNY, a small tour company and she leads tours in Cuba, Mexico, Jordan, and beyond.