10 Best Hot Springs For Instant Relaxation

Tourists relaxing in Yellowstone's Boiling River.
••• Jeff Diener / Getty Images

Whether you want to make hot springs hunting a trip in itself or use them to rejuvenate along the way, you can find hot springs all across the United States. From unregulated soaking spots like Olympic Hot Springs in Washington, to complete spa experiences like The Omni Homestead Resort in Virginia, there’s something for everyone.

The Springs in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

The 23 pools of The Springs form a terrace on the east bank of the San Juan River in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Guests can tube downriver right from the hot springs, or watch kayakers and rafters bob by. If they need a break from the hot pools, which range from 83 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit, they can just take a dip in the resort’s icy river waters nearby. Besides being named the Guinness World Record’s "World’s Deepest Geothermal Hot Spring," The Springs offer plenty of unique features, such as a pool reached by taking a partially-submerged boardwalk across a pond populated by goldfish and lily pads.

The Boiling River, Yellowstone National Park

You can take an easy, flat hike to the Boiling River in Yellowstone’s northwest corner. The National Park Service allows soakers - clothed only - to enjoy the Boiling River during daylight hours. Every year, people use rocks to create pools along the river’s edge, where hot water from thermal features mixes with the cold water of the passing Gardner River, creating makeshift hot tubs as a result.

While in the area, you can also visit the Mammoth Hot Springs, for your viewing pleasure only. If you’re not heading north in Yellowstone, check out the Firehole River in the south instead. While the Firehole does offer warm water and some rock-jumping opportunities, it is not as hot and soothing as the Boiling River and accessing it can be more dangerous if the waters are moving fast.

Believe it or not, you can soak in hot springs in Yellowstone all year long, including the winter. There is no better ay to beat the cold temperatures, and many considering more relaxing at that time of year.

Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska

Chena Hot Springs Resort offers a 106-degree rock lake for visitors' soaking pleasure. Travel to this Alaska hot springs destination between August and April, and there is a chance you'll even see the Aurora Borealis while enjoying a dip in the soothing waters.

After a day in the springs, which are about 60 miles north of Fairbanks, step outside to witness this natural wonder, or enjoy it from one of several indoor viewing areas. Take time to tour the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs Resort, complete with colorful ice chandeliers and a two-story snowball fort.  

Olympic Hot Springs, Washington

Take the gentle 2.5-mile hike to the Olympic Hot Springs in Olympic National Park, for a completely natural experience. The journey starts at the Boulder Creek Trailhead and follows the creek to several hot springs pools. At one time this area was developed into a resort, which closed when the lease expired. Now, only the trail and springs remain. The National Park Service warns visitors that they bathe at their own risk at the hot springs, that water quality is not monitored, and nudity is common.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

If you want to visit hot springs in an urban area, Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is the place for you. There are two ways to soak in these waters. You can take a traditional bath at the Buckstaff Baths, where you will soak by yourself in a tub, or you can soak communally in the Quapaw Baths. Once you've dried off, tour the historic Fordyce Bathhouse, learn more about the history of the park and hot springs, and take a hike or a drive around the park.

Challis Hot Springs, Idaho

Natural spring water bubbles up from the ground and seeps through gravel and river-rock bottoms to reach the two Challis Hot Springs pools. The temperature of the outside pool is regulated to be comfortable for swimming, while the temperature of the inside therapy pool is left entirely up to Mother Nature.

Visitors can stay at the small bed and breakfast as well, which is comfortable and quaint. For a more rustic experience, camp on the banks of the Salmon River within walking distance of the springs.

The Omni Homestead Resort, Virginia

After a round of golf at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, you can take a dip in natural hot springs that flow onto the property from the Allegheny Mountains. Take your pick: Soak in the the two-acre outdoor Allegheny Springs or in the indoor Jefferson Pools, where Thomas Jefferson purportedly visited in 1818.

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, New Mexico

Discovered by Spaniards in the 1500’s, the waters of Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, are now divided into multiple pools around the property. Soak in one of the communal pools, reserve a private outdoor bath for yourself, or for a group of friends. Lodgers have additional access to the new Kiva pool too, expanding the options further.

Leave time to dip into the mud pool as well. They'll allow you to release toxins from your pores by covering yourself in a special blend of clay and letting it dry. Then, rinse off, and get back in the hot springs again.

Hot Springs Resort and Spa, North Carolina

Located in the mountains of North Carolina, the 100-acre Hot Springs Resort and Spa features multiple Jacuzzi-style tubs along the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River. Hot mineral waters are pumped into the pools, and they are drained and cleaned after each use. This hot springs is right along the Appalachian Trail, so you can really earn your soak by taking a hike first.

Chico Hot Springs Resort, Montana

Located an hour outside Boseman, Montana, Chico Hot Springs Resort offers a host of great accommodations for visitors ranging from standard hotel rooms all the way up to romantic cottages. The resort also has an amazing restaurant too, but the real draw are the hot springs of course. The resort has two different pools on site, with the larger one averaging 96ºF and the smaller one reaching 103ºF. Admission is included with your stay.