Monday, May 27, 2024

15 Best Hot Springs in Montana


There is something about sitting in a hot spring that just makes you feel good. Maybe it’s the idea of sitting in natural mineral water that comes from deep within the earth. Or maybe it’s the relaxation you feel when you’re soaking in a hot pool of water under the stars.

Plus, there’s the fact that mineral water has true healing properties to it, based on the chemical makeup of the water. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that hot springs are a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening.

And it’s why I love exploring new hot springs in my home state of Montana. My husband and I plan entire road trips around hot springs destinations. We love to explore the outdoors, and there’s no better way to start or end the day than with a healing soak.

Hot springs are the best places to go in Montana if you’re looking to soak away your troubles.

I’ve put together a list of 15 of the best hot springs in the state, both natural and resort-style.

1. Quinn’s Hot Springs

For one of the best natural hot springs in Montana, check out Quinn’s Hot Springs outside of Missoula, MT. This is a crowd favorite for its low-key vibes and is aptly in the town of Paradise, MT.

I often hear about this hot spring “resort” when couples are looking for a weekend getaway since it also has a bar, motel rooms, and rustic cabins. Booking a room is a great way to get the most out of your day of soaking, since you can rest, eat, and soak all day to your heart’s content.

The five hot pools are each a few degrees warmer than the one next to it, and the river-water-cold pool provides a cooler temperature for those who want it- or for when you need a break from the heat.

The soaking pools range in temperature from 60 to 106 degrees F (15 to 41 degrees C). Plus, there are two swimming pools (salt regulated) that have temperatures around 90 degrees (32 degrees C)- making them great for all ages.

For those that want that romantic touch or some quiet time, Quinn’s Hot Springs has adult-only hours from 7 to 8 am in the morning and 10 to 11 pm at night. While this hot spring is great for couples and families, keep in mind that it is more rustic with natural beauty than luxurious.

Best Hot Springs in Montana

2. Norris Hot Springs

If you’re in Bozeman, be sure to head east 30 minutes to Norris Hot Springs. It is my personal favorite for its laid-back atmosphere and good eats.

At this rustic location, there is only one big pool to soak in. And while there are changing rooms, there are no toilets with running water (only port-a-potties).

The temperature ranges in the pool, depending on how close you are to the source- you’ll notice warm pockets of water near the corners for this reason. The pool is also cool, closer to 100 degrees in the summer and as warm as 106 degrees F in the winter (37 to 41 degrees C).

The pool is open to the public from Thursday through Sunday. On Thursday and Friday, hours are 4 to 10 pm. On the weekend, the hours are 10 am to 10 pm. There is also live music on most Saturday nights as well (check their schedule).

The restaurant and bar window (located a few feet from the steps of the pool) is open with beer on tap, homemade lemonade, popsicles, and yummy organic eats. In the summer, you can expect all the products to come from their own garden. Our favorites include pizza, tacos, and garden salads. I always check for their pizza of the day for some unique combinations, like goat cheese and beets- yum.

Norris Hot Springs is a great spot for kids because they allow floaties and have kid-friendly food. On that note, if you’re looking for a perfectly quiet and serene spot- this might not be the hot spring for you. You can also book a spot next door at their campground that does have warm showers and fast wifi.

I have met several traveling nomads here that split their days between remote work and soaking, which sounds like a perfect work day to me!

3. Lost Trail Hot Springs

Just over an hour south of Missoula, MT is Lost Trail Hot Springs. This place is great for those that want to get away from it all since it’s located in the Bitterroot National Forest. You’ll feel like you’re truly in the middle of nowhere (in a good way).

There is one large pool that is open year-round and fed by local hot springs (no chemicals). Temperatures range from 95 degrees F in summer to 105 degrees F in winter.

There is also a dry sauna and hot tub for use as well. They are open Thursday to Sunday in the summer and Friday to Sunday after Labor Day- making it a perfect stopover after a day of skiing at Lost Trail Ski Resort.

There is lodging and camping available at this hot spring as well. Not only is this a fun weekend destination in and of itself, but it is also a great Montana-style stopover between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park (both are highly recommended parks but they are nearly 8 hours away from each other by car).

Just keep in mind that their restaurant is no longer open, so you might want to bring a picnic.

Like most hot springs in Montana, this area is laid-back and great for all ages. So grab a few floaties for the kids and jump in the car to enjoy some Montana backcountry.

If you’re up for more hot spring adventures, I recommend continuing further south in Idaho to check out my absolute favorite hot spring- Gold Bug.

Best Hot Springs in Montana

4. Lolo Hot Springs

Forty-five minutes west of Missoula on Highway 12 is Lolo Hot Springs. This resort considers itself a one-stop vacation spot for a fun Montana adventure.

In addition to a hot spring soak, you can camp, stay at their resort, folf (frisbee golf), swim, and snowmobile. They also have a bar and restaurant on site. Plus, there are tons of hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing opportunities nearby.

There is just one outdoor pool here that is kept at a comfortable temperature depending on the season. It’s a great spot for spending a whole day or to soothe a sore body after an action-packed day.

Once again, this hot spring is family-friendly and great for visitors of all ages. While it is more rustic than luxurious, it’s a great spot for soaking in all that Montana has to offer- both literally and figuratively.

5. Chico Hot Springs

Chico Hot Springs is one of the most popular Montana hot springs – especially for those that live in the Bozeman area (it’s just an hour away).

This resort has been around since 1900 and offers overnight accommodations, a restaurant and bar, horseback riding, and of course- a hot spring. It is located in the beautiful Paradise Valley on the way to the Gardiner entrance of Yellowstone.

For an extra unique experience, check out their covered wagons that you can book a stay in (a glamping style stay). You can then experience what it felt like to be a sheep herder in Montana.

The pool at Chico is large with two different temperature areas to choose from separated by a wall. The hotter pool is not recommended for children, otherwise, the pool offers yet another family-friendly atmosphere. And this is one of the few developed hot springs in Montana that is open every day all year round.

From families to couples on their honeymoon, you’ll find a mix of people here all looking for a relaxing vacation or day soak. Some people enjoy the restaurant while they soak, you’ll see others bring a full picnic to enjoy in the parking lot between soaks. There are many ways to enjoy Chico and all it has to offer.

Best Hot Springs in Montana

6. Yellowstone Hot Springs

Just a little further south from Chico Hot Springs, outside the Gardiner entrance to Yellowstone National Park, are the Yellowstone Hot Springs.

This is the closest hot spring to Yellowstone that you can actually soak in, especially now that the Boiling River- a popular hot spring in the park- is closed to visitors.

There are three different pools to choose from at this hot spring- all different temperatures. The hottest is around 105 degrees Fahrenheit and the coolest is a 65-degree cold pool for reinvigorating after a hot soak.

There is a constant flow of water feeding these pools, ensuring a fresh soak all day long.

This spot can get busy since it’s right outside Yellowstone but it’s still a great place to relax after exploring America’s first national park, even if just for a stopover. Just keep in mind that they are closed on Mondays.

The pools are open year-round (weather pending) and there are showers, changing rooms, and picnic tables on site. You can also camp or book a hotel room here which makes it a great spot for those that want to spend a few days exploring Yellowstone.

Best Hot Springs in Montana

7. Bozeman Hot Springs

Bozeman Hot Springs is located on the Western edge of Bozeman, making it easily accessible for locals or anyone driving by on I-90.

This hot spring is well kept in comparison to a lot of the other hot springs in Montana, with fire pits, lounge chairs, hot showers, and other luxuries that many of the basic hot springs don’t offer.

There are 12 different pools to choose from, all at different temperatures- making it one of the most versatile hot springs spots in Montana.

So whether you want a relaxing soak or one that will help ease some pain, there is a pool for you here. Plus, they have a gym for anyone craving a good workout before they hop in some healing water.

This spot can get pretty crowded on weekends but it’s still worth a visit if you’re in the area. You can even camp on-site if they have availability. Plus, they also have live music every Thursday and Saturday, so check their calendar of events to see what fun concerts or events you can join.

A visit to these hot springs is one of the best things to do in Bozeman.

8. Fairmont Hot Springs

If you’re looking for another complete family destination, Fairmont Hot Springs is a great contender. In fact, it’s the only way to enjoy their hot springs pools.

The two large Olympic size pools offer plenty of space for soakers. Plus, it has a large water slide for extra family fun.

It’s important to note that these pools are only open to guests staying at the resort or anyone staying at the Fairmont RV Park (for a daily fee).

In addition to the pools, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. These include a day spa, golfing, and fishing. Plus, there are plenty of fun summer and winter activities in the surrounding area to explore as well.

Basically, you can bring your favorite sports gear (skis, fishing poles, bikes, etc.) and play all day long.

Fairmont always seems to be offering some kind of special for couples, girls getaways, families, and groups- so if you keep your eyes peeled you’re sure to find a deal that suits your needs.

9. White Sulfur Hot Springs

This hot spring is a bit off the beaten path in the middle of Montana (straight North of Bozeman about 2 hours) is the White Sulfur Hot Springs.

This hot spring has a long history dating back to when Native Americans used it for healing. The water here is said to help with conditions such as arthritis and skin problems.

There are two outdoor pools and one indoor pool of varying temperatures to enjoy. Each pool is drained each night, cleaned, and refilled each morning to keep it chemical-free and as healing as possible.

If you’d like, you can stay at the local Spa Springs Motel. Otherwise, there is plenty of recreational camping in the area as well (some free and some with a day-use fee). There is no restaurant on site and there are only a few choices in town, so you want to bring some food with you for your stay.

For a true Montana adventure, this middle-of-nowhere spot is perfect. There’s fishing, hiking and biking in the summer, snowmobiling, downhill skiing, and cross-country skiing in the winter, and great hunting in the fall.

My personal favorite stop after a soak in White Sulfur is at a local Hutterite shop to grab some local goodies, such as pickles and jams.

Overall, this is a great little destination to explore and enjoy in Montana since it is open 365 days a year, budget-friendly, and a great way to get a feel for small-town Montana.

Best Hot Springs in Montana

10. Broadwater Hot Springs

Broadwater Hot Springs is located in Helena, MT. It is the only hot spring near the state’s capital. It’s another great stop after exploring the rich history of Helena. Otherwise, it can be its own fun destination too.

There are two pools at this site, one for soaking (with mineral water) and one for recreation. For those that want a quieter experience, they will be happy to know that floats and splashing are not allowed in the soaking pool. Children that want to play are encouraged to stay in the recreation pool with an adult.

While there are no rooms available on-site, you can find a local hotel or Airbnb to stay nearby. Just search around the university (Carroll College) and downtown area for each access to these hot springs within 10 minutes by car.

While you’re there, you can enjoy their bar and grille on site. Plus, you can also access their fitness facility to get in a workout. They even have a daycare for your kids while you get in a workout.

Overall, this is a top pick for couples that want a quieter soak, while still having plenty of options for kids as well.

11. Symes Hot Springs

This hot spring is located in Hot Springs, MT. Symes Hot Springs and Hotel is one of a few options in the geothermal hot spot. For example, another local hot spring in the area is Alameda Hot Springs.

If you’re driving between Missoula and Flathead Lake (or Glacier National Park) this can be a fun spot to check out, particularly for its historic buildings.

There are three pools available at varying water temperatures so that all ages can enjoy them. You can purchase a day pass or stay at their historic hotel and soak for free. There is also local camping as well.

For other relaxing activities, you can book a massage or see what music events are going on in town during your visit. The town is quite small but has its own charm.

Overall, this Montana stopover can be a fun adventure for a day or two on your way to exploring other popular destinations. It’s yet another chance to experience small-town Montana like a local.

Best Hot Springs in Montana

12. Boulder Hot Springs

For one of the best hot springs in Montana with lodging, visit Boulder Hot Springs, located in Boulder, MT. It is located off I-15 between Butte and Helena.

It is set in the midst of southwest Montana’s gorgeous scenery, which includes snowy peaks and lush valleys.

The Inn & Spa has almost 300 acres of meadows and forest- where the air is clean, sounds are few, and you might spot some wildlife.

The main pool is large and perfect for playing or just floating around. They also have a steam room, plunge pool, and massage services. You can stay in one of their country-style rooms for extended enjoyment and rejuvenation as well.

While the hot springs are open year-round, they are particularly beautiful in the winter when they are surrounded by snow. This is a great spot for a romantic getaway or family trip.

The hot spring focuses on providing a healthy environment with organic home-cooked meals at the lodge and opportunities for wellness events like yoga and meditations.

If you’re looking for a spot to reset and set some new health goals, this is an inspiring place to do just that. Note that this hot spring doesn’t allow alcohol or tobacco since its focus is on practicing healing and healthy habits.

This is the only hot spring on the list that strictly forbids drinking alcohol, while many of the others serve alcohol on site.

13. Renova Hot Springs

I personally will take undeveloped hot springs in Montana any day over developed ones. They are typically much more immersive in nature, free, and there’s almost always somewhere to camp nearby.

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of these to find in Montana. Most of them have been commercialized or are more of a “warm pool” than a true hot spring.

One interesting option is Renova Hot Springs. It is located 10 miles South of Whitehall, a small town between Butte and Bozeman, MT. While it’s easy to get to Whitehall, you might need 4WD to get to the hot spring, depending on conditions.

These free hot springs were ultimately “built” by locals by creating a river rock enclosure on the edge of the Jefferson river.

This allows the hot water seeping from the river floor to flow out slowly, keeping some of it contained and enjoyable for soaking.

Soaking by a river is the best way to experience a hot spring. Then, you can take a cold plunge anytime to rejuvenate and cool off.

It’s important to note that March to October is the best time for a visit. When there is spring runoff from melting snow, the roads can get muddy and the hot spring often disappears underwater.

Plus, if you have a tent or camping vehicle there’s plenty of state land around for camping too.

Best Hot Springs in Montana

14. Upper Potosi Hot Springs

For free hot springs in Montana, check out Upper Potosi. Upper Potosi Hot Springs is another undeveloped hot spring located south of Butte. It is relatively close to Renova hot springs, as we just discussed above.

This host spring pool is different because it is not located on the river. Rather, it is a naturally made hot pool surrounded by a fence to keep cattle out.

Thus, you can expect warm temperatures (up to 99 degrees) but cloudy water.

It is located in a small recreational area of the Gallatin valley, where you’ll also find a picnic area and campground. So you can bring your tent and sleeping bag to stay a few nights if you’d like. You can access this area year round- however, it’ll be covered in snow in the winter months.

For a true natural hot spring, this is one of your best options in Montana.

15. Bonus: Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Although this hot spring isn’t technically in Montana, it is a popular hot spring destination for Montanans near Missoula, MT. This undeveloped hot spring was my favorite weekend spot when I lived in Missoula.

Both Jerry Johnson hot springs and Bob Weir Hot springs are just over an hour west of Missoula on highway 12 into Idaho.

This hot spring does require a 2.6-mile round trip moderate hike. And it’s totally worth the trek for the beautiful scenery, fresh air, and a hot soak.

There are actually three different pools to choose from- with one being on the river and two pools a little ways above. All are great options, however, if there’s room the one by the river is the best choice. You can even do a cold plunge as well.

The river spring sometimes disappears when the river is higher or there’s too much snow on the banks. On the other hand, the other two springs are essentially available for a soak year-round.

Just make sure to dress appropriately for the hike, particularly if there’s snow (you might even need snow shoes).

Jerry Johnson seems to be gaining more popularity each year as people discover this awesome spot. So you can expect it to be very full of people on weeknights and weekends. If you can manage a dip on a weekday, you’ll have more of a chance to get to soak on your own.

Best Hot Springs in Montana

Other hot spring options in Montana:

Let’s take a quick look.

Boiling River (in Yellowstone National Park): Unfortunately, this hot spring is closed until further notice due to concerns with crowds and healthy safety restrictions. Keep an eye on it to see when it reopens.

Nimrod Hot Springs: This hot spring is located right off the interstate east of Missoula. It’s an easy stop if you’re on your way through. However, if you want a peaceful setting without traffic noise you might want to choose a different hot spring destination.

Hunter’s hot springs in Springdale, MT: This is a historical site that is not currently open to the public.

Gigantic warm springs: This large warm spring is partially developed and is an option for warmer spring or summer days. It is located away from most other Montana attractions near Lewiston. It claims to be one of the biggest warm springs in the US, so if you’re in the area stop by and take a dip.

Landusky plunge: This is another large warm spring spot for the summer months. It is located way off the beaten path near Malta, MT. Malta has an Amtrak train station, so if you are taking the train this might be a fun stop.

Sleeping Buffalo hot springs: Located near the Canadian and North Dakotan borders, this commercial spring is best for anyone headed to Saskatchewan or the Dakotas on a road trip.

Elkhorn Hot Springs: This lovely commercial hot spring is located North of Dillon along a scenic highway. While it’s still listed as a recommended destination, it is not currently open due to changes in ownership. Instead, you can check out Jackson Hot Springs in the same valley if you happen to be in the area.

FAQs About the Best Hot Springs in Montana

Answers to some commonly asked questions about visiting the hot springs in Montana.

What are the closest hot springs to Glacier National Park?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any hot springs in close proximity to Glacier National Park. Within a few hours south of the park, you can reach a few different hot springs. These include Quinn’s Hot Spring and Syme’s Hot Spring. It is likely better to visit these on your way in or out of the park while heading to other popular Montana destinations.

How many natural hot springs are there in Montana?

There are quite a few natural hot springs in Montana, but most of them have been commercialized. It’s hard to get an exact number with different facilities listed on different websites- but there are definitely more than 20 in the state (both natural and resorts). Most of them are clustered around the Bozeman and Missoula areas.

What are the best natural hot springs in Montana?

The best developed natural hot springs in Montana (in my opinion) are Quinn’s hot springs located north of Missoula. You can’t beat the scenery and laid-back vibe.

For families, I recommend Norris hot springs. It’s our kids’ personal favorite.

For the best undeveloped hot springs, I recommend Jerry Johnson hot springs. They are technically in Idaho but are actually just outside of Montana near the Idaho border.

What do I wear in the hot springs in Montana?

Most people wear their swimsuits in the hot springs. In commercialized areas, it’s the only option. However, some of the more remote natural springs may not have any rules against nudity. At undeveloped springs, don’t be alarmed if someone is skinny dipping.

It’s not recommended to wear clothing, such as shorts and t-shirts, in a hot spring. Water with high mineral content is quite dense and wearing waterlogged clothing can make it hard to swim safely.

In Conclusion

From the list above, you probably noticed that most destinations are family-friendly and low-key. Whether you are looking for an all-inclusive resort experience or a more rustic natural setting, there is definitely a hot spring that will fit your needs and give you a big dose of restorative mineral water.

I hope this post has helped you plan your trip to the hot springs in Montana. It is just one of many great outdoor-style adventures to enjoy in this beautiful state. I’m always looking for the next hot spring to explore in my home state (and nearby). Relax and enjoy!

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