The Steamiest Hot Springs Hotels for Scenic Soaking
Courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs
Relax and rejuvenate in the healing, mineral-rich geothermal pools at these hot spring wellness resorts
Long before spas were a thing, people have sought out hot springs for the healing that’s said to come from soaking in steamy waters naturally loaded with minerals. These days, you can get your wellness dip with an extra dose of TLC at hot springs hotels that bank on their access to geothermal waters, while offering the added benefits of spa treatments, farm-sourced meals, New Age-y retreats, and cozy accommodations. From the bare-bones, eco-friendly camps that keep things as natural as possible to the full-fledged, luxe resorts—all of these places deliver on stunning scenery and restorative soaking. Wellness-seekers can wade in a stone-walled pool while waiting for the northern lights on a winter adventure in Alaska; seek out famed wellness hubs around Santa Fe and Palm Springs; take to the desert in Utah or Oregon; or go off-the-beaten-path for a rustic-luxe, steamy swim in Colorado. No matter where you go, rest assured you’ll leave feeling loosey-goosey.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, Ojo Caliente, NM
One of the oldest bathhouses in the country benefits from four types of mineral water—lithium, iron, soda, and arsenic—each said to deliver on its own set of healing powers. Long considered sacred by regional Native American tribes, the waters at this resort, an hour from Santa Fe, have been blessed by Tibetan monks, adding to the therapeutic potential. With four hot springs, two mud pools, and three private pools, Ojo Caliente has plenty of space for guests to soak in peace, in addition to a wine bar, miles of single-track and hiking trails, and a two-acre farm, which supplies the resort’s restaurant.
Halcyon Hot Springs, Halcyon, B.C.
On a Revelstoke ski trip, drive 50 minutes to the springs-rich Kootenays. A tour of geothermal waters in this stretch of British Columbia would take you on a 700-mile loop through Nakusp, Halcyon, Ainsworth, Fairmont, Lussier, and Radium. The highlight would be at the lakefront Halcyon, where the water is loaded with lithium (a chemical said to boost happiness) and so pure, it’s been bottled and sold as a tonic. You’ll have a hard time pulling away from the two hot springs, which overlook the stunning Monashee Mountains and Upper Arrow Lake. Nearby, it’s worth a detour to Nakusp Hot Springs, which stands out for its minimal development on 200-plus acres with four cabins and campsites scattered among the trees, and a cool, modernist pool area.
Dunton Hot Springs, Dunton, CO
Arguably the dreamiest place to soak in the West, Dunton Hot Springs feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere in the best way. When the new owners claimed the former ghost town (with 1,600 acres accessible to explore), the 1800’s log cabins were restored with an ultra-luxe, Arcadian style. The service might be white-glove all the way, but the experience is completely laid-back and all about reconnecting to the natural world. And that’s easy to do when you’re chilling in the mineral-rich waters, either in a small pond right outside your cabin or in the glass-enclosed bathhouse.
Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa, Desert Hot Springs, CA
Taking float therapy to new heights, Two Bunch Palms—in the wellness hub of Desert Hot Springs, near Palm Springs—hosts unique treatments like the Floating Soundbath series, which combines the therapeutic benefits of crystal singing bowls and the town’s renowned H2O. A recent $2MM renovation introduced a new level of pared-down luxury, drawing from the beauty of the natural surroundings and the hotel’s 80-year history. While the lush common areas, suites, restaurant, spa, and programming are all superb, the resort’s centerpiece is still the low-sulfur (a.k.a. minimal smell), naturally heated spring water, which is also high in lithium. Soak in the oversized teak tubs, where you can adjust the temp to your liking, or in the larger concrete pools.
Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort, Paradise, MT
Though Quinn’s man-made pools are fed with au naturel geothermal water, the temps are calibrated to be just right. Hop between the scorching 106-degree pool and the icy plunge pool to take full advantage of contrast-bath therapy’s touted benefits (improved circulation, reduced inflammation, easing sore muscles). Then, chill out in the just-warm-enough, 89-degree dip. There’s live music on weekends when the pools also stay open until midnight, so you can soak under the stars while listening to the tunes. As great as the pools are, many claim the highlight here is the food at the on-site Harwood House Restaurant, which specializes in refined mountain fare with dishes like wild game meatloaf and elk rib-eye—and has a lauded wine list.
Chena Hot Springs Resort, Fairbanks, AK
Perhaps the most famous of the hot springs hotels in America, Chena offers something practically no other resort of its kind can: the northern lights. Winter is peak aurora-viewing time, and if you visit during this time, you have a solid chance of catching the show while soaking in the steamy, rock-encircled pools, which stay open until nearly midnight. Beyond the lights, the Ice Museum is also a sight and open year-round with ice and snow sculptures lit with neon, aurora borealis colors. Afterward, curl up in your cozy room in the main lodge or in a standalone cabin.
Maple Grove Hot Springs and Retreat Center, Thatcher, ID
You may see eagles soar overhead as you destress in these riverside hot springs in southeast Idaho. Recently under new ownership, the 45-acre Maple Grove has been converted into a sustainable, off-the-grid retreat center. Use of the pools requires that you call ahead, ensuring the facilities are never crowded. A mix of 15 yurts, cabins, and canvas tents welcomes guests for overnight stays, but the big focus here is on naturalist, introspective group retreats.
Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa, Calistoga, CA
These days some of the hippest hotels are in restored motels—and the stylish Calistoga Motor Lodge is no exception. Located minutes from dozens of Napa and Sonoma wineries and half a mile from Calistoga’s charming downtown, this 50-room motel stands as an ode to Americana. It’s got the whimsical throwback-meets-sleek decor; lawn games, hula hoops, and toys like Etch A Sketch for entertainment; programmed group hikes and outdoor movie nights; and of course, those springs-fed pools. Don’t skimp on the apply-it-yourself mud bar, which pays tribute to the region’s famed healing clay that comes from the mixing of the mineral-rich springs and the soil, which is rich in volcanic ash from Mount Saint Helena.
Summer Lake Hot Springs, a Healing Retreat, Paisley, OR
Artesian, geothermal springs feed several outdoor rock ponds, an indoor soaking pool, and they even heat the floors of the bare-bones but cozy cabins at the eco-friendly Summer Lake. A poster child for sustainability, the 145-acre resort was developed to lead by example, educating guests on green building and living. The property has geothermal heated floors, cabins and furniture built out of recycled wood, rainwater collecting systems, and laundry that is line-dried in summer. The curriculum touts to-dos that range from community-building music festivals to cloud watching—a commendable activity when you’re lounging in a 113-degree pool in Oregon’s high desert, two hours from Bend.
Doe Bay Hot Springs Resort, Orcas Island, WA
The San Juan Islands’ far-flung location already restores the soul, making Orcas’ Doe Bay Resort’s springs all the more attractive. Formerly a hippie center for polarity therapy, Doe Bay has cabins, yurts, and campsites; a cafe with meals sourced from its organic garden; and soaking tubs on a deck overlooking the Pacific. Though the pools aren’t naturally heated, they’re spring-fed and loaded with minerals. Even if you don’t spend the night, you can get a $15 day-pass to access the pools, sauna, and outdoor showers.
Homestead Resort, Midway, UT
The water’s just fine at this Heber Valley resort, where the hot spring is hidden inside a natural, limestone-and-calcium dome with a 65-foot-deep natural swimming hole at the bottom. You’ll descend 78 steps to reach the balmy dive spot, which stays at about 96 degrees year-round. Only a handful of swimmers are allowed in at a time, so you don’t have to worry about crowds. To double up on the wellness benefits, take a stand-up paddleboard yoga class with Park City Yoga Adventures. Though rates are pricey ($140 per person with a two-person minimum), the experience is unmatched. As for the lodging at Homestead, it’s mostly rooms and condos that are simple but charming, some with fireplaces and jetted tubs.