Traveling the Backcountry of the Northwest - One Hot Spring at a Time

One Fine Idaho Spring Afternoon + Update on The Dipper

Hot springing during the “off” season is a pastime favorite of mine. It can be tricky… incessantly contending with icy roads, cold rain, closed access roads, mud, muck, silty pools, spring runoff and on… But, what’s life without a little challenge? ;)

The rewards can be bountiful. Solitude. Peace. Tranquility. Renewal. Revitalization.

And, maybe… just maybe you’ll slip through a crack in the weather into a sunny, mid 60s Spring day in the forest… and find yourself enjoying a hot waterfall. Like I did.

No music version
Learn More About Pine Flats Hot Springs on IHS

Update on The Dipper and Campground

While in the Banks-Lowman area, I stopped to check on a couple other nearby hot springs. According to the posted sign, Skinnydipper Hot Springs (The Dipper) is currently available for soaking during the day only, with nighttime closure in full effect. This is good news considering it wasn’t too long ago the plug was almost permanently pulled.

Hot Springs Campground was in decent shape with temperatures clocking in around 100, which is fairly typical for this almost a warm spring, hot spring (HSC on IHS).

Happy Spring (and Trails)!

The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth … the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see.
- Edward Abbey

Quick Update: New Listings, Hot Springs…

Greetings intrepid soak seekers! Now that 2014 is underway I thought it proper to post an update on the latest happenings in the land of the HSG.

I have been momentarily sidelined with a wrist fracture, luckily I can still type, henceforth this post you are reading. Seems the backcountry is still teaching me lessons in respect. Personally, I’d rather break a bone doing something enjoyable, just as long as the pain isn’t too great and the distance to the nearest hospital not too long.

Before They're GoneI spent last week talking with a couple good friends that I admire about their travel efforts. Michael Lanza is the Northwest Editor of Backpacker Magazine, accomplished backcountry everything and an incredible writer to boot. His travel blog is a must-subscribe and his book Before They’re Gone: A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks is a must-read.

David Beatty provides personal guide services in Italy, notably to unique hot springs. Of which, I had no idea existed. Long story short, I discovered that upon helping them I was able to gleam insight into my own interests. Update

New listings for two commercial hot springs in Lava and a listing for Mundo Hot Springs should be live soon along with an update for The Springs Resort in Idaho City. A look and feel update may also go live pending testing.

Other News has new listings and geolocation map functionality active and has new listings up.

Happy Trails! – HSG

Our terrors and our darkness of mind
Must be dispelled then not by sunlight…
But by insight into nature, and a scheme
Of systematic contemplation…

Groups Visiting Hot Springs – Be Warned! and other Internet-based groups have recently been targeting hot springs in Idaho for gatherings. It is time to address this issue now that initial reports of poor behavior and environmental stewardship have been received.

We (myself and the other page admins) recently decided to post this on the Facebook page for Idaho:

The above post is in response to and other groups descending upon fragile, public natural hot springs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe public hot springs are paramount with regard to introducing the ‘civilized’ populace to the beginning stages of forming a more healthy relationship with nature. However, these special places are not equipped to handle large groups of people for the following reasons:

  • The majority of these groups have little to no backcountry experience. I could write 20 pages on this subject, instead take a peek at the backcountry and roadside guides.
  • Most hot springs in Idaho are seriously located within fragile ecosystems. This isn’t jibber jabber, this is real!
  • Almost all natural primitive hot springs pools and surrounding areas are situated for very small groups of people, usually 2-4 or 6 at best.
  • Hot springs are NOT party destinations. Those unfamilier with mixing geothermal with alochol often get very sick and in some instances black out and drown. This happens so much more than people realize!
  • Partying at a natural hot springs leads to negative confrontations with others enjoying the area. When you are out here, respecting people and nature should be first on your list.
  • This is the worst of all, and there is no pretty way of saying this, but large groups of people drinking and eating at a backcountry hot springs = barfing, passing out, pooping, peeing and more puking in, around and near the beautiful natural hot springs.

Nine times of out ten, large groups of people DESTROY public, natural backcountry hot springs. I’ve been hot springing for almost 20 years now, I’ve seen the damage these groups cause first hand. I’ve cleaned it up hundreds of times.

Here’s what to do when you encounter Jackholes partying and trashing any beautiful hot springs:

  • Take a picture of their license plates, the Jackholes, their trash – anything and everything with regard to the situation. Then, send those to area law enforcement, public lands management organizations (Forest Service, BLM), post them on the Facebook fan page and send them here. I’m happy to post pictures of Jackholes defiling the backcountry.
  • Keep track of the time/date/location, it may be possible to identify who the group was and attempt to hold members accountable.
  • Consider your confrontation options… obviously, if they are inebriated, be careful.
  • Slash their tires. (j/k) ;)
  • Consider finding somewhere else to go. I know this sucks, but you wouldn’t believe what a group of party people can be capable of these days.

I’ve seen a lot of unruly behavior throughout my years in the backcountry. And, what is it that I worry about most? Wolves? Bears? Laughable, but no – it’s PEOPLE. While most of us are on peaceful sojourns with nature, there are others that exist out there that are the complete opposite. I’ll never understand how they find their way out into the deserts and forests, but nonetheless, they are here.

Spread the word and happy trails!

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