Special note: Jerry Johnson is Idaho’s most popular hot springs – and as such, is heavily abused. Please pack out all trash and don’t bring glass. This hot springs is already under nighttime closure. If we don’t take care of Jerry, we risk losing the right to visit completely. Overnight, illegal campers beware, the Forest Service will catch and fine you. They routinely send out patrols after dark ISO violators.
On Sunday, July 24th 2011, we arrived bright and early at the Warm Springs Pack Bridge in the Clearwater National Forest, AKA the trailhead for the brief jaunt to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs. The parking area was half-full of overnight campers, and there was even a Rainbow bus with a handful of folks sleeping in their bags underneath.
The ‘Buffalo Tribe’ was heading back home, but had to detour around Oregon. Apparently, one of their tribe has an Oregon warrant. After crossing the pack bridge we were treated to the same sight over and over again. Jackhole overnight campers… sound asleep amongst their piles of trash, camping illegally, in areas desperately in need of recovering from years of abuse. A new jackhole sub-type was discovered here as well… the meth jackhole.
Long story short, we documented the illegals and lectured a bunch of kids drinking Boone’s that had strewn trash in a perfect circle around their little ‘hot tub’. The little jackholes took off running with our backs turned and left their trash, of course. We finally found a good soak, which was eventually shared with a photography class from MSU in Missoula, MT and a few other random people that wandered in. All good people, and all in all a great soak.
Aside from the jackholes, the soak was stellar and the people we chatted with were very friendly. We passed a handful of rangers on our way out, on their way in (to drop the hammer). I enjoy backpacking and camping near hot springs too, but when unique places like this are heavily damaged, hot springers need to respect that damage by not adding to it.
The first source was still submerged, no surprise here given the insane late spring runoff this season. The second and third sources were good to go.