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Castle Hot Springs
Photograph: Courtesy Castle Hot Springs

The best natural hot springs in the U.S. for a restorative soak

Relax and unwind in the mineral-rich waters of America's best hot springs

Lauren Dana
Written by
Lauren Dana

It’s no secret that America's natural hot springs are renowned for their healing properties. In fact, experts believe these mineral-rich waters can help boost circulation, improve hypertension, alleviate stress, help with pain and reduce inflammation—that is, among a slew of other health benefits. And besides, who doesn’t enjoy a rejuvenating soak, especially following a strenuous hike or high-energy activity? If you need more convincing, we’ve got you covered: From under-the-radar picks in Nevada to ultra-scenic spots in Alaska, to a centuries-old historic haunt in Virginia, we’ve rounded up the best natural hot springs in the U.S. to inspire your future travels.

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Best hot springs in the U.S.

1. Warm Springs Pools at The Omni Homestead | Virginia

Best for: history buffs

The Warm Springs Pools—also known as The Jefferson Pools (named for Thomas Jefferson, who supposedly visited these springs several times per day)—are aptly located in the quaint mountain town of Warm Springs. Today, these hot springs can be found on land owned by the 1776-era Omni Homestead resort. Fun fact: The original octagon-shaped stone basin that held the water dates back to 1761, making it the first spa structure in the U.S.

These historic geothermal pools, which reopened in December 2022 following a 14-month, $4 million rehabilitation, hover around 96° Fahrenheit year-round—making them ideal for soaking. Reservations are required to visit, and a dip in the waters here will set you back $25 per person. Also, keep in mind that the resort offers separate family and adult soaking sessions (some co-ed, some by gender since, depending on the time of day, they are swimsuit-optional).

2. Spencer Hot Springs | Nevada

Best for: picturesque views

Embark on a three-hour road trip from Reno to enjoy a scenic soak at Spencer Hot Springs. Featuring a cluster of natural springs, Spencer Hot Springs is ideally situated amidst one of Nevada’s most stunning valleys, which means panoramic postcard-worthy views await. Two of the three pools are constructed from metal cattle troughs (dubbed “cowboy tubs”), while the other has a naturally soft bottom. Travelers can easily control the temperature of the soak by moving the water source in and out until they’ve reached the desired heat. And, best of all, Spencer Hot Springs is completely free!


3. The Crater | Utah

Best for: adventurers

Located on the Homestead Resort in Midway, The Utah Crater is a 10,000-plus-year-old geothermal hot spring that’s not to be missed. The hourglass-shaped hot spring—which boasts magnificent mineral-rich waters—has a depth of 65 feet and an average temperature of 95 degrees, making it ideal for soaking. Other activities also abound, including swimming, diving, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Speaking of the latter, it’s worth noting that The Utah Crater is the only warm-water scuba diving destination within the continental U.S. This awe-inspiring structure, which has cave-like walls and a striking limestone dome, is reminiscent of a Mexican cenote. Keep in mind that reservations are required to visit; view the calendar here.

4. Bathhouse Row at Hot Springs National Park | Arkansas

Best for: soaking in a national park

Hot Springs is appropriately nicknamed “The Spa City—America’s First Resort,” and that’s because it’s best known for its naturally heated thermal waters. Find them at the beautiful Hot Springs National Park, home to the historic Bathhouse Row. The springs are equally magnificent, dating back 4,000 years.

Today, the iconic Row is lined with eight beautiful bathhouse buildings. Buckstaff Bathhouse is the only one here that’s been operating continuously since its 1912 opening. Here, wellness-seekers can enjoy a handful of noteworthy facilities and services, including mineral whirlpool baths, hydrotherapy treatments, and steam cabinet sessions. Quapaw Baths and Spa is another excellent option since it offers four mineral water soaking pools—as well as the opportunity to book a private session in the newly opened bathing area.


5. Chena Hot Springs | Alaska

Best for: ticking off your bucket list

Chena Hot Springs is a resort located near the Chena River State Recreation Area, around 60 miles outside of Fairbanks. Most travelers come here in the summertime when a scenic hike is best enjoyed followed by a dip in the geothermal waters. Plan your visit around August to April for your best chance at seeing the northern lights while you soak.

However, the hot springs can be visited all year—even in winter, when you can partake in bucket-list-worthy adventures like dog mushing, snowmobiling, and skiing. Depending on your preferences, you may opt to take a dunk in the indoor pool, which is cooler than the waters you’ll find outdoors. Chena Hot Springs is open year-round, and you need not be a resort guest to visit: Purchase a day pass to access the adults-only hot springs lake, indoor heated pool, and indoor and outdoor hot tubs.

6. Wild Willy's Hot Spring | California

Best for: taking a secluded dip

Located near Mammoth Lakes, Wild Willy’s is one of California’s best hot springs—not to mention the fact that it’s entirely free. Visitors can soak up the panoramic mountain views (sorry, not sorry for the pun!) straight from the springs. There are two artificial pools filled with bubbling waters. one of which is shaped like a heart. Despite its secluded and somewhat hard-to-find locale (more info on directions can be found here), Wild Willy’s attracts flocks of locals and travelers alike, so be prepared to share the water with others. For a truly memorable experience, plan on arriving around the evening for a soak under the stars. Just remember to BYOT (that’s “bring your own towel,” of course).


7. Castle Hot Springs | Arizona

Best for: couples

Castle Hot Springs is an all-inclusive resort set against the Bradshaw Mountains, a mere 50 miles from Phoenix. The 19th-century-era, 1,110-acre wellness-centric desert oasis is—you guessed it—renowned for the namesake hot springs. Surrounded by stunning saguaro, towering palms, more lush flora, and gorgeous red-hued rocks, the springs have attracted countless individuals over the years (from Native American tribes, explorers, and more). Today, these magnificent thermal waters are only accessible to resort guests; however, they’re still laden with the same minerals (think lithium, copper, and magnesium, to name a few) that first put them on the map.

8. Granite Hot Springs | Wyoming

Best for: a winter dip

Nestled above Granite Creek Falls at the end of Granite Creek Road off Highway 189, Granite Hot Springs Pool is about an hour’s drive (or 34 miles) from Jackson proper. This waterfall-fed, man-made swimming pool—which clocks in at 104 degrees—is flanked by towering trees like spruce, fir, and pine. Similarly, the stunning mountain scenery is a fun bonus. While the pool is open in the winter, it’s only accessible via snowmobile, skis, snowshoes, dog sled, or fat bike: making it the perfect pick for adventure enthusiasts.


9. Montezuma Hot Springs | New Mexico

Best for: checking out springs for free

The Montezuma Hot Springs in northern New Mexico is actually comprised of several mineral-loaded pools. An easy day trip from Santa Fe, these beautiful, bubbling springs—which lie along the Gallinas River—have lured travelers for centuries. There are three pools to choose from, ranging in size, shape, and temperature, with the hottest one (aptly nicknamed “the lobster pot”), measuring around 120 degrees. There’s even a 102.7-degree pool shaped like Africa. Although these pools aren’t the most, ahem, luxurious, they are free to enter, which is why they tend to attract crowds. Plan on arriving early in the morning to avoid the swaths of people as best you can.

10. Iron Mountain Hot Springs | Colorado

Best for: families

Colorado is home to dozens of hot springs. Among our favorites is Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which can be found along the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs (less than an hour from Aspen and Vail and only 2.5 hours from Denver). These natural pools—which contain more than 14 different minerals (the most prominent being iron, sulfate, chloride, sodium, and calcium)—are especially popular amongst families who come to soak in the large freshwater Family Pool. You’ll also find over a dozen smaller geothermal pools for soaking—each unique in size, shape, and temperature. They’re connected via heated walkways to melt snow and eliminate ice, which is especially handy during winter. Other highlights include a jetted spa area, a bathhouse with locker rooms, an on-site cafe, and a gift shop.


11. Burgdorf Hot Springs | Idaho

Best for: complete serenity

Situated in the Payette National Forest mountains, this rustic Idaho resort is home to three historic hot springs. The two small pools, located at the source of the spring, hover around 113°F, while the larger pool runs anywhere from 100°F to 113°F, depending on 1) one’s specific location in the pool and 2) the season. The larger pool also offers a partitioned shallow area for children and those with limited accessibility. Remember that reservations are required, and prices are as follows: $20 for adults, $15 for children under 16, and $15 for senior citizens ages 65 and up.

12. Avalanche Ranch | Colorado

Best for: nighttime soaks

Just three hours from Denver lies Avalanche Ranch, which is flanked by almost otherwordly rock formations, setting the scene for a scenic albeit secluded escape. Here, you’ll find three-tiered natural hot springs pools. Each one cascades into the next, and the largest pool is fed by a three-foot waterfall. Although day visitors can soak for an additional fee, it’s worth noting that resort guests are privy to complimentary, 24-hour access to the springs. (Because, let’s face it, a midnight soak is always a good idea.)


13. Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa | New Mexico

Best for: a luxury experience

Flanked by desert cliffs and tranquil forests, this hot springs resort has attracted wellness-seeking travelers since 1868. What’s more, the property prides itself on boasting one of the only hot springs in the world that features four different healing minerals—arsenic, lithia, soda, and iron—in naturally sulfur-free waters. Guests can choose from nine communal hot springs; private pools are also available to book by appointment only. And while the resort does allow guests under 13, they are prohibited from entering the springs or the spa.

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